Change the System or Bust

Season #4

Sally Hendrick interviews Maureen O'Neill-Davis to hear how she fought back to win her unfounded case with Child Protective Services. Now she advocates for families in Connecticut and all over the United States. Get show notes at Find Maureen online at

Maureen O'Neill-Davis, a mother of three children, came into child welfare reform after adopting her husband's sister's two children who were traumatized after witnessing their mother's murder. She sought complex need care from the Department of Children Families in Connecticut but was told to give up custody to access the care. As a result, she and her husband were falsely portrayed as abusive and neglectful parents, leading them to be embroiled in a child welfare, child protection case. Maureen realized that the way federal funding was written and distributed to states informed how child protection functioned at the state level. She became an advocate for child welfare reform, and together with other advocates, they have successfully impacted some policies and procedures. Maureen's story highlights the funding scheme that many states use, where they take children into state care when a family is struggling, which is informed by the way federal funding is distributed. Despite seeking help from the system, Maureen's experience showed that the system failed her.