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In the best interest of children

Dear friends of The Village,

As someone who cares about children and families, I can only imagine that you share our deep concern about the impact of the separation of children from their families who are entering this country. For us at The Village, this issue supersedes politics or even the debate about immigration and national security. Because of our mission and deep understanding of the impact of trauma on children, we can’t help but be concerned for the welfare of these children.

Much has been written and said about this issue and, as a result of the concerns, some measures have been taken to keep children and families together. But the situation is not over. Over 2,300 children are still separated from their families and we need to remain vigilant until they are together again.

As Jack Shonkoff, Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard, said in a statement yesterday, “Healthy brain development in babies and young children requires the consistent availability of a stable, responsive, and supportive relationship with at least one parent or primary caregiver.” Conversely, “High and persistent levels of stress can disrupt the architecture of the developing brain and other biological systems, with serious negative impacts on learning, behavior, and lifelong physical and mental health.”

Here at The Village, our staff use all the resources they have in their tool-kit to help children heal and to become resilient so they can face any future challenges that life may throw at them. The experiences we see in children who come to The Village run the gamut from witnessing violence and living in extreme poverty, to death or other separation from a parent. The latter often have the most devastating impact on children. Even when a child is being mistreated by a parent, and needs to be removed to ensure their safety, the separation is traumatic. In the case of immigrant families, the parents who are bringing their children to this country are often fleeing violence and are looking for a safer and better future for themselves and their children. Separating these families who have already experienced significant trauma makes their life situation so much worse.

I understand that coming up with sensible immigration policy is extremely difficult. But, I appeal to our government and legislative leaders to find a solution to this current situation that protects children. And I encourage all of you who care deeply about children to continue to stay abreast of what is happening and to advocate for a compassionate and child-centric approach to the situation.

Galo

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