Wednesday, July 5, 2023

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending July 5, 2023

● After more than a year of digging and 100 public records requests Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and The New York Times Magazine expose how a one-word change in a part of the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act has wrought havoc in the lives of thousands of children and their families.  Contravening all the science and every major medical society with expertise in the area, the change has led to the confiscation of newborns at birth even when the only drug a mother was using was a legally-prescribed medication to counter the effects of opioids.  Indeed, it can endanger the fetus to suddenly stop using such medication when pregnant. 

But the story doesn’t stop there.  It also touches on the sham of “team decision-making,” the harm of forcing parents to pay part of the cost of children’s foster care (a payment that should properly be called “ransom”) and the evil of a practice known as “concurrent planning. 

In short, this story gets right everything The Boston Globe got wrong when it published a story that included some similar issues. 

● Think you already know about the enormous harm done by the vast unchecked power of so-called child abuse pediatricians? The Netflix documentary Take Care of Maya still has the power to shock.  Netflix has not released a trailer, only this clip:

Here’s an example of what can still shock: One expects the medical professionals to show contempt for Maya’s falsely-accused mother, but their texts and overheard conversations revealed the extent of their contempt for Maya – the child they supposedly were “saving.” 

I’m glad the documentary credits the outstanding work of Gannett reporter Daphne Chen, who, with Nicole Rodriguez,  broke the story and went on to do so much more excellent reporting on family policing. 

● After you watch Take Care of Maya, check out this suggested list of additional reading from Vanity Fair about not only the harm done by so-called “child abuse pediatricians” but the vast unchecked power of the family police in general. 

● When the family police agency in Massachusetts found that their determinations of “child abuse” and “neglect” were  overturned after a hearing half the time, guess what they did:

A. Fixed their process.

B. Invented a way to evade the hearings.

Of course you know the answer.  But you might want to read our blog post about it anyway. 

● There have been plenty of news accounts about transgender children threatened with removal from their homes in certain states if their parents provide gender-affirming care.  Mostly, these stories have focused on white, middle-class families.  But sexual orientation, whether of a child or a parent, has made families a target of the family police for as long as there have been family police.  And, as Rewire News illustrates in this story, the threat is even greater if the family is not white or middle-class.  

In the Journal of Law and Policy, family defender Joshua Michtom explains why vigorous family advocacy in the courtroom is not enough – family defenders must explain to the general public the enormous harm done by this system.  He writes about what he tells new lawyers: 

Child protection trials are meant to provide just enough due process to legitimize a system that efficiently ratifies the decisions of the child protection agency.  These are not neutral proceedings of unknown outcome.  As trials go, they are a scam.  As a lawyer representing parents, you will be part of the scam … Certainly we must be skilled fixers, zealous advocates, and tireless litigators.  But if that is all we do we will be nothing more than collaborators enabling the system by lending it an undeserved veneer of due process … [P]arents’ lawyers must take on a moral and strategic duty to report the system’s abuses to the public.