Tuesday, November 19, 2019

NCCPR News and commentary round-up, week ending November 19, 2019

Philadelphia Weekly is two-thirds of the way through a three-part series on “the great mindf--k that is Philadelphia's child welfare system.”  Those aren’t my words – they come from a column about the series from Philadelphia Weekly’s editor.  He seemed particularly struck by what happened when their reporter sought comment from the Philadelphia Department of Human Services. I have a blog post about the series, with links to all of the stories.

● The Houston Chronicle and NBC News have a follow-up to their series on the harm inflicted on children when so-called “child abuse pediatricians” jump to conclusions. The full series is available here. 

● Those stories have had an impact beyond Texas.  In Washington State, a pediatrician writes about the trauma endured by a family whose child she treated. A “child abuse pediatrician” who had never actually seen the child contradicted the author – and a police detective - and made a determination of suspected abuse based only on looking at photos. (The family pediatrician had better be careful though. She may wind up accused of doing too much thinking.)

● In Santa Clara County, California, they’re moving to close the shelter that replaced the shelter they closed about ten years ago. As San Jose Spotlight reports:

To Supervisor Dave Cortese, there’s a bitter irony in what has become of the center. Cortese said the county opened the [Receiving, Assessment and Intake Center] RAIC in 2009 because the county’s childrens shelter had become dangerous and was ultimately shuttered.
“The RAIC has sort of morphed into the old shelter system,” Cortese told San José Spotlight. “We slipped right back into the same pattern. It’s history repeating itself and it is so unfortunate.”

The “receiving center” was never meant to be a shelter. But as long as you build a place where kids can be discarded, they will be stuck there. If you build it, they will come. If you keep it open, they will stay.  That’s why it will never work to wait around for every i to be dotted and t to be crossed on some other way to deal with these children.  The only way to put on enough pressure to find alternatives to shelters is to close the shelters.

● Huffpost has a pretty good video primer on the Indian Child Welfare Act.

● Last week, I noted that a Kansas news organization had reported on a protest by parents whose children had been harmed by the state child welfare system, treating the parents with dignity and respect.  In this blog post,I have some context on Kansas child welfare.

● I had missed this excellent story from The Appeal when it first came out in September.  It concerns the harm done to children when marijuana use becomes an excuse to put poor families of color under surveillance – and take away children. (It rarely happens to middle-class white families.)  One startling finding: In Colorado the problem actually got worse after marijuana was legalized.

● I found out about the story in The Appeal thanks to this excellent column in The Daily Targum, the student newspaper at Rutgers University.  I hope the author considers a career in child welfare law.