Prolific child-welfare blogger Marie Cohen led The Chronicle of Social Change’s Blogger Co-op this year in readership – earning her the title as The Chronicle’s 2016 Blogger of the Year.
Her blog entries were viewed more than 43,000 times on The Chronicle of Social Change from July 2015 to July 2016.
The Blogger Co-op, formed in 2013, is a platform through which journalists, advocates, youth services practitioners and non-profit leaders submit opinion and analysis columns for publication in The Chronicle of Social Change.
Cohen has tackled a wide variety of issues, but the common theme, she said, is her belief in a child-centered child welfare policy, wherein the needs of children are prioritized.
“I don’t think families come first,” Cohen said in an interview with The Chronicle of Social Change. “I think children come first. Some children are born into a family that’s toxic and it kills them.”
Her most widely read blog entries of the year were “Foster Parent, Faced with Ultimatum, Chooses Not To Be Silenced”, “To Improve Child Welfare, Let Social Workers do Social Work” and “Pay Foster Parents to Stay Home with Infants, Not Put Them in Daycare.”
Cohen spent most of her career as public policy analyst and researcher focusing on social services in the U.S. She worked for the federal government and at several think tanks, but eventually came to believe she could make a greater difference as a frontline social worker.
So she worked in Washington D.C.’s child welfare system from 2010 to 2015. Being a successful social worker was much harder than she’d realized, though. Overwhelmed with high caseloads, and realizing she was more adept as a researcher and writer, Cohen left the job.
Afterwards, Cohen had ample free time and many insights from her experience on the front lines that she wanted to share. So she joined the Blogger Co-op at The Chronicle of Social Change and started telling her stories.
“I just wanted to write about all of the experiences I had as a social worker and all the problems I saw with the system,” Cohen said. “I treated it like a job. It was my job.”
In her most recent entry, Cohen voiced her opposition to one particular aspect of the Family First Prevention Services Act, a proposed major overhaul of the federal foster care entitlement that has passed the House and awaits Senate action. Cohen expressed that Congress should not eliminate group homes as an option for placing foster youth because in some cases a group home might be the best option.
Cohen recently stepped away from the Blogger Co-op to focus on other projects. She now works as an associate at The University of Maryland’s School of Social Work, is a member of the District of Columbia Citizen Review Panel for the Child and Family Services Agency and mentors a young person in foster care. She is also gearing up to apply for a doctoral program in social work.
Prospective bloggers can be considered for entry into the Blogger Co-op by submitting an application.