Wednesday, June 9, 2021

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending June 9, 2021

● What does it mean when everyone you might turn to for help also is a “mandated reporter,” required to turn you in to child protective services if they have any suspicion of child abuse – or if they’re simply afraid not to make a report?  Research shows what you’d expect – it discourages people from seeking help.  One mother talks about it in Rise, writing: 

Being scared of the child welfare system has an impact on almost everything I do. Every move I make has to be given careful thought—what doctors I go to and what I tell a doctor or therapist. 

● As leaders of Rise explain in The Imprint, this also explains why community groups – not child protective services agencies themselves – should be running “preventive services.” 

● High school students also know how family policing systems really work.  Check out the video some of them made:

● Three members of Congress are calling on the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families and the HHS Civil Rights Division to investigate “the events leading up to the tragic death of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant…” who was shot by a police officer outside her foster home.  A press release from one of those calling for the investigation, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) specifically notes that “Ohio children are placed in the foster care system at a rate 10 percent higher than the national average.”  (FYI: When you factor in rates of child poverty Ohio is even worse – and Franklin County, where Ma’Khia was in foster care, probably is far worse than the state average.) 

● Three national experts on kinship foster care zero-in on a key turning point that contributed to Ma’Khia’s death: her removal from her grandmother.  In The Imprint, they write: 

Bryant’s grandmother wasn’t unfit to care for her kin; rather, she was underserved by the child welfare system and then blamed when this underinvestment caused her to lose her housing. 

● After years of ignoring, or impeding, racial justice in child welfare, the group calling itself “Children’s Rights” now claims it’s “driving” the conversation about that very issue.  I have a blog post about how, in fact, others are at the wheel.  CR only just climbed into the backseat. 

● The head of the family regulation agency in Washington State, Ross Hunter, has come up with the perfect bureaucratic response to KING-TV Seattle’s investigative report documenting how his caseworkers and supervisors are forcing some foster children to sleep in cars – and worse – as punishment: pretend it’s not happening.  Fortunately, KING-TV reports in a follow-up story, several lawmakers and others in the state are not buying it.  

And here, from the follow-up story, is a reminder of what Hunter claims isn’t happening: 

The KING 5 investigation, which was based on a review of local and state records and interviews with foster youth and more than two dozen current and former DCYF employees, revealed agency supervisors instructed social workers to make youth sleep in uncomfortable places — like in social workers’ cars, on DCYF office floors and on plastic chairs and cots in office lobbies — when they refused to accept a placement at a foster home or group home. Some social workers said their bosses encouraged them to use other psychological tactics to make the youth even more miserable, like blasting the air conditioning, rolling down the windows or keeping the youth awake all night.

● The Omaha World Herald reports on a Nebraska state legislator who heard those NPR/Marshall Project stories about “child welfare” agencies using a legal loophole to effectively steal foster children’s money. The legislator has introduced a bill do stop it, and the World Herald has condemned the practice in an editorial

● And finally, from Indian Country Today

The world was shocked to hear about the discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British, Columbia Canada. 

For many Indigenous people, however, the most shocking element of the story is not the discovery of the graves but the fact that it’s taken so long for non-Natives to acknowledge the grim details of this long-ignored history of Indian boarding and residential schools, a story that is part of both U.S. and Canadian history.

 As the story notes, the U.S. is well behind Canada both in acknowledging what was done to Native children in what were the “residential treatment centers” of their time (a time that lasted well into the 20th Century) and in doing anything about it.