Although unintended, deportation often results in the children of undocumented immigrants being placed into the foster care system.
The Cost of Deportation
This table shows a snapshot of some ways children may enter the country. (New Jersey Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect Conference, 2013)
In the United States in 2011, 5,100 children in the foster care system were U.S. citizens born to deported undocumented immigrant parents. From 2010 to 2012, 204,810 deportees were parents of U.S.-born children. According to a report by the National Center for Child Welfare Excellence, “For every two immigrants taken into custody, one child is left behind.” Quoting the Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe, Lianne Pietro states:
…those who elect to enter our territory by stealth and in violation of our law should be prepared to bear the consequences, including, but not limited to, deportation. But the children of those illegal entrants are not comparably situated. Their “parents have the ability to conform their conduct to societal norms,” and presumably the ability to remove themselves from the State’s jurisdiction; but the children who are plaintiffs in these cases “can affect neither their parents’ conduct nor their own status.”
Especially in border states, the topic of illegal immigration spurs on hours of rhetoric and in-fighting, whether on the floor of the legislature or at home. While our politicians battle it out, however, something is forgotten:
Grandmothers’ roles are changing from beloved ancestors to authority figures with the recent rise in kinship care among Native American families.
For too many Native Americans, life’s prospects are grim. In 2014, The Washington Post reported that young Native American adults are twice as likely to die before they turn 24 than young adults of other ethnicities. Just as alarming, they also reported that Native American women are more likely to be assaulted and/or sexually abused than other women, and young Native Americans are three times as likely to commit suicide than their counterparts of other races. These devastating statistics can often be traced back to substance abuse.
Imagine you’re a grandmother or grandfather and your daughter has lived on her own for a long time now. Maybe you have a good relationship with her, maybe you don’t, but she ends up in trouble – a drug addiction, a bad accident or some other tragedy – and can no longer care for your grandson. You haven’t been given time to plan or prepare, but suddenly there’s a caseworker on your doorstep with your grandson in tow asking you to take him in. He’s’ your grandchild, so of course you’re willing, but are you actually able? Do you have the legal relationship that would allow you to manage your grandson’s educational enrollment or immunizations or health care decisions? Did you settle down into a smaller home after your grandson’s parent moved away? Do you earn enough money to support the extra mouth to feed?
These are the questions facing the When thinking of foster care, it’s easy to boil the child welfare system down to two basic steps: First, a child, for whatever reason, cannot be cared for by his parents, and second, the government places that child with a new family. The truth is, however, that foster care is much more like an evolving organism than a simple series of processes. Every year, as data comes back and the various responsible agencies assess their abilities and achievements, the child welfare system is being modified and refined to help find the best possible outcomes for those children who enter it. As a result, child welfare professionals have been listening to kinship caregivers all over the country and are starting to help grandparents and kinship caregivers answer those frustrating yet supremely important questions.
Family being there to support one another during hard times is nothing new. The idea of grandparents taking care of their grandchildren or aunts and uncles providing for nieces and nephews is perhaps as old as time itself. What started as a traditional practice among relatives has now evolved into a leading form of foster care.
Conventionally, kinship care has been provided without the inclusion of child welfare agencies. Instead of involving the state in family affairs, adults have taken on the responsibility of taking care of the abused and neglected children within their families. Continue reading
Kinship care is more widespread now than ever, but the challenges facing kinship families are just as varied as they always were. With the rise in the number of extended family members caring for their relatives and close friends comes an increase in the amount of services needed to help these families succeed. It’s never easy helping a child overcome a history of abuse or neglect, but thanks to the new national focus on kinship care, no kinship family has to do it alone.
The focus on kinship care is the result of the Fostering Connections Act of 2011, which stressed the importance of maintaining family connections for children who’d endured abuse or neglect. Since its passage, thousands of American families who’d never asked to be involved in relative care found themselves on the receiving end of phone calls from Child Protective Services. Continue reading
Thousands of elderly in the United States who have retired from full-time jobs become parents all over again. Without assistance from local child welfare agencies, more and more kinship caregivers, especially senior citizens, don’t have enough money to make ends meet.
Many grandparents are living on fixed incomes like retirement or disability. Since that only scratches the surface of their basic needs, it’s not nearly enough to cover the cost of kinship care.
The Cost of Kinship Care: Nationwide Trend
Kinship care is one of the most common forms of foster care, and grandparents are usually the providers. However, in Idaho, there are about 11,000 grandparents who are raising grandchildren on their own without state help. Unfortunately, about 14 percent of them are also living in poor conditions. To take care of the needs of the kids, a lot of grandparents are overlooking their own necessities. And it’s not just in Idaho – this trend is nationwide. Continue reading