by Christina Zschomler

Nebraska has officially begun upholding a new policy in which child welfare case workers cannot drug-test parents under investigation for child abuse. Some, like Elizabeth Crnkovich, a Nebraskan Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge, argue that the updated policy was implemented too hastily and without proper consultation. Lawrence Gendler, who is also a Juvenile Court Judge, notes that drug testing is important because it encourages parents to be truthful and challenges them to demonstrate positive changes they have made; some assert, however, that it is unfair to confront families with drug tests. Matt Wallen, Director of the state’s Division of Children and Family Services, argues that this policy could allow for easier engagement with families under investigation. Could there be a more nuanced solution to the drug-test dilemma? Judge Gendler suggests that the policy should be applied on a “case-by-case” basis rather than addressing each case with the same approach, arguing that issues unique to certain families may be overlooked if the testing is applied too broadly.

New Jersey
According to the State of Babies Yearbook: 2019, recently published by ZERO TO THREE and Child Trends, New Jersey has officially ranked as one of the top states for early childhood well-being. Alana Vega, who is a part of the Advocates for Children of New Jersey, feels that the New Jersey’s role as one of the only states to implement paid family leave largely contributed to this new ranking. However, Vega has also pointed out that much progress is needed for the state. Screening new mothers for postpartum depression needs to be further developed statewide, oral health screenings aren’t provided by all pediatricians, and a large number of young children still reside in overcrowded living situations.

Christina Zschomler is CWLA’s editorial intern.