Wednesday, December 4, 2019

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending December 3, 2019

The latest edition of Children’s Bureau Express, a monthly publication from the Department of Health and Human Services is devoted to the need to “Stop Confusing Poverty with Neglect.”  This time, those aren’t my words. They’re the words of the head of the Children’s Bureau, Associate Commissioner Jerome Milner, and his Special Assistant David Kelly. They write:

[A]s a field, we seem quite comfortable with very small, incremental improvements and minor tweaks to the way we operate—tweaks that often benefit the operators more than those living the experience; tweaks that may not result in noticeable improvements in the way children, youth, and parents experience the system at all; and tweaks that are not likely to mitigate the need to enter the system.  We have to be honest in examining why we allow this to be so.

They conclude:

Committing to a system that takes on poverty-related neglect in humane and effective ways … requires a willingness to rally around families that are vulnerable and struggling with poverty, rather than judging them, labeling that vulnerability as neglect, and pathologizing them.

● Last week’s round-up noted some excellent reporting from the online news site Carolina Public Press about the “hidden foster care” scandal in North Carolina. I’ve taken a closer look at the scandal, and its implications for the rest of the country in this blog post.

● There were two stories last week about how the child welfare system’s attempts to punish poor women hurt their children:

A Philadelphia Inquirer story is aptly summed up by the headline: “Silenced by fear:
Women of color are less likely to get treatment for postpartum depression because they fear they’ll be judged too quickly or harshly by child welfare services. Research shows those fears may be justified.”

And, from ABC News: “Pushed into the shadows: How punishing pregnant women for opioid use leads to more birth complications.”

● The online news site VT Digger reports on a second major lawsuit filed by parents whose children were wrongly taken:  “Larry Crist, executive director of the Vermont Parent Representation Center, said the lawsuit mirrors ‘hundreds’ of other cases he’s seen where parents in Vermont are accused of abuse and their children are taken from them without any evidence.” More such suits are likely. 

● In an op-ed colum for The Hill Prof. Shanta Trivedi writes that

Family separation among migrants has been a front-and-center campaign issue for the Democratic candidates … Many of the candidates also are tackling criminal justice reform, recognizing that the criminal system also separates millions of children from their parents. But with the exception of Julian Castro, not a single Democratic contender has a plan for the other form of family separation that also impacts hundreds of thousands of American families every day — foster care.

● With the problem of false allegations against families by “child abuse pediatricians” much in the news, WFTS-TV in Tampa-St. Petersburg looks at the problem in Florida.

● In an important analysis for the social justice think tank Political Research Associates, Heron Greensmith finds the through-line that leads from Indian boarding schools to orphan trains, to Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA): How Child Welfare Serves as a Tool of White Supremacy.

● The use of child welfare systems to try to destroy the culture of indigenous peoples is not unique to the United States.  But while in the U.S. the minimal protections afforded Native Americans through the Indian Child Welfare Act are under attack, in Canada the debate revolves around how much to pay First Nations in reparations.

● And finally, on this day after #GivingTuesday a reminder: There’s still time to support the small, all-volunteer organization that brings you this summary, and much more.  How much more? Just ask someone who probably wishes we’d go away.  Or consider going directly here to donate online.

Thank you.