Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Grandmother's Wisdom

Nebraska Grandmother, Jean Buss, has an important warning for Nebraskans who support the new truancy law in the name of child welfare. Abuse is abuse, no matter who it is” and in this case it is the state. She has serious concerns about the fact that the law allows schools to refer children to the GOALS team, glorified CPS, well before a student has 20 absences and puts children under the official jurisdiction of these same agencies at 20 days regardless of the reason, sorting them through the heavy handed oversight of social workers, lawyers, and judges.

From a loving Grandmother who has experienced firsthand the horrors of Nebraska's broken "family services" department HHS, her perspective is well worth examining. Before her grandson ended up in the hands of the state she thought “that if HHS was in your life you must have done something to deserve it.” Unfortunately she learned the hard way that “nothing could be further from the truth.”

“I try not to judge people because of that now. No longer do I trust the police or HHS when they say it's in ‘best interests of the child’,” Says Jean. Her grand-child was taken into CPS custody after he was injured at his daycare, and she says that, "an over-zealous county attorney in Lincoln didn't let the facts get in the way" in perusing her own agenda. The Grandmother says "after the daycare provider lied under oath it took her daughter 14 months to get her children back, which her attorney said was fast for our state."

During the ordeal Jean became acquainted with poor single mothers who were pressed to plead No Contest with the promise that they would get their children back quicker. When she hears the experiences of families who were pressed to enter burdensome and humiliating court supervised “truancy diversion” programs under the threat of being prosecuted and possibly having their kids removed from their homes, she hears her experience all over again. She said it was a horrible experience for her family, but is glad that her grand-child who is now four, is doing well at home with mom.

She is very concerned about the prospect of putting so many families in arms length of these state agencies that need massive reform as it is. It is well know that Nebraska’s system is in seriously broken, taking kids away from their homes at the second highest rate in the country. She says, "I don't feel that HHS or county attorneys need any more power than what they already have and this new law just gives them even more. What will be their next target in their zest for what is in 'the best interests of the children’?”

Father Steven Boes, of boys town, testified at the committee hearings of Nebraska's new truancy law and asked all present to join with him in "proclaiming that not only are there no bad boys as Father Flanagan taught, but there's no bad families. Let me tell you what I mean by that. My Boys Town experience has taught me through thousands and thousands of kids and families across America that there's always at least one person in a family that wants what is best for their children and is willing to ask for and receive the help they need to help their child.”

Nebraska Family Policy forum shares Father Boes' committment to families. Nebraska’s strength lies in the strength of its families. We seek to promote policies in our state that preserves and protects parental authority as the foundation of family integrity and success. It is our goal to repeal and revise Nebraska's truancy law to provide protection for the innocent and keep parenting on firm ground.

Jean has joined NFPF (Nebraska Family Policy Forum) to help fight this invasive school attendance law in that meddles in family life and even gives the school the power to refer students to CPS and other state agencies after only five days if they think there's a problem. To make matters even worse they added a broad prosecutorial power to the law that allows the county attorney to prosecute at any stage of the process so if the families don't agree to enter the "family service agreements" set up by these agencies they are threatened with prosecution and possible removal of their child from their home.

It is time for Nebraskan families to stand against this law and let the Governor know we won’t put up with this kind of heavy handed approach to a “problem” that only affects less than 5% of Nebraska students. Write the Governor and your senator today and tell them to repeal this law and preserve parental authority to determine what an appropriate absence from school without state oversight is.

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