Michael Arsham

Child Welfare Organizing Project Executive Director Michael Arsham is a social worker and a life-long New Yorker with over 35 years of child welfare experience. He has been a child-care worker, caseworker, program director, policy analyst, advocate, and community organizer. He served Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families (now known as the Harlem Children’s Zone) for thirteen years, beginning in 1981, shortly after a formal funding stream for NYC Preventive Services was first established. He was part of the earliest efforts of the city’s public child welfare agency to provide community-based family support and preservation services, staffing, developing, and directing programs in Central Harlem, Manhattan Valley, and Hell’s Kitchen. Mr. Arsham became Director of Social Service Policy for the New York State Council of Family and Child-Caring Agencies in 1994. He represented Preventive Service providers throughout the city and state, and played a key role in organizing to avert massive proposed budget cuts to these services in 1994 and ’95.   He was hired to direct the Child Welfare Organizing Project (CWOP) in November 1998. Through CWOP, New York City parents who have had direct personal experience with the public child welfare system now advise public and elected officials, give testimony at public hearings and guest lectures at conferences and universities, write for publication, work with the media, and are employed as peer advocates by over 20 foster care, preventive, and legal services agencies. Through CWOP, the citizens most directly affected by public child welfare policy in New York City are, for the first time, asserting a strong, respected collective influence on both policy and practice.