Tuesday, September 3, 2019

NCCPR in the Everett, Wash. Herald on the Snohomish County CASA scandal

Thanks to The Herald and reporter Noah Haglund for the comprehensive account of the scandal engulfing the Snohomish County Court Appointed Special Advocates (formerly Vollunteer Guardian Ad Litem) program (“Lying, spying and destroying evidence spur guardian reforms,” The Herald, Aug. 18).

In some ways, the most damning revelation about the program isn’t that its staff and volunteers as the story put it, “repeatedly crossed legal and ethical lines.” It’s not the “lying, spying, [and] withholding and destroying evidence” that the trial judge found “pervasive and egregious.”

The most telling revelation comes in the form of one step that the Snohomish County Superior Court felt the need to take in order to claim it was “fixing” the program.

And there's more about the Snohomish County CASA scandal here.

Monday, September 2, 2019

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending Sept. 1, 2019

● First up, two items on the Snohomish County CASA scandal.  Just one day after the law firm that exposed the scandal asked a key funder of CASA to investigate, that funder, the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, said it is looking into the issues raised by the scandal.  I have a blog post on it, and a summary of the issues in this op-ed for The (Everett, Wash.) Herald.

● Just in time for back-to-school, school districts are ramping up their use of child protective services to harass families.  WUSA-TV exposed a particularly egregious example in Washington, D.C.  I have a blog post about it, including a link to WUSA’s story.

● One year ago, a British online news site, The Tortoise held what it calls a “ThinkIn” in the Bronx.  But let the reporter explain:

It was about masculinity and the issues facing the city’s young men. A civil rights lawyer made an intervention in the kind of tone that cuts through the noise. People weren’t so scared of the police knocking on the door, she said. What families in the Bronx most feared was a different wing of the state; it was child protection workers, because that’s when you might face the worst and lose your children.

Not only did this lawyer’s comment lead to a very good story about child welfare in New York, it led to several good stories about the depressingly-similar problems in the British system.  All of the stories are here.

● A federal appeals court ruled against a mother wrongly placed in Hawaii’s central registry of alleged child abusers.  The statute of limitations for appeals had expired – but only because the mother never knew she was in the registry in the first place, and the state never bothered to tell her.  Though the court felt it was forced to rule against the mother, one judge issued a scathing opinion blasting the state for the ultimate Catch-22.  Honolulu Civil Beat has the story.

● More than a year ago, the Associated Press exposed the use of coerced “voluntary” foster-care placements arranged by a county child protective services agency in North Carolina.  These are off-the-books placements in which child protective services says if you don’t place your child “voluntarily,” usually with a relative, they’ll take you to court and place the children with strangers.  It’s actually a common practice all over the country – but in Cherokee County, NC, it was so egregious that the state actually took over the county agency for a while.

Now, Carolina Public Press has dug even deeper and found that things were actually even worse; including a possibly illegal rush to terminate parental rights, and the state knew what was going on for months before acting.  The story is a bit confusing; it’s easier to follow if you read the AP stories first.

● Even as that was being exposed, the North Carolina Legislature actually was considering legislation to further run roughshod over the rights of children to live with their own families.  I discuss that bill in this blog post

● And a lawsuit in Vermont highlights the issue of wrongful removal in that state, which takes away children at one of the highest rates in the country.  VTDigger reports.