Tuesday, August 27, 2019

News and commentary round-up, week ending August 27, 2019

● Last week’s round-up included an excellent op-ed from The Hill about doctors who actually want their peers to “think less” before suspecting their patients’ parents of child abuse and referring the children to hospitals for batteries of tests – and quite possibly calls to child protective services leading to foster care.  What some of these doctors want is even worse; a wholesale expansion of the child welfare surveillance state.  I have a blog post about it.

● A tragic example of how the “think less” approach plays out in real life can be seen in this excellent op-ed column for The New York Times from Jessica Horan-Block, a lawyer for the Bronx Defenders.  It’s called “A Child Bumps Her Head. What Happens Next Depends on Race.”

● There’s also a great op-ed in the New York Daily News. This one is from Jeannette Vega, training director for Rise. It’s about legislation to bring modest reforms to New York State’s Central Registry of alleged child abusers.  The bill is now on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk.

● Also on the governor’s desk: Legislation that would allow children to keep in contact with their birth parents even after parental rights are terminated, if a judge found it to be in the children’s best interests.  The Albany Times Union has two letters supporting the bill.  One is from family defense pioneer David Lansner.  The other is from lawyers whose organizations represent 90 percent of the children in child welfare cases in New York City.

● In Talk Poverty, Elizabeth Brico has an excellent overview of how financial incentives encourage the misuse and overuse of foster care.

● Remember that story about the school district in Pennsylvania that was threatening to report families to child protective services if they didn’t pay school lunch debts?  It caused a nationwide furor.  But that district is not alone.  The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that several southern New Jersey school districts have policies that allow school officials to do the same thing.  So, in an effort to educate the educators who really ought to know better, here again is a blog post about why this is so harmful to children.