Sunday, May 19, 2019
Friday, May 17, 2019
A not-so-systemic review
A basic fact about child abuse fatalities
caseworkers were alarmed and overwhelmed by alerts as thousands of children were rated as needing urgent protection. More than 4,100 Illinois children were assigned a 90 percent or greater probability of death or injury, according to internal DCFS child-tracking data released to the Tribune under state public records laws. And 369 youngsters, all under age 9, got a 100 percent chance of death or serious injury in the next two years, the Tribune found.
At the same time, high-profile child deaths kept cropping up with little warning from the predictive analytics software, DCFS officials told the Tribune.
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
NCCPR in Youth Today on federal legislation that would take the last brake off the foster care steamroller
...The bill would more than double the amount of money the federal government forks over to states for foster care reimbursement each year. Even worse, this bill would remove the only small brake from what is less a runaway train than a lumbering foster care steamroller that crushes better alternatives for children....
Read the full column in Youth Today
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Sunday, May 12, 2019
|For full details on time periods, methodology and sources|
see the NCCPR Big City Rate-of-Removal Index
Under the leadership of Commissioner Cynthia Figueroa, the agency has developed a fondness for “alternative facts” – desperately spinning data (and recent history) in the hope that no one will notice the simple truth: Year after year after year, Philadelphia tears apart families at either the highest or the second highest rate among America’s biggest cities, even when rates of family poverty are factored in. (Come to think of it, justifying the needless removal of children is something else Conway and Philadelphia DHS have in common.)
Here’s what DHS is claiming, according to a tweet from the agency: “Last year of 19,325 families reported, 3.8% had children removed due to safety.” In a tweet of her own, Figueroa claimed that “Philadelphia’s removal rate is inline with the National average and other big cities.”
The basic number DHS doesn’t want you to know
Compared to what?
|With its fondness for "alternative facts," |
and its willingness to justify needlessly
separating families, Philadelphia DHS is the
Kellyanne Conway of child welfare agencies
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)
|For full details on time periods, methodology and sources see the|
NCCPR Big City Rate-of-Removal Index
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
The foster parent is a saint! The caseworkers are heroes! The birth parents are scum! (Unless they repent in which case they are merely sick.) And none of that is even the worst thing about this documentary.
Wrong from the start
Foster gets it wrong literally from the opening moments. It begins with the claim that one in eight American children will suffer a “confirmed” case of abuse or neglect by age 18. That’s not true.
A real-life “Aunt Ti.”
The only good parent is a redeemed parent
Reinforcing stereotypes about “drug babies.”
A massive invasion of privacy
The benefits of leaving L.A.
Monday, May 6, 2019
High-quality family defense dramatically shortens foster-care stays with no compromise of safety. That means thousands of children are trapped in foster care far longer than necessary.
|High quality family defense safely reduced|
foster care by an average of nearly four months.
For an infant that's nearly one-third, or more, of
her or his life.
Four months less in foster care
A lot of needless foster care
Even better outside New York City?
But what about entries?
Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Twenty-six years ago, a little boy in Chicago died a horrible death, and everybody learned the wrong lessons. Can the child welfare system – and the media – do better this time?
UPDATE, SEPTMEBER 15, 2020: The child welfare system has given its answer, and it is a resounding, and depressing “No.” Between fiscal years 2018 and 2020 the number of children torn from their homes in Illinois has skyrocketed 30%. The 17% increase in 2019 alone was the second highest increase in the country that year. In fact, even as the number of children taken over the course of a year nationwide approaches a 21-year low, the number taken in Illinois has hit a 21-year high.
|The story I wrote for the Chicago Reader in 1995.|
The harm of foster-care panic
When DCFS actually improved
Enter Chapin Hall
The research center Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago is expected next month to issue what [Gov. J.B.] Pritzker called “actionable recommendations” into how the DCFS’s Intact Family Services Unit functions.
But Chapin Hall has shared one conclusion in a press release: “With the lowest foster care entry rate in the nation, Illinois has a high threshold for child removal.”
● The low rate of removal in Illinois is driven almost entirely by Cook County. It’s not unusual for big cities to have lower rates of removal than their surrounding states, possibly because caseworkers in big cities may see more poverty and are less likely to confuse that poverty with neglect.
Then how do we fix this?
A test for Illinois media
** - The DCFS Inspector General gives a higher figure for deaths known to the system. But it appears she also uses a much broader definition of "known to the system" - any child who was the subject of a call to the state child abuse hotline. So while her figures show more needles, her comparison involves a much larger haystack. Also, as the Chicago Tribune points out, the Inspector General's figures don't indicate how many of these deaths were due to abuse and neglect.