Tuesday, June 11, 2024

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, weeks ending June 10, 2024

The Imprint has an excellent overview of that landmark report on racism in family policing produced by the New York State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. 

From the story:

A number of the group’s eight recommendations focus on shifting away from the longstanding, nationwide practice of “mandated reporting.” Advocates and parents who testified at public hearings over the past two years say that system has produced a flood of baseless abuse and neglect allegations phoned in to authorities, with terrified families left in the wake of visits from child protective services.

● Speaking of civil rights and family policing: In her former job as New York City´s Public Advocate, Letitia James did all she could to undermine efforts to curb family policing in the city. You can read all about that here. But now, in her current job as New York State Attorney General, perhaps she´s seen the light.  The Imprint reports she´s launched a large-scale investigation of the harm to children and families when pregnant patients are drug tested without their consent. The story also takes a close look at a lawsuit, originally reported in The Buffalo News, by one such mother in an unusual position to fight back.

The Imprint also has a fascinating look at efforts to increase the proportion of New York foster children placed in kinship foster care instead of with strangers.  In New York, individual counties and New York City are in charge of family policing. Part one of the series looks at the counties doing a lousy job and reports their excuses. Part two looks at the counties that do best, in the process showing that the poor performers´ excuses have no credibility.

● Most of the attention finally being paid to the horrors endured by Native American children forced into so-called “boarding schools” has focused on those run directly by the government.  But the horrors of “child welfare” always have been, and remain, the ultimate public-private partnership.  The Washington Post examines the sexual abuse that pervaded institutions run by the Catholic Church.  And no, this isn´t ancient history. They existed until 1969.  (Of course we don´t have places anything like this today, now they´ve rebranded as “residential treatment centers.”)

●Despite that legacy, there are still ongoing efforts to undermine a law enacted in part to stop it from ever happening again, the Indian Child Welfare Act.  The Imprint reports that the latest challenge was defeated in Minnesota – though other elements of a state court decision are troubling.

● Speaking of legacies of abuse by private child welfare agencies, the ones in New York seem to want to force survivors to choose between compensation and justice.  I have a blog post about it.

● After the Vermont Center for Parent Representation documented case after case of families wrongly listed on that state´s blacklist of alleged child abusers, the former head of the state family police agency itself, Bill Young, was so shocked that he came out of retirement to help change the law.  As WCAX-TV reports:

“After about two months, I realized oh my god, it’s true. These stories are true,” he said.

Young says the story that struck him the most was that of a seven-year-old girl taken into custody by a judge after she got a bruise on her back from sledding. DCF was convinced the mother was abusive even after the sledding story was corroborated by the school nurse. “{We} have a situation where people begin to think, you know, in the interest of protecting a child, you can skew the evidence a little bit, something that people who raised me would have called lying.”

The law has now been changed. The new law also has the potential to improve standards for deciding when to initiate an investigation.

● For the authoritative health news site Stat, a psychiatrist and a nurse practitioner specializing in addition write:

Pregnant people and new mothers who are being treated for opioid addiction often have to fight to keep their children out of the hands of child protective services. But it’s a fight they shouldn’t have to face.

They’re active in treatment. They’re not using illegal drugs. Yet child protective services (CPS) often take their babies away — not because they’re unfit mothers, but because they’re being judged on falsehoods.

WFTV in Florida has the story of still another case in which an alleged rush to judgment by doctors is destroying a family.

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

The Columbus Dispatch reports that

Children sent to a state-licensed facility for mental health care are subjected to chokeholds and slaps, being pinned to the ground and verbally abused, and are regularly leaving the campus, according to an investigation conducted by Disability Rights Ohio.

Disability Rights Ohio Director Kerstin Sjoberg said neither Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services nor the center, Youth Intensive Services, are working to correct the problems. …

WMAQ-TV reports that

The death of a 10-year-old boy living in foster care in Northwest Indiana has been ruled a homicide according to a coroner's report issued this week.

According to a report from the St. Joseph County Coroner's Office, 10-year-old Dakota Stevens' death occurred as a result of "mechanical asphyxia," and is being investigated as a homicide.

The Leader-Call in Mississippi reports that

A pair of foster parents in Ellisville are facing four counts of felony child abuse after Ellisville police found four children living in what were described as horrific conditions on Saturday night.

And The Salt Lake Tribune reports that

A Utah treatment center for “troubled teens” has been sued by two parents who say their daughter was sexually assaulted by other girls at the facility after staff failed to conduct regular bed checks. …

.…And a bonus: News of the Weird

● This week, we close with a category best called News of the Weird.  Malcolm and Simone Collins are a white couple who are prime movers in the “pronatalist” movement, which encourages people to have lots and lots of kids, in order to, in Malcolm´s words “set the future of our species."  While being interviewed by a reporter at a restaurant, one of his own children, a toddler, pushed against their table so hard he nearly knocked it over. Malcolm immediately slapped him in the face.  He acknowledged this was a regular form of discipline in such situations. 

As Business Insider reported, this provoked an angry response on social media.  And then (and this is the weird part) Malcolm Collins branded the response “racist.”  Why? Because, you see, “minorities often hit their children without facing the same backlash.”

I hope the next follow-up story is in an astronomy publication – because I´d love to know what planet this guy is on!