Tuesday, December 10, 2019

NCCPR News and commentary round-up, week ending December 10, 2019

● In Los Angeles, grassroots family advocates are fighting back against a system that tears apart families at one of the highest rates among America’s big cities. The Chronicle of Social Change reports on a protest that “Targets a Sky-High Foster Care Removal Rate in L.A. County.”

● Two major stories on the same theme: going beyond reforming child welfare and, as Erin Miles Cloud puts it in The Scholar and Feminist Online, moving “Toward the Abolition of the Foster System”

Cloud writes:

In many liberal circles, it is no longer considered radical to acknowledge the connections between mass incarceration and chattel slavery – or to call for abolition. Thanks to the hard work of Black women and popular books, documentaries, and articles on the topic, more and more people in the United States are coming to understand the government’s continuing role in institutionalizing Black bodies for profit and are rejecting reforms that cede more power into the carceral system.

Less frequently discussed, and less well understood, are the connections between the foster care system and the systems of oppression that have historically impacted Black people in the United States. There are no popular documentaries about how violent family separation, toxic stereotypes about Black maternal unfitness, and financial incentives for dismantling Black families are shared features of chattel slavery and the modern foster care system. Nor is there the same degree of media scrutiny of the disproportionate percentage of Black families controlled through the foster care system as there is of the disproportionate control of Black bodies through the criminal legal system. Nor is there political discourse on what it would mean to abolish the foster care system. …

And, on this edition of the Intersectionality Matters podcast, Kimberle Crenshaw raises many of the same issues with Prof. Dorothy Roberts of the University of Pennsylvania (and an NCCPR board member). The portion about foster care begins at 15:01.

● Two weeks ago I wrote about a judge in New Orleans who’s driving the child welfare establishment crazy – by following the law.  Now Prof. Vivek Sankaran has some thoughts on something else this judge is doing that all judges should do.

● With the wave of recent stories about the harm done to families by some “child abuse pediatricians” you might think you’ve seen it all.  But wait ‘till you read this story from Daphne Chen of the Gatehouse Florida Newspapers – it’s extraordinarily powerful and worth reading to the end.  It also includes this video of “one of the most powerful figures in the child welfare system along Florida’s Gulf Coast” – a child abuse pediatrician – explaining her approach to her job:

● Also: Mike Hixenbaugh of NBC News reports on some of the hundreds of additional families who came forward after seeing the joint NBC News / Houston Chronicle series on this topic. 

● The New York Civil Liberties Union came up with a splendid way to illustrate how bias makes its way into predictive analytics algorithms – in child welfare, and many other fields. I have a blog post about it.

● And in Philadelphia Weekly, I look at lessons to be learned (second item down after clicking this link) from their excellent three-part series about the abuses of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services. The rate of child removal in Philadelphia is even higher than the rate in L.A.