Wednesday, June 28, 2023

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending June 27, 2023

●  Three weeks ago, ProPublica exposed the duplicity of New York City’s family police agency as it publicly said it favored caseworkers informing families of their rights  - while working behind the scenes to gut legislation to require just that.  Now The Imprint reports on how the same agency used the same tactics to undermine legislation to replace anonymous child abuse reporting with confidential reporting. 

● Texas(!) in contrast, passed bills to do both.  You can learn more about how that happened, and the ongoing fight, at this webinar on June 29 from Narrowing the Front Door. 

● Also in New York, but applicable everywhere: This Daily News op-ed from family defenders on why the worst way to respond to child abuse fatalities is foster-care panic. 

● In the wake of the stunning – in a good way – Supreme Court decision on the Indian Child Welfare Act, ProPublica talks to Kathryn Fort, director of the Indian Law Clinic at the Michigan State University College of Law about how to make sure the law is enforced.  One of her recommendations: Repeal the so-called Adoption and Safe Families Act

“It was a mistake,” said Fort, who added that not only does she believe that ASFA is bad for Native American children, but “I don’t think it’s good for any children.” 

● See also The Imprint’s interview with Shannon Smith, executive director of the ICWA Law Center. 

And, in a commentary about the ICWA decision in Slate, Prof. Stephanie Glaberson, director of the Civil Litigation Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center, offers this reminder: 

The effort to destroy Native families stands out as uniquely genocidal. But it is not wholly different from the approach the United States has used against many families and communities deemed unworthy or undesirable. To the contrary, it’s a playbook we’ve seen over and over again in American history … 

● One of the reasons Massachusetts tears apart families at a rate more than 60% above the national average is The Boston Globe.  I have a Blog post on the latest example of how the Globe fails the vulnerable children of Massachusetts. 

● Don't stop me if you've heard this one before: Now it's the National Academy of Sciences out with a comprehensive report showing that government aid to reduce poverty can significantly reduce involvement with the family police.

● Here's one way to do it: In Washington, D.C., Street Sense Media reports on the “Mother Up” guaranteed income project launched by the Mothers Outreach Network.  Under this community-funded initiative  

Mothers living with their children and who have a current or recently open case with a [family police agency] social worker are eligible to receive $500 per month for three years

● It would do nothing to catch predator priests, but it would make it even harder for impoverished parishioners to get help.  I have a column in The Imprint about why making clergy mandated reporters doesn’t have a prayer of actually curbing child abuse. 

● I missed this one last month: Prof. Vivek Sankaran of the University of Michigan School of Law discusses the enormous harm to children caused by America’s mad rush to terminate those children’s rights to their parents. 

The Imprint reports on federal legislation that would help protect children of disabled parents from being needlessly removed from their homes or otherwise surveilled by the family police.  

The story includes this useful reminder: 

In January of this year, the Associated Press broke the story that the Justice Department was looking into an artificial intelligence tool being used in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, because it had received reports that the tool might be discriminatory to disabled parents.

● There is no innovation, no best practice and no good turn of phrase that the family policing establishment won’t try to co-opt for its own ends.  In some parts of the country, they’ve done it with Reunification Month celebrations.  Among the best at making sure that doesn’t happen is Legal Services of New Jersey.  And now that LSNJ’s Jey Rajaraman is at the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, she’s writing about how to reunify Reunification Month with its original meaning. 

● In Florida, the state family police agency took a teenage girl away from her mother after the girl ran away from home.  Then, WFLA-TV reports, everything got so much worse

● And in still another for the “horror stories go in all directions” file, check out the video of residents of a “residential treatment center” in Oklahoma beating up a child – while staff apparently do nothing.  KFOR-TV reports that when the mother contacted state family police agency officials they were very concerned – about getting the video taken down.  And see the follow-up story here.

● And finally, if you need a break from all this grim news about family policing, try the June 28 New Yorker Crossword - starting with 42 Across.