I just posted this new essay on the Rethinking Foster Care Blog (December 5, 2018). I thought I knew what the separation from families at the hands of child protective services meant—the many ways such separations cause trauma. But I keep finding new ways that I didn’t fully appreciate, and as advocates for parents, we need to recognize all of these harms.
Today I was honored to be interviewed by Niala Budu at Illinois Public Radio to talk about Kim Brooks’ wonderful, beautifully written book. The topic was essentially the same on as my TedX talk in May 2016: the laws and policies on child neglect when parents let children be alone. In a time when children are left alone to fend for themselves without their families at the hands of our government, it is shocking that we are investigating parents for letting their kids walk the dog or sit for five minutes in a car on a cool day with the windows open. My piece starts at 38:10 on this clip https://will.illinois.edu/player/audio/author-kim-brooks-on-parenting-in-the-age-of-fear-rural-digital-divide
Today's new Reason.column by Lenore Skenazy's highlights "Cassie" case (my home page story and a wonderful family that should never have been separated). It also features our work on behalf of domestic violence victim Rochelle Vermeulen, and it draws the powerful connection between family separation at the border and family separations throughout the country carried out by child protective services.
The Washington Times today (June 6, 2018) has a terrific article focusing on our efforts to narrow neglect allegations and stop labeling reasonable parents as child neglectors. It talks about our efforts to change child welfare laws and practices. The article doesn't explain that it is mostly poor and minority families who get clobbered with amorphous neglect findings, but these law and policy changes will help everyone, including the real victims of abuse. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jun/5/free-range-parents-want-more-freedom-kids/
Read Reason.com for Lenore Skenazy's latest take on why we are overdoing "see something say something" responses to situations that involve children who have disabilities. As Lenore eloquently explains, we're just hurting kids. I'm extensively quoted because the story she highlights about the humiliating and oppressive experience of a family that took their autistic son out for a day in the park was very reminiscent of the story of James Redlin in the Dupuy II hearing in 2000.
When by a nosy passenger who made an anonymous call to child protection authorities when James and his son went on Metra to see dinosaurs at the Field Museum, the Redlin family was threatened, intiminated and had their summer plans entirely ruined by a child protective services safety plan that required Redlin's disabled wife to supervise all of his interactions with his son for months before the case was deemed "unfounded."
There are over 2,000,000 children ever year who had Hotline calls that the authorities themselves amount to nothing, except that the families who are their victims are terrified and traumatized. Parents need freedom to raise their kids without fearing what a federal court has called the "awesome coercive intervention" of the State.
Here's what I said in the February issue of Professor Dan Pollack's "Legal Notes" column for Policy and Practice. Diane Redleaf, legal director of the National Center on Housing and Child Welfare says: “Given the American Psychiatric Association doesn’t currently recognize this disorder (and may never do so), mandating any form of training that assumes the disorder’s validity may contribute to a proliferation of misplaced training programs, agendas of so-called experts promoting junk science, and inappropriate spending on treatment programs that have no measurable benefit. Moreover, there can be unintended consequences for the alleged sufferers of this disorder that have not yet been fully considered, such as having sentences for sexual offenders increased if they do not participate in counseling for this addiction and having child protective services start to label more parents at fault if they have forms of sexual conduct whose only ‘victim’ is the parent herself.”
I've just been interviewed, again, about the famous (or infamous) “Home Alone II”/Schoo case in Illinois. http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/news/ct-abn-home-alone-schoo-impact-st-1215-20171221-story,amp.html?__twitter_impression=true
The case led to a law that gave state officials more open-ended discretion to determine parents were neglectful if they let their children be alone. Read my comment --a personal reminiscence on how this bad case made some bad law.