Thursday, November 18, 2021

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending November 17, 2021

 ● Let’s start by looking ahead to Saturday – it’s time for National Adoption Day!  Cake! Ice Cream! Balloons at the courthouse!  Because what could be more appropriate than a festival commemorating the aftermath of termination of children’s rights to the parents they were born with.  If termination of parental rights is child welfare’s equivalent of the death penalty, then what is Adoption Day but a macabre celebration of family executions

● If anyone still doubts how easy it is to “execute” a family, how casually it occurs and how much harm it does, check out these stories from Next City: In two parts they x-ray the soul of a family policing agency – in his case, Philadelphia, but it could be anywhere.  The picture is even uglier than you think. 

● Even when a child isn’t taken, the trauma inflicted by the child welfare surveillance state is huge.  “In early June, I had brought my children to the school building for the first time since the start of the pandemic to speak to the district superintendent and principal about my concerns regarding my children’s safety and dignity in their classrooms,” writes Shalonda Curtis-Hackett in the New York Daily News “Six days later, I was under investigation by ACS. 

The investigation and surveillance were invasive and dehumanizing. They checked our cabinets and fridge, scrutinized our living arrangements and questioned our lifestyle. We have been parents for 14 years and we have never been subjected to violence of this magnitude. After several visits, the ACS worker told me she was glad that she had my case because I would have scared her white co-worker.

● It will get uglier still as family regulation systems embrace “predictive analytics” – computerized racial profiling.  That’s why those who want to sell the idea in New York City were desperate to stack the deck at what was billed as a virtual “examination” of the topic.  They tried to shut out opponents like J. Khadijah Abdurahman – until family advocates and defenders fought to get her included.  And then they disabled the chat function, so no one else could directly challenge the predictive analytics salespeople, such as Emily Putnam-Hornstein, whose work is discussed here – and who even gets offended at the thought of the family regulation system being called a family regulation system. 

To see why they were so afraid of Abdurahman, start the event video here. Then watch as Aaron Horowitz, chief data scientist for the American Civil Liberties Union, systematically dismantles the arguments from the predictive analytics evangelists. 

● In Los Angeles, which tears apart families at the second highest rate of America’s biggest metropolitan areas, the #reimaginechildsafety coalition is out to change that.  Check out the story in The Imprint.  They’re already making a difference.  In more than 20 years of following the way the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors responds to child abuse tragedies I had never seen them even consider the possibility that the problem rests with taking away too many children in the first place – until Tuesday.  Check out The Imprint’s follow-up story and this story from the Los Angeles Daily News and City News Service. 

● Although it doesn’t get as much attention as the other populations targeted by family policing, children of disabled parents also are more likely to be forced into foster care.  Attorney Robyn Powell writes about what happens to those families in The Regulatory Review. 

● Don’t miss Andrea Elliott talking about her book, Invisible Child on the PBS NewsHour

● In Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News and Wisconsin Watch report, still another “child abuse pediatrician” is under fire. “'I am very fearful for anybody who has to bring their kids to Alaska CARES right now,' said Sarah Duran-Wood, a former forensic nurse at the clinic.” Why is Wisconsin Watch also reporting this story? Because that same child abuse pediatrician had left her previous job in Wisconsin under a cloud.

● In Florida, the cave-in to the Miami Herald’s crusade to tear apart more families even extends to financial incentives which have been skewed to encourage holding children in foster care and discourage sending them home.  I have a blog post about it.

● Here’s another example of the importance of financial incentives, and this time it’s good news.  You know how the residential treatment industry spent decades telling us that all those children absolutely positively had to be there and there was simply no way to care for them in families?  Amazingly, The Imprint reports, now that financial incentives are changing, institutions are finding a way! 

● But sometimes, it’s just the sheer banality of the system that’s infuriating.  Here’s a case in point.