Monday, October 22, 2018

When the government separates children from parents

As you all know, our state and local governments separate children from their parents--usually an agency called child services something, and like what's happening at the border it is for their own safety and well-being. Sometimes the parent is going to prison, sometimes the home life is chaotic, sometimes the parent is mentally ill, or abusive, or homeless or has died.

If possible, the agency representing the state works to reunite the family, just as is going on at the border, sometimes they place them with relatives, as immigration services is doing, sometimes the hearings are extended or postponed, as is happening to the illegal immigrants who then just disappear.

It's a long, tedious process. Occasionally our American children are "surrendered," and an adoptive family is found, or they go to foster care until they "age out." It's always disruptive and painful for the children. If you care about the children our government is protecting at the border, toss in some care for America's children who go through this every day. . . maybe visiting dad in prison, maybe at granny's part of the time, and aunty's home part of the time. Frequent school changes, lost records, and missing friends while going from foster home to foster home.

Although the agencies are state and local, much of the funding for our U.S. children comes from your federal government which has an elaborate reporting system, and even then it sometimes fails the children (which is the sad story you read in the papers). The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) collects case-level information from state and tribal title IV-E agencies on all children in foster care and those who have been adopted with title IV-E agency involvement. These child statistics include race, ethnicity, age, demographics, court dates, adoption and foster records, medical including immunization (which the foreign children don't have, btw), parents' problems, income, etc. quite detailed and the information collection and research has been going on for decades.

The border children have none of these records, and information is collected on the fly. The federal agencies have to be sensitive to child trafficking, and there's no quick way to find out who these children belong to. During the last administration an unknown number of children were placed with traffickers. I looked at the Ohio AFCARS page which had 18 different elements, and found it overwhelming. The section for tribal groups has 24 different elements.

The Obama administration failed to protect thousands of Central American children who have flooded across the U.S. border since 2011, leaving them vulnerable to traffickers and to abuses at the hands of government-approved caretakers, a Senate investigation has found.  (Washington Post, Jan 28, 2016)

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