Wednesday, August 25, 2021

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending August 24, 2021

 We begin with two great videos: 

● Prof. Dorothy Roberts talks to Kathleen Creamer of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia about “demystifying abolition:" 

● See also Prof. Roberts’ essay for the Summer issue of Dissent, which begins this way: 

Imagine if there were an arm of the state that sent government agents to invade Black people’s homes, kept them under intense and indefinite surveillance, regulated their daily lives, and forcibly separated their families, often permanently. The left would put toppling this regime high on its agenda, right? This racist structure exists in the United States today, and yet the left pays little attention to it. The child welfare system—the assemblage of public and private child protection agencies, foster care, and preventive services—is a crucial part of the carceral machinery in Black communities.

● And from Legal Services of New Jersey, an outstanding panel setting the record straight about substance use and child welfare. If you can't watch all of it, I recommend starting at 11:37 in with the eye-opening presentation from Prof. Tricia Stephens of the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College: 


● There’s good news for rocket scientists – they can stick to their day jobs!  That’s because, as I explain in Youth Today, fixing child welfare isn’t rocket science – mostly it’s a matter of giving poor people a little more money. 

● But because of our obsession with ignoring the confusion of poverty with neglect and our insistence that if you’re poor you must be mentally ill, family policing agencies insist on putting parents through “psychological evaluations” – which typically are at best meaningless and often far worse.  As family defender Emma Brown Bernstein writes for the Rethinking Foster Care blog: 

As a parent attorney for nine years, I have had the opportunity to review dozens and dozens of parental fitness and psychological evaluations, but I have never seen one that recommends that a child return home (even under any conditions) or that a parent have unsupervised visitation. Instead, I have seen evaluations missing key evaluative components, relying on incorrect information, or copying and pasting paragraphs with other individual’s information. 

I have also seen evaluations recommending parents lose weight, maintain housing for six months prior to unsupervised visitation, or obtain a GED or high school diploma. A “therapeutic” recommendation is often that parents “comply with their case plans” without the evaluator ever seeing those case plans. And I have seen the same evaluators marched into court over and over and over again to produce the same findings, give the same recommendations, and receive the same payment from the Department. When does this become just an “expert for hire”? 

● Although the Minnesota Legislature failed to pass the African American Family Preservation Act, Sylvia A. Harvey shows in this article for The Imprint why such legislation is needed. 

● What do General George Armstrong Custer and some high-powered 21st century law firms have in common? Nick Estes has the answer in a commentary for The Guardian. 

● His commentary is pegged to the excellent This Land podcast series about the real history behind challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act.  The first two episodes and transcripts, are available here. 

● And the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports on a rally for Syesha Mercado, the American Idol finalist who had her children taken for Parenting-While-Black.