Wednesday, November 9, 2022

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending November 8, 2022

● Oral argument before the Supreme Court in Brackeen v. Haaland, the case challenging the Indian Child Welfare Act is scheduled to begin TODAY (Nov. 9) at 10:00 am ET.  You can listen to the arguments live here. 

● There have been so many stories about ICWA during the run-up to oral arguments that I didn’t think there was any new ground to cover. But Karin Brulliard of The Washington Post proved me wrong. 

● Of course, most non-native foster parents who adopt native children are not accused of abusing them.  But a story from South Dakota reminds us of what can go wrong.  That story and the assault on ICWA should prompt us to revisit NPR’s superb reporting from more than a decade ago on what the South Dakota family police do to Native children and their families. 

In other news: 

Video is now available of the Family Integrity and Justice Works event documenting the enormous harm done by the so-called Adoption and Safe Families Act: 

● Please: Before you ever again believe that line of bull that family policing agencies give you about: “We must be right because judges approve everything we do!” – read this story from Honolulu Civil Beat. 

NBC News has an in-depth report on the death of a seven-year-old institutionalized in a residential treatment center in Kentucky.  But it fails to answer the fundamental question addressed in this NCCPR commentary for the Lexington Herald-Leader: Why in God’s name is Kentucky institutionalizing seven-year-olds?  (The fact that Kentucky tears apart families at a rate 50% above the national average might have something to do with it.) 

● Speaking of outliers: Massachusetts is even worse than Kentucky – and Massachusetts has been that way for more than a century.  I have a blog post about the state’s ugly history of family destruction. 

Another post discusses two stories about “shortages” in Massachusetts “child welfare.”  One story got to the heart of the issue, the other didn’t. 

● And while most states tore apart fewer families in 2021, Missouri, Iowa and Kansas are among those that took away even more children.  I have a blog post about that, too. 

● One place that has been getting these stories right lately is The Philadelphia Inquirer.  Last week, they published a story about high turnover among caseworkers for the private agencies that oversee foster care in that city, and the enormous harm that does to children.  But instead of the usual suggestion: a caseworker hiring binge, the Inquirer story cites a better idea: 

Family advocates suggest a straightforward if dramatic answer to the problem of worker turnover: Take fewer kids into care in the first place. 

A common misunderstanding is that the leading reason kids are taken into the foster care system is because of physical or sexual abuse. But that accounts for only one of six cases. Children far more often are removed from their homes for “neglect,” which often amounts to symptoms of poverty, like food insecurity or unstable housing. 

Supporting those families financially and with social services, rather than removing the child, would reduce caseloads significantly and allow workers to focus on the cases that really require intervention. 

Rise is beginning a series on one of the cruelest aspects of family policing: The way the system treats children of domestic violence survivors. 

Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary writes about how many grandparents raising grandchildren are having trouble feeding their families.  There are many reasons, but this one stands out: 

“I hear from the grandfamily caregivers that they don’t want to be a part of ‘the system,’” Keith Lowhorne, vice president of kinship with the Alabama Foster and Adoptive Parents Association, said in the report. “They worry that applying for food and nutrition programs would cause someone to come and take the children away if they don’t have legal custody, or go after the parents for child support, which would cause problems.” 

● And another “child abuse pediatrician” is being sued.  The Tacoma News-Tribune reports that 

Dr. Elizabeth Woods was sued Wednesday in federal court, where she was accused of giving flawed medical opinions to authorities regarding whether a child injury was the result of abuse and lacking the expertise necessary to conduct those evaluations. The suit was filed by a dozen parents individually and on behalf of their young children who they claimed were unjustly ripped away from their custody. 

Dr. Woods was the subject of this NBC News – KING-TV investigation in 2020 and this follow-up in 2021.