Tuesday, February 21, 2023

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending February 22, 2023

● We begin this week with two stories from, of all places, the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics. In one story two former top officials of the federal Children’s Bureau answer a question that, just a few years ago, the AMA wouldn’t even have asked: “How Should Race and Resource Context Influence How Neglect Is Considered by Clinicians?” In another, a doctor serving her internship in family medicine asks: “How Should We Respond When Clinicians’ Calls to CPS Are Punitively Weaponized Against Families?” 

● Both those stories revolve around mandatory reporting and the fact that most “training” is really propaganda demanding that mandatory reporters report anything and everything.  New York State has a new mandatory reporting course that makes some significant changes – though not nearly enough.  (And, having taken the actual course, I can tell you it is definitely not as good as its designers portray it.) 

● The New York State Assembly canceled a scheduled hearing on mandatory reporting.  So, as The74 reports, supporters of abolishing mandatory reporting, who’d planned to rally outside the hearing, took the rally online.

  As for what we can do instead of calling the hotline, Nora McCarthy writes in The Imprint about how to build better alternatives. Here's step one: 

Right now, we're seeing the child welfare establishment respond to calls for abolition by talking about "system transformation." But if government agencies, foundations and institutions actually want to seed transformation, they will need to yield significant power. 

  But federal financial incentives make this difficult. I thought I knew all the ways terrible federal financial incentives encourage family policing and discourage better alternatives.  But in Truthout, Elena Gormley taught me about one I'd missed

Motherboard has a story, with comment from NCCPR, examining a New York City Comptroller’s report blasting the way city agencies, including the Administration for Children’s Services are using predictive analytics.  As the headline puts it: “AI Use by Cops,Child Services In NYC Is a Mess: Report.”  From the story: 

The comptroller’s report found that while the agency says it routinely does bias testing, it was unable to produce logs of that testing or update the agency on how frequently it occurs or when it revises the algorithm. And while the agency says it has guidelines on how it uses predictive models, it “did not provide us with evidence that these guidelines are required to be followed in the same way that formal policies would be.” (ACS told the comptroller that it was in the process of making their guidelines formal.) …
[W]hen the comptroller asked if members of the public could review the algorithm or log complaints about the use of the algorithm, the agency said that “there would be no basis for a complaint” because the algorithm does not make the final decision, it merely flags cases to prioritize for ACS employees to review.

● The University of Baltimore School of Law hosted a webinar about the stakes as the U.S. Supreme Court considers the Indian Child Welfare Act. Here's the video: 

A bill in Texas would provide Miranda rights for families and provide the first minimal legal protections when the state tries to force kids into hidden foster care - a practice that may be worse in Texas than anywhere else in the country. The bill is sponsored by Republican State Rep. James Frank and has the support of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.  So it’s going to be hard to smear this one as supposedly part of some Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. 

● Two weeks ago, I concluded this round-up by writing:  Just in case anyone needs still another study documenting that reducing poverty reduces child “neglect,” here’s another study documenting that reducing poverty reduces child “neglect.” 

Well, those studies just keep on coming.