Tuesday, November 17, 2020

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending November 17, 2020

● Why in the world would progressive child advocates be urging the incoming Biden Administration to keep in place the leadership team in the federal government’s Children’s Bureau?  Vivek Sankaran explains in this column for The Imprint.  Also, check out the interview with Sankaran on the Imprint’s podcast.  It starts at 29:46 in.

 ● Why would a progressive child advocate take part in a podcast produced by a conservative group?  Because child welfare crosses ideological lines in unusual ways.  Listen to NCCPR’s take on child welfare here.

 Two big developments in New York City concerning racial bias when hospitals test patients for substance use – tests that then may form the sole basis for calling in false allegations of child abuse:

 WNYC Public Radio reports that “New York City’s public hospitals will end a longstanding practice of drug testing pregnant patients without their explicit written consent, a policy that advocates say leads to unnecessary investigations and perpetuates racial disparities in the child welfare system.”

 ● And New York City’s Human Rights Commission has launched an investigation into whether three prestigious private hospitals are discriminating against Black and Latinx patients when they decide whom to test for drug use. The Imprint has a story about the investigation.

 ● No doubt, the city’s Administration for Children’s Services will throw up its hands and claim they can’t do anything about hospitals do, or what the state does – because buck-passing is what ACS does best.  In fact, ACS has a lot of influence over what hospitals do and some influence over the state.  And one thing ACS could do on its own is implement a true Family Assessment Response program (also called differential response), in which workers are sent out to offer voluntary help instead of an investigation.  But the ACS version of Family Assessment Response is essentially a big fake-out. The Imprint has a story about that, too.

 ● NCCPR has updated the Big City Rate-of-Removal Index.  On this blog I have a summary of what’s changed: Philadelphia gets a little better, Los Angeles gets worse, and the “professional kidnappers” are hard at work in Phoenix.

 One of the reasons Philadelphia has gotten a little better is explained in this story from Kensington Voice – and the lessons can be applied everywhere.

 ● Also in Pennsylvania – but applicable almost everywhere: Community Legal Services of Philadelphia has issued a report on the enormous harm done to children by the state’s central registry of so-called child abusers. As the report points out:

 Blocking off the ability of parents and caregivers to access employment in high-growth fields only serves to hurt the very children the child abuse registry is supposed to protect in the first place. The child abuse registry thus exacerbates child poverty and places vulnerable families in even more precarious circumstances. And all too often, placement on the registry is based on faulty or incomplete investigations, or on the caseworkers’ misapplication of evidence or misunderstanding of statutory definitions. In many cases, racial, cultural, or economic differences create an additional bias that factors into a caseworker’s determination of whether child abuse or neglect occurred.

In a column about the report for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, Janet Ginzberg and Saadiqa Kumanyika of Community Legal Services write:

 The investigator is the “judge and jury.” Without any hearing, they decide whether there was substantial evidence of child abuse and, if so,  they “indicate” the report, placing the accused on the registry. The criteria used to make these determinations is often unreliable and heavily influenced by the investigator’s personal biases.
 ● With the federal Indian Child Welfare Act under attack, New Mexico Political Report has a story about lawmakers moving to incorporate its provisions into state law.

 ● What happens when the “helicopter parent” is a school? One school refuses to let parents decide if their 9, 10 or 11-year old children are old enough to walk home alone (because, in a time of COVID-19, what could be safer than all going together in a school bus, right?)  Lenore Skenazy writes in Reason about the need for legislation to allow parents to give their children reasonable independence.

● And we end this week where we started: With a commentary from the head of the Children’s Bureau, Jerry Milner on the Rethinking Foster Care blog.