ParentalRights.org is one of America's best-known "Child Protective" "Services" (CPS) watchdogs groups, and they are teaming up with something called the United Family Advocates (a left-leaning organization that is concerned with many of the same issues) to push reforms to the upcoming bill. CAPTA--The Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act of 1974--is up for re-authorization, and these groups are pushing for some reforms which will be the topic of this brief essay.
Here is a borrowed synopsis of what CAPTA is supposed to be and do: "CAPTA was originally enacted in P.L. 93-247 and was most recently amended on May 29, 2015 by the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-22) and, on July 22, 2016, by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-198). CAPTA provides Federal funding to States in support of prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution, and treatment activities and also provides grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations, including Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations, for demonstration programs and projects." (Source: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/about/)
Here is a link to the letter these two groups are putting together to urge this year's reforms:
Here is an excerpt which highlights what they see as this year's reform priorities:
"The current system takes too many children from innocent families. 'A child abuse investigation is, itself, a trauma.'
Foster care, though sometimes necessary, compounds the trauma. CAPTA should be amended to expand protections for innocent families, including insuring fairer investigations, providing a notice of rights, and ceasing intervention against reasonably prudent parents. ...
Of special importance, the standard for child removal must comport with the guarantee of Due Process provided in the U.S. Constitution. 'Safety Plans' should be presented as voluntary unless they really are legally binding. The current practice of initiating such 'agreements' under threat of taking children must be corrected. ...
Poverty should never be confused with neglect. Parents should not lose their children simply because they are poor...
'Confidential' reporting should replace 'anonymous' reporting, which will severely curb the abuse of child abuse hotlines. The hotline should not be a means for an embittered ex to accuse a fit parent of abuse when there is none. Requiring the caller to provide basic identifying information to the hotline (though still not to the accused) will go a long way to curing this problem."
I agree with all of this, and if these reforms actually get passed into law, it will put the current CPS milieu even further afield of the law, providing families and good foster parents more legal remedies against ill-trained, dishonest or incompetent CPS personnel. I am particularly pleased to see these groups pushing reform in the mandatory reporting processes, although I am not sure they are going far enough here. I would prefer that NO ONE should ever have their job put under threat by using their commonsense NOT to report things they are pretty sure do not indicate abuse, especially in situations where they know the family well, or if they have a long history with the child in question.
I also think the initial abuse report should not even go to CPS, but to LEOs or some other truly independent vetting/investigative authority that is NOT tied into the CPS "profit motives" in any way, shape, or form. CPS should never even hear about the names of families who have been falsely accused, PERIOD. That would take care of the "registry" issues that this coalition is also targeting in their letter to Congress, where they are concerned about innocent families getting off of CPS/LEO computer screens, permanently, when they should never been entered in the first place.
Overall, this is a worthy effort. The problem comes, though, with the fact that CPS is FAMOUS for simply not following the law. Of course, this only affects federal funds, and so violations of these new reforms might not end up in shutting down the offending jurisdictions but merely in crimping their budgets. These reforms can do nothing to address the often ubiquitous incestuous relationship between the courts and CPS--especially between the un-Constitutional courts that have been set up to help CPS in their "efforts" to "protect children."
I do worry if ongoing "reform attempts" might actually be taking us down the road of NOT ELIMINATING CPS which many might rightfully argue is already well beyond repair. I lean strongly in sympathy with such beliefs. The underlying philosophy that governments are superior to families is "the root of all evil," when it comes to CPS systems, in my honest opinion.
Reforming something, constantly, that probably needs to be totally eliminated may actually, in an unintended and offhanded way, by strengthening the very beast that needs to be slain. By "reforming" what can not really be properly reformed we lull lawmakers and citizens to sleep to the systemic evils that infuse the current milieu. We allow the current CPS "bad apples" (with their judicial enablers) to simply continue "business as usual." With the spotlight shining on elsewhere, we can pat ourselves on the back and assure ourselves that "we've fixed it," when we really haven't done anything of real substance.
Still, ParentalRights.org has me convinced (so far) that their hearts in the right place, and they are the "experts" in this fight, so for now... On the other hands, I don't trust some of these leftists they are working any further than I could literally throw them, and so that developing "partnership" certainly bears close watching by the unorganized CPS resistance "out here," for sure. The old maxim is that "a bad apple spoils the whole barrel," not "the good apples heal the bad apple."