Wednesday, January 12, 2022

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending Jan 11, 2022

● Well what do you know, families DO have Fourth Amendment rights when the family police knock at the door – at least in Pennsylvania, according to a decision by that state’s Supreme Court.  The Imprint has a story, and The Volokh Conspiracy blog and Community Legal Services of Philadelphia have the details. 

● Speaking of things you may have thought children and families already had: Colorado Newsline reports that the state is considering legislation to require lawyers for children in family policing proceedings to behave like lawyers and fight for what the child wants, instead of pushing for whatever the lawyer happens to thinks is best, even if that means fighting against her or his own client.  Twenty-eight states now require this, though the mandate is not always enforced.  Florida Politics reports on a similar bill in that state, but sponsors will have to overcome the demagoguery of Florida's CASA program in order to get it passed.

● The attempt to use family policing to destroy Native American culture didn’t end with the horrible institutions known as “boarding schools.”  It was followed by a systematic campaign of forced adoption into white homes, spearheaded by, among others, the Child Welfare League of America.  The Philadelphia Inquirer tells the stories of some of the survivors.  Even one who was raised by loving white parents still bears deep scars: 

“You’re an Indian! You’re an Indian!” one of her cousins would taunt. “No, I’m not!” [she] would scream back, a denial that still embarrasses her and causes her pain. 

● There is still another study documenting the confusion of poverty with “neglect” this time in Britain. 

● The Western New England Law Review has a superb summary of the research showing the enormous harm to children caused when they are taken from domestic violence survivors (on grounds that the parent “allowed” the child to “witness domestic violence”). 

The article interweaves compelling case examples and a mass of research.  It also includes an excellent discussion of the dynamics of domestic violence, what makes it hard for a survivor to leave such a relationship (including the enormous role of poverty) and what courts – and the rest of us – should be asking concerning whether family policing agencies are genuinely making reasonable efforts to help them, as federal law requires.  Although it is specific to Massachusetts it applies everywhere.  And it is only about one-fifth the length of a typical law review article. 

For more on this topic see NCCPR’s summary of expert testimony and the outstanding reporting of USA Today Network Florida journalists. 

● Using data from NCCPR’s comparisons of entries into foster care and child welfare spending as well as other federal data, The Tennessee Tribune compares outcomes in Alabama, which reformed thanks to an innovative lawsuit settlement emphasizing family preservation to Tennessee which endured one of those typical settlements of one of those typical McLawsuits churned out by the group that calls itself Children’s Rights.  Guess which state is spending less but getting better results. 

● Foster-care panic is like a fire. It’s not a good idea to add gasoline.  But that is exactly what the child welfare “ombudsman” is doing in Maine.  I have a blog post documenting in detail how Maine’s child welfare ombudsman is dangerously wrong.