Giving Compass' Take:

• At CityLab, Kendra Hurley describes how COVID-19 has provided parents of color with a much-needed respite from excessive, unwanted child welfare scrutiny.

• How does child welfare scrutiny create its own disparate health effects in marginalized communities? What can we learn from the coronavirus about mistreatment and discriminatory suspicion towards parents of color?

• Learn more about how schools utilized child protective services to overly scrutinize parents of color.

For kids experiencing real abuse, the closures and home confinement during coronavirus can mean danger if their cases aren’t investigated. Some ER doctors have said they are seeing fewer children, but more severe pediatric injuries linked to child abuse.

But there’s another side to this story: Some parents living in neighborhoods with historically high rates of child welfare investigations say the dramatic dip in maltreatment reports feels more like the pollution lifting — a much-needed respite from the intense and relentless surveillance of low-income moms, and especially those who are black and Latinx.

Tips or “reports” to child maltreatment hotlines are how cities identify which children may not be safe at home.  For parents who are the subjects of these tips, the ensuing 60-day child welfare investigation can be a blunt, invasive instrument, one that involves unannounced home visits, body checks of kids, and interviews with a family’s teachers and neighbors. Fewer than one in five of children investigated are found to be victims of abuse and neglect.

One study estimates that only 10% of Asian children and 23% of white children will experience a child welfare investigation before age 18. For African-American children, that percentage blows up to more than half, or 53%. In New York City, even among community districts with similar poverty rates, neighborhoods with higher concentrations of black and Latinx residents had, overall, higher rates of investigation, one analysis found.

The threat of child removal prevents many families from going to child care workers who might help them connect to crucial resources. While many child welfare systems have allocated more of their budgets to providing supports to stabilize vulnerable families, what is known as “foster care prevention,” advocates say the threat of monitoring and family break-up motivates parents to keep their distance.

Read the full article about child welfare scrutiny by Kendra Hurley at CityLab.