Wednesday, February 23, 2022

NCCPR News and commentary round-up, week ending February 22, 2022

The previous round-up began by comparing a real-life case to the depiction of a dystopian child welfare surveillance state portrayed in Jessamine Chan’s novel The School for Good Mothers  Now, Let Grow has a comprehensive comparison between the novel and the real world of family policing.  It is not reassuring. 

● One of the cases Let Grow cites is among the two discussed in this NCCPR Blog Post: Two almost identical “child welfare” cases. Same state. One mother’s treatment is “respectful and understanding” the other is arrested, hogtied and jailed. You’ll never guess the difference. (OK, you probably will.) 

● Often families are harassed when they have to go to work or to an urgent appointment, don’t have child care and so leave the children alone or with a sibling deemed by the family police to be insufficiently old to watch them. That’s what happened to Keyna Franklin, who wrote about it in Rise. 

● In North Carolina, an eight-year-old boy is taken, probably needlessly, from his mother.  He is institutionalized in a “group home” and sexually assaulted.  He discloses the assault to his mother during a visit, but then no one will even have the decency to tell her anything – until she reached out to Charlotte television station WBTV. They reported on the endless buck-passing in January and followed up last week. 

● Speaking of problematic institutions: There is no concept so good that the family policing system can’t mess it up.  Case in point, requiring that providers of services be “trauma-informed.”  It’s quickly turned into nothing but a hyphenated buzzword that allows “providers” to avoid real accountability.  

Case in point: A New Hampshire institution that holds children as young as seven – yes, even younger than the one in North Carolina. The New Hampshire institution was the subject of a “cascade of complaints.”  Their punishment: A brand new three-year $9.8 million contract – that’s $71,050 per child per year.  But the new contract says “trauma-informed” a lot.  I have a blog post about it. 

● To get a sense of what “trauma-informed” should mean, check out Vivek Sankaran’s latest column for The Imprint. 

● The abuses aren’t limited to group homes.  The York Daily Record has a timely reminder. 

● The abuses aren’t limited to the United States either.  For decades governments in the United Kingdom, both Labor and Conservative, imported some of America’s wost ideas and practices.  In this BBC interview, Taliah Drayak of the Parents, Families and Allies Network describes what it’s done to children and families – including her own.  The report she discusses is available here: 

The Way Forward from Andy Bilson on Vimeo.

● Speaking of really awful laws and policies, The Imprint has an overview of efforts to repeal, or at least amend, one of the worst: the so-called Adoption and Safe Families Act.  Of course, the story includes some of the myths used by proponents to justify the horrors ASFA has inflicted on children and families – including the claim that ASFA reduced the time children typically spend in foster care.  In fact, as I wrote for The Imprint last year, it probably did nothing of the kind, and may actually have impeded any such decrease. 

● Canada’s CTV Network newsmagazine, W5, examined the harm done by some so-called “child abuse pediatricians.”  The good news: W5 found that a Texas law passed last year that requires second opinions in disputed cases already may be deterring such doctors from jumping to conclusions that destroy families.  The bad news: 49 other states (and Canada) still need such laws. 

● Among the many failings of the vastly overhyped Family First Act: A law meant to help counter the racial bias that causes so much needless destruction of families has racial bias built into it – in the way programs are evaluated to determine if they qualify for funding under the law.  The Imprint explains the impact on Native Americans. 

ProPublica summarizes its series on the failings of TANF – the program that ended welfare as we knew it, including what happens in Arizona, which diverts a large portion of its TANF funds to child abuse investigations and foster care. 

● And New Mexico may take a small step toward improving legal representation for families.