Saturday, October 3, 2015

 Has Child Protective Services Gone Too Far?

Child welfare agencies need major reform when parents are being criminalized for their parenting skills. From The Nation:

A debate sparked by the free-range parenting movement has drawn attention to the threats and intrusions poor, minority families have long endured welfare system hope that the national debate sparked by the free-range parenting movement will draw attention to the threats and intrusions that poor and minority parents endure all the time. Child-neglect statutes, says Martin Guggenheim, a New York University law professor and codirector of the school’s Family Defense Clinic, tend to be extremely vague, giving enormous discretion to social workers. “The reason we’ve tolerated the level of impreciseness in these laws for decades,” he notes, “is that they tend to be employed almost exclusively in poor communities—communities that are already highly regulated and overseen by low-level bureaucrats like the police. For somebody like me, the ‘free-range’ cases that are hitting the paper today are a dream come true, because finally people who otherwise don’t care about this problem are now calling out and saying, ‘Aren’t we going too far here?’”

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: 101 Careers in Social Work - Second Edition (2015)

101 Careers in Social Work - Second Edition (2015) by Jessica Ritter, Halaevalu Vaakalahi, and Mary Kiernan-Stern, is a comprehensive career guidebook that highlights the interdisciplinary nature of social work and the different career options available with a social work degree. It builds upon the first edition with updated information and new features such as:
  • Introduction to the social work profession (including a brief history)
  • Differences between social work and other related professions
  • Benefits and challenges of a career in social work
  • Education and licensing requirements for social workers
  • Paying for your social work education
  • Future outlook of the social work profession in the United States
The next section has chapters that cover a myriad of sub-fields within the social work profession. Each chapter includes sections about the sub-field's core competencies and skills, educational and licensing requirements, best and challenging aspects of the job, compensation and employment outlook, self-assessment checklist to see if the job is right for you, and recommended readings and websites. The beginning has the most common career paths (e.g., child welfare, school social work, gerontology, health care, and mental health/addictions) and explores emerging fields that would be of particular interest to macro practice social workers, such as:
  • Crisis intervention
  • Criminal justice and the legal arena
  • International social work and human rights
  • Poverty and homelessness
  • Politics and public policy
  • Community practice
  • Research in academia
  • Leadership in human service organizations and much more!
The authors are supporters of dual degrees for social work students who want to pursue a rigorous course of study that draws upon a diverse academic disciplines/fields such as public health, public policy, law, business administration, ministry, educational leadership, or urban planning. I highly recommend this new edition to any social work student or practitioner who wants to explore what they can do with a degree in social work. The possibilities are limitless!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Study confirms that white students who misbehave get medicine/therapy, black kids arrested/suspended

This past month, several news articles, such as the Daily Kos, have reported data on racial disparities in school suspensions. White kids who misbehave often receive therapy or medicine. It would take a severe violation like bringing a weapon into school for a White kid to receive suspension. In contrast, Black kids who misbehave are more frequently suspended or arrested. Unfortunately, this type of treatment quickly funnels students of color into the juvenile justice system. As a result, schools and the solutions they pose to common problems are increasingly separate and unequal. This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed by elected officials and school administrators. For more information, check the links below:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Freep: Concentrated poverty spikes in Metro Detroit communities

MEtro Detroit has not recovered well from the Great Recession. The region has more concentrated poverty than any period in history. From the Detroit Free Press:

Concentrated poverty has exploded in metro Detroit over the past 15 years, especially among minority groups, according to a new report.

In Wayne County, half of all its residents who are poor now live in areas of high concentration of poverty, the second-highest rate in the U.S. In Detroit, the number of census tracts where more than 40% of people are in poverty more than tripled, from 51 to 184. And the high concentrations of poverty are now pushing out to Detroit suburbs such as Warren, Dearborn, Oak Park and Southfield.

In Wayne County, the percentage of African Americans who are poor living in areas of high poverty jumped from 18% in 2000 to 58% in 2013, says the report by the Century Foundation. That's the second-highest percentage in the U.S., after metro Syracuse, N.Y. Nationally, the figure is 25.2%.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Slate: Persistent Racism in Housing is a Tax on Blackness

According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, redlinng is "is the practice of arbitrarily denying or limiting financial services to specific neighborhoods, generally because its residents are people of color or are poor. While discriminatory practices existed in the banking and insurance industries well before the 1930s, the New Deal's Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) instituted a redlining policy by developing color-coded maps of American cities that used racial criteria to categorize lending and insurance risks." The creator of redlining was Homer Hoyt (1895-1984), who was a well-known (1895–1984) was a land economist and real estate appraiser. He conducted path-breaking research on land economics, developed an influential approach to the analysis of neighborhoods and housing markets. His approach combined multiple factors (e.g., condition of dwelling, transportation access, proportion of non-whites) using overlay mapping. The approach enabled the FHA to assess the risk a neighborhood posed for mortgage lenders. Unfortunately, this groundbreaking approach led to the institutionalization of racialized neighborhood vitality assessments by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

Jamelle Bouie of Slate describe the history of persistent racial discrimination in housing in America:

Hoyt, as chief economist of the Federal Housing Authority, wanted to improve the accuracy of real-estate appraisals so that an affiliated agency—the Home Owner’ Loan Corporation, established by the Home Owners’ Refinancing Act of 1933—could standardize the process for making mortgage loans, avoid undue risks, and bail out homeowners who lost their homes in the economic crash. Working with Hoyt at the FHA, the HOLC would map cities and divide neighborhoods into various risk categories that were based on his ethnic hierarchy and coded accordingly. A “green” neighborhood was white, affluent, Anglo-Saxon, and appropriately Protestant. A “blue” one had less desirable whites—Jews, Irish, and Italians—but was stable and upwardly mobile. A “yellow” one had undesirable, often working-class whites, and a “red” one was predominantly black or Mexican, regardless of wealth or class. And in these “redlined” areas, loans were either expensive or nonexistent, forcing families to rely on speculators and private sales by unscrupulous homeowners.

Under this system, whites had more flexibility in terms of where to live in a city or metropolitan region. If the individual or family were of the right stock, they could live anywhere in the "green" or "blue" neighborhoods. Additional benefits included access to mortgages, lower interest rates, and better neighborhood conditions (i.e., safety, amenities, better schools, and access to jobs). Under this system, whites are perceived as good neighbors aka the "norm") while blacks are perceived as bad neighbors (aka undesirables). Why do Americans accept this view as fact? It's due to an outdated racist housing policy developed by Holt and the FHA that still dictates racial residential patterns. As a result, race has become a proxy of neighborhood value. Bouie continues:

This is obviously racist, but it’s also unsurprising. As the Hoyt story shows, this discrimination is in the DNA of American real estate. For most of the last century, lenders and brokers—including national realtor organizations—used race as a proxy for neighborhood value. “Appraisal manuals,” writes Pietila, “continued to repeat Hoyt’s hierarchy until the 1960s … implying that the groups lowest on the ladder were detrimental to housing values.” These manuals also pushed realtors and homeowners to use private agreements—called covenants—that forbade sale to “undesirable” neighbors.

Though racial covenants and blockbusting are illegal today, realtors are using subtle racial methods to keep neighborhoods "white" via economics like gentrification, which can lead to displacement (long-time, low income residents are forced to move out because of rising rents). Low-income residents are forced to move further away to neighborhoods with fewer amenities and less transit-friendly.

A recent WBEZ article in Chicago revealed that there is no concentrated pockets of whitewhite poverty in Chicago. Yet the map easily points out concentrated pockets of black (and Latino to a lesser extent) poverty in Chicago. Low-income and middle-class whites left Chicago for the suburbs in the 1960s and 1970s when the rents began to increase. Blacks could not leave the ghettoes since racist realtors refused to grant mortgages for blacks to live in better neighborhoods. Thus, a century of racialized housing policy created the pockets of concentrated black poverty in Chicago. Blacks are not poor because they want to; it's because institutional policies isolated them to primarily the South Side of Chicago.