Press release: Mothers Rights groups to hold a vigil and press conference for Valentines Day

Mothers of Lost Children

Contact Anne Hart 916-715-5243
 
On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2011 at 11:00 am, Mothers of Lost Children will hold a press conference in front of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Ave SW, Washington DC. They are protesting the enormous expenditure of tax dollars to help ex-prisoners and known abusers connect with their children, and the heartbreak for mothers and children when this funding is misused and misapplied.  A vigil and speakout by mothers and chlild victims will be held at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW on Sunday February 13 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.
During the past two decades, mothers have been losing custody of their children (even nursing infants) in increasing numbers to fathers who are convicted or identified batterers, child molesters, drug addicts, gang-bangers and felons. Family courts force children into the custody of abusive fathers at alarming rates, allowing these men to continue controlling and abusing their victims.  Research shows that 70% of batterers who ask for custody get it. Safe mothers who left the abusers in order to protect their children are frequently labeled “unfriendly” and are inappropriately ordered to supervised visitation or denied all contact with their children.
“The reason, in part,” says Karen Anderson, Executive Director of California Protective Parents Association, “lies in a misguided and dangerous objective of the Fatherhood Initiative to give fathers access to their children regardless of the risk they pose.”  ‘The goal is to have former prisoners paying child support and reconnecting with their children as soon as possible,’ (Washington Post June 21, 2010.) 
“It’s crazy to believe that allowing violent men to care for children is a good idea.  Vulnerable children should not be used as guinea pigs to try to rehabilitate criminals,” says Anderson.     
The National Fatherhood Initiative website states in 15 years it has “ensured that two million more children are living with their fathers”.  The Leadership Council research indicates 58,000 children are placed with abusers every year. These statistics may be connected.  
 
“Thousands of former prisoners and identified abusers have also discovered that if they get custody, they can receive child support instead of paying it.” says Ms. Anderson. “It’s a batterers’ and molesters’ paradise. Federally-funded supervised visitation centers are meant to protect children during visits with potentially dangerous fathers. Instead, family courts order safe mothers to see their children under supervision, which means the children aren’t able to tell their mothers about abuse by their fathers. That way the Fatherhood Initiative goals are met to access even more federal funds.”    
 
During this time of deep fiscal crisis, when children are hungry and parents are penniless, $500,000,000.00 dollars designated to increase marriage and promote ex-prisoners to reconnect with and often harm children is doubly offensive. 
 
Mothers of Lost Children call for a Congressional investigation into the failure of family courts to protect children and potential fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars. 

Here’s the site of the Fatherhood Initiative on the page for incarcerated fathers. I have 3 questions about this:

1) Shouldn’t these fathers have stayed out of prison if they wanted to be in their children’s lives?

2) Why aren’t they concerned that Mothers aren’t connected with their children when they’re incarcerated? Prison shouldn’t be a bar to motherhood

3) Why do they think father absence (read: single mothers) causes children to:

  • Be poor
  • Use drugs
  • Experience educational problems
  • Experience health problems
  • Experience emotional problems
  • Experience behavioral problems
  • Be victims of child abuse
  • Engage in criminal behavior

Read about these myths in the Liz Library

This is what I found under “the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative” – Family Justice Institute: BJA partners with the Family Justice Institute to provide training and technical assistance to agencies that work with offenders and their families on reunification programming when offenders return to the community. Found here: http://fatherhood.hhs.gov/Incarceration/index.shtml

Here’s the information about the grants:

To this end, with support from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Family Assistance, NFI announces availability of 25 awards, each in the amount of $25,000, for local community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and other grassroots fatherhood agencies. Through a competitive bidding process, top applicants will receive funds for the specific purpose of increasing capacity to develop their fatherhood programming, and to improve their financial sustainability by becoming more familiar with—and better qualified to receive—federal or private philanthropic support.

Some examples of fatherhood programs could include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Parenting education programs for new and expecting fathers, teen fathers, fathers in need of general parenting skills, or fathers with special needs children
  2. Programs providing marriage counseling, relationship counseling and/or divorce counseling
  3. Support groups for stay-at-home and/or single fathers
  4. Programs for incarcerated fathers
  5. Programs providing court-mandated fathering skills training
  6. Job skills training and/or job placement programs that include a fatherhood component

Here’s information on abusers seeking custody from the Leadership Council:

Although women are more likely to get custody of their children, this is often because they are more likely to ask for it. When men ask for custody, they often get it. According to a report by the American Psychological Association, an abusive man is more likely than a nonviolent father to seek sole physical custody of his children and may be just as likely (or even more likely) to be awarded custody as the mother (APA, 1996). A report by the American Judges Foundation, reported that 70% of the time an abuser who requests custody is able to convince the court to give it to him.

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