Children's rights are not optional.
The United States is the last holdout on children's rights
Few states have enacted enforceable rights for children foster care.
As of October 2015, more states have passed a bill of rights for foster parents than for the children in their care.
Sadly, many of state laws that enumerate the rights of children in foster care also specify that these rights are unenforceable—in other words, these bills are symbolic and do not carry the force of law.
The United States is the only country that has not ratified the United Nations treaty that guarantees the rights of children. This treaty has sat waiting—unanswered—on the desk of three presidents, from Bill Clinton to George W Bush to Barack Obama.
Our failure, as the last holdout is a significant symbol of how our nation has largely forgotten the children who suffer silently within our borders. Invisible, without liberty or justice, children in foster care were forgotten.
Thanks to people just like you, children in foster care will no longer be invisible, and their rights and liberties will be restored.
Parents' rights should never encroach upon children's rights.
Adults hold power over children, so it's no wonder that adults' rights are routinely put ahead of children's rights.
We must find a better way to balance the rights of adults with the rights of children. Often, this means thinking of parents' rights in the context of children's rights. For example, most court rulings and child safety decisions are made with parents' rights considered paramount until the parent is deemed unfit. Only then is the best interest of the child considered. But the reality is, it is the child's right to be with the parent—not the other way around. It is also the child's right to have safety, medical care, and mental health care. Child must also be granted victim's rights when the child is abused.
Children who are abused are not granted victims' rights.
Adult victims of domestic violence are more likely to be eligible for victims' rights than children who are victims of abuse.
Children who are abused should be granted victims' rights regardless of whether parents are charged criminally. By respecting the rights of victims and allowing them to feel safe and heal, more families can be preserved, and more children can be protected in cases where the family unit should not be preserved.
Help is inaccessible to children in foster care whose rights are violated.
Confidentiality laws meant to protect children are used to shield child safety agencies from public accountability. These laws prevent people involved in child safety systems from speaking out publicly about violations of children's rights, even widespread violations.
Few states have an independent review of cases in which complaints are filed. The process for reviewing complaints is generally simple: Ask the caseworker for a report on the case, and take their word for it.
To pursue violations of Constitutional rights, individual lawsuits must be filed in federal court with experienced trial attorneys—leaving legal remedies for individuals available to only the very wealthy (who are rarely experience ongoing problems with child safety agencies).
Nonprofit organizations like Children's Rights (no relation to our organization) have been successful with class action lawsuits in federal court, but those cases take years to work their way through the courts and offer no immediate relief to children in the system today.
Much like corporations that are failing, organizational re-engineering could turn around failing child safety systems. But few elected officials have the courage to spend their political capital on invisible children who cannot vote.