Wednesday, April 12, 2023

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending April 11, 2023

● “Which would be worse,” asks Jasmine Wali, director of policy & advocacy at JMAC for Families, in this story for The Nation: “being beaten by your partner, or having social services take away your children? That’s the choice facing many parents I’ve worked with as a social worker, and the answer is always the same. ‘I’d rather take the beating than catch a CPS case,’ as one said to me.” 

That’s exactly the choice battered women face – because of mandatory child abuse reporting laws that drive them away from getting help.  

The Today Show explains that there’s one more thing Black people have to add to the long things they dare not do “While Black”: Using a licensed certified midwife to help you give birth at home.  

● Of all the outcomes for foster youth, everyone knows the worst is “aging out” of the system with no home at all.  Well, everyone except Prof. Sarah Font of Penn State, that is.  She thinks even aging out can be better not only than returning to their own homes (an outcome to which she’s long been hostile) but even to guardianship with extended family.  Why? It all boils down to $$$$$$  I have a blog post about it.  And here’s part two, which explains why “creme" is to food what “permanency” is to child welfare: a fake substitute. 

● A member of the Seattle Times editorial board has made a discovery

Turns out, one of the best ways to shrink foster care rolls is neither parent therapy nor drug treatment, but something much more concrete: housing. … This solution, to both homelessness and foster care sounds almost ridiculously obvious. 

● And once again, if “ridiculously obvious” isn’t good enough, The Imprint podcast features a discussion of still another study showing how additional cash reduces what family policing agencies call “neglect.” 

● Another area where broad, vague “neglect” laws do enormous harm concerns “lack of supervision.”  In Social Policy Report, three scholars examine “The Unintended Consequences of ‘Lack of Supervision’ Child Neglect Laws: How Developmental Science Can Inform Policies about Childhood Independence and Child Protection.” 

● You’ve read story after story about “understaffing” in family police agencies.  But Metro Philadelphia shows how much of the problem isn’t understaffing – it’s overpolicing. 

● In the Advertiser-News, which serves parts of Northern New Jersey and Upstate New York, three mothers talk about the deep trauma inflicted on their families even by what should be called CPS-Lite: In two cases, no more than a relatively brief intervention from a well-meaning caseworker.  One mother describes how 18 years after their encounter with the family police, the family remains haunted: 

“I was never an anxious person. I am now. I’m a little more distrustful. I stand back a little bit from crowds. I always think what is in it for you? What do you want from me? What’s the end game? 

“The biggest thing out of all this is anxiety. I can see it in my children. My son tries to be perfect – a perfect person, perfect guy. Has relationship issues sometimes because of it,” she said. “My daughter is always saying she’s sorry. She beats herself up over the dumbest things.” 

 ● Young people also suffer when parents are forced to jump through all sorts of absurd hoops to be reunited.  In The Imprint, Joel Swazo writes that 

[I]n my own personal experience, my stepdad lost custody of myself and my two sisters. He ended up going to jail for a year for unrelated reasons. Upon release, CPS required him to have his own apartment, job, bedrooms for each of my sisters, parenting classes, counseling, and monitored visits. Until he did each and every requirement, he would not be able to get my sisters back. How is the average person supposed to gain access to housing with a criminal record? How was he supposed to obtain a living-wage job, but required to go to all these different classes during business hours? It took him over two years to finally complete these requirements that should have been six months or less. These are all things that would be very difficult to do without support or access to supplemental services.

● Did you think that now that the practice has been exposed, all family policing systems have had the decency to stop what amounts to stealing foster children’s Social Security Disability and Survivor benefits – and give back what they took?  This story from CalMatters makes clear you’d better think again.