Thursday, January 18, 2024

NCCPR news and commentary roundup week ending January 18, 2024

You hear it from family police agencies all the time: We never take children because of poverty alone.  This investigative report from WABE Public Radio in Atlanta and ProPublica could have been called: Like hell they don’t!  It documents hundreds of cases in which Georgia family police tore apart families for lack of housing – and nothing else.  Read it and watch how, paragraph after paragraph, the madness of the system unfolds. 

There’s the caseworker who probably didn’t even know she was admitting her agency routinely violates federal law requiring “reasonable efforts” to keep families together, when she seemed to be telling the mother at the center of the story that the agency isn’t obligated to do a damn thing. 

Or the judge who wouldn’t return the children because “these children have lived in unstable living arrangements long enough” – dooming the children to be split from each other into separate foster homes, moved from placement to placement to the point that two of them had to spend a night in a family police agency office. 

Or if the harm to children isn’t enough, there’s the fact that taxpayers are spending vastly more on foster care than it would cost to just provide the housing.  And not just Georgia taxpayers.  If the case is eligible for federal aid, and it probably is, we all paid to wreak havoc on this family. 

● Hope this isn’t a spoiler, but the best part of a Texas Monthly story about that long-running McLawsuit against the state’s horrific foster care system comes at the end.  The plaintiffs want to put the Texas system into receivership.  That almost never happens, so the Texas Monthly reporter thought it would be a good idea to check with a family law expert who’s actually seen one.  From the story: 

Matthew Fraidin, a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia, watched receivership play out in the Washington, D.C., foster care system, following a lawsuit similar to the one in Texas. Six years of federal oversight there produced scandal and mixed results. Many argued that the foster care system was in no better shape after the federal takeover. The case ended in 2021, after more than thirty years. The only real change came, Fraidin argues, once the district focused on removing fewer children from their homes to limit the size of the foster care system. About a decade ago, his law students represented parents whose children were removed to foster care, he says, “and in sixty percent of the cases they were returned home without ever being found abused or neglected.” 

In Texas, that hasn’t been part of the reforms Jack has ordered, but Fraidin says it may be the only way out of the quagmire. Lawsuits like the one before Jack “are doomed to leave agencies as bureaucracies that are focused on the wrong thing.” 

● In Arizona, NCCPR explains in the AZ Mirror, it’s a good news, bad news story: 

Here’s the good news: Contrary to what one state legislator seems to believe, the Arizona Department of Child Safety is not in the grip of a global satanic sex trafficking cabal. Here’s the bad news: The real problems at DCS are way worse. 

● NCCPR has released a new Issue Paper.  It’s all about the enormous harm of mandatory child abuse reporting laws. 

● Last week’s round-up included a news story about a surprising report from a commission studying those laws.  I have a blog post about it. 

● And private foster care agencies in New York are trying to sucker the State Legislature into giving them a $200 million bailout.  No clickbait here; you absolutely will believe why they say they need it.  It’s in this blog post. 

In this week’s edition of The Horror Stories Go in All Directions: 

The Sacramento Bee has an update on the tragic death of a child in an Arizona group home. 

And WJAR-TV in Providence has an update on that scathing report on conditions at a residential treatment center in Rhode Island.