Saving Babies from Bad Parents
New York Post, May 16, 2008.
Credit where it is due: Administration for Children's Services head John Mattingly seems to get it.
At a City Council hearing this week, Mattingly announced a new ACS policy giving the agency increased latitude to remove a newborn from a parent if another child in the home had previously been removed for safety reasons.
Under the new system, if one child has been removed and the mother becomes pregnant again, the family's ACS caseworker must immediately attempt to determine whether the new baby will be in any danger.
The default presumption will require removal when the child is born, unless a borough supervisor determines that the baby will be safe.
Absent assurances otherwise, ACS will petition a court right away to gain custody of the child.
Such petitions aren't granted lightly - nor should they be.
But where the courts have already compromised parental rights for cause, the burden to prove that a new baby will be safe should be on the parent.
That's just common sense.
While this new policy is seen as "aggressive" by many advocacy groups, what's really amazing is that it wasn't put into effect a very long time ago.
Had it been, it's likely that 11-week-old Pablo Paez of Queens might not have been beaten to death - allegedly by his mother - last month.
Police say Kiana Paez, Pablo's drug-addicted mom, murdered her son only six months after ACS had placed his sibling in foster care because Paez was incapable of caring for the child.
According to ACS, the new policy was under discussion prior to Pablo's death.
As many as 200 babies a year are born into families with other children already in foster care.
They, at least, will have a greater chance at survival than did Pablo Paez.
Good for ACS for recognizing that.