Wednesday, March 6, 2024

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending March 5, 2024

● Every once in a while I’ve gently childed the group known as “Children’s Rights” for its approach to litigation.  But this week, their litigation took a big turn - for the better.  They represented the Minneapolis NAACP in filing a federal civil rights complaint alleging pervasive racism in Minnesota family policing.  I have a blog post about it, including links to the full complaint and a good story in The Imprint.   

● On the Proximity Process podcast Kathleen Creamer, Managing Attorney of the Family Advocacy Unit at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia discusses the enormous harm done to families by America’s obsession with termination of parental rights. 

● Remember when Massachusetts “Child Advocate” Maria Mossaides so misled her own commission on mandatory child abuse reporting laws that the commission rebelled and refused to pass any of her recommendations?  That hasn’t stopped Mossaides.  I have a column in CommonWealth Beacon about her latest misrepresentations. 

● In Texas, a mother dared to seek a second opinion when a doctor prescribed a particular antibiotic.  Can you guess what happened next? Stories from WFAA-TV and KDFW-TV answer that question:

 ● In 2022, the Kentucky family police took away a child from grandparents who just needed help to handle his behavioral problems.  He was institutionalized.  He ran away, and he died.  In 2024, the Kentucky family police agency took away a child whose adoptive parents just needed help to cope with her behavioral problems. Unfortunately, you can guess what happened next.  I have a column about it in the Lexington Herald-Leader. 

● In New York State, the family policing system appears designed to ensure Maximum Feasible Buckpassing.  The state runs the child abuse hotline and decides which cases to pass on to counties and New York City for investigation – and they have to investigate whatever the state sends.  So the state has an incentive to screen out fewer cases, since all those false reports are the localities’ problem.  The localities get to say: It’s not our fault that we traumatized all these families with needless investigations and strip-searches, the state made us do it!  

A new report from the New York City Family Policy Project confirms what everyone would expect from an arrangement like this: New York screens out proportionately far fewer allegations than the national average and investigates proportionately more families needlessly. The report explains the consequences: 

Parents have spoken of “doorbell trauma” – mothers having panic attacks, their kids stripping off clothes to be inspected – when they hear their buzzer. At a recent meeting of Brownsville families, one parent described Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) involvement in her family and neighborhood as “like someone is on fire and screaming and no one is able to help them.”… 

● Perhaps that’s one reason why this happened when some representatives of New York City’s family police agency, the Administration for Children’s Services, gave a presentation at a social work school.  As this video from Joyce McMillan of JMAC for Families makes clear, some of the students were unpersuaded.

 A Detroit Free Press story is headlined “Pilot projects will help stop the overreporting of children of color to child welfare.” But since the program relies largely on more “training” – which is what systems do when they don’t want to change, it’s unlikely to really accomplish much. 

● Something that may do a lot more good is a comprehensive guide from If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice concerning when medical professionals most report – and, more important, the wide latitude they often have not to destroy families with needless reports. 

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

● Another week another expose of rampant abuse at a “residential treatment center.” This time, the Indianapolis Star story is headed: “Sexual abuse, runaways and reporting failures: Wernle youth center had history of problems.” (No link because it goes only to the Star’s paywall). 

From NBC Connecticut: 

Another teenager has filed a lawsuit claiming she was sexually assaulted by an employee at a state Department of Children and Families facility in Harwinton last year. … 

While she lived there from March of 2023 to May of 2023, the lawsuit said the 14-year-old female was raped and sexually assaulted by a facility employee. As a result, she reportedly suffered significant physical and emotional harm. 

This lawsuit comes after other allegations of sexual assault at the facility. 

From CBS News Detroit: 

One Republican Michigan state representative says she's been working on getting answers to disturbing allegations of abuse at state-run mental health facilities for children but says her party affiliation is preventing her from gaining much traction. 

State Rep. Jamie Thompson called for action on how state-run mental health facilities operate. Thompson's latest attempt comes after a lawsuit alleges that a 9-year-old patient at the Hawthorn Center was assaulted and employees did not intervene. 

WLNS-TV also has a story about this.