It’s another example of why “sunshine is good for children.”
|The late Judge Judith Kaye opened New York's|
family courts to the press and the public
On the heels of the outstanding story in The New York Times about foster care as the new “Jane Crow” comes another brilliant deep dive into child welfare in New York City – this time from The New Yorker. (Once again, as you read it, please keep in mind that in most places, the child welfare system is worse, often far worse, than in New York City.)
Almost as striking as the story itself is why reporter Larissa MacFahrquhar wrote it. Here’s how she explained it in the New Yorker’s daily email newsletter:
How do you decide whether to take children from their parents? For the most part, we read about child-protective services only when they fail spectacularly—when a child is killed at home. The press then excoriates the usual suspects—the caseworker (How could she miss signs that now seem so obvious?), child protection (How could they train their workers so poorly?), and the city (Does it care so little about children that it won’t pay for enough caseworkers to protect them?).
Because of this, most of the pressure on child protection is in one direction—in favor of removal. But it’s no small thing to take a child from his family. It seems strange to me that removal has come to seem the safe and cautious thing to do, and, since the press has played a large part in promoting this idea, I thought it might be useful to have a journalistic account of both sides of the story.
I sat in on the Bronx Family Court for several months and watched judges grapple with this awful decision. One mother had been coming to family court for eight years, since her young daughter had burned herself on a curling iron. For much of that time, her children had been in foster care. The foster-care agency believed that the foster parents should adopt the children. Child protection was nervous about their safety if they returned home but also knew that children often fared badly in foster care. The mother’s lawyer said that the mother loved the children and that her mistakes didn’t justify keeping them apart.
Everyone was arguing for the best interests of the children. The mother sat, mostly silent, as the lawyers made their cases