Tuesday, August 3, 2021

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending August 3, 2021

● Movement for Family Power and the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls have launched their #RepealASFA campaign – urging Congress to erase an odious law that has erased hundreds of thousands of families.  Their analysis of the law’s origins is striking.  Here’s an excerpt: 

When we consider the Adoption and Safe Families Act, we situate our analysis not only in the elements of the law, but also the dominant imagination that allowed it to exist and survive with very little opposition.  One starting point is looking at Senator John Chafee (R-RI), a lead senate sponsor for the legislation, who on the eve of the eve of the passage of the ASFA told the New York Times, “It’s time we recognize that some families simply cannot and should not be kept together.” He spoke these words when nearly half of the children in the family regulation system were Black, most were poor, and the federal government was rapidly draining social safety nets.  

We believe that the families Chaffee imagined were not his own. He was from a family to which the entire power and might of the United States was dedicated to keeping together. In his direct ancestry were multiple governors, law professors, and senators. He attended the most elite institutions of the Northeast and went on to live the life he was pre destined to live-- ascending from congressperson to governor to secretary of the navy to senator. He had been bequeathed generational wealth and social status from the blood, sweat and tears of our families--literally achieving social and political capital from the backs of our ancestors.  He would likely utter the words that “some families should not be kept together” with a strong sense that his would continue to accumulate wealth and status, while we would inherit crippling foster system histories. 

NCCPR has more about ASFA here and here

Youth Today and The Imprint have excellent stories about that new study showing the extent to which family policing has become a pervasive, traumatic intrusion into the lives of families – especially nonwhite families.  In Arizona, for example, nearly every impoverished Black child will be subjected to a child abuse investigation and 20% will be forced into foster care.  Don’t worry, the Arizona family preservation agency told The Imprint, in recent years we’ve made “vast systemic improvements.”  But, as we point out in this blog post, the data tell a different story

● The story of one particularly appalling judge in Philadelphia, first reported in 2018 by the Legal Intelligencer, has gone national. NBC News looks at the havoc wrought by now-former Family Court Judge Lyris Younge.  Two elements are crucial: We would have known about this much sooner had court hearings in these cases been open in Philadelphia  -  as they are in states where more than 40% of America’s foster children live.  And Younge never could have done this to families had the Philadelphia Department of Human Services not harassed the families and brought them before her in the first place.