● We begin with another reminder of the harm done by the “master narrative” about child abuse and COVID-19, this time from Diane Redleaf and Lenore Skenazy in the New York Daily News. They write:
Calls to America’s child abuse hotlines have plunged by about 50% during the pandemic. Does this mean a tsunami of child abuse is happening behind doors?
No. It means that — hallelujah! — a tsunami of pointless, paranoid child abuse calls are no longer getting made. And that means millions of decent, loving families — a huge portion of them poor — are no longer opening the door to find a government official declaring, “I’m here to decide if you get to keep your kids.”
● The other major consequence of COVID-19 is the rush by child welfare agency chiefs to issue blanket edicts cutting foster children off from in-person visits in order to pander to selfish foster parents. Isobel Whitcomb of Gizmodo takes a deep dive into the science demonstrating why this is enormously harmful to young children.
● You know how one of child welfare agencies’ favorite lies is the one about “we can’t take children on our own. A judge has to approve everything we do”? In fact, they can take children on their own – or ask law enforcement to do it for them. The Arizona Republic reports on the harm done to children in one such case. The story also illustrates, again, the harm done to children when hospitals see child abuse whether it’s really there or not.
● Even when child protective services agencies do ask a judge first, the judge almost always hears only their side of the story. Vivek Sankaran writes in the Chronicle of Social Change about how, as a result, thousands of times judges get it wrong.
● One way to curb such abuses is to provide high-quality legal representation to families from the moment an investigation begins in order to resolve the problem without going to court, or if the agency wants to remove the child, at least the judge will hear all sides. One of the states that needs this kind of innovation most is Iowa, which has an obscenely high rate of removal. Now, Iowa is going to try it as a pilot program.
When Democrats fail:
● A lot of my fellow white liberals simply can’t get their heads around the fact that in Black communities child protective services agencies are viewed for what they really are: a police force. That helps explain why some of the most liberal Democrats in the United States Senate are supporting a wide-ranging coronavirus relief bill that not only does not defund the child abuse police, it actually includes up to $500 million more in federal support for CPS investigations. I have a blog post on it.
When Republicans fail:
● In North Carolina, on a near party-line vote, Republicans passed a bill that would have made it easier to take newborns from their mothers and rush to terminate the children’s rights to their parents if the mothers used drugs, with no showing of harm to the child. It also would have curbed kinship care, in part by declaring stranger-care parents “non-relative kin” if they’ve managed to stall reunification for nine months. Fortunately, the state’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, vetoed it. An override vote is scheduled for today (July 18).
● The harm this kind of legislation does to families is well-documented in the recent report from the Movement for Family Power. Helen Redmond of Filter takes a close look at that report. So does Mike Ludwig in Truthout.
● And in Washington State, Crosscut reports on an effort by the state child welfare agency (the same agency that is always ready to pander to selfish white foster parents) to evade the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act.