Tuesday, October 8, 2019

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending Oct. 8, 2019

● There was a problem in this family. Then the child’s charter school, which had refused repeated pleas for help, instead called the child protective services agency – which made everything far worse. It’s another excellent story from Rise, the New York City-based magazine written by parents who have lost children to foster care.

● Rise is one example of the impressive network of family advocacy that has dramatically lessened the harm of the child welfare system in New York City.  In the British journal apolitical, a key figure in creating that infrastructure, David Tobis, writes about how parent advocacy is spreading around the world.

● Now the bad news: The child protective services agency in Pittsburgh is ramping up the child welfare surveillance state: Starting next year, they’ll try to slap a predictive analytics "scarlet number" child abuse “risk score” on every child at birth. Consent will be assumed unless families opt out – and they’ll pay a price for that, too.  I have a post about it on this blog.

● Pittsburgh is doing it in the name of “prevention.” But there’s no need for an Orwellian algorithm to target prevention.  There are many better ways. As it happens, this week the American Bar Association published an article about one of them in Washington State.

● New Mexico also is looking at improving legal representation for families in child welfare cases.

● Here’s the first rule of heroism: Real heroes don’t go around proclaiming themselves “heroes.” Here’s the second rule: People who are truly dedicated to helping children don’t expect worshipful treatment just for showing up. In Youth Today I write that The Foster Care System Needs to Get its Heroes Straight – and I list a few of my own child welfare heroes.

● In last week’s round-up, I wrote that whenever you think the child welfare system can’t get any uglier, someone turns over another rock and a whole new batch of ugly turns up. Looks like it happened again.  It has to do with one of the myriad ways of funding foster care that tends to get little attention: Medicaid. The Chronicle of Social Change reports (subscription required) that states have been using Medicaid funds to help pay to institutionalize children in residential treatment centers.  In many cases that may be illegal.  The federal agency that is supposed to police this says it has no way to track it.  This all came to light indirectly, thanks to the Family First Act.  It’s a very complicated story, but it’s well worth the trip into the weeds.