Thursday, January 26, 2023

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending January 25, 2022

The Imprint has a good round-up of research documenting the confusion of poverty with neglect.  Raise the minimum wage and you reduce what family policing agencies call “neglect.” Increase SNAP benefits: Less “neglect.”  Expand Medicaid: Less “neglect.” Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit: Less “neglect.”  As the story puts it: 

Notably, the type of public benefits offered doesn’t seem to make a difference. Whether it’s housing subsidies, child care assistance, or cash aid, there appears to be the same positive effect — reducing CPS reports. 

● Unfortunately, the federal Administration for Children and Families hasn’t quite gotten the message.  On the one hand, they have explicitly acknowledged that the confusion of poverty with neglect is a huge problem and something needs to be done.  That's certainly a step forward.  And they have adopted (though without credit) the language of Joyce McMillan, founder of JMAC For Families, declaring that "There has been a growing national awareness and interest in encouraging mandated reporters to become 'mandated supporters.'"

But instead of getting more money directly into the hands of poor families, they’re going to give up to $10 million over five years to some consultant or other – to teach mandatory reporters and child abuse hotline operators how to stop confusing poverty with neglect! [UPDATE: FEB 24, 2023: The grant has been canceled.]  Once again the suffering of poor people will enrich some child welfare establishment group or other.  At worst it could go to some awful group like Prevent Child Abuse America, which falsely defines the issue as poverty causing neglect when the bigger issue is poverty itself confused with neglect.  Or, as bad or worse, it might go to an outfit like Chapin Hall (see the item below about whitewashing abuse in foster care). 

But even if it goes to a group that genuinely understands the issue, it won’t get to the heart of the problem: Mandatory reporters who already know they’re confusing poverty with neglect, but are afraid not to report so they do it anyway. 

● The web version of NPR’s latest outstanding stories about children taken from their parents, sometimes forever, because the parents couldn’t pay child welfare’s version of ransom to get the children back is now online. 

● There are horrifying details about the sexual assault of two young teenagers in Texas foster care.  One is 16, the other 13.  But as The Imprint reports for the 13-year old 

[t]he October assault was not the first she had survived. After running away from a foster care placement two years ago, the court monitors found, she was abducted from a gas station, drugged and sexually assaulted by two men. 

● If you’re wondering how often foster children are abused, do not ask Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.  They’re about to undertake a “study” of the issue that’s almost certain to grossly underestimate the true rate of abuse.  I have a blog post about it

● Family policing is one of America’s ugliest exports.  For decades Britain has been imitating America’s worst practices – including massive discrimination against families where a parent has a physical or mental disability. The UK’s Channel 5 News produced this in-depth report on the topic: 

● From the “Wait, this really required a court decision?” file: In removal-happy Colorado, apparently so.  As the headline on this story from Colorado Politics puts it: “Judge wrong to terminate mom's parental rights without her or her lawyer present, appeals court says.” 

● The New York Civil Liberties Union has a blog post about that study, commissioned by New York City’s family police agency, the Administration for Children’s Services, in which ACS workers themselves condemned racism in the agency.  The post includes excellent recommendations for reform. 

● And NCCPR has a column in the Albuquerque Journal about why “An infatuation with foster care won’t save kids.”