This week we begin with multiple examples of how the horror stories go in all directions:
● In 2021 the Texas Legislature, by nearly unanimous vote, passed a bill tightening the state’s definition of neglect. One lawyer complained that “The failing in the laws is that the standard is so high now for a child to be removed.” As I said, that law passed in 2021. Two recent tragedies make clear that, if anything, the standard is not high enough. I have a blog post about them.
● The sisters of Arabella McCormack, a little girl allegedly, in effect, adopted-to-death in San Diego are suing. CBS8 San Diego reports that
The lawsuit states that when deputies arrived at the home, Arabella weighed 40 pounds, her bones protruding from her small frame, her teeth yellow and calcified, and her body blanketed with bruises, scars, and cuts and riddled with broken bones. The two young sisters, whose identities will remain anonymous, were not in much better condition than their sister, says the lawsuit.
● You know how the people who warehouse kids in “residential treatment centers” always say we have to have such places because it’s the only way to “treat” the most difficult young people. Well, get this: WCBS-TV reports that with his agency’s prized RTC mired in scandal over rampant abuse, the director says: It’s not our fault, the kids they’re sending us are too difficult!
So in other words, we need RTCs, but only for the easy kids? To top it off, this RTC part of an agency run by Ron Richter, who once ran New York City’s family police agency and loves to pal around with the most extreme advocates for tearing apart families. Although Richter implies that the problems are new, this facility has been the subject of exposes going back decades. But don’t worry. According to the website for Richter’s agency, it’s “one of the oldest and most respected residential treatment programs in the U.S.”
● In Utah, NBC News reports on how the state has shut down an RTC. All it took was “the deaths of multiple children in its care.” The director of the RTC says his institution has been treated unfairly.
● Of course, all this is nothing new. The Imprint reports that the horrors of America’s “boarding schools” for Native American children torn from their families and the 19th and 20th Centuries are being uncovered, literally, across the country.
In other news:
● There’s a new issue of the Family Justice Journal. This issue is devoted to “The need to prioritize relational health.” Among the highlights: In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Confronting the Racist Legacy of the American Child Welfare System, Prof. Alan Dettlaff writes about “Family Separation as Terror.” Prof. Shanta Trivedi writes about “The Enduring Pain of Permanent Family Separation.”
● The practice of governments swiping foster children’s Social Security benefits and keeping the money for themselves is so appalling that revelations that Massachusetts is doing just that left even a former head of the state’s public safety department shocked – but, she says, not surprised. Unfortunately, she told Boston Public Radio “When you’re in government, the notion of what the general fund is entitled to is read very, very, very expansively.”
● And Lackawanna County, Pa. is in the midst of a foster-care panic. In the Scranton Times-Tribune NCCPR explains why that makes all children less safe. (Requires subscription or daypass.)