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May 31, 2024

ACS Has Lost the Plot

It’s been almost a year, but Lynija Eason Kumar was finally charged with murder last month in the death of her six-year-old daughter, Jalayah Eason. The child, according to New York City’s medical examiner, died as a result of blunt-force injuries, malnourishment, and positional asphyxia. According to the New York Times, she “died after Ms. Eason…

April 23, 2024

Neglected Representation in Foster Care

How do people working in the child-welfare system determine what is in a child’s best interests? Meeting the child in question might seem a good first step. A new report from the California legal advocacy group AdvoKids, however, found that the lawyers representing foster children in court often fail to perform this basic task. In…

April 9, 2024

Child Abandonment in the Name of Compassion

A self-described libertarian friend once described to me the feeling she had when it was time to leave the hospital with her newborn baby. She remembered looking at the nurse and thinking, “You’re just going to let me take this thing home? I have no idea what I’m doing.” Even those of us who are…

March 27, 2024

Narcan Babies

“As medical professionals who work with pregnant patients, you face numerous medical, legal, and ethical decision points when treating a patient for substance use during pregnancy, and when providing care to a neonate with drug or alcohol exposure.” So begins a pamphlet of advice for doctors and nurses that discourages them from reporting mothers for substance abuse…

March 21, 2024

Why Foster Kids Aren’t Getting the Mental Health Care They need

Last fall, a 15-year-old foster child in Kansas took his own life. According to a local news report, the boy’s foster family “immediately called for help when they discovered the teenager, but paramedics couldn’t save him.” The Kansas City Beacon reported that the agency that was overseeing the placement, KVC Kansas, did not meet the state’s guidelines for…

March 14, 2024

The Chipping Away at Safe Haven Laws

“No Shame, No Blame, No Names.” That’s how one billboard advertises Safe Haven baby boxes, where a mother can anonymously leave her newborn at a fire station or other emergency facility if she feels she cannot care for the child. Unfortunately, this option, which is available in 19 states including Massachusetts, might not be effective for long. Officials…

March 1, 2024

How the Children’s Bureau Lost Its Way

“It’s definitely very empowering when you get involved. Like anytime I finish a pair of beaded earrings. I feel like, wow, I just did that.” This message of empowerment through beading was tweeted out by the federal Administration for Children and Families recently. It’s one of a series of head-scratching messages offered by the agency…

December 11, 2023

How to make smartphones and apps safer for kids

“These are first-of-their-kind bills in the United States,” Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said in March at the signing of SB152, which required social media companies operating in Utah to age-verify users and obtain explicit parental consent for users under the age of 18 to open an account. “That’s huge that Utah is leading out in this…

November 11, 2023

Why is NYC Telling Teachers to Not Keep Kids Safe?

When you see something, should you say something? According to the Office of Children and Family Services, it depends on the race of the victim.  New guidance released last month for New York City teachers offers some unusual bits of advice. Rather than reporting suspected cases of abuse to the Administration for Children’s Services, teachers should actually…

October 10, 2023

Judge Erik Pitchal’s Warped Mindset Led to Baby Ella Vitalis’ Death

Ella Vitalis was only three weeks old when her parents brought her to the hospital with two broken ankles, a fractured skull and a brain hemorrhage. The couple, who had been visited by police after a domestic-violence incident, offered no explanation for their daughter’s injuries. After an investigation, the Administration for Children’s Services took Ella and her brother,…