Invisible epidemic

          An invisible epidemic has taken over the United States. Children are removed from family members at an 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’s custody.

Every child should be safe, and we should all want that. 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, and professionals that work with children.

Studies show that children whose families are intact are less likely to suffer abuse and that predators prey on children from broken homes, group homes, foster care, and children that runaway. The U.S. Department of State reports that foster care is a consistent problem. Studies show that live-in parents and stepparents are more likely to abuse a child than a biological parent. Children in foster homes are more likely to be sexually abused than children that live with biological parents.

States are not offering services to biological family members like they will for foster and adoptive parents. This is just one of the reasons that President Trump signed the Family First Preventative Services Act into law in 2018. A lack of family support, housing, substance abuse, mental health issues, poverty, and childhood trauma are some of the issues that have gone unresolved for decades. Money goes to the foster parents and court systems rather than to offer services to families in need. Parents are then reduced to visitors and in most cases their rights are terminated even without evidence of abuse. The biggest gap for parents is often the ability to follow through as the state agency workers “drop the ball.”  Foster care agencies report that state agency’s caseworker turnover is resulting in family case plans being delayed by six or more months.

Severing family ties for six months is a traumatic experience for a child that just wants to go home to the people and places they know and love. Millions of American families are affected by the child welfare system.  Every year over 687,000 children are in the foster care system. There is about a two-thirds turnover meaning that every year 450,000 children enter the foster care system. That is one child per minute forcibly taken into custody. This happens through the use of ex parte orders that are entered without notice, hearing, or due process. Children are then taken to stranger’s houses who have no special training or education. The family is left broken and devastated.

Very few of the children taken into state custody are taken because of actual abuse. Data collected from the states shows that most children are taken under the broad term of “neglect” that almost always means the family did not have the resources to care for the child or children. This cost taxpayers about $1 billion per year.  

Once family ties are severed, relationships become difficult, and the family unit becomes unstable if not completely destroyed. Children placed in foster care away from biological family develop trust issues and attachment disorders. About 80% of children placed in foster care are placed on psychotropic drugs to help them cope. Many are less than one year old. Older children often run away from the strange placements. Almost all adopted children long for their families and almost always look for them when they are grown. Parents and family members are sickened and resent seeing their children’s pictures posted on adoption sites that seek to place the children with complete strangers, sometimes out of state. Parents and grandparents often say that their children are being advertised like animals. Everyone’s lives spiral downward often times leading to drug and alcohol abuse even where none existed before.

          The internet has changed things. It used to be that families that were destroyed by government systems had nowhere to turn and no one to talk to. Now, there are thousands of online support groups for children and family members that have been separated. People no longer have to be alone in their devastation because the internet has made a way for people to reach out to each other 24/7. Peer support groups help family members and children know that they are not alone and there are people that care and want to support them through whatever stage they are experiencing. Through advocacy, education, and developing referral networks these groups hope to improve outcomes for children, families, and society.

          Minding hearts advocates for family placement and reunification. Healthy families produce healthy children, and the more healthy families and children there are, the healthier the community and the nation. We hope to make families stronger and we urge states to take advantage of the Family First Preventative Services Act to offer services to biological families.

Minding Hearts is building advocacy and peer support groups in each state.  The groups are created to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for those that might not otherwise be heard. We are here for encouragement, education, and support. We are here to support families and develop resources that maintain family integrity. We look forward to your support. If you would rather become active by donating, then visit the donation page.


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,

2.  Title IV, Office of Children and Family Services,

4.   Green Party The Forgotten Children: Taxpayers Fund Hundreds of Thousands of Unlawful Family Separations Every YearDr. Lynn S. Kahn June 26, 2018

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

6.   Kinship Care is Better for Children and Families, American Bar Association, Epstein, Heidi Redlich 2017 Retrieved From,

7.   Family First Prevention Services Act, National Conference of State Legislators, NCSL,(2021),

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,

9.    Child and Family Service Plan 2020 – 2024, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services| Submitted: June 30, 2020,

10.   Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report 2019, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State,

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