Wednesday, May 15, 2024

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending May 15, 2024

 ● WNBC-TV is the latest New York media outlet to report on how the city’s family police agency is reneging on a promise to stop swiping foster youth´s Social Security benefits.  And special credit to the Brooklyn Eagle for pointing out in its own story that while the New York City Administration for Children´s Services and General Buck-Passing (well, that should be its name) claims to be hamstrung by federal regulations, other places such as Arizona and Washington, D.C. have found ways to let foster youth keep their own money.

● Across the country, following up on reporting from the Washington State Standard, the Everett Herald called on Washington State to stop this odious practice.

● Speaking of greed and foster care in New York City, I have a column in the Daily News about the effort by the city’s big, powerful private foster care agencies to get a taxpayer bailout – to help them pay compensation to a small fraction of the children abused in their care for decades.

● In Rhode Island, a state legislator says he has the solution to rampant abuse in residential treatment centers: Suggestion boxes!  And that’s only the second dumbest idea they´re talking about.  I have a column about it in The Imprint.

● And WPRI-TV reports on still another example of how Rhode Island´s answer to everything is just stash the kids in an institution.

The Imprint reports that Rep. Gwen Moore has reintroduced the Family Poverty is Not Neglect Act.

● When your child is in the hospital and a doctor walks in the room, you are likely to assume the doctor is there to actually help your child get better.  But what if s/he’s really there to investigate you?  That´s what so-called “child abuse pediatricians” do.  In JAMA Pediatrics, there leading scholars write, that a minimum, these doctors should have to disclose why they’re in the room.

● In Texas, KTBC-TV reports, another family victimized by a false diagnosis of child abuse is suing

And in this week´s edition of The Horror Stories Go in All Directions:

● It´s taken years of litigation, but, Honolulu Civil Beat reports, we’re learning more about still another case of alleged abuse – and cover-up in Hawaii foster care.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

NCCPR in The Imprint: Rhode Island Public Officials’ Solutions to Abuse in Residential Treatment Centers: Dumb and Dumber

 Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one before. There’s a scandal involving horrific abuse at a residential treatment center.

No, not the one in Arizona, or the one in Kentucky, or the one in Tennessee, or Indiana, or Utah, or Oklahoma, or Washington state or Arkansas, or Connecticut or — well, you get the idea.

This time it’s Rhode Island. But don’t worry. Some Rhode Island lawmakers have come up with the perfect solution: Put locked suggestion boxes in all the group homes and institutions! And that was only the second worst idea to come from legislators or state officials. …

Read the full column in The Imprint

Monday, May 13, 2024

NCCPR in the New York Daily News: Don’t bail out agencies that didn’t stop abuse

It was 49 years today when a groundbreaking investigative series in the Daily News told a story that had been hidden for a century or more: Cloaked in a veneer of benevolence, New York’s private foster care agencies were deliberately prolonging the time children languished in foster care because their huge, mostly taxpayer-funded budgets were based on payments for each day they kept the children in their “care.” The series also exposed horrific abuse in the group homes, institutions and family foster homes run by these agencies.

The six-day series was called “Big Money, Little Victims.”

All these years later, the little victims are grown up. Some of them are suing. But instead of begging for forgiveness, the agencies are begging for a taxpayer bailout …

Read the full column in the New York Daily News

Sunday, May 5, 2024

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending May 5, 2024

● This roundup typically features a section on how the horror stories go in all directions.  This week, you can read about horror stories in all directions in this one story from the Indianapolis Star – including comment from NCCPR about why it happens. 

● Hey, remember how New York City´s family police agency told the New York Daily News something like: “Well, golly gee, we’d like to stop swiping foster youth’s Social Security benefits and keeping the money for ourselves, but we just can´t figure out how to do it without losing other funding?”  Well, as the Boston Globe reports, we now can add Massachusetts to the growing list of states that have figured out how to do it.  So, tell us New York City Administration for Children´s Services, are you simply too incompetent to know how to give this money back – or do you just want to keep it?

The rest of the news this week is about modest changes for the better:

● Once again, small signs of progress in Minnesota: The Imprint reports that a state legislator and some county family policing agencies are seeking to curb false allegations of “educational neglect” – though some of those efforts remain too entangled with family police agencies.  In fact, a majority of states don’t even have this category, and, as the Vera Institute of Justice made clear in this report more than a decade ago, that is as it should be.

● A small sign of progress in Connecticut: The Hartford Courant reports on a bill, passed unanimously by the state House of Representatives, that would exempt mandatory reporters of child abuse from prosecution for failure to report if they act in good faith. From the story:

“This is a huge move for our districts and our educators,” said Rep. Jeffrey Currey, an East Hartford Democrat who co-chairs the education committee. “They’re making calls for many unnecessary reasons, simply because they are so terrified about losing their jobs.”

Currey added, “You’re a 6 foot 3 guy, and you’re in a classroom, and somebody comes up and gives you a hug. Parts of bodies may just inadvertently happen to touch, and everybody just instantly thinks, ‘I need to cover [myself] and make that phone call.’ … They’re terrified.”

House Speaker Matt Ritter, a Hartford Democrat, added, “And the first thing a lawyer will tell you is to call DCF. Just cover yourself.”

 The CT Mirror, also has a story.

● And a small sign of progress in Colorado where, Collective Colorado reports, state law concerning pregnancy and substance use has become a little less draconian.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending April 30, 2024

● Hey, remember when Texas passed laws setting reasonable limits on the vast power of the state’s family police agency, including higher standards before that agency can tear children from everyone they know and love?  Remember how that sparked all that fearmongering about how it would lead to an increase in horrific child abuse?  Remember how that fearmongering was led by groups like Texas CASA (which presumably wants to distract everyone from the huge study showing that their program is a failure)? Remember how their media allies at the Dallas Morning News and the Texas Tribune bought into it all and amplified it all?

Well, now The Imprint has gone back to see what actually happened.  Sorry CASA, they found that the fears “have not panned out.” From the story:

According to data from the state’s “Child Maltreatment Fatalities and Near Fatalities Annual Report” published last month, the decreased reliance on foster care has not resulted in an increase in child deaths.

 Fatalities where child abuse or neglect was confirmed have continued to decline through the recent period of fewer foster care removals. In 2023, 164 children died, which is 18% fewer than in 2021 and 30% fewer than in 2019. That places Texas from a spot well above the national average on child fatality rates, to below the nationwide rate.

● Two brief notes on the NCCPR Child Welfare Blog: The Kentucky Derby isn’t until this weekend. But we already have a winner in the Kentucky Irony Derby!  Meanwhile, in Minnesota, family policing agencies are claiming they just can’t afford to stop being racist.  The two brief posts are here.

● Meanwhile Essence has a report on the legislation those Minnesota agencies are opposing.  And even the foster-care panic fomenting Minneapolis Star Tribune finally felt compelled to do a serious story about it.

● Remember that amazing story in ProPublica about the “evaluator” in Colorado custody cases who always sided with foster parents when they “intervened” in court cases to try to keep someone else’s child?  Now, KUSA-TV reports, a judge has issued a scathing order demanding that a county family police agency release its own internal investigation of one of those cases, as well as others in that county.

Kaiser Heath News has an overview of the harm of mandatory child abuse reporting laws, focused largely on Colorado, where a commission studying mandatory reporting laws is likely to recommend little more than token changes.

● As for what really can prevent child abuse: There’s still another study documenting the benefits of concrete financial help for families, in this case, paid family leave.

KFMB-TV, San Diego reports that some California lawmakers are trying again to stop county family police agencies from swiping foster children’s money.

● But in New York City, The Daily News reported in early April, the city’s family police agency appears to be reneging on a promise to do the same, and making all sorts of widely-discredited excuses.  The Imprint also has a story,

● And in Michigan, the Detroit Free Press reports, the state’s family police agency shamelessly defends the practice, suggesting that it is somehow the obligation of foster children who receive such benefits to”reimburse the public taxpayer dollars that provide payment for the child's care.”

In Georgia, WXIA-TV has a follow-up to its in-depth series on the harm done by some “child abuse pediatricians.”

● In Utah, KSL-TV reports on a woman who, declaring herself a state employee, admonished anther women in a restaurant for wearing a skirt the state employee deemed to be too short.  She threatened to call Child Protective Services (because there were children in the restaurant). Then she allegedly took matters – and the skirt – into her own hands.

In this week’s edition of The Horror Stories Go in All Directions:

KNXV-TV, Phoenix has more about an Arizona child who never needed to be taken from his father – and wound-up dying after placement in a group home.

Monday, April 22, 2024

NCCPR in the Arizona Capitol Times: DCS is on probation; here’s how to fix it

The Arizona Legislature has, in effect, put the Department of Child Safety on probation, allowing it to continue to function for another four years instead of the customary eight  The decision is a healthy recognition that DCS, both in its current form and when it was a division of the Department of Economic Security, often does enormous harm to the children it is meant to help. 

But recognition is just step one. Lawmakers need to understand what created this mess and how to fix it.  The root of the problem is a fanatical drive to tear apart families that has plagued the state for decades. … 

Read the full column in the Arizona Capitol Times

Thursday, April 18, 2024

And the winner of the Kentucky Irony Derby is …

The Kentucky Derby isn’t run until May 4.  But when it comes to the Kentucky Irony derby, we already have a winner! 

WDRB-TV in Louisville has a story with this headline: “Norton Children's opens new center combatting child abuse at the Home of the Innocents.”  For a split second, I thought: Wow! They’re putting in monitors to stop the child abuse at Home of the Innocents – abuse exposed in this story from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. 

No such luck.  The new center is just another “counseling” and “parent education” program.  But hey, when your state supposedly is a cesspool of depravity with vastly more child abuse than most, won’t anything help?  Except that is a myth, repeated over and over by those still wedded to promoting what’s been aptly called “health terrorism” in which horror stories and distorted data are used to stampede people away from real solutions.