A week of extraordinary news coverage. Let’s start with three stories, each powerful in itself, even more so for the picture they paint when read one after the other:
● Does anyone still believe the lie that family policing agencies always tell about how “we can’t remove a child on our own, a judge has to approve everything we do”? If so, please read this story from Honolulu Civil Beat, about how, in Hawaii, they almost never ask a judge first – but keep getting away with it. Oh, and when the story illustrates how other states are not as bad, look closely at the numbers: Those states also stink - the stench just isn’t quite as bad.
● Does anyone still believe the lie that at least after taking the child there has to be a hearing right away? Sure, that’s what most state laws say. But, as Mother Jones illustrates in this story, the reality is that the free shot the family police have at any child can last for weeks, sometimes months.
● Does anyone still believe the lie that at least the whole process is overseen by kindly social workers? If so, please read this New Republic story, aptly titled Defund Social Workers:They’re often just cops by another name.
● Another jurisdiction that abuses the power to declare any case an “emergency” and take the child and run is New York City. But, as the New York Law Journal reports, the Family Justice Law Center is fighting back.
● Even after the investigation is over, the damage can last for decades – if the accused is wrongly listed on a state central register of “child abusers.” So it should be obvious that, at a minimum, there should be a hearing beforehand. But that doesn’t happen in most states. Community Legal Services of Philadelphia is trying to change that in Pennsylvania. They have an op-ed about it in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
● Every family policing agency routinely violates federal law requiring “reasonable efforts” to keep families together instead of just rushing to throw the kids into foster care. But here’s what makes Missouri unusual: The head of that state’s family police effectively admits it. I discuss this in a column for the Missouri Independent.
● In Maryland, they’re paying to house foster youth in hotels because, supposedly, there’s no other placement. But many children are in foster care because their parents don’t have housing. In a column for the Baltimore Banner, Prof. Shanta Trivedi and I ask: If you’ll pay for a hotel for the children after you’ve torn them from everyone they know and love, why not pay for a hotel for the whole family, so they can stay together?
● WFTS-TV reports that in Florida more and more families are joining a lawsuit alleging that Florida’s family police agency is “going out of its way to break families apart” From the story:
In the newly filed 45-page amended complaint, workers within the state’s child welfare system are accused of:
--failing to conduct diligent searches for biological relatives
--fabricating evidence or manipulating facts to disqualify some biological family members from getting custody of young relatives
--serving as an internal diversion system that allows “foster system connected-staff” [to have] children of their choice
● Nora McCarthy’s latest column for The Imprint is about how community networks help keep children safe – and what interferes with such networks. She writes:
Paradoxically, child welfare itself may be disruptive to community networks. Parents say that fear of child welfare’s reach keeps them from opening up with friends and relatives about what they’re going through, as sociologist Kelley Fong documents in her forthcoming book. One mother told Fong that, as a strategy to limit vengeful calls, “I keep my circle small. I only deal with the few people that I only deal with.” Another echoed: “I feel like if I stay by myself, I’ll have no problems.”
● And finally: Prevent Child Abuse America claims its days of spreading what the group itself calls “health terrorism” are over. I have a blog post on the latest example showing that they’re still at.