5 ways to help preschoolers separated from their parents in 'tender age' shelters

It goes without saying that babies and toddlers need their parents. A large body of research proves institutional care is detrimental to their development. Babies, toddlers—and yes, older children, too—don't just need to be fed, clothed and sheltered. They also need to be hugged and cuddled. They need to know that they are safe in the arms of a parent who loves them. But a growing number of very young children in America no longer know that feeling.

On Tuesday night the Associated Press broke a story that broke hearts across the country. According to the AP's report, "babies and other young children" who have been separated from immigrant parents at the U.S.-Mexico border are being detained in so-called "tender age" shelters in South Texas.

Witnesses who have been inside told the AP they've seen playrooms filled with "crying preschool-age children in crisis."

As parents, we know these babies need their parents, and we know we need to help, but how? Yesterday Motherly published an extensive list of ways we can help immigrant children separated from their parents, but if you don't have time to plan a protest today, you can absolutely still help with the limited time you do have.

Here are five things you can do to help "tender age" children in shelters right now, that take less than five minutes.

1. Donate baby supplies through Baby2Baby

Baby2Baby, a Los Angeles-based organization dedicated to "providing low-income children ages 0-12 years with diapers, clothing and all the basic necessities" is partnering with Kids in Need of Defense to create bundles of highly needed items to be distributed to immigrant children who need them. Donations can be made through Baby2Baby's Target registry.

2. Sign the ACLU’s petition

With just a few keystrokes you can add your voice to the growing chorus of opposition and let the Secretary of Homeland Security know that you stand against the separation of children from their parents.

3. Call your reps

The ACLU has made it easy for people to call their senators and let them know that this is not okay. Plug your phone number and zip code into the ACLU website and it'll connect your call for you. When a congressional staffer picks up the call, just introduce yourself, state the zip code you're calling from and say "I'm urging the Senator to denounce the family separation policy and use all of Congress' authority to stop it."

Even if you've already called your senator yesterday, you can do it again today. Call your congressperson when you have a moment, too. You can find the direct contact info for your House Representative and State Senators at callyourrep.co.

4. Write an email or letter

Find the email and post addresses for your reps through govtrack.us. Write a quick note, or copy and paste the form letter the NAACP has prepared.

5. Make a donation to RAICES

The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) reunites families by paying the immigration bonds of parents detained separately from their children. These bonds are set at a minimum of $1500, so most detained parents do not have the resources to pay the bond that would get them released from ICE custody. Donations to RAICES can help do that and get children back in the arms of their parents.

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