Happy Friday everyone! There’s one really big news story in foster care world this week, so let’s get to it.
ICWA Survives Another Day
The biggest news this week was the surprise opinion in Haaland v. Brackeen, the U.S. Supreme Court case challenging ICWA. Literally everyone predicted that the Supreme Court would chip away or completely erase ICWA, but seven of the nine people who actually mattered had other thoughts.
You can read the full opinion here. The concurrence by Justice Gorsuch goes into the history of why we have ICWA. It should be required reading for anyone working in the foster care system. The words “child protection” have a history of being used for really awful things, both at the state and personal level. The concurrence starts on page 43 of the pdf.
You can also check out This Land, a podcast on the case, history, and personal impact of forced child removal in Native communities.
Florida’s placement database has two fields that capture Indian tribe status. The first is a race/ethnicity field named “Race American Indian” that simply marks “Y” or “N”. The second is an “Indian Tribe” field that lists the name of the tribe, if known. You can see below that the number of kids in Florida’s system with either a “Y” or a tribe listed has gone up and down over the years, but is consistently under 200.
If we break that down into whether a kid who has “Race American Indian = Y” also has a tribe name is listed, we see a problem. The number of Indian kids with no listed tribe is increasing. DCF isn’t capturing ICWA information in FSFN as reliably as it used to.
What’s been signed into law?
Signed by the governor and now a law:
- The bill limiting release of autopsy reports for kids who die from domestic violence.
- The bill that limits gender treatment for minors and payment for treatment for adults.
- The bill that makes middle and high school start times later (mandatory as of 2026).
- The bill requiring concurrent permanency planning in CBC contracts.
- The bill that creates a process for adult dependent children to obtain support from their parents.
- The bill creating a task force to figure out why kids run away.
- The bill creating a children’s ombudsman and requiring notification of foster kids’ rights.
- The bill requiring DCF conduct a trauma screening on kids when they are taken into custody.
- The bill to expand KidCare eligiblity.
“I ran to make a point”
That’s the title of a new study on why children and youth run away from the foster care system. The study mixes quantitative and qualitative methods to form a more complex picture of why kids unilaterally leave state custody, whether temporarily or permanently.
The study finds four groups of kids based on their varying levels of stability, family connections, and environmental connections. Unsurprisingly, the kids with the weakest connections and least stability were most likely to run. But the reasons they run and why they do or don’t come back are the most interesting part of this study.
The kids with the highest prevalence of running describe a foster care system that is closer to jail than a home. They’re under constant surveillance and restrictions in group homes and residential settings. They are policed to a breaking point and leave. Even kids who are relatively stable describe a foster care system that artificially restricts their access to family and friends who they consider their primary supports.
The authors recommend expanding visitation and contact with family and friends unless there are actual (not just perceived or hypothetical) safety risks. They also recommend eliminating administrative barriers to kinship care, expanding co-parenting models that incorporate children’s families more thoroughly even when they cannot be reunified, respecting youth views on placement and permanency goals, and expanding placement options and training around normalcy.
Texas passed a CPS Miranda
There’s a big push around the country to give parents notice of their rights during an child maltreatment investigation. Texas passed a law to do just that. The law adds written and verbal notices of rights. The parent must get written notice that includes:
But probably more importantly, the parent must get verbal notice of the following. I’m including it in full in case anyone wants to do this in Florida.
[A parent must be given] a verbal notification of the right to:
- not speak with any agent of the department without legal counsel present;
- receive assistance from an attorney;
- have a court-appointed attorney if:
- the person is indigent;
- the person is the parent of the child; and
- the department seeks a court order in a suit filed under Section 262.101 or 262.105 or a court order requiring the person to participate in services under Section 264.203;
- record any interaction or interview subject to the understanding that the recording may be subject to disclosure to the department, law enforcement, or another party under a court order;
- refuse to allow the investigator to enter the home or interview the child without a court order;
- have legal counsel present before allowing the investigator to enter the home or interview the child;
- withhold consent to the release of any medical or mental health records;
- withhold consent to any medical or psychological examination of the child;
- refuse to submit to a drug test; and
- consult with legal counsel prior to agreeing to any proposed voluntary safety plan;
And lest you think this law has no teeth, the law prevents admission of any statement made by a parent without the notice being given. It also prevents admission of anything discovered as a result of statements made without notice. That’s a full Miranda. Cool.
Need something to read?
Here are a few other things that I found this week.
Children as young as 12 work legally on farms, despite years of efforts to change law – Just a reminder that child neglect is a politically constructed concept.
Experts recommend exams of siblings of suspected child abuse victims – Let’s apply this to everyone who hurts a kid, though — looking at you juvenile detention center staff, school liaison officer, and Baker Act facility. We need to make sure all kids in your life are safe.
Mother who served 20 years in deaths of 4 children freed after new evidence – Be careful of medical diagnoses of child abuse. They are not always what they seem.
Florida is trying to help foster youth, but we need to know that – A call for a foster care bill of rights. It may be behind a paywall.
Agency that manages Central Florida foster care facing budget cuts, layoffs – Sounds like they need to figure out a way to get their numbers down quickly.
Have a good weekend!