Tuesday, April 9, 2024

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending April 10, 2024

● Last week, in a column for The Imprint, I wrote about how, though the journalism of child welfare is improving, some places are still promoting the big lie of American child welfare.  They scapegoat family preservation for child abuse deaths and encourage foster-care panic. I cited the Minneapolis Star Tribune as a prime example.  They’re doing it for the second time in a decade – but this time state legislators don’t seem to be buying it. 

More evidence that lawmakers are not being suckered came at a dramatic public hearing on a new, expanded version of the Minnesota African-American Family Preservation Act.  The Star Tribune didn’t cover the hearing.  Fortunately, The Imprint did 

● In 2022, the worst foster-care panic took place in Louisiana.  I have a column about how that’s hurting the state’s children in the Louisiana Illuminator. 

● Typically, when I compare New York to Philadelphia, Philadelphia is on the losing end.  But this time, some New Yorkers want to cave in to threats from private foster care agencies, but Philadelphia won’t.  The issue is accountability, in the form of lawsuits against the agencies by children abused on their watch.  In New York, the agencies want taxpayers to fork over up to $200 million to bail them out – otherwise, they threaten to go out of business.  They seem to think that would be a bad thing.  Some New York lawmakers who don’t know any better are proposing to cave in.  

In Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, agencies sought a similar bailout.  But to her great credit, the head of Philadelphia’s “child welfare” agency, Kimberly Ali, said no.  Though it will cost her agency a lot in time and money, she refused to cave.  “What the provider wanted the city to do was pay to indemnify them for their own negligence,” she said, “and that is what the city was not going to do.” 

And the sky has not fallen.  In fact, a whole lot of other agencies are lining up to replace the quitters.

● Philadelphia isn’t the only place pulling ahead of New York in some ways.  In 2023, Texas passed a Family Miranda law – so families know their rights when the family police are at the door.  It passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.  Andrew Brown of the Texas Public Policy Foundation was in Albany, explaining how it was done on Spectrum News Capital Tonight.  He was joined by Angela Olivia Burton, a leader of the fight to pass such legislation in New York.   

● One of the worst things family police agencies do to children is to take them away from domestic violence survivors because those survivors “allowed” the children to “witness domestic violence.”  Under these circumstances, the trauma of removal is compounded.  Now a Mississippi prosecutor is taking it a step further.  The Mississippi Free Press reports the prosecutor is trying to take away a mother’s children because, in effect, she allegedly allowed her 11-year-old to get in the way of a police officer’s bullet. 

WBUR Public Radio has more on that significant change for the better in how the largest hospital system in Massachusetts is handling issues involving pregnancy and substance use. 

● Change also is coming to Washington, D.C., where the Washington Post reports on a guaranteed income pilot program aimed specifically at mothers under surveillance by the D.C. family police agency. 

● And the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Missouri Legislature is coming closer to prohibiting the state from swiping foster children’s money.