In a previous round-up, I noted the lead story in the latest issue of the Administration for Children and Families publication Children’s Bureau Express. It’s called “It’s Time to Stop Confusing Poverty With Neglect.” That column is excellent – but there’s more. The entire issue is devoted to this theme. Among the other excellent stories:
● I’ve written before about child welfare’s “creation myth” – how the story of Mary Ellen Wilson, a little girl abused in the 1870s, supposedly proved the need for untrammeled state intervention into families. In fact, Mary Ellen was a foster child. And now, Katie Albright, who runs a family support center in San Francisco, adds another key fact: Mary Ellen was taken from her mother in the first place when her mother’s poverty was confused with neglect.
● Jeremy Kohomban and his colleagues at The Children’s Village write about how what was once one of the most regressive, hidebound “residential treatment centers” (and a media darling, especially beloved by author Anna Quindlan) has had a reckoning. They acknowledge that their previous approach was rooted in racial and class bias, and they’ve transformed into a place that emphasizes serving families in their own communities.
● And Jey Rajaraman, chief counsel for Legal Services of New Jersey, writes about “How to Help Agencies Stop Confusing Poverty With Neglect.” Lesson 1: Focus on housing.
In other news:
● I have a column in Youth Today about who’s trying to push to the front of the line to exploit the Family First Act to “leverage” more money for themselves. Hint: It’s not families.
● In Canada, where the child welfare system is depressingly similar to ours, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. has a story about a social worker who made it her mission to defend families whose children were taken needlessly – and what happened to her. (It’s what you think.)
● And there is sad news from Connecticut, where a federal court ruling may effectively give the state free reign to tear children from parents whose alleged mental illness is said to indicate they may abuse or neglect their children in the future.