Tuesday, April 16, 2024

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending April 16, 2024

CNN reports on how some hospitals finally are moving to put the needs of children first. They’re no longer as willing to automatically turn in to the family police anyone who’s pregnant but is using drugs – because doing that is the perfect way to scare new mothers away from prenatal care and giving birth in a hospital. 

● But the bad news continues in Maine, where demagoguery by a former public official and a current child welfare “ombudsman” continues to fuel foster-care panic.  Now, the Maine Monitor reports, children are trapped in foster care even longer before even getting a chance to be set free – because there are not enough attorneys for their parents. 

● Things are not as bad in Massachusetts – but the Boston Globe reports that, in a state that tears apart families at a rate 60% above the national average – and spends on “child welfare” at roughly the fourth highest rate in America, somehow lawmakers can’t come up with funding to maintain even a few highly-successful programs providing high-quality preventive legal services to families. 

● Speaking of foster-care panic, a well-meaning U.S. Senator has issued a report that may well kick a foster-care panic in Georgia into overdrive.  I have a column about it in the Georgia Recorder. 

● No state is worse than West Virginia, the child removal capital of America, where almost every Black child is born with a family police target on their back.  I have a column about it in West Virginia Watch. 

● But there's better news from Minnesota: another sign that not only Minnesota lawmakers but also media aren't going to let the Minneapolis Star Tribune stampede them into another foster-care panic. Minnesota Public Radio reports on the real problems in the system - the ones the Star Tribune seems to prefer to play down.  And I have a blog post on the latest excuse some Minnesota counties are offering up for not doing anything about it.

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

● Family police agencies love to tout figures that, when they, in effect, investigate themselves they find very little abuse in foster care. Next time that happens, please keep this in mind: In Texas, the Texas Tribune reports, the family police agency is so willfully blind to such abuse that a federal court is fining the agency $100,000 – per day. [UPDATE: But an appeals court has stayed the fines until the Texas family police can appeal.]

In Sacramento, the Sacramento Bee reports that 

Sacramento city and county have paid a $300,000 settlement to the parents of an infant who died after he was allegedly wrongfully placed in foster care. 

And Honolulu Civil Beat reports that

The state has tentatively agreed to pay $750,000 to settle a lawsuit over the mysterious death of a 3-year-old boy in state foster custody in 2017 on the Big Island.