Knee-jerk Responses Won’t Reduce Foster Child Abuse Deaths

After reading Kim Strong’s excellent story about child abuse deaths and implementation of the federal Family First Act in Pennsylvania, some readers may be wondering: Why in the world is that guy you quoted at the end (that would be me) saying we should do more to keep families together? Why would he say we should improve defense counsel for families when more children are dying?

Short answer: Because it’s the best way to stop more children from dying.

Consider: During the worst of the pandemic, child abuse deaths went up in Pennsylvania. But they went down in New York City. What made the difference?

● Even before the pandemic, New York City took away children at less than half the rate of Pennsylvania – even when rates of child poverty are factored in. So when the pandemic hit, New York City was better able to focus resources on finding children in real danger, instead of being distracted by a deluge of false reports, trivial cases and needless foster care – just as some legal scholars predicted…

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