Thursday, March 17, 2022

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending March 16, 2022

● Bad as it is for any child to be torn from their home and consigned to the chaos of foster care, it’s worse for LGBTQ children – the very children now targeted by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.  NCCPR Board Member Prof. Dorothy Roberts, author of Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare and Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families--and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World explains why in this column for The Washington Post.  She also offers a broader analysis: 

Abbott’s move to punish parents who violate the state’s prescribed gender norms reflects the overall design of child protective services and its regulation of families. The directive’s veneer of benevolence, covering for its harmful objective, is not an aberration. Rather, it is a central feature of the child welfare system — a multibillion-dollar apparatus that controls marginalized families, especially those that are Black and Native, by taking their children away. Relying on vague state child neglect laws, investigators often deem conditions of poverty — lack of food, insecure housing, inadequate medical care — as evidence of parental unfitness. Only 17 percent of children enter foster care based on allegations they were physically or sexually abused. With the Texas directive, and in the child welfare system generally, what constitutes child abuse is subject to the interpretation of mandated reporters and caseworkers whose perceptions are influenced by racial and class biases. 

In other news: There are moves in three states to curb some of the ugliest practices in family policing: 

● In California, legislation would curb the practice of making poor people pay part of the cost of their children’s foster care.  Even child welfare establishment types, like this professor, are for it.   States call it “child support,” but when someone takes your child away and makes you pay money to get the child back the more appropriate term for the payment is ransom.  (For context concerning why this does so much harm to children, see this in-depth report from NPR.) 

● NPR, along with The Marshall Project also was among the news organizations exposing the practice of agencies effectively stealing foster children’s own money.  In response, NPR reports, New York City’s family policing agency is promising to curb the practice. 

● In Philadelphia, where Resolve Philly first exposed the practice, a member of the City Council says she will introduce legislation to curb it. 

● Remember that Colorado case in which a false allegation of neglect led to this? 

police had hauled [the mother] out of her home and hog-tied her: wrists handcuffed behind her back and tied to her legs, which were in shackles.  “You know how you tie a pig upside down and his feet are hanging from the stick? That’s how they carried me.”  

Well, check out what happened in this case involving a false allegation of neglect in Nebraska: 

According to the Nebraska ACLU, the lawsuit claims Omaha Police Officer Ryan Keele entered [the mother’s] home, threw her to the ground, brandished a taser, and handcuffed and arrested her without probable cause. 

Aside from being falsely accused of neglect, want to guess what else the mothers have in common? 

● People assume that if you’re poor and the government has taken your child away you at least have a right to a lawyer, just as in criminal cases.  But in some states, that’s not true.  One of those states is Minnesota, which, year after year, tears apart families at one of the highest rates in the nation, and has the worst record of all when it comes to racial bias in the destruction of  Native American families. The part about not being entitled to a lawyer is about to change.  But, as this story in The Imprint makes clear, more is needed.