Part 1: Family Separation by Nicole Simonson, LICSW
Two major crises in the United States—new immigration policies and the opioid epidemic—are causing children to suffer incredible hardship as they are forcibly separated from, or tragically lose, a parent at alarming rates.
Families Separated by the Trump Administration
Since the enactment of the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy for illegal border crossings, the number of immigrant children separated from their parents and placed in U.S. Government custody increased by an alarming 21% in a little over a month. At the end of April 2018, the number of children in U.S. custody stood at 8,886; just one month later, at the end of May 2018, this number had grown to 10,773.
Families Separated by the Opioid Epidemic
On June 5th, a congressional hearing was held to discuss the need for Congress to more effectively address the ever-increasing impact of the opioid epidemic on children, namely children who are removed from their parents’ custody and placed in the care of grandparents or foster families.
Addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
In all circumstances, separation of a child from a parent or parents, through foster care, divorce, and/or death, is considered to be an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE). A landmark study conducted between 1995 and 1997 found that these experiences have direct negative impacts on the life outcomes of these children. When parental separation happens, often alongside other adversities and traumas, negative impacts are compounded exponentially.
A plethora of available research proves time and again that Adverse Childhood Experiences, including separation from trauma, lead to pervasive negative outcomes. Work is being conducted across the nation, as well as internationally, to find ways to prevent these outcomes. Please contact your congressional representatives and petition them to end family separations at U.S. borders and to support efforts to minimize ACEs.
This article is continued in Family Separation: Part 2.