Wednesday, December 27, 2023

NCCPR family preservation news and commentary round-up for the year 2023, Part Two

For part one, which illustrates how the horror stories go in all directions, click here.


● To begin, take a step back, see – and hear – how the family policing system really works in this report from NPR, featuring perspectives from JMAC for Families and NCCPR: 


● The most important book of 2023 on these issues is Investigating Families by Prof. Kelley Fong, a book that combines a scholar’s rigor with a journalist’s eye. 

--The Guardian has an excerpt adapted from the book

--After the tragic death of a child in Connecticut, Prof. Fong asks in a commentary for the Hartford Courant if the head of the state’s family police agency will make sure there’s no foster-care panic. 

 She writes: 

DCF has expressed a commitment to keeping families together, and has worked, impressively, to decrease foster care caseloads and refer families to community supports. Now the rubber meets the road, as DCF Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes and her team face their first big test. Will they waver in the face of pressure? Or will they uphold their commitments to child safety through family preservation?

--Based on her extensive research  Prof. Fong writes in The Imprint about why the so-called Adoption and Safe Families Act is “A Dangerous Tool in An Arbitrary System.” 

--And in this essay, she takes on the harm of mandatory reporting laws.

● Another important book was released in 2023.  The Imprint talks to Prof. Jane Spinak, author of The End of Family Court. 

● This item actually dates back to the end of 2022.  But I missed it until early this year, and I link to it now, as I did then, because I am in awe of the work from Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Ken Armstrong of ProPublica that went into it and the skill required to tell this story.  Called simply, The Landlord and the Tenant  It’s a story about the failings of family policing, and so much more. 

● Suppose you are very rich. In September you send your son off to boarding school. But when Christmas vacation came around, he does not return. Instead, you got a letter from a lawyer for your son’s gym coach. 

The lawyer explains that your son and the coach have “bonded.” An expert on “attachment theory” they’ve hired concludes it wouldn’t be in your son's "best interests" to return home. Instead, the coach is going to court to adopt your child – because he now has every bit as much right to your child as you do.  Consider this as you read this vitally important story from The New Yorker and ProPublica about foster parent “intervenors.”

Here’s an excerpt: 

 It’s not acceptable in most family courts to explicitly argue that, if you have more material advantages to provide a child, you should get to adopt him or her. Outside the courtroom, though, intervenors are sometimes less discreet. During a 2021 case meeting, according to a specialist who took notes, a foster parent and [attorney Tim] Eirich client said, of the prospect of reuniting a baby boy with his biological family, “He’s used to being raised by a maternal figure who stays home. We have 1.5 acres for him to run around, and they have an apartment.” Another foster parent and Eirich client told me that reuniting a baby girl with her birth mother would mean transitioning her from a “personalized nanny” to a “day care center with, you know, 50 kids running around, and sleeping on a little cot.” …

● Much of the story focuses on Colorado – where the story of the harm done by intervenors was first told by KUSA-TV.

● What does it really mean to confuse poverty with “neglect”? This heartbreaking, thoroughly reported story from CT Mirror has all the nuance and all the angles. 

● The Today Show explains that there’s one more thing Black people have to add to the long things they dare not do “While Black”: Using a licensed certified midwife to help you give birth at home.  

● Yahoo News uses this case as the jumping-off point to examine pervasive racial bias in family policing.

● “If you’re Black you’re ACS adjacent,” says one of the mothers investigated by the agency in this story by the New York Civil Liberties Union and The Appeal.  The story takes readers step-by-step past the Disney version ACS wants you to believe, and explains how it all really plays out.  From the story: 

The department has vast authority over those who come under suspicion, and it’s able to conduct “emergency removals” of children from their families. ACS can carry out these removals outside of family court hours, without prior notice, and without submitting to oversight beforehand to ensure the action is justified. The timing can leave parents reeling and unable to contact government offices with questions or objections: If ACS conducts a removal on a Friday night, for example, a judge will not review it until Monday.

In an accompanying commentary, Sarah Duggan of JMAC for Families writes about the urgent need for a family Miranda rights law, because

Once the family police gain access to a home, they inflict extreme stress on parents and children. Children watch a stranger rummage through their refrigerators, closets, and drawers. They listen as this person interrogates their parents about relationships, personal medical histories, and employment. They are forced to answer probing questions designed to portray their caretaker as negligent and untrustworthy. This stranger often asks them to undress so they can search their body for scrapes and bruises, regardless of whether there is an allegation of abuse.

And please remember: New York City’s horrible system is better than almost everyplace else – so wherever you are, it’s probably worse.

● What happens when the racism of policing joins forces with the racism of family policing?  Read this account from Tennessee Lookout.   What was done to this family is so harrowing that the Tennessee family police responded immediately – by seeking to prosecute the family and their lawyers for daring to tell their story!   Ultimately the children were returned.  That does not, of course, take away the trauma inflicted on those children, and so many others in Tennessee and elsewhere. 

The Boston Globe exposed the state family police agency’s bias against Latino Families. The story begins this way: 

Growing up Latino in Massachusetts carries a greater risk of entering the foster system than anywhere else in the nation, and for those who end up in foster homes — as well as those who are the subject of child welfare investigations — the consequences can be devastating.
Then the Globe editorial page added additional reporting in this excellent commentary

WBTV and The Assembly produced an outstanding three-part series on the failure of family policing.  They concluded with a searing story about how the agency and the courts moved heaven and earth to keep a loving father away from his own son. 

And if you think this is a case in which a stranger foster parent is fighting the father – nope. On the contrary, the foster father was so supportive that when the family police tried to use housing as an excuse to keep father and son apart, the foster father bought a house so the birth father could rent it at a price he could afford. 

The true level of contempt for families is summed up by one incident. Remember, family police agencies are supposed to conduct intensive searches to find relatives to care for these children.  But here the family police give away what really happens.  When the agency sought to persuade the foster parents to adopt, here’s what the foster father says he was told: 

“Family will come out of the woodwork when we do this.  [But] We’ll handle them for you.” 

Meanwhile, the child has been moved to his fifth foster placement.  Caseworkers report that he’s regressing and he blames himself for not being with his father.  He is upset that he “could not be good long enough to go home.” 

WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio produced an extraordinary eight-month investigation, At one point, we hear about a little girl in foster care whispers to her mother during a “supervised visit”: 

‘Mommy, I’m scared. Please, please don’t make us go back,’” [her mother] Theresa recalled. “She says, ‘Please don’t make us go back to this foster home. Please Mommy, don’t make us go back there. They’re so mean to me and Everly and we don’t feel comfortable there. Please, Mommy. Please.’ 

Over the course of eight chapters, WUOB tells a story that strips away all the excuses for the family policing system – a more accurate term than “child welfare” system.  What makes this series so horrifying is it doesn’t focus on a horror story – it focuses on a case that is remarkably typical, and concludes: 

The agency removed her children based on allegations for which it appears the agency did little to investigate and never provided much evidence to support. What evidence is available shows most of the allegations were false. 

Still, it took Theresa months to get three of her children back. In the meantime, her daughters suffered abuse at a foster home and her younger son descended into a mental health crisis. 

It’s a long read that’s worth every word, and every minute of your time. 

● Vox is a news website known for explanatory journalism. They’ve done a superb job explaining the family policing system.  From the story: 

It’s easy to fall back on imagining that more funding and more foster parents are the most urgent priority … But nearly everyone that Vox spoke with who works within the system itself thinks that foster care isn’t the answer and that the current child welfare system is one that traps families in poverty and then penalizes them for it. 

● I’ve linked to stories in which family defenders describe what they see every day.  I’ve linked to a story in which a lawyer for children describes what she sees every day.  And now, Mother Jones tells us about what caseworkers see every day:

 One woman talked softly about “apprehending” a 2-day-old baby, and recalled crying when she was praised for doing her job. Another described being sent out to take children from good parents who lived in shoddy housing. A third told how her colleagues would warn their own children, “If somebody has a badge like Mommy, don’t talk to them until I get there.”

● Of all the outcomes for foster youth, everyone knows the worst is “aging out” of the system with no home at all.  Well, everyone except Prof. Sarah Font of Penn State, that is.  She thinks even aging out can be better not only than returning to their own homes (an outcome to which she’s long been hostile) but even to guardianship with extended family.  Why? It all boils down to $$$$$$  I have a blog post about it.  And here’s part two, which explains why “permanency” is to child welfare as “creme" is to food: a fake substitute.

● But wait, there’s more:  Youth Today reports on a new study that finds Prof. Font’s money-trumps-love theory isn’t working out too well. 

● I don’t know if Font thinks money especially trumps love for Native American children, I do know that Font, who is part of the “Scooby Gang” that denies there is racism in family policing, wants to get rid of the Indian Child Welfare Act.  This is by way of introducing a story from Youth Today and Crosscut, centered around the life of a Black and Native American foster youth forced to make exactly the choice Font describes.  Check out how it worked out for her.  And check out all the other times she was failed, from the very beginning.  Here’s how the story starts: 

One day in second grade, Janell Braxton’s teacher told her, unexpectedly, that her mom had come to pick her up for a dentist appointment. Janell, thrilled to avoid reading time, trotted off to the school office. But she did not see her mother. 

Instead, a social worker told Janell that the adults had lied about the dentist. She would move into foster care, which Janell’s young mind imagined as a form of jail. Why had this happened? she wondered. Because she hadn’t eaten her vegetables? She worried about her younger brother, and volunteered to “do time” for him. 

“Oh honey, that’s not how it works,” the social worker told Janell.

● Tearing apart families because of foster-care panic is common; admitting that’s why you’re doing it is not.  But this story from WitnessLA includes the case of a Los Angeles mother who was investigated by the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services but initially allowed to keep her children.  But then … 

Three weeks later, her social worker surprised Lacie when she announced DCFS would be taking her children, after all. 

Lacie asked for an explanation. Why, she asked, if DCFS believed the children were unsafe, did social workers not remove them immediately?  

The social worker told her that while they were not going to take her kids initially, they ultimately did so because a little boy had died in Lancaster after social workers neglected to remove him. 

● You’ve read story after story about “understaffing” in family police agencies.  But Metro Philadelphia shows how much of the problem isn’t understaffing – it’s over-policing. 

●  WFLA-TV found something similar in Florida.  

● Rep. Gwen Moore has reintroduced the Family Poverty is Not Neglect Act.  As The Imprint reports, she knows what happens when the two are confused: 

“I know firsthand that in child welfare cases, where poverty is the only issue causing hardship, children benefit from remaining with their families and accessing the resources they need.” 

In a 2019 piece in The New Republic, Moore described her experience as an 18-year-old college student and being “temporarily forced to relinquish her own child to relative foster care.” Her legislation … would require child welfare agencies to provide supportive services to households in need of food, shelter and other basic assistance in order to prevent unnecessary family separation. 

● The Imprint has a good round-up of research documenting the confusion of poverty with neglect.  Raise the minimum wage and you reduce what family policing agencies call “neglect.” Increase SNAP benefits: Less “neglect.”  Expand Medicaid: Less “neglect.” Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit: Less “neglect.”  As the story puts it: 

Notably, the type of public benefits offered doesn’t seem to make a difference. Whether it’s housing subsidies, child care assistance, or cash aid, there appears to be the same positive effect — reducing CPS reports. 

● Among those who understand this are the former director of the federal Children’s Bureau, Jerry Milner, and his Special Assistant, David Kelly. They now direct the Family Justice Group. In The Imprint they write: 

Relational health — the sense of connection, belonging and relationships that people have — is essential to our individual and collective well-being as human beings in the world. Somehow, however, this most essential and defining aspect of being human has been overshadowed or cast aside in the industry known as child welfare. 

Services reign supreme in the industry, and providers of them have an undue impact on policymaking nationwide. Their main interest is to remain in business. This has resulted in a fixation on clinical services and proprietary models rather than proactive family support. It sustains a narrative that pathologizes the conditions families are forced to live in or with, especially poverty and the trauma of racism. 


● “Which would be worse,” asks Jasmine Wali, former director of policy & advocacy at JMAC for Families, in this story for The Nation: “being beaten by your partner, or having social services take away your children? That’s the choice facing many parents I’ve worked with as a social worker, and the answer is always the same. ‘I’d rather take the beating than catch a CPS case,’ as one said to me.” 

That’s exactly the choice battered women face – because of mandatory child abuse reporting laws that drive them away from getting help.  

● The issue also is explored in  this story from WitnessLA  

● And in this story and this editorial from The Boston Globe. Then be sure to check out how even the most minimal efforts to curb this harm to children were thwarted by the state’s “Child Advocate” Maria Mossaides.

● See also the Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law, where Prof. Shanta Trivedi explores the issue in depth, and the relationship to “mandatory reporting” laws.

● The practice of taking children from survivors of domestic violence was curbed in New York City thanks to a successful lawsuit.  So now the family police agency simply harasses the survivors and their families with endless hypersurveillance.  That’s why another lawsuit has been filed to try to put a stop to it.  And I have a blog post about how a New York State agency whose primary role is to facilitate buck-passing could do something genuinely useful and curb this particular horror with the stroke of a pen. 

● Perhaps the worst manifestation of this horror took place in San Diego, where, as we noted in yesterday’s post, Arabella McCormack and her sisters were taken from their mother because they witnessed domestic violence.  They were placed with foster parents who adopted them.  That’s where Arabella died.  As KNSD-TV reports: 

 Prosecutors say she was severely malnourished, weighing just 48 pounds at the time. They also say her body was covered in bruises and doctors found 15 still-healing bone fractures. 

Arabella’s mother is suing – and still fighting for the return of Arabella’s sisters, who remain in foster care. 

 Arabella’s sisters also 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. 

● KNSD-TV exposed the numerous warning signs that were ignored before Arabella was, in effect, adopted to death.  (And remember, the adoption helped San Diego County collect the bounties paid by the federal government for finalized adoptions of foster children under the so-called Adoption and Safe Families Act.) 


● Although family police agencies call it “child support,” when you take someone’s child and make the parents pay money to get the child back, the proper term for that money is – ransom.  Yes, states actually do that.  Thanks to some excellent reporting by NPR two years ago, some states and localities are curbing the practice.  Now, The Imprint reports, California has taken the biggest step of all, not only abolishing ransom but wiping out the debt of parents who owe it. 

● You can hear Joe Shapiro of NPR discuss his investigation on The Imprint podcast  The interview starts at 16:40 in. Listen closely at 36:23 in, and you’ll hear Imprint editor John Kelly use the R-word :-)  

● California is taking a step toward curbing another form of ransom. In Los Angeles, The Imprint reports, when families are forced to jump through all sorts of hoops in order to get their children back, they’ve actually had to pay for the hoops – in other words, these parents, almost all impoverished, had to pay for their own “counseling” “parent education” etc. 

A new California law may change that.  The law 

requires a judge to ask if a parent can afford court-ordered services during dependency court proceedings. It also clarifies that parents cannot be considered noncompliant with their case plan if they are unable to pay. 

Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers Executive Director Dennis Smeal [said]: “We’ve often heard parents say things like, ‘The department took my children and now I have to buy them back.  There’s no world in which that should ever be happening.” 

 ● Young people suffer most when parents are forced to jump through all sorts of absurd hoops to be reunited.  In The Imprint, Joel Swazo writes that 

 [I]n my own personal experience, my stepdad lost custody of myself and my two sisters. He ended up going to jail for a year for unrelated reasons. Upon release, CPS required him to have his own apartment, job, bedrooms for each of my sisters, parenting classes, counseling, and monitored visits. Until he did each and every requirement, he would not be able to get my sisters back. How is the average person supposed to gain access to housing with a criminal record? How was he supposed to obtain a living-wage job, but required to go to all these different classes during business hours? It took him over two years to finally complete these requirements that should have been six months or less. These are all things that would be very difficult to do without support or access to supplemental services.


● Yes, children can be torn from their mothers during some of the most crucial hours and days of their lives – their first – just because Mom smoked pot.  The Bronx Defenders is suing New York City’s family police agency, the Administration for Children’s Services, over such a case. They’re also suing to find out more about a scathing internal assessment of ACS’ own racism that the agency commissioned and then tried to hide.  Check out the stories in The New York TimesLaw360 and The Imprint.  But note that in all of these stories, ACS once again flat-out lies when it claims it can’t comment on individual cases. So, one more time, here’s the link to the law that says they can.  So please ask yourselves: Why should an agency that lies over and over and over again about something so basic be trusted about anything?

The Baltimore Banner reports on how Maryland is making it a little harder for the family police to tear apart families when a parent smokes marijuana.  

● Two big new studies, one in JAMA Open and one in Academic Pediatrics examine who gets drug tested in hospitals and who doesn’t.  It’s who you think. 

● And here’s how it plays out in practice:  “They Really Wanted to See My Baby Get Taken Away.” That’s the headline on a New York Magazine story about a hospital that allegedly went to astounding lengths to secretly test a mother for drugs, and then report her to the family police because she tested positive for marijuana. 

● And, of course, not all parents face this kind of danger.  On the contrary, some pot-smoking parents are celebrated – meet the “cannamoms” of Massachusetts.

● In Arizona, a father takes too many painkillers so he can work to raise his diabetic son.  He’s jailed and his son is thrown into foster care.  The boy dies in a group home just two weeks later. In this Associated Press story  the boy’s father sums it up: “They couldn’t keep him alive for two weeks, two weeks.” There’s more on this tragedy from Reason. There’s more on this tragedy from Reason.   And in this post, I contrast this father to a mom who used to live in my neighborhood. She had a similar addiction to painkillers – and to booze as well.  But nobody took away her children. 

● Another group afraid to seek help because of justified fear of the family police is pregnant women with substance use issues,  As NBC News reports: 

That's why a growing number of experts — including maternal/fetal specialists, federal health officials and people who treat addiction — are calling for changes to the laws. 

"We should remove criminalization of women who are pregnant and taking drugs," Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), said in an interview. "That needs to stop." 

Doctors have been saying things like this for decades.  But what’s notable now is the specific criticism of the law that encourages these awful policies – the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.  According to the story: 

a growing number of experts worry CAPTA and its state interpretations have gone too far when it comes to the definition of "abuse" in utero. 

"The intention of the law may not have been punitive, but the way it plays out in any particular community or in any particular child welfare office can sometimes feel punitive," said Dr. Marian Jarlenski, associate director of the Center for Innovative Research on Gender Health Equity at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Dr. Stephen Patrick, a neonatologist and director of the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy in Nashville adds this: 

"What is the problem we're trying to solve?" said Patrick. "I treat far more complications from untreated diabetes in the NICU than I do from opioid use disorder.

"Imagine if we approached someone with uncontrolled diabetes and said, 'Listen, if your baby's born weighing 12 pounds because you have uncontrolled diabetes, you may have child welfare involvement,'" Patrick said. "That sounds crazy." 

● There’s more about the harm of turning in substance-using mothers to the family police in this overview from Scientific American. The article cites multiple experts including Miriam S. Komaromy, medical director of the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center, who says: 

“It’s critical that a pregnant person feels able to seek help, but mandated reporting sets up a dynamic in which she feels afraid to acknowledge that she has a problem and maybe even afraid to seek any prenatal care because of the fear that a doctor will detect that she has a substance use disorder.”  

As for Capta, if you can’t just get rid of the so-called Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act – a law that neither prevents nor treats child abuse – at least defund the part that does the most harm, and put the money into the part that has some potential to do good. That’s the theme of this Congressional briefing co-sponsored by the RepealCAPTA Coalition.



In 2023, family advocates were worried that the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn a law commonly known as the “gold standard” for child welfare: The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).  It didn’t go that way.  First, some context:

● You may think you know all about the evil - and that is the word -- inflicted on Native American children by the Child Welfare League of America – but now please read this from The New York Times.  (And CWLA’s long-ago apology rings hollow – since they still support draconian policing laws such as the so-called Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and the so-called Adoption and Safe Families Act.) 

● Before the adoptions, there were the “boarding schools.” We think of those horrific institutions where Native American children were tortured, and that’s not too strong a word, as part of our distant past.  But it is recent enough that some survivors are still alive.  The Washington Post tells some of their stories. 

● Concerning the decision to uphold the law: The two journalists who know the Indian Child Welfare Act – and the case that led up to the decision – best are probably Rebecca Nagle, who produced the This Land podcast about the case – she discusses the decision here – and also on The Imprint’s podcast and Nancy Marie Spears of The Imprintwho wrote about the decision here.  NCCPR’s perspective on the decision is here

● As we note in that post, the court victory is huge, but it doesn’t solve one big problem with ICWA: the failure to enforce it. ProPublica has that part of the story 

ProPublica also spoke to 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.” 

● 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 … 

● But, of course, the fight is far from over The Imprint reports, on efforts to undermine it in state courts and on how if a Native American family doesn’t raise their children exactly the way stereotypical white, middle-class Americans raise their children, everything is going to be a problem.  

● And consider what’s been happening in South Dakota  Twelve years ago, NPR aired a stunning series of reports on the obscene rate at which Native American children are torn from their families in South Dakota.  It was called “Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families.” Almost as obscene: the response from local news outlets which, having been beaten on a huge story in their own backward, often responded by minimizing the findings or, worse, rallying around state government as it offered up excuses!  

Back then, the online publication South Dakota Searchlight did not exist.  The Sioux Falls Argus Leader did, but, given what’s happened to local newspapers odds are almost no one is there now who was there a dozen years ago.  That may explain why these two news organizations published their own excellent series about the enormous harm South Dakota’s family police are inflicting on Native families. It’s called “The Lost Children.” 


Our annual holiday reminder.

It was a bad year for backers of computerized racial profiling in family policing – and that’s good news for children.

● When the miracle cure turns out to be snake oil:  There’s still another problem with Pittsburgh's predictive analytics “child welfare” algorithm.  Now, on top of everything else, such as ethically-challenged ethics reviews and concerns about racial bias, there’s this: The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into whether the algorithm discriminates against families in which a parent is disabled.  

● The AP also told the heartbreaking story of a family that may have been torn apart for that very reason.  From the story: 

The Hackneys, who have developmental disabilities, are struggling to understand how taking their daughter to the hospital when she refused to eat could be seen as so neglectful that she’d need to be taken from her home. 

They wonder if an artificial intelligence tool that the Allegheny County Department of Human Services uses to predict which children could be at risk of harm singled them out because of their disabilities. 

The U.S. Justice Department is asking the same question. … 

The story also reveals that it isn’t just families who don’t know what’s in the algorithms that can destroy them.  In some places, even the people taking the children don’t know why the algorithm labeled the family high-risk. 

The story discusses this report from the American Civil Liberties Union.  For anyone who still believes the process of developing these algorithms is a matter of pristine application of science – be sure to check out the “smoking footnote.” 

● There are further revelations – including debunking the claim that the algorithms are just advisory and humans still make the decisions in a story from the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal. I have a blog post about it.

● Since the Pittsburgh family policing algorithm reportedly is under investigation for bias against the disabled, 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 by Prof. Robyn Powell

● An algorithm is only as unbiased as the people who write it.  The co-author of the Allegheny County algorithm, Emily Putnam-Hornstein, has a disturbing track record.  She’s even part of a group that rushed to defend a self-proclaimed “race realist” law professor beloved by Tucker Carlson.  I have a post about it on this blog

● Given Prof. Hornstein’s track record, this should be no surprise: Up to now the designers of the Pittsburgh algorithm and others have pretended that the algorithms don’t use factors like race and poverty.  But in their latest, they stop pretending: Race is explicitly included as a factor in measuring the supposed risk to children from their own parents.  I have a blog post about it. 

● NCPR's take on the harm of predictive analytics in child welfare was featured on KPFA Pacifica Radio's Evening News.  You can hear the interview starting at 25:09 in.

 Motherboard has a story, with comment from NCCPR, examining a New York City Comptroller’s report blasting the way city agencies, including the Administration for Children’s Services are using predictive analytics.  As the headline puts it: “AI Use by Cops, Child Services In NYC Is a Mess: Report.”  From the story: 

The comptroller’s report found that while the agency says it routinely does bias testing, it was unable to produce logs of that testing or update the agency on how frequently it occurs or when it revises the algorithm. And while the agency says it has guidelines on how it uses predictive models, it “did not provide us with evidence that these guidelines are required to be followed in the same way that formal policies would be.” (ACS told the comptroller that it was in the process of making their guidelines formal.) … 

[W]hen the comptroller asked if members of the public could review the algorithm or log complaints about the use of the algorithm, the agency said that “there would be no basis for a complaint” because the algorithm does not make the final decision, it merely flags cases to prioritize for ACS employees to review. 

(Of course, as the ABA Journal story revealed, that’s probably not how it works in real life.)


 ­● When the data from 2021 showed that claims made the year before about a coming COVID-induced “pandemic of child abuse” were just the usual fearmongering from the family policing establishment, they replied: Just wait ‘till we see the data from 2022!  Well, the wait is over: I have a blog post about data from 2022. 

● And the trend continued in 2023. I have a blog post about that, too. 

● Youth Today reports on how, yet again, an in-depth analysis of data debunks all those claims that, in the absence of mandated reporters, COVID-19 would set off a “pandemic of child abuse.”  The authors found that the real lesson is that New York, which takes away children at a lower rate than most places, still is taking away too many. Most notable is who wrote the latest paper: The lawyers who represent children in “child welfare” cases in New York City.  The New York Times also has a story

● Law 360 sums it up perfectly:  

As New York City schools shuttered and people went into lockdown amid the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, city officials expected that having more children stuck at home would mean more children suffering abuse or neglect — but they were proven wrong. 

● Although New York City has been studied, the most, there also are studies measuring trends across the country: This one is published in JAMA Pediatrics.


● “When my kids were growing up, they weren’t afraid of the bogeyman. They were afraid of social services,” a parent with disabilities (one of the groups most vulnerable to family policing), told The Colorado Sun. “People don’t think about how traumatic these investigations are for kids.” 

The comment is part of an in-depth examination of mandatory child abuse reporting laws in Colorado – which are pretty much like the laws everywhere else.  It is the most thorough, most nuanced story I’ve seen on this topic anywhere in the country. 

● In still another illustration of the enormous harm of mandatory reporting, a new study confirms earlier research.  The study finds that “fear of state punishment – in this case, fear of child removal is a key factor in not only if, but how and where Black women access maternity and pediatric care.” [Emphasis in original.] 

● Case in point: Stephanie Land, author of Maid and Class.  In an essay for The Washington Post called “The biggest fear of a parent in poverty: Being seen as neglectful” she writes: 

I couldn’t admit to her teacher or the principal that we sometimes didn’t have enough to eat. I was scared someone might report me to child protective services and I might lose custody. … Those times that we really struggled — when I went to bed exhausted, cold and hungry — I feared that someone would find out about us living in that awful studio apartment. I was scared they’d find out about the peanut butter sandwiches, or the mold in the walls that made us sick, and come and take my daughter away from me. And so we continued to struggle. 

● The American Civil Liberties Union At Liberty podcast devotes an episode to how “Mandatory Reporting Is Destroying Families.” Guest Anjana Samant of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project says “I definitely see work in the child welfare system as a core, just basic ACLU bread-and-butter of civil liberties fight.” 

● I took the new, improved mandatory reporter training course that New York State just started using.  It’s significantly less awful than anything else I’ve seen but still has serious problems.  I wrote about it for Youth Today. 

● And yet, there are still those who want to further expand mandatory reporting. 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. 

● A related issue is anonymous reporting. If anyone still doubts the need to replace anonymous reporting of alleged child abuse with confidential reporting, check out this story from ProPublica.  Here’s how it begins: 

It was 5:30 a.m. Flashlights beamed in through the windows of the ground-floor apartment in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Police officers and child welfare caseworkers were ordering a woman to open her front door. 

When she did, the first thing she saw was that the police had their guns drawn. Her hands flew up into the “don’t shoot” position; she was well aware of the recent stories of cops “shooting first and asking later.” She prayed that her 7-year-old son was still asleep in his room. 

The Imprint also has an excellent story about this case.  The story includes this quote from the mother: 

“I wasn’t able to protect him like a mother.  Especially when he had to come home and cry to me that the kids were teasing him, saying: ‘ACS are gonna come and take you.’ 

“I just felt like I failed him.”

After a report, it is incredibly easy for the accused to be listed on a “registry” of alleged child abuseers.

● 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.

● And The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on a lawsuit challenging the registry.

● There may be no clearer indication of the harm of mandatory reporting than this: When a jury awarded the family in what is widely known as the “Take Care of Maya” case $261 million in damages for what a Florida hospital did to them, the hospital said it will appeal because it was simply doing what it was required to do – as mandated reporters!  If so, then it’s hard to imagine a better case for abolishing mandatory reporting.   Here’s the story from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which was the first to cover the case.  That story puts the damages at $211 million.  Those were the compensatory damages. Later the jury added $50 million in punitive damages.  And now, Maya Kowalski has filed a criminal complaint alleging that she was sexually assaulted while she was in the hospital.

For those unfamiliar with the case: 

And that leads us to


● Maya isn’t the only child whose anguish at the hands of doctors rushing to judgment was in the news in 2023. Listen to the three-year-old son of Joshua Sabey and Sarah Perkins as he is forcibly removed by Massachusetts family police in the middle of the night.


The parents are suing.  And there’s an important lesson for other middle-class families in why they’re suing.  As WBZ-TV reports: 

They say they’re bringing the lawsuit against the public employees who took their kids because they are in a position of privilege and want to see change in DCF’s practices. “We’re educated,” Sarah Perkins explained. “We have really involved family members. We have access to resources and financial assistance, and I think the vast majority of families in the system are impoverished, or, you know, just have way fewer resources at their disposal. And I think because of that, we feel a real responsibility to do something that can help families in this system that don’t have this sort of capability to change laws, to change statutes." 

As Sabey told The Boston Globe: The system “just churns out injustice after injustice.”  

See also NBC10 Boston’s story about the lawsuit, an in-depth examination of the case from The Washington Post, and our take in this blog post

● Another child abuse pediatrician who got in trouble in New York and then in Florida for allegedly misdiagnosing child abuse, apparently is in trouble in Pennsylvania, too.  In the wake of a scathing report from a county auditor, The Morning Call reports, she was relieved of her job running the “child advocacy center" at the local hospital.  But she’ll still be on the payroll, working part-time “at other locations.”  The Philadelphia Inquirer has an overview of the case – and be sure to read the last two paragraphs. 

● In Dayton, Ohio, a misdiagnosis of child abuse forced infants into foster care for nearly a year.  Now the family is suing. 

● KCPQ-TV Seattle reports on another case of a “child abuse pediatrician” allegedly running amok – compounded by a family policing agency that allegedly violated state law allowing parents to get a second opinion, and then misled a court. 

● The Seattle Times has a fascinating profile of the doctor who pushes back against Washington State’s most fanatical child abuse pediatricians.  Contrast her humanity with the child abuse pediatrician who opposes her because, after all, he’s checked his own work and says “he could think of only a handful of cases where he’s been wrong.”  Don’t you feel better already? 

● Is there a state where so-called “child abuse pediatricians” aren’t allegedly out of control? Another expose, called “Shaky Science, Fractured Families,” is from Mississippi Today.  Perhaps even more interesting than the behavior of the state’s only child abuse pediatrician is what happens when some child abuse pediatricians get together at conferences.  Consider how they treat some diagnoses that others in the scientific community question: 

At one conference on shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma, a speaker presented defense expert testimony alongside a picture of Pinocchio. The event concluded with doctors and prosecutors singing a song mocking skeptics of the diagnosis to the tune of, “If I only had a brain.” 

● And yet, a New Jersey appeals court has ruled that in some cases, a diagnosis of “shaken baby syndrome” is “junk science.” 


● A study by Professors Youngmin Yi, Frank Edwards, et. al,  provides new insight into how far the madness over terminating children’s rights to their parents (a more accurate term than termination of parental rights) has gone in some states.  In West Virginia, for example, 14% percent of Black children will have their parents taken from them forever.  In Maine, it’s 15% of Hispanic children. I discuss the findings, with a link to the full study here.  And NCCPR has summarized some of the findings in the NCCPR Index of Family Police Oppression:

● On The Imprint podcast, professors Vivek Sankaran and Christopher Church discuss the enormous harm inflicted on children by that mad rush to termination of children’s rights to their parents. They show how this approach undermines the very “permanency” the family police claim to favor.  And though this kind of termination is often analogized to the death penalty, Sankaran and Church show that it’s actually worse.  Their law review article on the topic is here.  I wrote about their findings on this blog here. 

● Another study concerns children placed in foster care for 30 days or less – placements that always raise the question: If you could return the child in 30 days why did you take the child at all?  The study found that the children to whom this happened “are overwhelmingly Asian American, Black or Native American, raising questions about the impartiality of states’ child welfare systems and policies.”  The study also found that most of these children were placed in the worst form of care – they were institutionalized.

● Check out two essays in the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics. In one story two former top officials of the federal Children’s Bureau answer a question that, just a few years ago, the AMA wouldn’t even have asked: “How Should Race and Resource Context Influence How Neglect Is Considered by Clinicians?” In another, a doctor serving her internship in family medicine asks: “How Should We Respond When Clinicians’ Calls to CPS Are Punitively Weaponized Against Families?” 


● Remember that movie The Blind Side? (It's the supposedly true story about the rich white saviors who adopt Michael Oher a poor Black teenager and turn him into a football star.)  According to The New York Times, there are some big questions about who really got blindsided. 

● The Imprint adds some important context.  From their story:

There had been growing signs of Oher’s dissatisfaction. In books and interviews in the years since “The Blind Side” was released, Oher, 37, has attempted to correct what he describes as the film’s inaccurate and stereotypical portrayal of him. His character is depicted as a low-IQ, monosyllabic Black teenager rescued from obscurity and taught football basics by a white Christian family — even though, he has argued, he had reading, writing and football skills well before entering the Tuohy home. ...

Adoptees on social media and group chats have expressed disbelief, hurt and disappointment at the news — which they say reveals a deeper dysfunction in the nation’s adoption practices. 

Transracial adoptee April Dinwoodie, a writer, podcaster and consultant, expressed solidarity with Oher in a TikTok post, noting that the film “never quite sat right” with her. 

“A lot of movies that have these narratives of Black children being saved by white people in any way, shape or form just always rubbed me the wrong way,” she said. “And what was even worse though, was how much the public ate it up, and eat it up, and just go crazy over these narratives. I think the big question now is, how are white adoptive parents feeling about this new plot twist, and Michael’s realities that are being shared in his voice?”

● In The New York Times Elizabeth Spiers adds further context: 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.



● A terrible mistake by a former Arizona governor 20 years ago still reverberates today.  At first, a new governor appeared determined not to repeat it.  I wrote a column about it for the Arizona Republic. 

● But boy did I get that one wrong! I corrected my error on this Blog when I wrote about how the governor caved-in to pressure from extremist lawmakers and fired the first Black director of the state family policing agency just weeks after hiring him; how the group home industry tried to cash in and how, in a state which tears apart families at a rate 75% above the national average and has an abysmal record on racial bias, the governor’s new choice for the job promised not to do “anything radical.”  By the way, Arizona media missed the real story.  Only ProPublica got it right.

There’s a lot more about Arizona in yesterday’s round-up of stories about how the horror stories go in all directions.


● Good news, Colorado!  Contrary to the fearmongering from the “residential treatment” industry, demon homicidal 6-year-olds are not rampaging through your state. I have a column about it in Colorado Newsline. 

● Colorado’s obsession with institutionalizing children is only one of the ways Colorado Trails.  That’s the title of NCCPR’s comprehensive report on Colorado “child welfare.”

● The report also documents how Colorado lags behind in placing children in kinship foster care with relatives.  KUSA-TV examined that part of the story.


We learned a lot about the harm of family policing in Hawaii thanks to the online news site Honolulu Civil Beat:

● Civil Beat reported on how the Hawaii Legislature failed to pass laws to provide the most minimal due process protections for families when the family police knock on the door.  As we explained in the story: It’s not easy to counter 50 years of “health terrorism” – the misrepresentation of the true nature and scope of a problem in the name of “raising awareness.” 

They also told the story of  Melanie Joseph.  She kicked a meth habit and put herself through all sorts of “services” to prove she can be a good mother to her newborn son.  But apparently, the family police don’t believe it.  The family police are the ones who took Melanie’s six-year-old daughter away and placed her with the foster/adoptive parents now accused of torturing and murdering her.  So, whose judgment should we trust here? 

● When children are torn from everyone they know and love, the emotional trauma is enormous.  It is made even worse if the children can’t even visit their parents.  Yet in Hawaii, Civil Beat reported, children can be cut off from so much as seeing their parents unless the parents confess to abuse or neglect – even if they never abused or neglected the child.  

As NCCPR told Civil Beat: 

In effect, DHS is holding children hostage, requiring false confessions before a parent can even see a child.  But if the parent confesses, then they can never be proven innocent – and that in itself increases the likelihood that the child will lose her or his parents forever. 

● Also in Hawaii, the family police agency is sinking to misrepresentation and blackmail - and that’s just how they treat the State Legislature!  I have a blog post about it, with a link to the original story, from Hawaii News Now. 

New York

● New York City’s family defenders have issued written testimony to the New York Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The committee is studying racism in the New York family policing system – including the courts.  The testimony is a report in itself.  But be warned: If you read the testimony, or even this NCCPR Blog post about it, it may “undermine [your] confidence in the court’s impartiality.” And we can’t have that! (See the next item):

● In the 1950s, white supremacists had a term for how they would fight to keep their states segregated: “massive resistance.”  We’re seeing the family policing establishment version of “massive resistance” when they retaliate against those who fight hardest for racial justice.  The Imprint has the latest example. 

●Also in New York City, The 74 reports, 

Across the nation’s largest [school] district, parents of students with disabilities who speak up on behalf of their children say they are being charged with allegations of child abuse or neglect — a tactic advocates say schools use to intimidate parents and coerce them into dropping their concerns. 

And, the story notes, it’s not just New York City: 

[S]pecial education parents nationwide recount instances of being punished for speaking up on behalf of their children. 

● Once upon a time, the family policing establishment insisted that they never, ever took away children because of poverty.  Then, when it was pointed out that the disproportionate rate at which Black and Native American children were torn from their families just might have something to do with racism, they said: No, no! We’re not taking them because their nonwhite, we’re taking them because of poverty!  Of course, in the ridiculous debate over whether families are needlessly separated because of race or because of poverty, the answer is: Yes.  

All of which leads me to a fascinating new data analysis from the New York City Family Policy Project. They found that if you’re Black, affluence won’t free you from the family police.  Here’s what they found: 

Latino, White and Asian children all show lower investigation rates in neighborhoods where child poverty is lower. Neighborhood child poverty rates do not appear to have the same protective effect for Black children. In fact, Black children face extremely high investigation rates in dozens of well-off and majority white neighborhoods, such as Brooklyn Heights or Boerum Hill. [Emphasis added.]

● The family police agency in New York City, the Administration for Children’s Services, has opposed legislation to require it to tell families their rights – not extend any additional rights, just tell them the rights they already have.  So the online news site The City decided to do it themselves, along with guidance from family defenders on when and how to exercise those rights. 

Check out the photo that accompanies the story – talk about saying the quiet part out loud!

And again a friendly reminder to the rest of the country: The New York City system is horrible - but significantly less horrible than most.  So wherever you are, it's probably worse. 


● A child needlessly taken, within days of birth, from a Black family in Texas has been returned home – after having been separated from her family for some of the most important days of her life, her first.  The 19th has an update.  And here’s their original story, which shows how the case lives at the intersection of two types of bias. 

But there also was good news from Texas in 2023:

● ProPublica reports on how, with near-unanimous bipartisan support, the Texas Legislature passed a bill giving families facing the family police the equivalent of Miranda rights, while in New York legislative leadership blocked a vote on a similar measure.  The story notes that the Texas law  “will in many cases benefit Black, Hispanic and low-income families who often have their lives and homes upended by CPS officers” and that “child welfare issues often defy typical partisan binaries.” 

● The Imprint makes a similar point: 

The Texas law — introduced by Republican state Rep. James Frank and jointly authored by Reps. Gene Wu and Josey Garcia, both Democrats, along with Republican Rep. Candy Noble — is part of a larger bipartisan effort to reform the state’s beleaguered foster care system and prioritize keeping families together.

● That isn’t the only good new law in Texas lately.  Texas Monthly reports on those new laws curbing the power of the family police in that state.  They, too found that these laws are not the result of a vast right-wing conspiracy after all! According to the story: 

Several laws that passed this session make Texas the unlikely front-runner in limiting overreach by Child Protective Services by tightening statutes related to removals, informing parents of their rights, and banning anonymous reports of abuse to the state hotline. … [T]he reforms represent an unlikely alliance between conservative legislators and progressive-minded activists who are seeking to reduce the surveillance of poor and Black families by the state’s child welfare agency. 

KTVT in Fort Worth has an in-depth report on the laws with a focus is on false allegations by child abuse pediatricians, and a Texas mother, Holly Simonton, whose own experience led her to found a group called Parents Behind the Pinwheels

In April, children's hospitals across the country display pinwheels for National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Each pinwheel often represents a child abuse visit by the hospital staff – including visits where no abuse was found. 

"It's triggering and emotional to see because I know one of those pinwheels was for us," Simonton said. "Child abuse is just heartbreaking, devastating and unacceptable but what is also unacceptable is wrongfully removing children from loving parents." 

● Of course, the family policing establishment is whining that the laws go too far.  But two recent tragedies make clear that, if anything, the standard is not high enough.  I have a blog post about them.


● Until a few years ago, you probably never would have read a story like this one, from Toriano Porter, a member of the editorial board of the Kansas City Star.  Because, until a few years ago, people with Toriano Poter’s lived experience were rarely hired by newspaper editorial boards.  So this urgent story isn’t just about the tyranny of family policing, this time in the most literal sense of the term.  This story also is about the power of newsroom diversity and the need for more of it. (And if you hit the Star’s paywall, look for the questionnaire option.  Any spam you may receive as a result will be worth it.) 

● From a story by WMAQ-TV Chicago

“My daughter rushed to the car and she’s like, ‘mommy DCFS came to the school, and the lady made it sound like we weren’t going to come home with you today,'" she said. 

What heinous crime against her child had this mother committed?  What had she done that was so awful that the trauma of a child abuse investigation was inflicted on her child, and her child left with the impression she couldn’t return to her family?  

Mom was late picking her up from school. 

It’s standard operating procedure for Chicago Public Schools to do this to children – and for DCFS (the Department of Children and Family Services) to investigate.  Good thing they don’t have anything else to do. 

Unfortunately, Chicago is not alone. It also happens in Washington, D.C.

● As WBTV shows in this tragic case, sometimes it takes a long, long time for a family to be reunited.  And if it takes long enough, you can bet someone will try to prevent it by playing the bonding card

● Americans find that appalling – when it happens in other countries.  But sometimes, it seems, the worst foreign leaders are simply using the U.S. child welfare establishment playbook.  Here’s a case in point. 

● in Virginia, WSLS-TV reports on how children were taken and their mother was “set up for failure” by a family police agency that made reunification “impossible to achieve for the mother.”  Who says so? The state’s Office of Children’s Ombudsman. 

● 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

● In Indiana, the Indianapolis Star reports, a family police caseworker “accused of lying to remove children from a home has agreed to a $6 million settlement with the family she separated.”  But she says the state should foot the bill because, she says, everything she did was “the result of instructions she received from others and that the State is ultimately responsible” for the child’s removal.”


● Now that people have finally caught on that much of what family policing agencies (a more accurate term than “child protective services” agencies) do is confuse poverty with neglect, the child welfare establishment has come up with a new excuse to justify all that surveillance of impoverished families and removal of their children: Neglect, they suggest, is a gateway allegation.  In The Imprint, I explain why it’s not.

● I elaborated on this in NCCPR’s presentation to the 2023 Kempe Center conference. It dealt with all the desperate spin offered up by the family policing establishment to deny that poverty routinely is confused with neglect.  Here’s the text.  

● Beware of efforts by the family policing establishment to relabel surveillance as a “child and family well-being system.” I have a column in The Imprint about why we should worry when they say “I’m from the new, improved child and family well-being system and I’m here to help you!” 

● NCCPR has a column in the Albuquerque Journal about why “An infatuation with foster care won’t save kids.”

● It won’t work in Lackawanna County, Pa. either, which is in the midst of a foster-care panic.  In the Scranton Times-Tribune NCCPR explains why that makes all children less safe.

● In New Hampshire, where they tear apart families at an obscene rate and institutionalize children at an astounding rate, I have a column in the Concord Monitor about why one worthy program isn’t enough to change this. 

● Also in New Hampshire, the state’s “Child Advocate” says now that two children have been removed from a horrible institution in Tennessee she can get “a good night’s sleep.”  I have a blog post about why she really shouldn’t be resting easy. 

● After one witness after another at a New York State Senate hearing described the trauma of the child welfare surveillance state and needless foster care, one lawmaker asked “What is the better alternative?” In the Albany Times Union, NCCPR offers some answers

● Public opinion about family policing is changing – even when the people framing the questions for a public opinion poll don’t want it to.  I have a blog post about it. 

● Almost a year ago on this Blog, I wrote about how family policing agencies play the bonding card to turn “child welfare” into the ultimate middle-class entitlement: Step right up and take a poor person’s child for your very own.  Now, from North CarolinaINDYweek reports on a tragically perfect illustration

● Here’s why some “scholars” still in denial about racial bias in family policing should be called “the Scooby Gang.” 

● One of those “scholars” is so desperate he’s trying to turn the entire concept of “evidence-based” on its head.  I have a blog post about it

● A story I first wrote about on this blog in September 2021 took an unspeakably tragic turn. In a state that tears apart children at a rate 80% above the national average, a state where the head of the family police agency effectively admits violating federal law requiring “reasonable efforts” to keep families together, a tragedy like this should shock, but not surprise.  I have an update.

● How many times have you read what journalists covering child welfare call “the fatality series”?  Most of the time, they get it wrong.  Last year, the Detroit News did “the fatality series” – and got it right.  In the process, they exposed the failure of one of those awful McLawsuits the group that calls itself “Children’s Rights” brings all over the country. I have a blog post about it all, with a link to the full series. 

● I have additional analyses of the failure of CR’s McLawsuits in  Los Angeles  and in Texas and Tennessee.   (Although, in fairness, we can’t say the one in Texas accomplished nothing: Texas Public Radio reveals how it helped some middle managers in the Texas family police agency get free vacations!)

● The federal government report that compiles data on rates of child abuse specifically warns against trying to use those data to compare states.  Of course, the fearmongers in the child welfare establishment regularly ignore this, and children pay the price.  I have a blog post about the latest case in point. 

● New England Public Media has an excellent story about how Massachusetts is piloting the most promising innovation in the country for safely reducing needless foster care.  There’s a link to the story in this NCCPR Blog post – in which I discuss who is trying to undermine the program. (If you know Massachusetts “child welfare” you know the answer.) 

● In the other Washington, an online news site discovers the terror and trauma of false reports of child abuse – well, sort of.  The discovery was somewhat selective.  I have a blog post about it. 

● Of course not everyone thinks things are so bad in family policing. I have a blog post about the newsletter that tells foster youth, in effect: Great news! We’ve ruined your lives, but you’re getting free haircuts!