By James Williams and Michael Ramey
Potential Game Changer
The Family First Protection Act is potentially a game changer. Considering how many young people end up in prison, as addicts (drug, alcohol, gambling, sexual perversions), prostitutes and homeless, the ‘snatch and place’ policies have had a long and unimpressive history of destroying lives from the get-go. Things have to change if the lives of the lost are to have any hope of getting through life without the baggage of harm they have suffered through no fault of their own.
This Act now creates a pressure to find solutions that will seek to keep families together.
I have checked with the UK Government on whether they intend to follow America’s lead, but am waiting a response from them. I would like to be optimistic, but usually when contacting administrations there is a good deal of flannel and little substance. I anticipate a ‘glossy picture response’ which bears little resemblance to reality. Let’s face it, if children in care in a particular local authority are not doing so well, then there is political fallout if it comes to light.
Ofsted = Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.
In the UK, we have Ofsted as the agency to oversee the welfare of children and they are necessary to ensure certain standards are met, but they tend to only judge by the policies of the paradigm in place rather than the principles of preserving family unity.
Ofsted’s declared statement: “Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. We inspect services providing education and skills for learners of all ages. We also inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people.”
First Hand Report from Michael Ramey
At the US National Conference on Child Abuse Michael Ramey attended all three keynotes and more than a dozen break-out sessions and was amazed by the refreshing and encouraging tone of the entire event. This is his account:
“I attended one session led by alumni of the foster care system. That is, adults who were once in foster care have come together to make their collective voice heard. Perhaps not surprisingly, this group strongly favors family preservation over the current foster care model.
“I attended another session by a “birth parents” group. Their organization is made up of parents who have had their children removed (and only in some instances returned), and serves other parents now going through the same nightmare. They work to make the voice of parents heard—and it sounds remarkably like the voice of the foster child alumni.
“I heard from legal organizations who work to provide quality legal representation for parents in the family courts, regardless of the family’s income level. And guess what they believed: families should be protected and preserved, not separated.
“Everywhere I turned, I heard people who agree with us on the nature and importance of family. Was this really a government-run conference on child welfare practices?
“One of my favorite speakers is an Arkansas family court judge. She oversees child removals. But more often than not, she instead seeks ways to keep families together. Those who believe all family court judges are evil need to meet this woman; she will change their mind.
Like so many at the conference, she promotes services rather than separation. She looks for ways to keep children safe in their families, not safe from their families.
“She understands that separating families causes trauma in 100% of cases. The only time that’s called for is if the child is in imminent danger of harm—if the threat of trauma in the home is greater than the trauma guaranteed to come from separating that family.
Did I mention how refreshing it was to hear that?”
Moving Beyond the Foster Care Model
“One of the keynote speakers, Amelia Franck-Meyer of Alia, called out the entire foster family model of child welfare. She pointed out that the only way to make a child feel safe is to make their family safe. Children—especially small children—know they will be fine as long as mama is fine.
“Now, I know all foster homes are not evil, any more than all judges are evil. In fact, most foster homes involve loving families opening their hearts for children. It’s not the foster family’s fault if many of those children should still be home with their parents. Regardless of who caused the child’s need, these families graciously open their door.
“Still, the system that unnecessarily puts so many children “in care” needs to be changed.
When crises arise, Franck-Meyer declared, healing for children doesn’t come from putting them with “better people, or richer people, or whiter people. Healing comes from their people.”
“By the end of the week I was exchanging business cards freely, gathering potential new contacts who believe, as we do, that families should be preserved. For us, that starts with protecting the rights of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their child. Others may take a different starting point, but their conclusions are the same.
“Children are best served by protecting their right to be with the parents who love them.”
Parental Rights Foundation
Fallout from Failure
I see the homeless sitting in shop doorways. I know that many of them do have accommodation to go to, but I also understand that many cannot cope with life even with the material support that is provided for them.
It is not just a matter of providing shelter and food. Many or most of the homeless have significant psychological problems that are rooted in their past. The same goes for those in prison. Each person has psychological complications that cannot be solved by just giving them a cup of soup or a flat.
They are the casualties of family breakdowns and fatherless families that became family breakups.
The damage is not just with them though. There are those who suicide or self harm such as loving fathers excluded from a meaningful role in their children’s lives. The legacy of broken family syndrome is one that is endemic and generational. There are those who suffered as victims of criminal acts by past damaged individuals. There is also the economic costs to society – prisons, police, courts, hospitals, physical harm, property damage, loss of earnings.
It is an ugly carbuncle that never seems to heal.
As I close this article, I am still waiting for a response from the British Government. For me, I find my efforts hampered by my own sense of being overwhelmed by numbers. Often, I will feel paralysed by the depth and volume of neglect and depravity that many thousands of children are forced to endure everyday through no fault of their own.
James A Williams
CEO of Chimes Media