By Tracy Fauver
Just a few weeks ago, a family was told that their children were being taken to get a bath. Those parents have yet to see their children since.
Just a few weeks ago, a mother weaned her six-month-old daughter as a precautionary measure—she wanted her infant to be used to drinking formula in case she was detained rather than being granted the asylum she was seeking at the US border from a boyfriend who was trying to kill her.
Maybe that mom was onto something, because just a few weeks ago, a child was taken from its mother’s breast when she was detained at the border.
It seems like these stories are excerpts from an unfortunate time in history—perhaps from a time where we didn’t know better, but these things all happened—just a few weeks ago—to 2,342 children.
At Yolo County CASA we train and support volunteers to ensure that foster children do not feel alone and have a strong voice in court, in school and in their lives. These are things most of us take for granted, but a foster child may move homes and schools three or more times in a year, with their belongings taking up no more room than a garbage bag. These traumatic experiences do not even account for the trauma caused by the abuse and neglect that these foster children suffered before they were removed from their homes… or the trauma of being separated from the only family they’ve ever known—no matter how dysfunctional.
We know that trauma as a child leads to poor outcomes as an adult. Unsurprisingly, foster children experience extremely high amounts of childhood trauma and as such, are highly likely to drop out of school, end up homeless, or suffer from mental and physical illness as adults.
Each day we work tirelessly to provide CASA volunteers for as many children in our dependency system as we can, and we will not give up until we serve all 617 of them (which is an all-time high). Why? Because research resoundingly shows that a stable and trusted adult relationship can reverse the harmful effects of childhood trauma in foster children.
Just a few weeks ago, over a six-week timespan, 2,342 children went through the same kind of extreme trauma that our foster children experience. For those who are into numbers, one child was separated from their parent or parents every 25 seconds.
Every 25 seconds a lifetime of harm was caused… but why?
Many immigrant families come to the United States to create a better life for their families or seek asylum from dangerous situation. They risk their lives for this because it’s gotten so bad where they are.
So I ask—where is the abuse and neglect in protecting your child and striving to give your child a better life?
It’s truly baffling to think of the harm that has already been caused for these 2,342 children.
At least at Yolo County CASA when we hear sad stories of abuse and neglect and children being taken from the home it’s because the child was in immediate danger. We can say that, yes, it’s sad but it was necessary to protect the child, and that we are going to do everything we can with our CASA volunteers to help until the child is reunited with his or her family or adopted.
Unfortunately, I can’t say yes, it’s sad, but it was necessary that the 2,342 children were taken from their parents at the border. Not even close…
In fact, all I can think to say about this is I am so very incredibly sorry—2,342 times–to these children.
I am sorry for the lifetime of suffering that a moment in time has caused you.
I am sorry that we have a shortage of foster homes and facilities in the United States to care for you.
I am sorry that you can’t understand what you did wrong to deserve this because I know that even when children are removed from their parents for a good reason, they still suffer trauma.
In fact, I am sorry that you are suffering trauma so extreme right now, that it’s hard for any adult to imagine.
And truly, I am sorry that your parents can’t tell you they love you tonight.
We can do better.
We saw how powerful it was when we as a nation spoke out against this immoral and barbaric zero tolerance policy. Now, let’s speak up for the children and urge our lawmakers to provide emergency funding and assistance to locate these children’s families and reunite them as soon as possible.
Tracy Fauver is the Executive Director of Yolo County CASA