WeNews: More Moms Losing Kids in Family Court Drug Wars

Women across the country are often tested for drugs without consent and punished with government interventions when results are positive. Advocates say “test and report” is the “stop and frisk” of the curtained world of juvenile protection agencies…

“There is very little attention to how the drug war is perpetrated in the child welfare system,” said Emma Ketteringham, managing attorney of the Family Defense Practice of The Bronx Defenders, a nonprofit organization that represents parents, at a panel in New York sponsored by the Open Society Foundations in November. “Unless you are on the receiving end of child welfare, you might not know what happens.”

In many cases, pregnant women or newborns are tested for drugs without consent in public hospitals and a positive test can trigger a report to child protection services. That, in turn, can spur child welfare officials to start an investigation into child neglect. Advocates compare “test and report” of pregnant and parenting women to the biased profiling of “stop and frisk” by police on the streets of New York City.

The child welfare system is designed to buffer children from unfit parents, but when drug use is alleged Ketteringham said “unfitness is presumed.”

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