Monday, March 30, 2020

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending March 29, 2020

Actually, it hasn’t been a week since the last round-up, but there’s so much going on …

● Have you seen all those stories about how, now that there are fewer calls to child abuse hotlines, there will be a wave – even a “pandemic” of child abuse?  On the contrary, the sky is not falling, and the hysteria that latter-day child savers are trying to sew will do far more harm than any drop in hotline calls. Indeed, fewer calls may make children safer.  Claims of an impending “pandemic of child abuse” also reflect the depth of the unconscious racial and class bias that permeates child welfare.  I have a blog post on it.

In another blog post, I highlight how the very process of removing a child from the home heightens the risk that the child will contract COVID-19.

● One of the few stories to provide the context that most have left out is this very good story Roxanna Asgarian in Vox.  And see also this outstanding story from Rachel Blustain in City Limits and this one from Abigail Kramer at the Center for New York City Affairs.

● In the Chronicle of Social Change Vivek Sankaran charts how child welfare should move forward after the crisis is over. He writes:

How courts and agencies proceed after we lift our finger off the pause button will reveal the true values of the child welfare system. Are we serious about our commitment to reunifying children with their parents? Do we care about principles of justice and fairness and truly believe that every parent and child should be given a fair chance to live together? While we often profess that the constitutional right of parents to care for their children is one of the most fundamental and bedrock principles our country values and protects, do we actually mean it?
This crisis gives us a chance to change this trajectory and to unequivocally express our commitment to keeping families together and reunifying families as quickly as safely possible.

● And Elizabeth Brico, writing in The Appeal, has an overview of the harm being done in many system for the most vulnerable, including child welfare.

There are excellent new resources out there.

● Most notably, the concern about child welfare’s poor response to COVID 19, which I discussed in Youth Today last week, goes all the way to the top.  Jerry Milner, head of the Children’s Bureau in the Department of Health and Human Services sent out this great letter to child welfare agencies and courts, urging them not to impose blanket bans on visiting and blanket bans on court hearings to reunify families.

● The Movement for Family Power has a great resource page – and see especially their FAQ on the real impact of COVID-19 on child welfare, and child’s welfare’s poor response.

● Texas groups from Left and Right have joined together to offer excellent recommendations for how child welfare agencies should respond to the crisis.

And finally …

● When Michael Fitzgerald of the Chronicle of Social Change first exposed a massive screw-up by the City University of New York, a private child welfare agency and the Administration for Children’s Services that led to the expulsion of foster youth from their dorm rooms in the middle of a pandemic - at the epicemter of that pandemic - I said there was one thing we knew for sure: ACS Commissioner David Hansell would insist it was all someone else’s fault.  Here’s an excerpt from the Chronicle’s follow-up story.

Julie Farber, the Children’s Services deputy commissioner who oversees foster care, emailed through a spokesperson. She flipped the blame, stating: “CUNY made the decision to close all of its dorms this week and set a very short window to implement this, once the governor decided that it was critical to turn CUNY into a medical facility to help save the lives of New Yorkers.