Wednesday, February 28, 2024

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending February 27, 2024

● Last week’s round-up began with the New York Times story about a landmark lawsuit against the New York City family police agency, the Administration for Children’s Services.  The lawsuit challenges what NCCPR President Prof. Martin Guggenheim calls “ACS’s widespread practice of engaging in lawless home invasions that terrorize parents and children.”  The lawsuit is so important (and so well-written) that there have since been at least ten other news stories.  I have links to all of them and an analysis of some of the news coverage in this NCCPR Blog post.  And in this post, I simply reprint the opening section of the lawsuit complaint – because it’s that well-written. 

Also in New York: 

The 19th takes an in-depth look at a case that is a prime example of how ACS abuses families.  

● The city’s family defense providers show, in a New York Daily News op-ed why all of this illustrates the urgency of passing “family Miranda” legislation. 


On the EPPiC podcast Prof. Kelley Fong discusses her book, Investigating Families, including how families learn to “play the game” and tell the family police what they want to hear. 

● In The Grio, Shereen White, director of advocacy and policy at Children’s Rights, and Prof. Shanta Trivedi, faculty director of the Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts at the University of Baltimore School of Law, write about the need to repeal the law that did so much to get us into this mess, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. 

As we honor Black history this February, we look back at a decades-old law that remains, to this day, a blight on generations of Black families. … One of the consequences of [CAPTA’s requirement for] mandated reporting is that it can discourage a family or parent from seeking help or punish them if they do. 

Consider a parent who is facing violence in the home, is struggling to afford food for their children, or, like many in this country, is unable to find affordable, livable housing. Often, when these parents reach out — going to the hospital for example or seeking therapy — that nurse or therapist whose trusted expertise they desperately need, is required under law to report suspected abuse or neglect in the home. That report can then lead to intervention by Child Protective Services (CPS), invasive interviews, threats of child removals and potentially, and most devastatingly, removal of a child from a caring parent. 

● Here’s the good news: 31 states have taken advantage of a change in federal funding rules that provides some reimbursement for lawyers for children and families.  Here’s the bad news: 19 states and Washington, D.C. have not.  This story in The Imprint has a chart so you can see where your state stands. 

As the story explains: 

Jey Rajaraman, a longtime parent defender who’s now an associate director of the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law, sees the new funding as part of a larger shift nationwide in the approach to high-stakes child welfare cases. There is an increasing understanding in the field that accusations of poverty-related neglect drives the majority of foster care removals — not severe physical or sexual abuse — and that children are best served with added supportive services within their families. 

● In Massachusetts, the Boston Globe reports, former foster youth who were harmed when they were torn from their homes protested at the State Capitol.  They are demanding a say in choosing the next leader of the state’s family police agency, the Department of Children and Families. 

The protest was led by Family Matters First.  The group’s executive director is Tatiana Rodriguez.  As the story explains: 

Rodriguez’s passion for reforming DCF stems from her own experience in foster care. As a child, she reported drug use in her home to the child welfare agency with the hope it would improve her situation. Instead, she said, she was placed with a foster family. The process, she said, eventually severed her not just from her birth family but also from her culture and community for most of her teenage years. 

“I was with a white family,” she said. “I missed my Spanish food, my traditions.” 

● When Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley exposed abuses by a local “child abuse pediatrician” officials seemed far more interested in silencing him than in doing anything about what he exposed.  Now, the Allentown Morning Call reports, he’s seeking an independent investigation.  NCCPR agrees and is cited in the story. 

● The Family Justice Resource Center specializes in exposing the abuses of these doctors and helping families fight back.  They’ve just issued this comprehensive toolkit.

● Perhaps you remember the tragic death of Ma’Khia Bryant, taken from family in Columbus, Ohio because they lacked adequate housing, only to be killed by a police officer after a fight at her group home.  Now, with comment from NCCPR, the Columbus Dispatch reports on another tragedy with some disturbing echoes of what happened to Bryant.