Wednesday, August 21, 2019

News and commentary round-up, week ending August 20, 2019

Once again, there’s been a lot of news:

● Can anyone think of a field other than child welfare in which so-called professionals go around urging their colleagues to think LESS before taking action that could hurt people?  That’s not some kind of inference. As this op-ed in The Hill explains, they’re literally telling their colleagues to think less!

The Herald, in Everett, Washington decided to take an approach to the Snohomish County CASA scandal that is unusual for Washington State media: They covered it – and the story is excellent. Up to now, only KING-TV has reported on it.  I’ve updated the latest NCCPR Blog Post about the scandal.

● The New York Times Upshot column has a story with profound implications as Congress prepares to reauthorize the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.  As I’ve written before, the CAPTA approach is all about coercing parents – turning them in to child protective services, supposedly for “help,” but the CPS agency gets to decide that, and we all know what that means.  But the Times reports on a new study, confirming earlier research, that this only drives pregnant women away from prenatal care.  The researchers even quantify the harm to children’s health:

They found that policies that defined alcohol use during pregnancy as child abuse or neglect were associated with an increase of more than 12,000 preterm births. The cost of these were more than $580 million in the first year of life. Policies mandating warning signs where alcohol was sold were associated with an increase of more than 7,000 babies born at low birth weight, at a cost of more than $150 million.

● You’re killing kids! No, YOU’RE killing kids!  That’s how low the debate about child welfare has sunk in Los Angeles County.  I have a blog post about it.

● The New York Daily News has a good editorial about why Gov. Andrew Cuomo should sign the Preserving Family Bonds Act.

Newsday has a good story about how Nassau and Suffolk Counties, on New York’s Long Island, have significantly reduced the number of children in foster care. Nassau’s approach includes reducing racial bias through Blind Removal Meetings. has a good analysis of a good court decision – the one upholding the Indian Child Welfare Act.  The story includes a guide, from the Native American Journalists Association, for reporting on ICWA.

● Suppose, hypothetically, the straight teenage daughter of gay parents embraced conservative Catholicism, causing a lot of stress within a family.  The daughter’s school compounds the stress, and then calls the Child Protective Services agency – which takes the youth away and places her in foster care with one of her gym coaches.  Anyone who is appalled by that should be equally appalled by the reverse – as in this actual case from Connecticut.

● It shouldn’t be necessary for the federal government to have to issue an entire information memorandum to explain to child welfare systems why “family and youth voice are critical to a well-functioning child welfare system…”  But remember, this is the field in which professionals are urging less thinking (see first item above.)  And the memo isn’t just a general exhortation. It offers specific examples of ways to do this, including investing in high-quality legal counsel for youth and families.

Jerry Milner, head of the Children’s Bureau at the federal Administration for Children and Families, writes about the importance of listening to youth and families – and acting on what one hears – in this column for the Rethinking Foster Care blog.

● And in Washington State, the King County Department of Public Defense has created a short video to help guide parents through the first crucial days after a child has been removed.  State laws vary, so many of the specifics may apply only to Washington State, but some parts may be useful elsewhere as well.