Wednesday, April 28, 2021

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending April 27, 2021

● What’s worse than taking candy from a baby? How about child welfare agencies stealing money that rightfully belongs to foster children.  Not only is it perfectly legal, in past years the Child Welfare League of America and the Children’s Defense Fund opposed efforts to make it illegal.  NPR and The Marshall Project expose the practice.  Now, some in Congress are trying again. This time, will CWLA and CDF side with the kids – or the thieves? 

● The York Daily Record takes a careful, comprehensive look at Philadelphia child welfare – and what they found applies just as well to almost any child welfare system. 

● “The moment you come into contact with child welfare, you’re like 11:59 of the doomsday clock,” J. Khadijah Abdurahman writes in a Twitter thread linking the police shooting of a foster child, Ma'Khia Bryant, to the system that put her in foster care. 

● A commission in Massachusetts spent nearly two years drafting proposals to make it even easier for force “contact with child welfare” on children by expanding mandatory reporting laws.  But when the commission finally held public hearings, some commission members were “shocked” “surprised” and “taken aback” by the massive opposition to those proposals.  I have a blog post about why some members of the commission are having second thoughts. 

● The so-called Adoption and Safe Families Act harms children in so many ways.  In this commentary, the Criminal Justice Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School examines just one: The harm that ASFA’s rush to terminate children’s rights to their parents (a more accurate term than termination of parental rights) does to children of incarcerated parents.  As the authors explain: 

Though ASFA purports to protect children, the U.S. Children’s Bureau found that it sacrifices permanent relationships ––something youth need to thrive–– for the uncertain possibility of adoption. 

This commentary is less important for what it says than who is saying it: A prominent member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  For a long time, they’ve been part of the problem. Does this mean they’re ready to be part of the solution? 

● Robert Latham of University of Miami’s Children and Youth Law Clinic discusses Florida child welfare on The Imprint’s podcast.  Starting at 38:10 he discusses his findings about child abuse and COVID-19.  And at the very end he notes that in Florida, a state which has run wild (my words, not his) in terms of encouraging if not demanding people be out and about and meet in person, the State Supreme Court made one huge exception: cutting off visits between parents and their children in foster care. 

Also on an Imprint podcast, Molly McGrath Tierney reflects on what’s happened since 2014, when she gave a landmark Ted-X talk on foster care.  I recommend watching the Ted-X talk first – it’s on the NCCPR home page.  In the podcast, I particularly like the part at 11:47 where Tierney reveals the secret of how to get kids out of group homes and institutions.  And later she also has a warning.  We’re in a time of rare progress in child welfare, but it’s fragile. Says Tierney: “Don’t think you can turn away for a second.”