Minnesota Law Review

The Child Protection Pretense: States’ Continued Consignment of Newborn Babies to Unfit Parents

Major federal legislation since the mid-90s has embodied a philosophical shift away from trying to salvage grossly unfit parents and toward ensuring children good families before they incur permanently damaging abuse, neglect, or foster care drift. That legislation has created a widespread perception that the state is now more proactive in preventing child maltreatment. This Article explains why that perception is false and what further reforms are needed to give children the protection they deserve from unfit parents, beginning at birth. This Article integrates moral and political theory, extensive social science research, and a canvassing of state and federal child protection law in order to mount a compelling and novel indictment of the current child protection system and to advance bold proposals for making child protection a reality rather than a pretense.

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