For so many of us, it seems like 2020 is the year that will never end. From COVID-19, to killer hornets, to hurricanes, to COVID-19 . . . yes, I already mentioned that, but it just keeps going on.
How are you holding up?
It’s been tough, I know. My own 2020 has been a rough roller-coaster ride, as well.
But in the middle of all this I’m comforted knowing there are parental rights victories to celebrate and ongoing efforts working to achieve even more.
Last week we told you about the victory in the Texas Supreme Court that keeps the decision-making authority for one little girl with her father, where it belongs.
And we told you two weeks ago about our successful outing with the American Legislative Exchange Council, which opens the door for conservative support of our child abuse registry-reform model in the states.
I’m happy to report that efforts are already underway in a dozen states to see that model introduced. And with five full months before the 2021 legislative session starts, I expect we’ll see more states added to that list.
Putting a Hold on TPR
We are also working with our bipartisan coalition partners to introduce legislation in Congress that will suspend an important federal guideline that is proving detrimental to families, especially in these days of COVID-19.
Under the American Safe Families Act, a state must generally file for termination of parental rights (TPR) to any child who has spent at least 15 of the last 22 months in state custody (usually in foster care). This is an arbitrary and often-unhelpful limit on parents who are making real strides toward reunification, but it is especially harmful during the pandemic, when every step in the reunification process moves at a snail’s pace.
Due to lockdowns, families are not able to get in their visitation time, parenting classes are online only (a problem for poor families without internet access) or not available at all, and many other necessary meetings or even court hearings are suspended or delayed.
Under such conditions, holding fast to the 15-month limit simply makes no sense.
So, along with our allies from across the political spectrum, we are working to introduce a bill in Congress that will put a hold on that limit, thereby giving families a fighting chance to survive the COVID-19 storm. And with bipartisan support, it’s the rare sort of bill that might actually stand a chance in a strongly divided D.C.
Yes, the year has been long. But it is not without hope. I sincerely hope you are finding the bright spots in your own family, just as we are able to find these bright spots in the campaign to protect your parental rights.
Together, we will achieve the victory if we do not lose heart.
We are with you—your family is in our thoughts and prayers through this challenging year as we continue to fight for your rights. And we thank you for standing with us, as well.