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January 21, 2024

Portland’s Encampment Kids

I’m standing outside the Central Police Precinct in downtown Portland, Oregon. Officer Eli Arnold and I have bicycled over to meet two of his colleagues, returned from a drug bust. We examine the proceeds of the crime on the hood of a squad car. The officers weigh the fentanyl powder on a small scale, record…

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 16, 2023

Serve Students, Not Institutions

More than 20,000 physical therapists left the profession in 2021 alone, notes a recent report. It’s therefore hard to imagine why anyone would want to discourage universities from offering more physical therapy programs to help renew the ranks. Unfortunately, that’s just what the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) did recently when it voted to stop…

October 10, 2023

The Best Place for Kids Isn’t Always Their Home

If it’s true that you can judge a society by how it treats its weakest members, then one shortcut to judging societies would be looking at their child welfare systems. A recent article in The New Yorker by Margaret Talbot gives readers a chilling view into Austria’s foster care system in the post-war years. The story revolves…

October 10, 2023

New White House Proposal to Further Alienate Religious Foster Parents

“All young people in foster care, including those who happen to be LGBTQ, deserve affirming, supportive environments to call home,” said Kasey Suffredini of the Trevor Project, as she and other advocates applauded the recent announcement from the White House proposing rules to require training for foster parents in how to care for these youth. The rule might…

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,…

October 5, 2023

DCS Has Failed Children It Was Supposed to Protect, This Lawsuit Shows Why

What should anger us most about the life of Kimberly F., a 15-year-old Indiana girl in the custody of the state’s Department of Child Services? That she was repeatedly sexually abused by at least three men? That those responsible for her allowed the abuse to continue? That the state repeatedly kept her in the care…

September 26, 2023

Former Foster Kids Need More Than Higher Education

When I tell people that I write about child welfare and the foster care system, the question I am most often asked is “What can we do about the problem of kids aging out?” “Aging out” is what happens when these teens and young adults — about 40,000 each year — leave foster care without being adopted…

September 25, 2023

As NYC Reels from Fentanyl Day Care Tragedy, Child Care Overdoses Are More Common Than We Think

“He had so much love,” Zoila Dominici said of her 1-year-old son Nicholas who died last week from fentanyl exposure after his home-based day care in The Bronx, Divino Nino, was found to be doubling as a drug den. Three other toddlers were hospitalized when the fentanyl fumes were absorbed into their lungs.  Unfortunately, cases like this are…

September 18, 2023

No Culture Wars, Please, We’re Academics

A few years ago, Melissa S. Kearney got into a taxi cab and asked the driver about a photo of a young girl on his dashboard. The driver confirmed it was his daughter and then proudly showed her more pictures. The girl lived with her mother, he explained. Kearney, a professor of economics at the…