Wednesday, February 26, 2020

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending February 25, 2020

● Mike Hixenbaugh of NBC News has done a series of outstanding reports about some so-called “child abuse pediatricians” whose blindness to other explanations for childhood injuries or illnesses can wreak havoc in families.  But what happens when the person everyone turns to as the child abuse expert doesn’t even have the credentials to be a child abuse pediatrician in the first place?  That’s what’s happening in Washington State.

● What happens when hospitals drug test pregnant women and rush to turn them in to child protective services? Pretty much what you’d expect, writes Charissa Huntzinger of the Texas Public Policy Foundation:

Women have described efforts to minimize the risk of arrest or punishment through social isolation, withholding relevant medical information, avoiding prenatal care, skipping treatment appointments, or avoiding treatment all together. This means our efforts to protect children are actually placing them and their parents at greater risk of harm.
● If the Orwellian predictive analytics algorithm in Pittsburgh is really so great, why does the director of the county human services agency have to obfuscate so much about what it is and how it really works?  I have a blog post about the selling of “Hello Baby.”

And there are several interesting stories about kinship foster care:

The Chronicle of Social Change reports that still another study shows still another benefit of placing children with relatives instead of strangers: The children are less likely to ultimately be moved into the worst form of “care” group homes and institutions. One possible reason: Relatives are less likely to give up on their own relatives when those children have behavior problems.  (Similarly, other data show that children living in kinship foster care are less likely to be forced to take potent, sometimes dangerous psychiatric medication.)  Another finding from the study: Children are more likely to be institutionalized if they’re Black.

● Also in the Chronicle former foster youth Georgette Todd writes about what she discovered only after she “aged out” and started looking for family on her own:

When my aunt picked up the phone, we caught up with our lives but then she said something that truly stunned me and still has a deep impact on me to this day. She said, “Georgette, I never knew you were in foster care. No one notified me … had I known, I would have taken both you and your sister in.

Todd argues that, with modern technology, there’s no excuse for failing to find relatives. 

● But the problems aren’t always technological. Sometimes the problem is the bias some child welfare systems still have against extended families.  That bias can be seen in the absurd requirements some states impose before a relative can become licensed to be a foster parent. As this story from Chris Serres of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune makes clear, Minnesota is a case in point.

● The hostility to kinship foster care is just one aspect of a bigger problem in Minnesota: The state’s sky-high rate of tearing apart families, and one of the worst records in the nation for racial bias.  KSTP-TV has a story about a hearing that dealt with these issues. And NCCPR has additional context here.