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Senate Bill Praised by CWLA as "The Right Move" to Keep Children Out of Foster Care when Family Affected by Immigration Enforcement

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Shawn Flaherty
Creative Strategies PR

ARLINGTON, VA - The Child Welfare League of America, the nation's oldest and largest organization dedicated to child welfare, today commended Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) for introducing the Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections for Separated Children Act (HELP), an important piece of legislation that will help Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) better protect children in the course of its work.

"It's heartbreaking when children get separated from their parents. Unfortunately, an unintended consequence of immigration enforcement is that sometimes children and parents get disconnected. Compounding the issue, child welfare officials are often notified late--if at all, and communities out of fear are reluctant to seek help to get children and families reconnected. This critical reform is the right move that will keep children from unnecessarily entering foster care," explained CWLA CEO Christine James-Brown.

HELP reorients ICE to focus on the needs of children, promote enhanced coordination between ICE and state and local child welfare agencies so that timely planning can be done to protect and support children, and strengthen the role of parents in decision making on behalf of kids. Specifically, the bill helps detained parents and guardians make care arrangements for their minor children upon apprehension. In addition, the bill prevents long separations of parents and their children as well as ensures that they are able to regularly communicate with their children, the child welfare system, and family courts.

"Keeping children safe is a goal we can all support. We thank Senator Franken and Senator Kohl for their vision and stewardship of this important legislation. It will have a profound impact on families, helping children avoid hardships and keeping families together," said James-Brown.

CWLA participated in a briefing highlighting the need for immigration reforms to address the needs of children. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are also supporting the legislation. A similar bill has been introduced in the House.

About CWLA
CWLA is a powerful coalition of hundreds of private and public agencies serving vulnerable children and families since 1920. Through its programs, publications, research, conferences, professional development, and consultation, CWLA speaks with authority and candor about the status and the needs of American children, young people, and families. As the nationally recognized standard-setter for child welfare services, CWLA provides direct support to agencies that serve children and families, improving the quality of the services they provide to more than nine million children every year.

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