Wednesday, September 13, 2023

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending September 12, 2023

● The family policing establishment loves to deny it when lawyers for parents say children are taken away because of poverty.  So, what do lawyers for children say?  Writing in Teen Vogue, one such lawyer, Chanel Smith, says this: 

I have seen children removed because of complaints of “dirty homes,” or because they were home alone while a parent went to work or had to run an errand, or because they missed one too many days of school. These are all situations in which additional support and investment could have helped families to preserve their households. Instead, they had to face an unforgiving system. 

● Another classic excuse for tearing apart families involves drug use.  Family police apologists revel in horror stories.  But poor nonwhite children can be taken for the kind of “drug use” middle-class white parents can brag about – like smoking marijuana.  Now, as Gothamist reports, one such parent in New York City who fought back, just won a big victory.  

● It’s always worth remembering that New York City has one of the least awful systems in the country.  Wherever you are probably is worse.  It’s certainly worse in Colorado.  We released a comprehensive report on the Colorado family policing system.  And KUSA-TV did a story about one of the system’s many problems. 

● Alaska regularly tears apart families at one of the highest rates in the country – driven to a large extent by the needless destruction of Native Alaskan families.  The Imprint reports on a unique study by Child Trends focusing on something that may never have been studied before: The role of environmental degradation in undermining Native families and culture.  Among other things, the study shows the value of diversity among researchers.  And the story shows the value of diversity in journalism.  

● As I noted last week, so much of what has gone so wrong has its roots in one terrible law, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.  Check out the video of the teach-in by the Repeal CAPTA Coalition explaining how we got into this mess – and how to get out.  And there’s more on the Coalition’s website

● It says a lot about just how callous and cruel family policing systems really are that this is what can happen when someone from the outside takes over such a system and learns about a standard practice: “My reaction really was: That can't be right. That can't be a practice that we're doing."  But New Mexico was indeed swiping foster children’s Social Security benefits and keeping the money for itself.  As NPR reported in 2021, most family policing systems do it.  

But while in some states, agency leaders made all sorts of excuses about how complicated the issue is, New Mexico’s leader cut to the chase: She ordered the practice stopped.  Several other states and localities have done much the same, as NPR reports in this follow-up story.