Before the news, a reminder about an important virtual meeting tomorrow (Nov. 18):
The New York Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is hosting a series of public briefings to examine the extent to which racial disproportionalities and disparities exist in the New York child welfare system and its impact specifically on Black children and families. You can register for the first meeting here.
And now the news:
● Decades ago, NCCPR’s founder, the late Betty Vorenberg, resigned from the National Board of the American Civil Liberties Union because of the national ACLU’s failure to understand that family policing is a civil liberties issue. That began to change last year, when they took a skeptical look at predictive analytics in “child welfare.” And now, it’s clear, the ACLU gets it. Today (Nov. 17), together with Human Rights Watch, they released this outstanding, comprehensive report on the racial and class biases that permeate family policing. The report's author, Hina Naveed, will discuss it at a webinar on Nov. 21. The report includes this video:
● In the case of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, they didn’t just ignore what family policing was doing to families, they spent decades actively undermining efforts to keep families together – including leading efforts to deny the role of racial bias. So while this slide deck summarizing the research on how poverty is confused with neglect, and how even small increases in income dramatically reduce what agencies label “neglect” is useful – it would be better had it been accompanied by an apology.
● In contrast, the Center for the Study of Social Policy did sort of apologize for some of its earlier work on the so-called Adoption and Safe Families Act, in this commentary calling for repeal of ASFA.
● Just as the Indian Child Welfare Act is the gold standard for “child welfare” law (or would be if it were enforced) the work of Rebecca Nagle, producer of the This Land podcast, is the gold standard for ICWA journalism. Last week, as the Supreme Court heard a challenge to ICWA, Nagle had important stories in The Nation and The Atlantic.
● Julia Lurie of Mother Jones spoke to Nagle for this overview of the Supreme Court case – and the special interests behind the effort to overturn ICWA.
● In Slate, Michele Kriegman writes that The Supreme Court May Ensure Native Kids’ Ancestry Is Erased—Just Like Mine Was.
● From NCCPR President Prof. Martin Guggenheim's keynote address to the last Kempe Center conference - reprinted in The Imprint:
I’m here to tell you that family regulation has nothing at all to do with child welfare, it is entirely about the subordination of poor communities and, particularly, poor communities of color.
● Add one more to the long list of parents against which the family policing system discriminates: parents who are, themselves, foster youth. One such parent, Katelyn Owens, writes about her experience in The Imprint.
● In Michigan, state judges are all upset over a “placement crisis” in child welfare. In Bridge Michigan, I write about how it’s those same judges who are causing the “placement crisis.”
● One judge who does understand is the Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. As she prepares to retire from the bench, Justice Bridget McCormack wrote a stunning dissent that’s actually a call to transform “child welfare” in Michigan – and everywhere else. I have a blog post about it. And see also this story in The Imprint.
● A key step toward transforming "child welfare" involves a federal law that will be 25 years old on Saturday. Prof. Sarah Katz, Director of the Family Law Litigation Clinic at Temple University, writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer that "A federal law has beendestroying families for 25 years. Let’s get rid of it. I agree with the growing consensus that we should mark the anniversary of the Adoption and Safe Families Act by repealing this harmful, discriminatory law for good."
● I agree, too. NCCPR's commentary in the Albany, N.Y. Times Union is called "This law was supposed to protect kids from abuse. It hasn't."
● And in Reason, longtime family defender Diane Redleaf writes: "The Adoption and Safe Families Act Takes Kids Away From Loving Parents"
● Think the residential treatment industry can’t sink any lower? Then let this sink in: A residential treatment center in Connecticut is blaming an 11-year-old girl for being assaulted by another resident. CT Mirror reports that, in response to a lawsuit from the girl’s adoptive parents, the RTC says:
“The plaintiff’s injuries and/or damages were caused, in whole or in part, by the negligence and carelessness of the minor plaintiff,” the defense reads.
There’s much more in the story but also, as is so often the case with these stories, something missing: Why was an 11-year-old institutionalized in the first place? No, wait, this time it’s even worse. This was the second time this child was institutionalized. The first time was when she was no older than age 6.
● You may recall the outstanding Associated Press story about the U.S. soldier who decided he wanted to keep an Afghan baby for his very own. The headline was “Afghan couple accuse US Marine of abducting their baby.” I have a post about it with a link to the full story. It turns out, the New York Times Magazine was doing its own in-depth investigation of the same case. That story adds additional detail.
● From WGLT public radio in Illinois: Another story about the enormous harm done to a family by a “child abuse pediatrician.”
● And as you read all those treacly “adoption day” stories next week, don’t forget this case, in which it is not at all clear the children ever needed to be taken in the first place.