Tuesday, October 22, 2019

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending October 22, 2019

I made it part of my daily routine to take pictures of my kids before taking them to daycare and school so that I would have proof that my children were fine before they left my home. That’s probably not something many parents would even think of doing, but for a parent like me, it just makes sense.

That quote is from an article by a mother whose children were victimized by seven false allegations of child abuse.  She wrote about her experience for Rise, the magazine written by parents whose families have been victimized by child protective services.  It’s part of a series of stories about what it’s like to live in what amounts to a child welfare surveillance state.

Rise’s Director, Nora McCarthy, and Content Supervisor and Contributing Editor Rachel Blustain summarize the series, with links to the stories, in this excellent column for the Chronicle of Social Change.

Also this week:

● One of the worst abuses inflicted on children by CPS agencies is when they take away children of battered mothers because the mothers “allowed” the children to witness the beatings. Taking children under these circumstances actually compounds the trauma of removal itself. Yet in most of the country, it’s routine.  The California online news site Capital and Main has an outstanding story about the problem in Los Angeles.  I have a blog post about the story, and why this awful practice, so common elsewhere is, thankfully, illegal in New York City.

● The online news site VTDigger has a very good story about the urgent need to improve family defense in Vermont, a state that long has taken away children at one of the highest rates in the nation. According to the story, the director of the Vermont Parent Representation Center, Larry Crist, told a legislative hearing:
 Public defenders often handle hundreds of cases, he said, so they don’t have time to build a proper defense for parents or guardians. Because of the weak system of support, parents too often end up giving up custody of their children, even when DCF doesn’t have adequate evidence to prove that abuse occurred, he said.
“As a result the entire system has become sloppy,” Crist said. “DCF writes sloppy affidavits and no one challenges them.”

But it wasn’t just Crist. As the story explains:

Bill Young, who headed the Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services, DCF’s predecessor, called for the Legislature to conduct an independent review of the child protection system to assess what weaknesses are allowing cases to be brought against parents without proper evidence.
“Parents are too often seen as the enemy before an investigation is completed,” Young said to the legislative panel.

● In The Scholar and Feminist online, Dinah Ortiz, Parent Advocate Supervisor for the Bronx Defenders, tells her own story of “Battling an Unjust System: How the War on Drugs Stole My Daughter.”

● I suspect this story from the Providence Journal originally was meant to be an expose of teachers supposedly taking too much time off.  But it turned into something quite different, as it revealed how much of the time off wasn’t a matter of choice: It was a matter of teachers suspended until they were cleared of false child abuse allegations – something that happens so often it disrupts the educational system. And Providence is not alone.