Wednesday, August 17, 2022

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

● Last week, we noted the stunning Atlantic cover story about the Trump Administration policy of trying to destroy families at the Mexican border.  This week on the NCCPR Blog: Hoping that the story helps everybody make the connection.  (No one who reads this Blog regularly should have to ask “what connection?”) 

But for those who still haven’t made the connection, check out this exceptional investigative reporting from Mother Jones on a system of calculated family separation that has nothing to do with Donald Trump. 

● Did the entire American Bar Association just go on record calling for the repeal of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act? Not quite.  Did the ABA apologize for its own role in supporting racially biased “child welfare” laws and initiatives? Not quite.  But they came damn close. Check out the resolution their House of Delegates just approved. 

● In Kentucky two foster children, one age 9 and one age 7 died over the past two months.  Both had been institutionalized in residential treatment centers.  In an op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader NCCPR asks: Why is Kentucky institutionalizing young children in the first place?  One reason: The media-fueled myth discussed in our 2020 post about Kentucky Fried Data. 

● A key pillar of the child welfare surveillance state is Central Registries of Rumor and Innuendo kept by almost every state (they don’t use that name, of course, but that’s what they are).  The registries do enormous harm to children by driving families deeper into poverty, and ratcheting up unwarranted suspicion that can lead to a child being needlessly thrown into foster care.  Now, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia has filed a landmark lawsuit challenging the process by which people are placed on the registry in Pennsylvania.  There’s a story in The Imprint.  And here’s the CLS press release. 

● One reason New York City tears apart families at less than half the rate of Philadelphia is an infrastructure of family advocacy and family defense unmatched anywhere in America.  A key architect of that infrastructure was David Tobis, author of From Pariahs to Partners: How Parents and their Allies Changed New York City's Child Welfare System.  He discusses his work in New York City and his current work building family advocacy internationally in this podcast from the Kempe Center

● The situation is far worse in Colorado, where lawyers can be punished for so much as speaking to a reporter about a case – even when no identifying information about a child is revealed.  At least that used to be the case – until a federal appeals court overturned that part of Colorado law.

In 2019, Jessica Peck, the lawyer who sued to overturn the law, was threatened by a judge after she went public about a case in which a three-year-old child was at risk of being taken from her mother “without a single shred of evidence.  In an interview with KDVR-TV that year, Peck said:

 “The agency operates in darkness, empowered to bully into silence the grieving families, reporters and lawyers who dare to question the agency’s role in any derogatory way. My client may have lost her child had we not spoken out. The Fourth Estate is critical to protecting my clients’ interests and without journalists, we’re doomed.” 

● Hidden foster care – taking children from their homes and bypassing even the minimal due process requirements in the formal system – is a problem almost everywhere.  But, unfortunately, it’s been found illegal only in one small county in North Carolina.  Carolina Public Press brings readers up to date with this excellent primer on how hidden foster care worked, and why it did so much harm. 

● And Alaska now joins other states in seeking to bolster protection for Native children, now that the Indian Child Welfare Act is under threat because of a pending Supreme Court case.