Priority 4: Transform Family Law
Why is Lady Justice Crying?

Family separations at the southwest border spotlight the trauma of forcible taking children from loving parents. Millions of parents and grandparents whose children were forcibly taken by state agencies such as foster care and child protective services PRAY America opens our eyes to all the ways America's bureaucracy takes children and locks them up or sentences them to a stranger's home. About 670,00 children per year are taken by state agencies. Our government has done tremendous harm here at home.

My September 2017 article described the abuses and violations of our Constitutional rights in foster care and family court. My January 2018 article outlined five solution sets for foster care and family court. As a Congressional candidate, my June 2018 article called for expanded conversations about family separations and legislative changes. On July 1, I called for six actions:

  1. Congressional hearings about family separations in foster care and child custody
  2. Immediate one-year halt in Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) proceedings until an independent family/staff/child team reviews the decision; immediate halt to taxpayer funding of adoption proceedings while any parent or grandparent has an ongoing effort to regain custody; and new funding for independent reviews upon request of TPR cases since 1990
  3. Legislation that funds local family advocates and coaches for families in crisis
  4. Legislation to stop using taxpayer funds to take children from kinship networks and use those budgets for programs and services that keep families together
  5. Congressional hearings on standards for taking children from families
  6. Congressional hearings about shared parenting and outdated custody law

Yes, some parents must lose custody where evidence of harm exists – maybe 15% of all cases of taken children. Activists believe 85% of taken children should not have been removed from the family home and kinship network. Criminals in Criminal Court have more rights than families in Family Court.

How could this be?  Follow the money!

Federal departments pump $50 billion per year into for-profit foster care. The federal money is only paid when the state takes children. No federal income to the states for family support services or placements with grandparents or other family members. With billions of dollars driving local agency decisions, children are taken for invented reasons or lifestyle choices. And worse, criminals in Criminal Court have more rights than families in Family Court.

The systemic failures of foster care literally meet up at the courthouse with reform efforts taking aim at custody decisions.

The Million Parent March in Washington, D.C. on September 18, 2017 aimed to raise awareness about the abuses and failures of foster care and family courts. The event brought together parents and grandparents of taken children, father’s rights groups battling bias in divorce court, parents “erased” and alienated from their children’s lives by non-custodial parents, activists seeking shared custody after divorces, mothers and fathers of children kidnapped by custodial or non-custodial parents, children who have aged out of foster care, children of divorce, and advocates pushing for America to dramatically and deeply re-think foster care and family court.

I remain in awe of the courage and grace of so many parents and grandparents. A coalition for change is building and true justice for children and families is ahead.

 

Articles by Dr. Lynn S Kahn on foster care and family court:

The 95% Failure Rate of Foster Care in America

https://democracychronicles.org/95-failure-rate-foster-care-america/

Solutions: Foster Care and Family Court

https://democracychronicles.org/family-court/

Taxpayers Fund Hundreds of Thousands of Unlawful Family Separations

https://ivn.us/2018/06/26/forgotten-children-taxpayers-fund-hundreds-thousands-unlawful-family-separations/