Tuesday, February 18, 2020

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending February 18, 2020

● Who really gets caught in the net of child protective services? Who pays the price for foster-care panic, a sharp sudden spike in removals of children after a high-profile child abuse tragedy.  Some answers in this outstanding ten-minute video from BRIC TV in New York:

● They “lied, spied and withheld and destroyed evidence…”  That’s how the Everett Herald sums up the behavior of the scandal-plagued CASA program in Snohomish County, Washington.  (You can read more about the scandal here.) Part of the problem:  Judges couldn’t hold the program accountable because the CASA program was administered by the court itself.  Now that’s going to change. But the larger problem with the CASA program is simply that it’s a CASA program. Even when they behave honorably, bias is built into the model.

● A New York State Senate task force examining opioids is recommending a radically different approach to dealing with substance use, including substance use and child welfare.  What’s so radical? It actually says we should follow the evidence concerning what works and what doesn’t.  The Movement for Family Power explains the benefits of the Task Force recommendations in this statement, which includes a link to the report itself.

● A common excuse for using Orwellian predictive analytics algorithms to supposedly predict who might abuse a child (or who is safe to let out on bail, or who supposedly is cheating on welfare benefits, etc.) amounts to: Sure, the algorithms are biased, but humans are biased too!  The Correspondent has a good analysis of that issue. 

● Two Colorado legislators have a column in the Coloraro Sun about their bill to narrow Colorado’s incredibly broad “neglect” law to allow “Colorado parents to be able to give their kids the kind of independence almost all of us over age 30 grew up with – the freedom to walk to school, play outside, come home with a latchkey and so on.” 

Yes, we really do need laws to allow this.  One of the legislators recalled her own experience:

“When I was widowed, I had four kids under the age of 11. Parents know their children best and there are children 8, 9, 10 that are perfectly capable of walking to school by themselves. But the parents load them up and drive them because they’re afraid to be charged with neglect, and I think I overcompensated out of fear, too.”

● Most states have raised the age in which youth are allowed to stay in foster care to 21. A California lawmaker wants to extend it through age 25. In the Chronicle of Social Change, a backer of the original age increase, former foster youth  Akin Abioye, says the new proposal is a mistake. He suggests several better alternatives, including “Stop removing kids from their family of origin.”

And there’s more about the dangerous blunders of so-called “child abuse pediatricians.”

Vivek Sankaran writes in the Chronicle of Social Change about how the kinds of tragedies exposed by Mike Hixenbaugh of NBC News, in particular this case from Wisconsin, stem from lack of transparency, lack of accountability, and a refusal to admit mistakes.

● But Katie LaGrone, an investigative reporter for several Florida television stations, has a story (part of a series) about how Florida’s top child abuse pediatrician has attacked the character of those who dissent from their findings and instructs other doctors on how to counter alternative explanations for children’s injuries.  But don’t worry, he says, those falsely accused in Florida can always get a second opinion – from him!