Older Youth in Foster Care, Treating Withdrawal in Newborns, and More Recent Headlines

This week we review some new research on older youth in foster care, and the impact of mother bonding in the treatment of withdrawal symptoms for opioid-exposed newborns.

We also discuss several recent stories published in The Imprint, including the first installment of a series looking at the haphazard rules around sexual and reproductive health for youth in foster care; how a small group of parent activists eventually effected the closure of California’s state-run youth prisons; and more.
Coming Soon: SafeCamp Audio, the forthcoming podcast network from Fostering Media Connections, which will feature terrific audio projects on child welfare, youth justice and more. Click here to join the SafeCamp newsletter!

Reading Room

Less Older Youth in Foster Care, But Path to Permanency Remains an Issue https://bit.ly/3pctSOS A Fourth Path to Permanency: The SOUL Family https://bit.ly/3QbSiB8 “Eat, Sleep, Console” reduces hospital stay and need for medication among opioid-exposed infants https://bit.ly/41DtNBg A Cheaper Preservation Approach to Keep Babies Exposed to Opioids with Mom https://imprintnews.org/child-welfare-2/cheaper-preservation-approach-keep-babies-exposed-opioids-mom/31417 High Stakes, Silent Systems: Foster Care’s Missing Policies For Sexual and Reproductive Health https://bit.ly/45cMXkP The Untold Story of How a Stubborn Group of Parents Helped Shutter the Nation’s Largest Youth Prison System https://bit.ly/3nSUlB3 Washington State Plans to Move Foster Youth Out of Hotels and Offices https://bit.ly/44Z7Y24 States Nationwide ‘Professionalize’ Foster Parenting to Better Support Youth https://bit.ly/3pH5Xrd Minnesota Aims to Better Equip Parents Facing Termination of Parental Rights https://bit.ly/3Icxffn As Youth Supporters Rally, Minnesota Lawmakers Pass ‘Trans Refuge’ Bill https://bit.ly/41zHzpp These States Have Banned Youth Gender-Affirming Care https://bit.ly/3O4zJ3j

Gray Area

We make documentaries for your ears.
We tell the stories of people who are trying to get beyond labels of right and wrong or good and evil to get to something even bigger: redemption. Gray Area deals with some pretty heavy stuff, but it also lightens up when you least expect it.

As our co-producer Mara Reynolds says, it’ll make you cry — but in a good way.

People Over Dispositions

A recent law journal article lays out three arguments against the rate at which many child welfare systems terminate parental rights. “The Ties That Bind” lays out data, outcomes and legal reasoning to support that idea. 

We are joined this week by the co-authors of this paper: Christopher Church, a pro-bono attorney for the CHAMPS Clinic at the University of South Carolina School of Law and a co-director for the Appeal for Youth Clinic at Emory Law in Atlanta, and Vivek Sankaran, who directs the Child Advocacy Law Clinic and Child Welfare Appellate Clinics at the University of Michigan.

Guest Interview Details

Christopher Church is a pro-bono attorney for the CHAMPS Clinic at the University of South Carolina School of Law and a co-director for the Appeal for Youth Clinic at Emory Law in Atlanta. Vivek Sankaran directs the Child Advocacy Law Clinic and Child Welfare Appellate Clinics at the University of Michigan.

Reading Room

Coming Soon: SafeCamp Audio, the forthcoming podcast network from Fostering Media Connections, which will feature terrific audio projects on child welfare, youth justice and more. Click here to join the SafeCamp newsletter! The Ties that Bind Us: An Empirical, Clinical, and Constitutional Argument Against Terminating Parental Rights https://bit.ly/3nB2BVV Family Court Review Special Issue: Race, Racism and Child Welfare https://bit.ly/42vXXY3

Better Outcomes for Families with Ernestine Gray

This week, we talk with former judge Ernestine Gray, who served for 35 years in the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court in Louisiana. During her tenure, the Orleans Juvenile Court went from what the New York Times described as “the worst juvenile court in the nation” to a model that other juvenile courts looked to for best practices. Ernestine tells us about her many years of striving to improve the child welfare system in her parish, and how she’s worked to improve the lives of the parents and children who came into her courtroom.

Featured Episode: After Life, with Julie Reynolds

We will get back to our regular podcast format next week, but today we are featuring the work of Julie Reynolds, who is The Imprint’s new Associate Editor. 

Reynolds has produced and released the second season of her Podcast Grey Area.  This new season, called After Life, explores one man’s journey into and then out of the California penal system, the latter part of which might not have happened but for changes over time in the state’s view about a second chance for young offenders. 

First you will hear a brief interview with Julie about the new season, and then we will present Episode 1 of AfterLife.

Guest Interview Details

Julie Reynolds is the associate editor of The Imprint, an investigative journalist and author of “Blood In The Fields,” a book documenting the lives of young gang members in the Salinas Valley that was a finalist for the 2015 International Latino Book Award. Reynolds co-founded the nonprofit news site Voices of Monterey Bay and produces the podcast “Gray Area: a Show About Justice and Redemption.”

Reading Room

After Life: A 10-part audio documentary on life after a life sentence https://voicesofmontereybay.org/afterlife Imprint coverage by Julie Reynolds https://imprintnews.org/author/julie-reynolds-martinez

After Life: Full Circle

In our final episode, Gilbert settles into a new home while he continues to work on solutions to violence and injustice. Then, just as he gets comfortable with his new normal, he ends up in a place he thought he’d left for good. Show notes: https://grayareapodcast.com/after-life-episode-10-full-circle/

After Life: Lockdown

It’s 2020. Just as Gilbert is adjusting to his new world outside prison, that world shuts down. Gilbert goes online during a year of joy and sorrow, until he and Marlena take to the streets to honor Manny. Soon, there’s a new development in the case of the deputy who killed him. Show notes: https://grayareapodcast.com/after-life-episode-9-lockdown/

After Life: The New World

Free at last, Gilbert has to find his way through a world that’s changed dramatically over the 21 years he’s been in prison. Though he feels joy reuniting with loved ones, he also panics over the littlest things. Yet he sees this new world in ways the rest of us might take for granted. Show notes: https://grayareapodcast.com/after-life-episode-8-a-new-world/

The Best of The Imprint Weekly Podcast, 2022 Edition

We had some amazing guests join us on The Imprint Weekly Podcast this year, and we reviewed the entire 2022 archive to bring you clips from some of the very best! This episode includes clips of 20 interviews from this year. 

If you enjoy this podcast, or the great work our reporters do at The Imprint and Fostering Families Today, and the work that our Youth Voices Rising team does, please consider making a donation. And if you do so this month, during Newsmatch, your donation will get doubled!

Fostering Media Connections is very lucky to have some terrific philanthropic supporters, advertisers and sponsors, and subscribers to our business and policy section that help make this organization go. But we really cannot do it without donors like you who read our stuff, listen to our podcasts and attend our online events. 

There are tons of really great nonprofit, independent news outlets to support out there, and we hope you consider us one of them. To give today it’s easy! Visit www.imprintnews.org/donate.

Guest Interview Details

Guests include: Les Gara, former gubernatorial candidate in Alaska Ruth White, executive director, National Association for Housing and Child Welfare Andrea Elliott, author, Invisible Child Chief Cadmus Delorma, Cowessess First Nation Jess Dannhauser, commissioner, New York City Administration for Children’s Services Karl Wyatt, digital artist Jason Smith, executive director, Michigan Center for Youth Justice Carrie Etheridge, director of social work, Sheppard Pratt Len Edwards, author and former judge, Santa Clara County, California Colleen Henry, associate professor and researcher, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College Patty Duh, associate, Annie E. Casey Foundation Lemn Sissay, author and former chancellor of the University of Manchester Diane Redleaf, lawyer and founder, United Family Advocates Sixto Cancel, founder, Think of Us Dee Wilson, author, The Sounding Board Kristen Ethier, research fellow, University of Chicago Marsha Levick, chief legal officer, Juvenile Law Center Liz Ryan, administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Tara Reynon, child welfare director, National Indian Child Welfare Association Leslie Lacy, founder, Fostering Hope Louisiana

After Life: Freedom Calls

California lawmakers start paying attention to what neuroscientists are saying about the adolescent brain. Changes in the law now mean Gilbert suddenly has a chance for parole — years before he thought he would. Show notes: https://grayareapodcast.com/after-life-episode-7-freedom-calls/

After Life: Under Color of Law

SPECIAL EPISODE – Gilbert grew up in the shadow of the LA County Sheriff’s Department — ever since the day he was taken from home in a deputy’s patrol car at eight years old. This investigation looks at the darker side of that department’s legacy, and digs into a culture of criminality by law enforcement that still haunts the region today. Warning: This episode contains detailed descriptions of violence. Show notes: https://grayareapodcast.com/after-life-episode-6-under-color-of-law/

After Life: Heart Strings

Gilbert’s penpal Rebecca flies to California from Texas so they can meet face to face. Even though Gilbert might not come home for years or even decades, a small piece of string in the prison visiting room changes the course of their relationship. Then a phone call to After Life producer Julie Reynolds Martinez shatters Gilbert’s world. Show notes: https://grayareapodcast.com/after-life-episode-5-heart-strings/

After Life: The Penpal

Gilbert’s younger brother Manny, who is also in prison, isn’t doing well. He’s deeply involved in prison gang “politics” and has spent years in the SHU — full-time solitary confinement. It’s taking a severe toll on Manny’s mental health. Saddened but knowing how dangerous isolation can be, Gilbert decides to do something about his own loneliness. He puts his name and picture on a prison penpal site, and wonders if anyone will write back. Show notes: https://grayareapodcast.com/after-life-episode-4-the-penpal/

After Life: Career Change

Gilbert realizes he has a lot to learn when he meets a man who changes his outlook on the world. As he struggles to stay close to his young daughter in prison visiting rooms, he also discovers he has a gift for working with “at-risk” kids. Soon he and a handful of incarcerated men are starting to change not only themselves but the entire California prison system. Show notes: https://grayareapodcast.com/after-life-episode-3-career-change/

After Life: Doing Life

It’s the late 1990s. Although no one was injured in the shoot-out he took part in, Gilbert is sentenced to 24 years to life in prison under California’s strict gang sentencing laws. While he technically has a shot at parole, almost no one with “life” in their sentence goes home, and he expects to die behind the walls. As he starts his term, Gilbert has to decide if he’ll play along with prison gang “politics” or find a way to stay —somehow, some way — in his 3-year-old daughter’s life. Show notes: https://grayareapodcast.com/after-life-episode-2-doing-life/

After Life: The Neighborhood

Gilbert Bao was sentenced to life in prison but found a new life after life. In our first episode, Gilbert takes us through his old neighborhoods as we explore the many factors and reasons why a frightened 8-year old from East Los Angeles grows up to become a man facing a life sentence. Show notes: https://grayareapodcast.com/after-life-episode-1-the-neighborhood/