That said, I’ll write what little I do have time for.
Here are the latest sad additions to the Nebraska dump law casualty count:
- Oct 25th- 12-year old boy from Georgia
- Oct 27th- 15-year old girl
- Oct 28th- 17 year old boy and 15-year old girl.
To my count, this brings the total number of kids who have in some way interacted with the dump law to date, whether counted by Nebraska DHHS or not, to 28. (Again see my earlier explanations, here and here, of how I’ve reached this number.)
By way of providing some detail, Marley Greiner on her blog, Bastardette has been picking up some of the Nebraska blogging over the last few days, particularly relating to the GA abandonment:
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
No doubt she will have more as events unfold.
Then today, Nebraska’s Governor Heineman called for a special session (link opens a PDF) of the currently out of session legislature. (Note that some of these legislators would not be around in January when the regular session begins due to being term limited out.) The session is scheduled to begin Friday November 14th.
The revised version of the dump law, what I’ve been referring to as dump bill 2.0 would limit Nebraska’s dump window to infants three days old or younger.
I’ve already written repeatedly about how a 2.0 bill would fail to address the core problems inherent to all dump laws. Take this, from a post I wrote back on Oct 21 (Nebraska attempts to slam to barn door, only creating a new set of problems) when the “agreement” was initially announced:
As I predicted, Nebraska appears to have decided to go to dump law 2.0, the aged down version. Nebraska will still be encouraging child abandonment, just of kids too young to protect their own interests, or speak about the experience of being dumped for some years.
That does not mean these soon to be aged down dumps are less damaging.
Aging down still does nothing about so many of the core problems with the dump laws, parental rights being violated when one parent dumps and the other is out of the loop, the Indian Child Welfare Act violations, the real needs of families, and most importantly, the needs of the dumped kids themselves.
But aging down will ensure that 18 year gap between when a kid is dumped and when they hit age of majority, thus sparing the legislators, but not the kids.
If all the Nebraska legislators do is age down to version 2.0, they’ve sidestepped many issues of substance relating to the dump laws to do mere superficial tinkering, or as I put it, change the shade of lipstick on the pig.
The pig’s still there. It’s a ticking time bomb, that as more dumps happen under the new rules and the dumped kids grow older, a whole new set of problems are slowly going to become apparent, though odds are, just as in other states, they will be dismissed as ‘personal problems’ not problems inherent to the system the dump laws create.
For those of us who genuinely care about the state of child welfare in Nebraska, and want to see the state cease its encouragement of legalized child abandonment, we now appear to have just over 2 weeks to encourage Nebraska legislators to come to understand the inherent flaws in even an ‘aged down’ version of a dump law, and instead encourage them to embrace the full repeal position.
Nothing less than full repeal of Nebraska’s encouragement of child abandonment will help these kids.
It’s past time to detangle any version of a dump bill from what needs to be a second bill supporting access to for example increased access to mental health care and genuine support for families in crisis.
Repeal the dump law once and for all, then set about doing the difficult job of creating a genuine and meaningful safety net for kids and their families.
Entangling these two separate issues, legalized child abandonment and access to programs for families in crisis is a conflationary tactic. It is absolutely possible to get families in need real help without it ‘costing’ them their family ties or custodial rights. Decoupling the two actually increases the odds of people getting the help they need, as few families are willing to permanently relinquish their parental rights to help a child gain access to the system.
Falsely linking the two only enables child abandonment to continue, causing maximum damage, a lifetime’s worth of damage to these kids, all while riding on the good intentions of those seeking help.
As for the 2.0 infants, they will of course be facing a different set of issues, but will be no less abandoned, at the state’s encouragement. Their parents will also be in crisis, and no dump law is going to offer real solutions for them.
The Nebraska fiasco only exposed what lies at the core of any dump law: desperation and lack of options.
It’s past time to dump the dump laws and instead demand legislators roll up their sleeves and do the real work, building real structures towards prevention and crisis intervention.
Outsourcing Nebraska’s child welfare problems to “faith based” private agencies or “aging down” in a vain attempt to sidestep the issues the older child abandonments raise are not solutions, they’re not even band-aids.
Rather than trying to manufacture “new and better” ways of the state encouraging legalized child abandonment, the state should instead, be tackling the underlying problems that lead guardians to dump the kids in the first place.
As I keep saying, kids deserve better than abandonment.
Mere monkeying with age limits is no “solution.”
As an immediate measure, the legislature needs to repeal the dump law to prevent even further harm be done to still more kids and their families.
Then as a second step, they need to stop looking to whatever next ‘quick fix’ advocates and salespeople of various stripes would like to sell them on, and instead do the real work.
The kids are waiting, will Nebraska legislators step up?