Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Article: A Child Abuse Prediction Model Fails Poor Families

For those of you who read the New York Times piece on Allegheny County's child abuse prediction model tool, this article is an important companion piece, and offers some insight into why the use of these tools actually doubles down on bias, instead of freeing the referral process from biases against poverty, race, and other factors. It's an important read. The excerpt below is especially telling about the problems with the Allegheny model, as well as with reliance on algorithms in child welfare referral decision making generally:

"The AFST’s predictive variables are drawn from a limited universe of data that includes only information on public resources. The choice to accept such limited data reflects the human discretion embedded in the model—and an assumption that middle-class families deserve more privacy than poor families."

You can read the article in its entirety here

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

General Registration for the Annual Conference is NOW OPEN!

General Registration for ALL MEMBERS of the PDA is NOW OPEN! Please click here to register. If you do not have a current contract (or conflict contract) with your county, you do NOT need any codes to register.

We look forward to seeing you in April!

NY Times Article re. Using Algorithms and Data Analysis Programs to Make Referral Decisions

Many of you may have already seen this article making the rounds on various parents' attorneys listservs. But if you haven't, it's a fascinating read. Allegheny County (which contains the city of Pittsburgh) experienced a rash of child abuse related deaths a couple of years ago. The reaction to those experiences was to implement the use of a data analytics tools to essentially double-check all referral decisions. While removal decisions are not being made by these tools (yet), it does represent what might be an unavoidable national trend, with both good and bad implications. Similar tools are already being considered in Utah, with the possibility of algorithm-based decision making models to be used in initial detention decisions in criminal cases in the next year (though as demonstrated here, approval of these tools hasn't been universal, and the Utah Legislature has some concerns).

THis is definitely a topic that parental defenders should keep their eyes on as it develops.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Priority Registration for PDA Members with Public Defense Contracts is Now Open!

As a reminder, Priority Registration for PDA members with current defense contracts (including conflict contracts) is now open! Detailed registration instructions can be found in the email blast sent out on January 3, 2018, but here are a few important items:

  • The Conference will be held Thursday, April 19, 2018 - Friday, April 20, 2018
  • It will be held at the Grand Summit Hotel in Park City, UT
  • The cost to attend is $125 for those with current contracts and $150 for those without.
  • General Registration for those without current contracts will open on January 17, 2018.
  • In order to successfully register during Priority Registration, you will need a password which you must obtain by contacting your local area representative on the PDA Board of Directors

Judicial Districts
Current Board Member Representative
Contact Email
1 and 2
Carol Mortensen
Jordan Putnam
Margaret Lindsay
5 and 6
Michael Rawson
7 and 8
Mark Tanner
Floating Representative
Grant Dickinson

If you would like to utilize Priority Registration, you can do so by clicking here.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact your local area board representative, or email We look forward to seeing you all in April!