Friday, October 29, 2021

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending October 27, 2021

 ● Remember when KING-TV in Seattle revealed how the state family policing agency was using techniques described by international human rights organizations as torture to coerce youth into accepting placements in their cruddy group homes and institutions?  The state could have responding by not taking away so many children so the children who really must be in foster care would have placements that are not cruddy. 

But anybody who knows the track record of  Ross Hunter, who runs the Washington State family policing agency, knows that’s not likely to happen on his watch.  Instead, KING-TV reports in a follow-up story, the state is going to try to get the courts to force children into these cruddy placements. 

One foster youth who turned down such placements told KING: 

she frequently refused placements that were hours away from her hometown and her school. But she also turned down placements when she had concerns about her well-being or safety, including one home where she said she was inappropriately touched by a foster parent during a prior stay. 

“The state, they take kids from people that do those things. And then to force a child to openly go through a home like that, that was just the turning point for me and I felt I was lost,” she said. 

● Last week, I noted that  THE CITY reported on a fight in the New York City Council over whether the city’s family policing agency will continue to be able to run roughshod over families by refusing to tell them about the few rights they have when a caseworker turns up at the door.  Now the Daily News and The Imprint have stories about it.  

The New York Times ignored the story. They were too busy elsewhere. I have a blog post about it. 

● You can bet the Times story will be used to try to expand the city’s “predictive analytics” family policing algorithm.  There’s going to be a forum about that in early November.  I have a blog post about the disturbing track record of a star panelist. 

Vice News has a story about the destruction of indigenous families in Canada. Based on earlier reporting from CBC News, the Vice story perfectly sums up the entire family policing system in a single paragraph: 

In Newfoundland and Labrador, one Indigenous father told CBC News about a time when a social worker, accompanied by a police officer, barged into his house and announced his kids were being taken away. "Shut up," yelled the social worker. "I can do it because I can." 

● All over America, high-quality interdisciplinary family defense organizations are, at last, saying “No, you can’t.” Family police agencies and judges don’t like that.  That’s the real reason why, as The Imprint reports, one such organization, in Alameda County, California, just lost its contract. 

Carolina Public Press reports that the former director of a county family policing agency in North Carolina has pled guilty to a felony charge in connection with the the county’s hidden foster care scandal.  That still begs the question: Why is this horrendous practice legal in every other state? 

● Filter Magazine has an essay by Caitlin Becker, managing director of social work at The Bronx Defenders on why “We Social Workers Should Remember Our Values and Stop Policing.”  She writes: 

Social workers are supposed to challenge injustice, pursue social change, and value the dignity and worth of the people we serve. Our field is intended to support people and connect them with real assistance, not to partner with those who threaten their freedom and their lives. 

Prof. Shanta Trivedi, writing in Ms., notes that there was plenty of outrage when we found out the level of surveillance and control Jamie Spears was allowed to exercise over his daughter, Britney.  But, she writes, what impoverished families endure routinely at the hands of the family policing system is “Jamie Spears on steroids.” 

● And finally, each week I’m going to try to highlight one article from the Columbia Journal of Race and Law issue that published papers from the Strengthened Bonds conference. 

This week, from “Toward Community Control of Child Welfare Funding: Repeal the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and Delink Child Protection from Family Well-Being” by Angela Olivia Burton and Angeline Montauban:  

By  defining “child abuse and neglect” as a singular phenomenon, lawmakers knowingly created a false equivalence between  intentional  physical harm  to  children by their  parents and conditions of poverty, effectively transforming child poverty from a social, economic, and racial justice issue into a problem of individual parental pathology and deviant behavior. Conflating abuse  and  poverty-framed-as-neglect  allowed  policymakers  to avoid  addressing  deeply  entrenched  structural, economic, and racial inequities affecting children’s wellbeing.