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Trump's 'Zero Tolerance' Creates Increased Need For Michigan Foster Parents

"These children need heroes"

June 19, 2018 - 8:38 pm

DETROIT (WWJ) - The Trump Administration's Zero Tolerance policy forcing refugee children to be seperated from their parents is increasing the workload for social workers with Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids. 

The organization has had a long-standing contract with the government to provide foster care for unaccompanied minors, a distinction that is new for this group of asylum seekers.

Branch Director Donna Abbott says they are providing as best as possible for these children, but nothing compares to having their parents.

"Bethany strongly believes that children and parents belong together," says Abbott. "Parents can care, protect their children both physically and emotionally the best, right? And the foster care and other alternatives of care should be a last choice and not a first choice."

She says the organization believes that "children shouldn't be used as a deterrent ... they should be protected and cared for - while adults resolve whatever issue created the crisis in the family in the first place." 

Abbott says Bethany has never seen a situation like this before that is causing such heartache and despair among small children.

Bethany Services has had a contract to foster 'unaccompanied children' since 1980 - since the Trump administration's Zero Tolerance policy went into effect -- removing children from their parents - there's an immediate need for more foster parents due to the change in policy. 

"There are ways to assist," says Abbott.  "These children need heroes. They need a voice."  

"Many countries have refugees coming to their borders asking for asylum so it's very unusual at that point for a country to separate parents from children - for the reason that families are best able to protect their children - so leaving their families intact and assure the children are being well cared for ... this is a time when children truly need their parents."