Wednesday, March 27, 2024

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending March 26, 2024

● Any family caught up in the politics of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Massachusetts “Child Advocate” Maria Mossaides is in for hell.  Neither was directly involved in a case in the news this week, but both did a lot to create the climate of fear that prolonged a five-year-old boy’s anguish.  The New York Times did a superb job telling the story.  I have a blog post about the lessons it teaches, with a link to the Times account. 

● Speaking of multi-state failure, Honolulu Civil Beat reports it turns out it took incompetence – or worse – in two states for Geanna Bradley to be taken from loving relatives and wind up in the foster home where she died, allegedly at the hands of her foster-parents-turned-legal-guardians. 

● There is somewhat happier news in Florida where, WFTS-TV reports, a mother whose children were wrongfully taken has gotten most of them back – though one child remains in Florida foster care. 

● Similar fights are ongoing everywhere, including North Carolina, where they are the topic of a documentary, To Be Invisible: 

I only found out about it, when I saw this from Prof. Dorothy Roberts:

● In Colorado, lawmakers wisely changed the law to reduce the number of cases in which doctors are required to turn in new mothers to the family police instead of giving them help.  But, the Denver Post reports, many medical personnel aren’t aware of the change. In the story, Dr. Kaylin Klie, a family practice and addiction medicine physician in Denver, explains some of what they need to know: 

Most doctors come from relatively privileged communities and struggle to understand that patients skip prenatal care because of fear their children will be taken away, Klie said. Children of color and those from low-income families are more likely to be part of an abuse investigation than white and more affluent children, according to nationwide data. 

While many people think babies and toddlers are too young to experience negative effects from being separated from their parents, taking them away puts extra stress on the brain in an important developmental window, she said. 

Parents “are making a reasonable choice to try to avoid detection unless we make a change, where labor and delivery units are seen as a safe haven,” she said. 

Making prenatal care a safe environment for people with substance use disorders also increases the odds that they will pursue medication treatment, which makes them more likely to succeed in quitting illicit opioids, Klie said. 

● Nothing sums up the problem of states swiping foster youth’s Social Security benefits better than this headline on a St. Louis Post Dispatch editorial urging lawmakers to stop the practice: 

Missouri legally steals from foster kids. Lawmakers can end it. Why haven't they?

The editorial continues: 

If Missouri’s elected representatives can’t get it together long enough to agree to stop stealing from the most vulnerable kids in society, what are they even doing in office? 

Fortunately, the Missouri Independent reports, prospects for passage now look pretty good. 

● At long last the federal government released foster-care data for 2022. It turns out a top candidate for the dubious distinction of foster-care capital of America is now – Vermont.  And that makes the bill discussed in this story from VT Digger a big step in the right direction. 

● One of the most common forms of so-called neglect is “lack of supervision.”  Children may be torn from their parents because the parents had to leave them alone since they couldn’t afford child care.  So what happens then? Rather than help the family with child care, the children are placed in foster care.  If the foster parents have to work, they may get special additional payments for childcare!  But in Kentucky, lawmakers decided that wasn’t enough coddling for foster parents.  Now, the Kentucky Lantern reports, they’ll be eligible for childcare aid even when they’re working remotely from home! 

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

KRQE-TV in Albuquerque reports on a lawsuit against the New Mexico family police agency and a private foster care agency.  The case concerns a young boy who was 

hospitalized for two months, during which he told doctors he had been physically and sexually abused by his foster parents. He told doctors they pulled his tongue and kicked him.

The claims were later substantiated by CYFD, according to the lawsuit. … [A lawyer for the child’s grandparents] said before the child was placed in foster care, his grandparents offered to take him in, and even underwent a home evaluation by CYFD personnel. “Why was this boy not placed with his grandparents when at least, theoretically, CYFD prioritizes family placements over non-family placements,” he said.