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Research Archive

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…

May 10, 2024

A Jumble of Standards: How State and Federal Authorities Have Underestimated Child Maltreatment Fatalities

Key Points Read the full PDF. “There is no standard, mandated reporting system for child abuse or neglect deaths in this country. Definitions, investigative procedures, and reporting requirements vary from state to state. Attributing a child’s death to abuse rather than to an accident or natural cause is often extremely difficult. The death of a…

May 2, 2024

Lives Cut Short: A Project to Document Child Maltreatment Fatalities

Every year, at least 2,000 children die of maltreatment. Many of the adults responsible for their deaths were known to child welfare services or law enforcement before the fatal incident occurred. Unfortunately, state governments fail to count many of these deaths or release information that would help determine their causes. Why is this? How can…

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…

April 5, 2024

The US Is Failing Substance-Exposed Infants

Key Points Read the full pdf. Introduction The stark human and societal cost of the drug epidemic is undeniable, directly taking over 100,000 lives each year since 2021.1 Due to infrequent and inconsistent testing,2 there is no reliable count of how many children are exposed to substances in utero, but, even before the current drug epidemic began,…

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…