Tuesday, March 3, 2020

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending March 3, 2020

● In Los Angeles, a group calling itself the Alliance for Children’s Rights makes selective use of data to promote ugly stereotypes about poor people and demean the lived experience of thousands of foster children. But while distorting data is easy, setting the record straight can require going deep into the weeds. Ready to take the trip?

● More than 50 years ago, states rushed to pass laws forcing people in certain professions to report any suspicion of “child abuse” to authorities.  In some states, everyone is a mandated reporter.  No one actually did any research to see whether this would work.  Now, at last, the research is catching up and – surprise – the laws backfire. They deter people from seeking help and they overload systems so workers have less time to find children in real danger.  

I review this recent research, and the ugly history of mandatory reporting laws in this column for Youth Today.  But in child welfare research is no match for politics. The bill discussed in the column that would have slightly curbed mandatory reporting in Idaho was defeated.

● Mandatory reporters almost always include school personnel, and their reports often are among the most damaging.  The parents who report and write for Rise magazine have some excellent recommendations for curbing the damage done  by needless reporting by school personnel.

Rise had its start as a column in Represent, a magazine written by and for foster youth. Represent was an outgrowth of a publication known as New Youth Connections.  And it all began with one visionary, Keith Hefner.  As Hefner retires, the Chronicle of Social Change looks at his legacy.

● Also in Youth Today, the director of a child welfare agency that provides, among other things, residential treatment  has co-authored a column that calls for – a lot less use of residential treatment.

Jeremy Kohomban and Sara Kroon Chiles write:

With Family First Act implementation underway, editorials and articles proliferate, many articulating nervousness among residential providers. With their revenue models under attack, some institutions are fighting back in the press and in the halls of statehouses to defend child welfare models that can be frightening, backward and protectionist of ineffective practice.
While short-term residential placement is a necessary part of the continuum of care for some high-needs children in foster care, it is never an effective long-term solution. …

● Last year, in still another column for Youth Today I wrote about how child welfare agencies and middle-class foster parents play the “bonding card” to take – and keep – poor people’s children. WXYZ-TV in Detroit has an update on one of the cases I cited in that column – and this time the news is good.

● But, so far, at least, you can get away with playing the bonding card to take a poor person’s child for your very own in Minnesota.  The Chronicle of Social Change has an update on a case they’ve been following closely.

● For the online news site Crosscut, Tara Urs, special counsel for civil policy and practice at the King County Department of Public Defense, writes about things Washington State can do to stop forcing children into out-of-state institutions and night-to-night placements in hotels – including the one thing Washington State media never like to talk about.