Wednesday, July 14, 2021

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending July 13, 2021

● We may never know exactly how it happened or how they did it, but I’ve noted before that the most progressive leadership team at the U.S. Children’s Bureau, possibly in its entire history, was the one in place during the previous Administration.  We were among those who hoped the Biden Administration would keep Jerry Milner and David Kelly in place.  But, as The Imprint reports, Milner and Kelly are doing the next best thing. 

● My guess is one state where leaders won’t be interested in Milner and Kelly’s work is Massachusetts.  Both their family policing agency and their so-called “Child Advocate” seem determined to drag a state that already tears apart families at a rate 60% above the national average full-speed backwards.  This can be seen in their desperate attempts to use a commission named by the state legislature as a way to expand the state’s mandatory child abuse reporting law -- despite a tsunami of opposition at public hearings.  This week NCCPR released its own in-depth analysis of the commission’s work

● When you take away too many children, as Washington State has done for decades, you wind up with an artificial “shortage” of foster homes.  That sets off a cascade of failure that ultimately leads to children sleeping in offices and even cars, moving from place to place night to night.  And, as KING-TV reports, that ultimately leads to this: 

[One foster youth] said her depression and anxiety is what led her to attempt suicide. But there were times, she admitted, she injured herself so she could go to the hospital instead of sleeping in the DCYF office, where she said she felt unwanted, unloved and alone. 

“Sometimes I’d cut so I’d have at least three or four days of stable placement, where I can live and not have to worry about eating or drinking or where I'm going to sleep,” she said. “The life I was living got to be too much for me, and it kind of made me explode." 

This story is a follow-up to one in which KING revealed that the state Department of Children, Youth and Families used tactics on these youth that international human rights organizations call torture, such as forcing children to sleep in cars and then repeatedly waking them up.  Now, KING reports: 

DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter repeatedly denied those claims following KING 5’s investigation, which “infuriated” [former after hours caseworker Deanna] Ginter and prompted her to go public with her own experience working in the field.

 “It’s so frustrating to hear those things being denied, as somebody who is on the ground and has seen those things happening,” said Ginter, who added that supervisors instructed her, on multiple occasions, to stay with foster youth in cars overnight and make them uncomfortable as a form of punishment. “I didn’t feel like I could speak up. I didn’t feel like I could say anything.” 

So, who should we believe?  Well, let’s consider Ross Hunter’s track record.

● And finally, a column that, on the surface, has nothing to do with child welfare, but inadvertently has a lot to do with the journalism of child welfare.  New York Times editorial writer Brent Staples writes about the racist history of American journalism, and the fact that many newspapers are reexamining that history – and profusely apologizing for it.  But the apologies ring hollow when so many news organizations (including the Times) keep buying into the racist myth about child abuse and COVID-19.