Tuesday, August 29, 2023

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending August 29, 2023

WITF Public Radio has a good story about a joint report  from law schools at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University on Pennsylvania's “central registry” of those whom a caseworker decided were slightly more likely than not to be child abusers.  Their conclusion: Do what Georgia did with its registry: Get rid of it. Among the reasons: racial bias.  As the story points out:

Researchers point to different reasons why Black parents are reported for child abuse and neglect at a higher rate. One of those reasons is the discretion caseworkers are given to determine what constitutes physical neglect. Researchers found that some caseworkers were flagging people for neglect for leaving children unsupervised for brief lapses of time, sometimes as short as 15 minutes.

● Also in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh’s highly-touted predictive analytics family policing algorithm reportedly is under investigation for bias against the disabled.  So Pennsylvania officials should be among the first to read TWO new law review articles: Prof. Sarah Lorr’s new article about pervasive family police discrimination against disabled families, reviewed here (with a link to the full article) by Prof. Josh Gupta-Kagan, and this one just published today (Aug 29) by Prof. Robyn Powell. 

● Have you noticed how the writing of “child welfare” establishment types sounds more frantic lately? Case in point: The “scholar” so desperate he’s trying to turn the entire concept of “evidence-based” on its head.  I have a blog post about it. 

In an editorial, the Arizona Republic is asking the right questions about all those important family policing court documents that somehow never reached the people who were supposed to see them: 

How many Arizona children have been needlessly ripped from their parents?

Or haven’t been reunited with them?

Or adopted to another family because critical information was never uploaded to their files? 

And a family defender in Arizona – who used to prosecute these cases – writes: 

I have significant concerns about whether parents in these thousands of cases were afforded their full due process rights. … Records that have to be “admitted” into the database [but may not have been] include substance abuse records, visitation records and medical records. Similar to a report by a psychologist, if these records were never admitted, it could mean that parental rights were terminated by a court that had insufficient information. 

● Los Angeles tears apart families at the second highest rate among America’s largest cities.  A new McLawsuit brought by the group that calls itself “Children’s Rights” won’t help – and may make things even worse.  I have a blog post about it. 

In The New York Times Elizabeth Spiers writes about the real story of Michael Oher whose story supposedly was told in the book and movie The Blind Side.  Says Spiers: 

The idea that Black children are automatically better off with nice white parents than their own biological parents is just white supremacy, which does not have to be produced by official hate groups to be insidious. It is often banal, and so commonplace that its ubiquitousness renders it just part of the background. It doesn’t always arrive wearing a white pointed hood or muttering racial slurs; it’s often just a presumption of white benevolence.

● The harm inflicted by so-called child abuse pediatricians is in the news in two places this week. WFMZ-TV reports that the county comptroller in Lehigh County, PA. issued a report on one.  And in Seattle, Fox 13 reports, a judge ruled that a rush to judgment by a doctor at Seattle Children’s Hospital was "based on conscious and unconscious bias towards people from minority communities. Particularly black and brown communities."  It wasn’t the first time this doctor had traumatized a family with a misdiagnosis. 

● Great news, Missouri parents: The state Department of Social Services says you are now free to smoke marijuana, as long as you’re away from the kids! – Oh, wait, sorry, I misread the story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: It’s foster parents who now have this official freedom. They can even grow pot for their own use, as long as it’s under lock and key.  I wonder how many of those same foster parents are caring for foster children taken from their own homes because their real parents smoked pot?  In a state that tears apart families at a rate 70% above the national average, probably quite a few. 

● Confronted with evidence of widespread problems with false positive drug test results, the family police agency in Utah tells KSL-TV what they're going to do about it: Not a damn thing.

● There’s a federal law that makes housing vouchers available to youth aging out of foster care.  But, NCCPR Board Member Ruth White writes in The Imprint, it took another law just to force caseworkers in Washington, D.C. to tell young people about it. 

● And in this week’s edition of The Horror Stories Go in All Directions, the Oregon Capital Chronicle reports that: 

A woman who spent 16 years of her childhood in the state’s foster care system is suing the Oregon Department of Human Services, alleging the agency placed her in foster homes where she suffered abuse and failed to protect her when they knew. 

And, it seems, Oregon continues to cover up what happened: 

In this case, some of the details are murky because – as the lawsuit points out – the state agency would not give her complete records about her time in the state system and instead blacked out information about the foster parents and homes.