Tuesday, January 21, 2020

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending January 21, 2020

● A project by Boston Globe “Spotlight Fellows,” published by the Globe and ProPublica was extraordinary in its enterprise and noble in its goals. But it failed, and that failure is likely to hurt children. One reason for the failure: They did a massive project on a system that has a vastly disproportionate effect on children of color, yet the only national experts quoted are white. NCCPR has a full response here.

● One of the reporters who did the Globe/ProPublica stories made similar errors in covering a trial in a tragic case in New York City for The New York Times. In this blog post I compare the reporter’s actions to the Times’ Code of Ethics.

● Two important stories in recent weeks from Elizabeth Brico. Both, as it happens, deal with issues the Spotlight Fellows left out of their reporting. First, from Salon (via Undark): How when we take a swing at mothers who use drugs, the blow almost always lands on the children.  And, in The Appeal: How getting the journalism of child welfare wrong sets off foster-care panics.

● I’ve said before that white middle-class professionals and foster parents often turn child welfare systems into the ultimate middle-class entitlement: Step right up and take a poor person’s child for your very own.  For a classic case-in-point, check out this outstanding three-part series from the Chronicle of Social Change.  As soon as I started reading it, I knew the foster parents and the child welfare agency would try to play the bonding card.  So here’s some context about that, from I column I wrote last year for Youth Today.  Nor is there anything unusual about powerful foster parents working to bend systems to their will. Here’s another example.

Also in the Chronicle of Social Change:

Prof. Jessica Pryce makes the case for race-blind foster care removal decisions, in which, before a child is removed from the home, a committee conducts a “blind removal meeting” in which all the information about the case is presented – except information that would give away the race of the family. 

● Jill Cohen, director of programs for the Colorado Office of Respondent Parent Counsel, writes about the success Colorado is having with the same kind of high quality family defense that has accomplished so much in New York City and elsewhere.

● The San Diego Union Tribune has a story about the latest in a string of lawsuit victories for families in which children were needlessly removed and/or subjected to behavior which, if anyone other than child welfare agencies did it, would be child sexual abuse.  The story asks why the county doesn’t seem to learn from its mistakes.