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The Religious Liberty Draft Executive Order and the Risks to Children

This article is part 9 of 13 in the column Marci A. Hamilton

Much has been written about the draft religious liberty executive order that was leaked. The order is so transparently anti-LGBTQ, anti-same sex marriage, and anti-abortion, it is easy to assume these familiar issues exhaust its reach. But its reach, just like the scope of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), goes well beyond anything the religious right that obviously drafted this order either understands or, I hope, intends.

Although these hot-button issues are front and center in its crafting, historic timing, and language, its coverage is not limited to specific beliefs as it Read more

Overuse of Medication in Foster Children

This article is part 3 of 8 in the column Children of the State

If you are a foster child getting medications for emotional and mental health issues in the United States you may be getting more than you need. A 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed that foster children in five surveyed states “were prescribed psychotropic drugs at rates 2.7 to 4.5 higher than were nonfoster children in Medicare in 2008” (GAO-12-270T). This was true for all three age ranges examined, from birth to age 17. In a follow-up 2012 GAO nationwide survey, 18 percent of foster children were taking at least one psychotropic medication (GAO-14-651T). Many were taking multiple medications concurrently.      

One major reason for this problem is polypharmacy, or the use of multiple medications by a single patient, often to treat the same condition. Approximately 13 percent of foster children Read more

Federal Cuts Threaten to Defund Programs That Help Pennsylvania Families

Proposed federal budget cuts threaten to defund programs that help children and families meet basic needs or recover after a difficult life event. On Friday, April 21, Sen. Bob Casey joined advocates and community members at Calvary United Methodist Church in Philadelphia to discuss how these cuts could impact millions of Pennsylvanians.

Casey said, “What some extreme members of Congress want to do is cut basic programs in ways we have never seen before, so wealthy Americans get more of a tax break.” He pointed out that the Trump administration’s proposed repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was “a big tax cut bill” that would Read more

The Children Be Damned . . .

This article is part 8 of 13 in the column Marci A. Hamilton

There was widespread and well-deserved derision when a photo circulated of Vice President Mike Pence with dozens of Republican men from the far right “Freedom Caucus” at the White House last week as they discussed elimination of the ten essential (as in mandatory) health benefits for insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. Why? Because one of the ten essential benefits is maternity care. It would have taken only one mother in that room to ridicule these men engineering a return to the good old days when maternity coverage was not always included in coverage and a woman could be denied maternity coverage after she became pregnant because it was a “pre-existing condition.”

Yet women are not the only population seriously threatened in this picture. Children are especially at risk, because both maternity, as in pre-birth care, “newborn care” and “pediatric services, including oral and vision care” are essential health benefits as well. Read more

SCOTUS Decision Gives Leverage to Families of Students With Special Needs

This article is part 11 of 15 in the column Kid's Capital Watch

Families of students with special needs won an important legal battle when the Supreme Court sided with the parents of an autistic boy who argued that their school district had failed to provide their son a “free and appropriate education.”

The family sued the Douglas County School District for private school tuition after their son, known as “Drew,” made better progress in a private school than he had in a district public school. His parents said Drew hadn’t been learning adequately because the public school’s individualized education program (IEP) was not ambitious enough. Read more

Texas CPS- Insufficient Resources and Cover-Ups

This article is part 2 of 8 in the column Children of the State

Since the inception of child welfare programs in America, people have raised alarms about their shortcomings. Missed signs that lead to tragic outcomes become headline news stories and rallying cries for reform. But in Texas concerns about Child Protection Services (CPS) have taken on a more urgent tone.

The deficiencies of the Texas CPS system are staggering.  The Dallas News reported in May of last year that tens of thousands of endangered children were not being visited by investigators as often as regulations required. Thousands of children had not been seen by CPS at all. In Harris County, children remained unseen 13 percent of cases labeled “Priority One,” the ones most in need of urgent investigation. Read more

The Plight of Children at Risk in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Communities and the Failure of Government and Pandering Politicians to Protect Them

This article is part 7 of 13 in the column Marci A. Hamilton

Children in the United States are routinely sacrificed on the pyre of their parents’ faith by pandering politicians without a moral compass. Children don’t vote but insular religious communities often vote as a bloc mandated by the male officials at the top, and that fact is not lost on power-hungry politicians like those in Utah who let the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) patriarchs marry off girls and abandon boys so that the men will have a better place in heaven. The same relationship between elected officials and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities exists: there are known risks to children but these politicians look the other way as they are feted by the rabbis and a community that keeps children at risk. Read more

Jared Fogle, Ashley Madison, and When Will We Have the Fences that Make for Privacy and Safety on the Internet?

This article is part 6 of 13 in the column Marci A. Hamilton

When the Internet began, there was a great deal of celebration that this would be the route to true democracy, justice, and progress. At first, it was such a wondrous thing, it was difficult to imagine its underbelly. But the child pornographers wasted no time polluting the ether with some of the most heinous crimes there are. The Internet in the end, reflects the human condition—a deep and complex mix of good and bad.

Just like real property, good fences make good neighbors in the ethersphere. Therefore, the critical issue facing us all is when will truly effective fences on the Internet become operative. The best fences protect privacy, but they are also constructed in a way that permits the authorities to enforce the law. Read more

Children’s Bill of Rights Fight in California Holds Significance for Nation

This article is part 8 of 15 in the column Kid's Capital Watch

A Children’s Bill of Rights measure is slowly weaving its way into the California legislature, sparking heated discussions between those who see it as a crucial safety net for neglected, abused, and poverty-stricken youths and those who say it will result in government control of parents and unconstitutional intrusion into family affairs.

What’s more, a handful of congressional members have been pressing similar bills of rights for the nation’s children, and the fate of this California measure could signal what’s looming ahead for the country as a whole. Read more

Kids and Politics in the Year of Disruption

Can self-interest align with group interests to create a better world for kids? This was one of the larger questions that guided a recent discussion, Kids and Politics in the Year of Disruption, held at the University of Pennsylvania Law School on February 1.

Co-sponsored by Child’s World America and the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice, and Research, the event brought together local Philadelphia researchers, educators, health professionals, and community members interested in promoting children’s well-being under the Trump administration. Read more

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