An invisible epidemic has taken over the United States. Children are removed from family members at the alarming rate of about 900 children per day. Family separations at the border have raised public awareness to the fear and pain that stems from children being forcibly seized by state and federal agencies. Lawmakers travel back and forth to the border to see for themselves how the U.S. government is caring for children that are taken into custody at the border. But who is looking after the children that are taken from American families? American families also know the fear and feelings of helplessness as they see their little ones and the little ones of their family members being taken into state custody.
Minding Hearts wants to make child safety work for every child. We are advocating for children, parents, caregivers, communities, and child protection workers. We offer peer support groups where parents, children, and extended family members as well as foster and adoptive families learn to support each other. We believe that by making family units stronger we are also strengthening communities. We identify the needs of families and organize resources to fill those needs.
Minding Hearts began through networks of peer support groups where adopted children, foster children, biological parents, and extended family members working through our own experiences with court systems realized the unmet needs of individuals, children, and families in court processes. Because of the internet and social media there are now hundreds of pages and groups created to open conversations about how legal, medical, and mental health systems affect children, parents, family members, child care providers, and other professionals that work with children and families.
Minding Hearts seeks to improve the outcomes for children by providing a meaningful opportunity to be left intact and to be treated in a fair and just manner when facing government activities through advocacy, education, and developing referral networks of dedicated professionals. Through these efforts, we seek to improve outcomes for children, families, and society. We currently represent about 22 million families. Minding Hearts is collaborating with professionals in legal, mental health, medical, and social service fields. Also, people from across the country are already enrolled in colleges and collaborating with professionals to gain the skills necessary to advocate both legally and as volunteer family partners that will improve outcomes for children, families, and society through advocacy, education, and developing referral networks of dedicated professionals.
We take it as a vote of confidence that we are on the right track to making the world a better place for families, children, and society by the number of people that volunteer, collaborate, and that are already working towards building future foundations in other states that hope to replicate what we are doing. Hundreds of people are reaching out for help and although we appreciate the relationships we are building, we simply do not have enough money or trained advocates to meet each family’s needs.
Grants and donations will immediately provide for the administration and training of providers for a continuum of care as volunteer advocates and parent partners that will be trained in (1) setting boundaries, (2) understanding and communicating the legal and administrative process, (3) assessing the family needs, (4) identifying resources and funding, (5) guiding the parent to implement the tools and resources needed, (6) kinship coordination, and (7) assisting the parent in preparing for the legal process, including collecting their own facts and data, understanding testimony, and knowing legal terms. Before the end of a three-year period, states will witness a reduction in the number of children placed in strange foster homes and an increase in the number of reunifications and successful outcomes for the children.
1. Trends in Foster Care & Adoption: FY 2010- 2019 Source: AFCARS data, U.S. Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children, Youth and Families Publication Date: November 8, 2018, https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/report/trends-foster-care-adoption-2019
2. Title IV, Office of Children and Family Services, https://ocfs.ny.gov/programs/fostercare/titleiv-e/
4. Green Party The Forgotten Children: Taxpayers Fund Hundreds of Thousands of Unlawful Family Separations Every YearDr. Lynn S. Kahn June 26, 2018 https://www.gp.org/the_forgotten_children
5. Easy Come, Easy Go; The Plight of Children who Spend Less than Thirty Days in Foster Care Sankaran and Church Final Figures Published by Penn Law: Legal Scholarship Repository, 2017 https://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1197&context=jlasc
6. Kinship Care is Better for Children and Families, American Bar Association, Epstein, Heidi Redlich 2017 Retrieved From, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_interest/child_law/resources/child_law_practiceonline/child_law_practice/vol-36/july-aug-2017/kinship-care-is-better-for-children-and-families/
7. Family First Prevention Services Act, National Conference of State Legislators, NCSL,(2021), https://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/family-first-prevention-services-act-ffpsa.aspx
8. Family First Transition Act Funding Certainty Grant Supplemental Terms and Conditions Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF) Children’s Bureau (CB) Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Program No. 93.658, https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents//ACYF.CB_.93
9. Child and Family Service Plan 2020 – 2024, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services| Submitted: June 30, 2020, https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/dcs/documents/quality_improvement/cfsr/TN_Child_Family_Service_Plan%202020-2024.pdf
10. Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report 2019, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State, https://www.state.gov/reports/2019-trafficking-in-persons-report/