Catching up with some of the news over the past three weeks while I was away, starting with two important stories from Arizona:
● The Arizona Daily Star reports on the state’s use of coerced “voluntary” placements into foster care that deny families even the minimum due process protections of the formal system. There are hundreds of such placements, and, like other states, Arizona admits they don’t even report them to the federal government as entries into care. That is an apparent violation of federal regulations. I discuss those regulations in this blog post about Texas, where the practice is so widespread it probably accounts for nearly two-thirds of foster care entries.
● The Arizona Republic reports on a scathing decision by an Arizona appellate court overturning the termination of a father’s parental rights. As the Republic story puts it: “Sloppy work, lack of evidence and outright lies caused a father to lose parental rights to his daughter, the Court of Appeals argued in an opinion that criticizes the work of nearly everyone involved in the four-year-long case.” Republic columnist Laurie Roberts has an excellent column linking this case to other failings in Arizona child welfare.
The court decision aptly illustrates the point made by Vivek Sankaran inhis latest column: High quality appellate advocacy also is essential to prevent this kind of harm to children.
● I often write about how child welfare systems err in all directions. It doesn’t always err in all directions involving the same person – but that’s what happened to Sarah Harris. As a child, her cries of sexual abuse were ignored. As a mother, her own child was taken needlessly. Few people are in a better position to critique HBO’s documentary Foster. Ms. Harris does just that in this excellent column for Rise.