I Wouldn’t Change a Thing
Call on President Biden to keep his promise of a humane immigration system. Say no to family detention. Sign the Petition
Government systems are separating children from their families and placing children in institutions and other group facilities in violation of their civil and human rights. Children’s Rights is a leader in a movement to raise public awareness of the harm done to young people and end this practice.
Institutions and other group facilities are inherently dangerous places for children. Yet over 50,000 children in the US are living in congregate, juvenile detention, and other group settings instead of loving homes, while thousands more migrant children are detained by the federal government in brutal facilities. Many will experience physical violence, dismal living conditions, and inhumane, traumatizing treatment.
Group homes felt like punishment for being born in the wrong place at the wrong time to the wrong people. You can’t heal in group homes.”
Without safe foster care placements, and without the vital support of caseworkers and other child welfare professionals, LGBTQ youth often flee abuse in foster care only to face homelessness and sexual exploitation.
Normal child development requires a nurturing environment. Children who spend even brief periods in institutions have worse outcomes that correlate with success as adults than their peers. Young adults placed in institutions and group facilities who age out of foster care are more likely to be involved in the criminal legal system, become parents at an early age, have their education interrupted, and suffer economic hardships. The human cost falls heavily on youth of color, especially Black children, who are disproportionately investigated by child protective services, unnecessarily removed from their families, and placed in institutions.
Despite studies that show placing children with caring family members, including grandparents or other kinship caregivers, gives them a better chance in life, and saves significant taxpayer dollars, less than half of the over 400,000 children in foster care are reunited with their families.
The vast majority of children in foster care are not there because of abuse. They are there because child welfare laws and practices conflate issues of poverty and neglect. Instead of being supported, families are unjustly separated, with children placed in strangers’ homes and institutions.
Ending institutionalization is thoroughly achievable with policies that prioritize community and family-based support. States like Connecticut have made tremendous strides through increasing community services that keep children in homes with adults who love and care for them.
Children’s Rights has sparked a national call to end the unnecessary institutionalization of children. Our seminal Families over Facilities report details the violations of children’s civil and human rights, and the significant cost to taxpayers. We are fighting to end practices that result in unjust removals and the placement of children in institutional facilities and ensure that families receive the community support that can keep their children at home. When separation is absolutely necessary, we advocate prioritizing the placement of children with family members, not strangers.
Pledge to advocate for the mental health needs of our children.
As we continue to struggle with a global health crisis, our children are not okay. In the US, more than 250,000 children had lost a parent or caregiver to a pandemic-related cause. This loss puts children at elevated risk of traumatic grief, depression, poor educational outcomes, and unintentional death or suicide, consequences that can persist into adulthood.
Children’s mental health problems are real and common, but they are also treatable. One in seven children in the US — nearly 7.7 million children and teenagers — have at least one diagnosable mental health issue, but because of a lack of funding, a national shortage of child psychiatrists, and the stigma attached to mental illness, half of the children who need treatment do not receive help.
Call on Policymakers to Stop Prison Pipelines and Fund Community Services
In communities across the nation, police – not a trained health professional, are the first to respond to a child’s mental health or social crisis. This is especially true for Black and Latinx youth, resulting in the criminalization of countless youth, exacerbating existing mental health symptoms, and contributing to the creation of a school-to-prison pipeline.
Join us in demanding the removal of law enforcement from institutions meant to serve our youth and calling for an investment in community mental health services that will allow young people to develop and heal. This is a wrong we have to right, and it begins with you.
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