Wednesday, February 3, 2021

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending February 2, 2021

● Prof. Shanta Trevedi, a clinical teaching fellow at the Georgetown University Domestic Violence Clinic, writes in The Imprint about why a top child welfare priority for the Biden Administration should be urging Congress to repeal the so-called Adoption and Safe Families Act: 

We still have a system that favors family destruction despite clear data that, even when parents have not been perfect, children are irreparably damaged when they are separated from them. We continue to prioritize a system that we know leads to worse outcomes for those children, because we have created an entire industry that is financially dependent on taking children from their parents. ASFA is primarily to blame, and it’s got to go. 

NCCPR has additional context about ASFA here. 

● Shira Shoenberg of CommonWealth Magazine reports on how, in Massachusetts, children sometimes are needlessly torn from their families and trapped in foster care because the families and the state family police agency literally don’t speak the same language. 

● Once again there’s an effort to push the false narrative that COVID-19 is leading to a pandemic of child abuse.  This time it’s coming from Alaska.  But, as is discussed in this NCCPR blog post, there are questions about both the message and the messenger. 

● There is a lot of debate about what kinds of services should be provided to prevent child abuse and who should provide them.  There is less debate over the fact that they should not simply be cut arbitrarily – as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposes.  But opponents of the cuts appear unwilling to seize this challenge and use it as an opportunity. Predictably, they’re talking about cuts across the board, instead of seeing this as a chance to curb programs that mostly help the helpers, like useless “counseling” and “parent education” and focus on what really works. 

● Speaking of what really works: Add one more to the long list of studies documenting the transformative power of cash.  The new study documents how increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit reduces reports of what family policing agencies call “neglect.” 

● In Philadelphia, the City Council’s Special Committee on Child Separations heard from Prof. Kara Finck of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and representatives of DHS-Give Us Back Our Children.  You can see the video here.

And finally …

 The New York Times has a story about the fact that Black parents are far more skeptical than white parents about sending children back to schools.  Among the reasons:

Education experts and Black parents say decades of racism, institutionalized segregation and mistreatment of Black children, as well as severe underinvestment in school buildings, have left Black communities to doubt that school districts are being upfront about the risks.

But here’s one more possible reason: For nearly a year, one news story after another has pounded home to teachers that false (and racist) narrative mentioned earlier about COVID-19 and child abuse. Teachers have been told over and over that while they weren’t looking, those Black children were victims of a “pandemic of child abuse” -- so they’d better look real closely at those kids as soon as they’re back in class and call child abuse hotlines when they have the slightest suspicion.  (By the way, the Times has been among the worst offenders.)

That seems like one more reason Black parents might be wary about sending the kids back to school.