Wednesday, February 9, 2022

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending February 8, 2022

● One might hope that those various “problem-solving courts” that have sprung up across the country – to knee-jerk acclaim in hundreds of gushy news stories – would actually know how to solve problems.  But, particularly when it comes to substance use, some of these courts exist where so much of the child welfare establishment does, at the intersection of ignorance and arrogance.  Because so many child welfare professionals, and judges, view drug use as a moral failing, they often reject the safest and most effective approach for many parents struggling with opioid abuse – medication-assisted treatment. 

Now the Department of Justice has stepped in.  DOJ has issued a letter ruling that when judges ban such treatment they are violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.  Though the cases that prompted DOJ to investigate arose in Pennsylvania, the DOJ position applies everywhere.  Here’s the full letter and a story from the Legal Intelligencer. 

And one thing more: The letter singled out one judge in particular.  Turns out he’s the same judge who tried to separate a father from his children forever because the father is overweight. 

The Imprint’s weekly podcast features a fascinating interview with Andrea Elliott, author of Invisible Child. 

● Last week’s round-up included The Imprint’s careful, nuanced analysis of the use of predictive analytics in child welfare, with ample room for all sides of the debate, along with some startling revelations about the work of the nation’s foremost predictive analytics evangelist, Emily Putnam-Hornstein. 

I explore those revelations, and what they mean for California, for Pittsburgh and for anyplace else that may be tempted to embrace what amounts to computerized racial profiling in a two-part post to this blog. 

● Putnam-Hornstein is part of child welfare’s “caucus of denial” – the group that thinks child welfare is magically immune from the racial bias that afflicts every other part of American life.  So she probably hasn’t seen this great video primer on the topic.  It was organized by the Los Angeles chapter of Court-Appointed Special Advocates – the one run by a child welfare abolitionist.  Unfortunately, odds are all those other CASA chapters weren’t listening either. 

● There’s more about the failure of the current system, the racial and class bias that are built into it, and the case for abolition in this Youth Today interview with University of Pennsylvania Prof. Dorothy Roberts, author of Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare and the forthcoming Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families--and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World. Prof. Roberts also is a member of the NCCPR Board of Directors.

● The headline from Rewire News sums up the case: “Eating Poppy Seed Cake Got This Pregnant Woman Reported to Child Services.” The report was only the beginning of the family’s ordeal.  It’s another consequence of the widespread practice of hospitals testing mothers and newborns for drugs without consent – well, not all mothers, of course. 

● The Houston Chronicle has still another story on the harm sometimes done by “child abuse pediatricians.” 

● And at last: A group involved in oversight of Maine child welfare that shows a real understanding of the problems.  I have a blog post on the report of the Maine Child Welfare Advisory Panel Citizen Review Panel.