Tuesday, April 20, 2021

News and commentary round-up, week ending April 20, 2021

Another outstanding story from Rise: Two cases in which children suffer accidental injuries.  In one case the city family policing agency, the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), tries to take the child away.  Writing for rise, the mother in that case, Imani Worthy, compares her situation to another mother: 

Around the same time, there was a story in the news about a white actress, Jenny Mollen. She had dropped her son and he fractured his skull. She talked openly about how hard it was for her as a mother and that she was so thankful for the hospital staff. They didn’t question her motives.

 Our babies were both hurt unintentionally – but we were treated very differently. …

 Her words were not twisted and used against her. In fact, she wrote about her woes and received so much sympathy. I did not. I couldn’t focus only on how devastating it was for my child to be hurt and to lose my mother. I also had to worry about ACS.

 ● Most child welfare organizations have responded to the national demand for racial justice by slapping some kind of Black Lives Matter statement on their website and hoping the whole thing will blow over. The Associated Press reports on one organization, aptly described as an “unlikely voice,” that might be ready to do more. 

● Once again, Eli Hager of The Marshall Project tells the real story of COVID-19 and child welfare.  The story is called These Parents Had to Bond With Their Babies Over Zoom — or Lose Them Forever.

 ● By an overwhelming margin, the Washington State Legislature has passed a bill to narrow the state’s neglect law to make it harder to confuse poverty with neglect.  The message does not seem to have reached the state family policing agency, however. 

--That agency just settled with the U.S. Department of Justice over widespread discrimination against parents who are deaf or hard of hearing.  According to the Justice Department

DOJ found evidence that on more than 100 occasions between 2017 and 2019, the Child Welfare Program failed to provide appropriate auxiliary aids or services, including qualified sign language interpreters, for the complainant families.  The communications included high stakes interviews during investigations regarding the possible termination of parental rights and during court-ordered treatments and counseling required for reunification with children. 

--And The Imprint reports on the sickening maneuvers undertaken by that same agency – with the connivance of a Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, of course – to tear a Black child from loving relatives and place him with white strangers for adoption.  Even though they failed, the Washington State Supreme Court apparently is sufficiently concerned about what was done to this Black child and his family to hear an appeal of the original decision to remove the child.

● In Minnesota, a state long an extreme outlier when it comes to tearing apart families, family advocates are not willing to settle for the usual boilerplate-b.s.-filled “preventive services” plan. As The Imprint reports, they’re demanding a plan that will “address one of Minnesota’s most glaring child welfare issues: racial disproportionality.” 

● I have more about the injustice inflicted on children by the fifth wheel of the child welfare system in Missouri, and on the harm of mandatory child abuse reporting laws in this blog post.

● And, finally, I believe that CASA isn’t just racially biased (see Washington State item above for only the latest example) – the bias is built into the model. The program also is a well-documented failure in almost every respect.  I believe CASA is unfixable.  But if there’s one person who could prove me wrong it’s Charity Chandler-Cole.  Guess who’s just been named to run the CASA program in Los Angeles. This is going to be interesting to watch.