Tuesday, July 16, 2019

News and commentary round-up, week ending July 16, 2019

● In a brave and important tweet thread Amy Mulzer, an appellate family defender in New York City, writes about being a parent in an age of constant surveillance by child protective services agencies. Some excerpts:

Rationally, I know that I have all the privilege in the world, and that what happens to my clients is incredibly unlikely to happen to me.  But despite that, I am so anxious and feel so watched and judged after seeing everything that happens to my clients and the judgment they receive from workers, judges, attorneys, and foster parents, that I am having a hard time holding the line on what I know is right for my kid.

And what that leads me to is this: Imagine what it is like to parent in this city as a low income parent of color who IS in fact likely to have ACS called on them if someone doesn’t agree with their actions or circumstances? Imagine having to run everything through that filter? …

The funny thing is that it would ABSOLUTELY be better for my son if I did not know the worst case scenario. I would be a better, more confident parent that way. And, similarly, so would many others.

● Among the worst failings of the child welfare system is when it punishes the children of battered mothers by taking them away and charging the mothers with “failure to protect.”  But in Oklahoma it can be even worse.

● The execrable HBO documentary Foster presented the Disney version of how people in the Los Angeles County child welfare system do their jobs.  In this column, a caseworker for the L.A. Department of Child and Family Services offers a reality check.

In this NCCPR Child Welfare Blog post, I offer a word of advice to those writing puff piece op-eds about the joys of residential treatment: You probably shouldn’t cite a for-profit company that was the subject of exposes concerning allegations of widespread abuse at one of its institutions – and abuse allegations plus a riot at another.

● Though New York City has gotten most of the attention, Washington State also has embraced high-quality family defense.  This story looks at both.

● The Minneapolis Star-Tribune interviews family defender Diane Redleaf about her work helping families who want to let their children have normal childhoods fight child protective services agencies.

● There is an increasing realization that the failings of the child welfare system have a lot in common with the failings of the criminal justice system. So it’s worth looking again at this 2018 column from Chris Gottlieb, co-director of the Family Defense Clinic at New York University School of Law.