The American Association of Pediatrics asserted that separating a child from her family “can cause irreparable harm, disrupting a child’s brain architecture and affecting his or her short- and long-term health. This type of prolonged exposure to serious stress—known as toxic stress—can carry lifelong consequences for children.” Further, of the children who experience foster care, about forty percent of their mothers have a personal history of child welfare involvement. The current child welfare system is creating a destructive cycle where children are removed from their parents and placed in foster care, allegedly to save them from abuse or neglect. However, the indirect abuse and neglect that the system itself can cause are long-lasting and far-reaching; not only to the child that was in the system but potentially to the children of that child. While the assertions and suggestions in this article apply to all current and former foster youth, there is a heightened need to address the harms that manifest in foster alumni as parents because of the probability that those harms will impact a second generation. Read More.
In the U.S. today there are over 400,000 children and youth in foster care. In 2020, less than half of the children and youth discharged from foster care were reunified with their parents and approximately 20,000 young people “aged out” of foster care. Aging out refers to the transition to adulthood for older youth in foster care “when no legal permanent connection – such as being reunited with family, adopted, or placed under the care of a legal guardian – is available to them” before the age at which foster care is terminated in their state. This results in young people abruptly “los[ing] access to the financial, educational, and social supports provided through the child welfare system.” Read More.
The child welfare system is racist. As with all systems in the United States, the system charged with protecting children is not exempt from the racist policies, practices, and mindsets that created and justified colonialization and slavery. Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color continue to fall prey to the harsh realities of child welfare involvement, finding themselves disproportionately represented in this system. Historically, the child welfare system has attempted to rectify this issue by implementing policies and practices that consistently fall flat. Perhaps one of the most comprehensive attempts at rectifying these wrongs involved the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) enacted in 1978. ICWA was created to protect Indigenous communities devastated by extraordinarily high rates of removing Indigenous children from their families and Tribes and adopting them out to non-Indigenous families. In 2013, eighteen of the United States’ most prominent child welfare organizations collectively asserted in an amicus brief that through the creation of ICWA, “Congress adopted the gold standard for child welfare policies and practices that should be afforded to all children.” Specifically, they asserted that ICWA serves as “a model for child welfare and placement decisionmaking [sic] that should be extended to all children." Read More.
The Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) was first passed by Congress in 1973. “The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.” The ESA was passed in response to President Nixon’s conservation initiative, which emphasized preventing the extinction of species. Now more than ever, human activities are a major threat to species extinction. Currently, we are “facing an extinction crisis.” If action is not taken to further protect species, the global rate of species loss will accelerate. Presently, the rate of extinction is “at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it was averaged over the past 10 million years.” Indeed, nearly one million species are facing extinction within the next few decades. Read More.
Decriminalizing drugs means ending the Drug War against users, and permits reallocating its resources to public health and community restoration. While Oregon recently passed decriminalization, New Jersey has taken a piecemeal approach for twenty-five years. This study assesses that history, the shape of the prison-industrial complex born of the Drug War, and the prospective savings as decriminalization permits the state to downsize the police, the courts, public defenders and prosecutors, the carceral system (jails, prisons, parole, probation), and to avoid some health crisis-intervention. The study finds that of the more than nine-tenths of a1 billion dollars in anticipated savings, over half is from police, one-fifth is from incarceration, and one-fifth is from health casualties averted. Read More.
On February 10, 2022, the Rutgers Journal of Law and Public Policy hosted the Reforming and Restructuring Child Welfare Law in New Jersey and Abroad Symposium. Speakers included moderator Randi Mandelbaum, Distinguished Clinical Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School and Annamay Sheppard Scholar; Sydney Groll, Independence Foundation Public Interest Fellow at the Support Center for Child Advocates in Philadelphia; Deputy Commissioner Katherine Stoehr, from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families; Sylvia Thomas, Chief Counsel of the Family Stability and Preservation Project at Legal Services of New Jersey; and Alexandra and Iesha, two of Legal Services of New Jersey’s parent allies. The following is a transcript of the Symposium. Read More.