Wednesday, October 5, 2022

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending October 4, 2022

● Last week, I was asked to list the most important contributions to the field of family advocacy and family defense made by Prof. Martin Guggenheim. The fact that he is a founder and president of NCCPR didn’t even make my top five.  As Kathleen Creamer put it in this story from The Imprint “No one has done more than Marty to move this field towards justice — even when no one seemed to care about justice.” 

● California becomes the latest state to curb the practice of making parents pay ransom to get their kids back from foster care. (Yeah, yeah, they call it “child support” but when you tear a child from a parent’s arms and then make the parent pay money to get the child back, the only proper term for the payment is ransom.) The Imprint published this story about the bill while it was awaiting a decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom.  Subsequently, Newsom signed the bill.  He also signed two bills intended to curb the confusion of poverty with neglect. 

● In New York, that state’s Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights is going to launch an investigation into “possible violations of Black families’ civil and constitutional rights by the New York child welfare system.” 

● Following up on a Honolulu Civil Beat investigation revealing that family police in Hawaii almost always tear children from their families without so much as asking a judge first, a state senator is considering introducing legislation to curb the practice. State Sen. Joy San Bonaventura also is wise enough to know that would be only a first step: 

“My concern is that a judge would rubber-stamp whatever a CPS social worker says,” she said. “At least it will be something to have a warrant, but I think we need more than that.” 

Fourth Amendment rights are the issue in one of two new and important works of legal scholarship: 

● When reporters call, one of the most difficult questions for me to answer is how the Fourth Amendment applies in “child welfare” cases.  That’s because court decisions have left a thicket of confusion and inconsistency.  Prof. Tarek Ismail of CUNY Law School cuts a path through the thicket, not only explaining how we got into this mess, but also suggesting a path to get us out. 

● It gets less attention than the racial and class bias that permeate family policing, but discrimination against families with disabilities is just as pervasive.  One might think the federal Americans with Disabilities Act would help.  But prof. Sarah Lorr of Brooklyn Law School writes in the California Law Review that family policing agencies and courts have found so many ways around it that their behavior “transforms the ADA into an empty vessel for parents with intellectual disabilities.”  

And finally...

● Last week's round-up included this New York Law Journal story about New York's Family Justice Law Center.  The Center will bring impact litigation challenging the city's family policing agency, the Administration for Children's Services.  An agency flack, who is, of course, paid by New York City taxpayers, offered up a response that is a one-paragraph masterpiece of dissembling and misdirection.  I have a blog post analyzing it.  It's a great chance for New Yorkers to see their tax dollars at work!