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5 powerful ways we can help detained immigrant children today

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We teach our children to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs, brush their teeth to prevent cavities, and we take care to make sure they get they get the sleep that is critical for healthy child development. But we also know that not every child in America can wash their hands, brush their teeth, or sleep without bright lights shining down on them. The children inside Border Patrol detention facilities don't have access to things like hygiene supplies or beds, and it is keeping many American mothers up at night.

As the Washington Post reports, lawyers for the U.S. government argue that it should not be required to provide detained migrant children with toothbrushes, soap, showers or conditions conducive to sleep. This is concerning many Americans, especially after a report from The Associated Press painted a bleak picture of unsanitary conditions for children detained at Border Patrol facilities, some with no parent to care for them.

For many, this isn't about politics, but about compassion. Last week Judge A. Wallace Tashima stated that it is "within everybody's common understanding that if you don't have a toothbrush, you don't have soap, you don't have a blanket, those are not safe and sanitary [conditions]," and many parents around the country agree.

The children who are reportedly getting sick from unsanitary conditions need voices like Tashima's, but you don't have to be a judge to speak for them.

[Update June 25: Following the first reports the children were removed from the facility but are now being returned to the shelter in Clint, Texas. We have more updates on this evolving story here.]

Here are 5 powerful ways to help these kids:

1. Call your representatives

You can follow Tashima's lead and let your reps know that your definition of "safe and sanitary" includes access to hygiene items and sleep.

If you don't know what number to call, you can either call the US Capitol switchboard or punch your info into callmycongress.com and get the direct phone numbers.

Just tell the congressional staffer who picks up the phone that you want to see soap, toothbrushes and beds for detained children right now.

Consider saving those direct numbers in your phone so that you can follow up with more calls in the future.

2. Use digital tools and data

You're probably reading this on your phone right now, so obviously calling your rep isn't the only way to get their attention. We all have powerful computers in our palms these days, and you can slide into your reps DMs or amplify this issue by tagging them in a tweet or Facebook post.

The internet hasn't just given us the ability to connect with our politicians, it has given us unprecedented access to information and science, and in this case, the science is pretty simple: Handwashing is "a win for everyone", according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Study after study after study backs the CDC up. Handwashing can keep kids alive by preventing everything from diarrhea to the flu.

The scientists at the CDC say that "washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them.

So it is vital for these kids to have access to hygiene and sanitation as influenza is common in the detention centers.

The same challenges that make it hard to control communicable disease transmission and outbreaks in jails and prisons—high turnover rates of staff and the detained, a population vulnerable to illness—put these children at risk, and while the New York Times reports some guards at the detention facilities have taken to wearing paper masks to keep them from catching what the kids have, it is totally possible that someone who works around these detained kids will get sick, and that could put a population outside of the facility at risk.

Giving detained people access to sanitation should be a public health priority.

3. Keep talking about this + encourage others to make their own calls

This conversation comes nearly a year after ProPublica released audio reportedly recorded inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility and mothers across America cried listening to the sounds of those children crying.

Now, the conversation has shifted to sanitation, but it's important to remember that soap, toothbrushes and showers aren't all these kids are missing—they're missing their families, too. Children continue to be separated from their families, something that will impact them for the rest of their lives, whether those lives happen in America or elsewhere.

There are a lot of debates going on about how to solve this crisis, but one thing that many groups, from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree on is that these facilities were not designed to house kids.

Something's got to change, and the more people that are calling their reps, the better.

Tell your friends that you're talking to your representatives about this and ask them to call, too. A lot of people have never called a politician's office before, so let those in your circle know about how the ACLU will route their call and pass on the short script for those who get flustered on the phone.

4. Donate to organizations that will help migrant families


There are many organizations working to get and keep children out of detention centers so that they will not have to live in the kinds of conditions being reported. All of the following organizations are trying to help children caught up in this crisis.

American Immigration Council: This organization gets on the ground at detention centers helping families, documenting conditions of detention and bringing lawsuits to challenge them.

Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project: Provides "emergency legal aid to refugee families".

Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services: Provides "free and low cost immigration services".

Families Belong Together: Is a group effort that "includes nearly 250 organizations representing Americans from all backgrounds who have joined together to fight family separation and promote dignity, unity, and compassion for all children and families

Kids In Need of Defense: According to its website, KIND "partners with major law firms, corporations, law schools, and bar associations to create a nationwide pro bono network to represent unaccompanied children through their immigration proceedings."

Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center: States it is "dedicated to serving the legal needs of low-income immigrants, including refugees, victims of crime, and families seeking reunification."

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: The faith-based organization "works with refugees, children, and migrants to ensure they are protected and welcomed into local communities throughout the United States."

South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR): A joint project of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, ProBAR "is a national effort to provide pro bono legal services to asylum seekers detained in South Texas by the United States government. "

Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES): A non-profit that aims to reunite families and help kids feel safe, this Texas-based nonprofit aims to "directly fund the bond necessary to get parents out of detention and reunited with their children while awaiting court proceedings" and "ensure legal representation for EVERY child in Texas' immigration courts."

The Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights: Provides independent Child Advocates to stand up for unaccompanied immigrant children and "champion the child's best interests".

Update, June 25:

Some Motherly readers have asked us for direction in donating physical items.

Reports out of Texas indicate that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol cannot accept donations of soap, diapers or other supplies for infants and children. If you have items like these that you would like to donate to children and families who need them, contact your local shelters, food banks or diaper banks.

5. Teach our children kindness and compassion 

We can't change what has already happened, but we can teach our children to change the future.

By instilling empathy, compassion and kindness in the next generation we are planting the seeds for a kinder world, and those seeds desperately need to be planted.

Caring for these children is not a partisan issue, it's an issue many parents all over the political spectrum are grappling with. Many have differing opinions about how to resolve the issues at the root of this problem, but many parents can agree that if their child was in this position they would want them to be shown some kindness.

As much as many parents would love to scoop these children up, draw them a bubble bath and find them a safe, warm place to sleep, we can't. But we can do those things for our own children, and in doing so we will teach them about love and kindness.

And hopefully, future generations will not be having the conversations.

Updates, June 25 

On Tuesday the Associated Press reported that 100 of the 300 children who were removed from the facility following the reports of unsanitary conditions are now being moved back to it and that an official says other children are now staying in facilities operated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Meanwhile, the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, John Sanders, announced he is resigning, effective July 5.

[Last updated June 25, 2019]

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If you've turned on the news this week you know that Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is making headlines around the clock. The situation is constantly changing and it's hard to know what to expect.

Reports that a Coronavirus patient in California wasn't tested for the virus for days and that the same state is monitoring 84,000 people for possible cases have many parents alarmed, but as we said earlier this week, now is not the time to panic—it's the time to prepare.

As the possible first case of "community spread" coronavirus in the U.S. is investigated, the first impulse on hearing the news is to run out and buy as many face masks as you can, but according to the CDC that's not what we should be doing. Instead of panic-buying random supplies, be strategic in how you are stocking your home and your pantry, and how you are preparing your children for potential interruptions to daily life.

On Thursday the director-general of the World Health Organization said, "This is not a time for fear. This is the time for taking action now to prevent infections and save lives now."

Now is the time for action, not anxiety, Here's what you can do, mama.

How to prepare your home for coronavirus outbreaks 

Rebecca Katz, director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University told NPR that the best place to start is with general emergency planning. This "means not only contingency planning but also good old-fashioned preparedness planning for your family," says Katz.

If an outbreak happens, you won't want to be running to Target for toilet paper and might not be able to order food. If you have prepared for a hurricane or another natural disaster, this won't be much different. It's like Disaster Planning 101, but instead of planning to evacuate our homes we're planning to stay indoors for a significant amount of time.

FEMA: "Store a two week supply of water and food" 

how to prepare for coronavirus

www.fema.gov

There's no reason to panic, but you might want to do a Costco run soon and stock up on non-perishables.

FEMA and other agencies recommend packing emergency preparedness kits to make possible outbreaks of COVID-19 safer and less stressful for your family.

Here is what FEMA recommends parents do to prepare for a pandemic:

  • "Store a two week supply of water and food.
  • Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
  • Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
  • Get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records from doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other sources and store them, for personal reference. Get help accessing electronic health records.
  • Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home."
Note: You might have to get approval extended supplies of medication from your insurance provider, so make those calls sooner rather than later.

Be wary of scams

The snake-oil sellers are using the pandemic to fleece consumers, says the Federal Trade Commission. "They're setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, texts and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information," notes the FTC's Consumer Education Specialist, Colleen Tressler.

"The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your neighborhood. They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments," she explains.

Some scam emails are claiming to be from the CDC, but parents should know that the most up-to-date information is actually on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the World Health Organization (WHO) websites.

Bottom line: Don't panic about the Coronavirus

The coronavirus an be very serious, especially for elderly individuals, but "there is no evidence that children are more susceptible," according to the CDC.

"In fact, most confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported from China have occurred in adults," the CDC notes.

The CDC just wants people to be prepared for disruptions to daily life that might occur If there is a case in a community. When the virus is spreading the best way to stop it will be to close schools and businesses, even though that will most certainly be inconvenient.

In short, the experts aren't telling us to be ready for the apocalypse, they just want us to be ready to stay home for as long as a couple of weeks. Stocking up on supplies now isn't an over reaction, it's just good emergency planning.

News

Last year, Bode and Morgan Miller welcomed identical twin boys into the world, and now the couple is giving us a glimpse into how things went down on that fateful day by showing the story of their twin home birth.

"Presenting…Birth Story with Bode," Morgan wrote in an Instagram Story (it's in her highlights). "I'm sharing because...our bodies are beautiful. It's a scary emotional ride but d*mn, we are capable of so much more than we even know."

bode morgan miller twins home birth

But in order to really tell their birth story, the couple had to go back to nearly a month before their babies came into the world. Bode predicted the babies would be born on his birthday, October 12, but the day came and went with no signs of labor. Instead, Morgan carried the babies until November 8. They chose to induce on that day and they were prepared to proceed with a home birth as planned.

FEATURED VIDEO

However, Morgan had a sudden change of heart. "You said, 'I don't want to do this today. I'm going to the hospital. I want to get an epidural,'" Bode recalled. "I said, 'Well that's not going to happen. That window has passed.'"

And so a home birth it was! Right before the midwives arrived at the Miller family's home, it became pretty clear that the babies were ready to make their big debut. "You went over to the other side of the bed and said come push my hips… and within like three contractions I could really feel them going apart when I was pushing them together, which means that baby's head is really getting low down in there and pushing apart your pelvis," Bode said, adding that he felt the baby's head emerging.

Both boys were born quickly, before the family's medical team could arrive.

"They were like, 'Oh my god...what are you doing?" Bode recounted. "I was like, I guess having babies? I don't know."

Bode and Morgan named their twin boys Asher and Askel. They join big brothers Easton, 13 months, and Edward, 4, and Bode's children, Samuel, 6, and daughter Neesyn, 11. They also have a sister in heaven—as you may recall, Bode and Morgan tragically lost their daughter, Emeline, to a drowning accident at just 19 months.

While the twin birth was certainly dramatic, the couple couldn't be happier with how it all unfolded. "It was literally ideal," Bode said. "[It was] a lot for everybody to experience, you couldn't have had it be cooler for everybody involved."

News

Milestone moments aren't just for parents of babies. Designer Joanna Gaines shared the details of a momentous occasion on Instagram this week: her oldest son getting his driver's permit.

That might be a shock to you to those of you who have watched the Gaines' family grow up on HGTV, but Drake is 15 years old now. 😲

As any parent knows, the years just fly by when you're raising kids. Understandably, the fact that her firstborn is now old enough to get behind the wheel of a car had Gaines feeling more than a little emotional.

"Drake waited in line for an hour and finally got called up to get his drivers permit and then my 15 year old little boy drove home with Chip and all of a sudden he is all grown up," she wrote. Watching Drake check off that particular milestone was especially head-spinning for the mom since she's got a toddler at home, too.

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"It's crazy because this morning I spent most of my time teaching Crew how to go up and down the stairs because he is still so wobbly (his weight is not distributed evenly quite yet). He used to reach for my hand when climbing the stairs so I could help him and now he insists on doing it himself, " she continued. "The gap between these two circumstances with my boys is wide but the feeling on both is somehow the same."

Fair warning, the ending of Gaines' post is going to have you wiping tears from your eyes. "So many hard and beautiful moments of beginnings and ends," she wrote. "Parenthood is all about training these babies up to eventually let them go. May we savor all the big and quiet moments along the way."

Not wanting to miss any of those moments was a big part of the reason Gaines and her husband Chip decided to end their hit show Fixer Upper in 2018. With a family of fast-growing kids (the couple are also parents to kids Duke, Ella Rose, and Ella Kay), Gaines posted on her blog at the time that she and her husband wanted to step away from the show to give "lots of love and attention to both our family and our other businesses." That's left time to savor all those special events in their children's lives—whether it's a step toward adulthood or simply a step up the staircase. But fans shouldn't worry: the couple is still making time for work, too. Their own network is set to launch this summer.

News

It has been watched nearly 3 million times, and although this video from Hallmark was originally posted last May it is going viral again because for us moms, every day is Mother's Day.

The video is a commercial for Hallmark, but it is also so much more than that. It's a look into what motherhood is really like, the crying, the multitasking, the mess...and the bittersweet pain of watching them grow up.

The commercial follows a mom as her kids grow from toddlers eating off the floor to tweens who need privacy to teenagers who need to borrow the car...and finally, into parents themselves.

FEATURED VIDEO

Warning, watch this one with a tissue in hand:

"There will be a day when you hold them on your hip for the very last time..." a narrator tells us.

"There will be a day when you've made your final bubble beard...a day when you will no longer be greeted like a hero..or get the privilege of carrying them up to bed in your arms. Nothing can prepare you for these days."

And as we see the mom's daughter become a mom, the narrator says, "just as nothing can prepare you for the day when they finally understand how much you love them."

Are you crying yet, mama?

Thank you Hallmark, for showing the world that motherhood is so complex.

News
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