Tuesday, August 16, 2011
From City Limits:
It's a common misconception, within New York City's child welfare system, says Lauren Shapiro, the executive director of Brooklyn Family Defense Project, where Marcus works. "There's a total lack of understanding of the difference between the two," Shapiro says. "They're really not equipped to deal with mental health issues."
Parents who actually do have mental illness sometimes get mishandled too, Shapiro says, by a system that assumes it's impossible for them to be fit parents simply because they have a diagnosis. "We see insensitivity toward our clients, laughing at behaviors that are a result of mental health issues," Shapiro says. "What we see is that parent's conditions also really deteriorate when they come into the ACS system."
Shapiro's perception is one that is shared by several child welfare advocates and echoed by a winter 2009 Child Welfare Watch report that documented systemic problems with the child welfare system's management of mental health issues. The report found that mental health evaluations "are requested far more often than necessary, even in cases in which there is no mental health allegation."
Read more here.