US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ACTION ALERT!
Please locate and contact your federal/US legislators and tell them to amend HR 1748 to exclude segregated congregate care providers from potential grant recipients' lists or deny and/or remove their support and sponsorship/co-sponsorship of the legislation if not amended! A sample letter is provided below that you can copy, paste, and edit.
FIND AND CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS: (Directions: Enter your zip code in box below and click "GO". If you live in a split district, enter your full 9 digit zip code or address in the fields provided on new action page that opens in a new window. If you do not live in a split district, simply click on a listed official's name under "Elected Officials" under "President & Congress" where it says "President & Congress". This will take you to an information page for that legislator/official. Then, click on "contact" and complete the form. For "subject" enter "Please Amend or Vote No and Deny Support for HR 1748". For "Issue Area" drop down menu, select "Children and Families", "Education", or "Labor/Workforce". Copy/paste/edit the sample letter below into the "Editable Text" field. Complete your contact information and click "send message".)
Copy, paste, and edit this sample letter to write your legislators to demand action on this issue:
Dear Rep. [YOUR U.S. REPRESENTATIVE'S NAME HERE],
I am writing you today because HR 1748, the "Opening Doors for Youth Act of 2017", was recently introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA). I don't know whether you have co-sponsored this legislation yet or not. While I see many promising things with this legislation, I am gravely concerned about the following statements regarding funding for alternative programs:
"(18) Community-based preventions and interventions can address the distinct problems opportunity youth may face in the local community and provide a connection to the education and training, re-engagement, and supportive services needed to help these young people succeed."
"(A) using not less than 50 percent of the grant funds to help individuals described in paragraph (1) complete their secondary school education through various alternative means, including through high-quality, flexible programs that utilize evidence-based interventions and provide differentiated services (or pathways) to students returning to education after exiting secondary school without a regular high school diploma or who, based on their grade or age, are significantly off track to accumulate sufficient academic credits to meet high school graduation requirements, as established by the State;"
4:A:"(ii) engage any such identified individual using targeted, evidence-based interventions to address the specific needs and issues of the individual, including chronic absenteeism; and"
As a constituent, I would like to see segregated congregate care eliminated or greatly reduced. This, of course, includes reducing and/or eliminating any federal funding for such services. My concern is that there is no specific exclusion of segregated congregate care in the above three passages (particularly as related to possible recipients of the 50% of grant funds allocated to diversion/prevention/intervention services) and that to me is unacceptable. Segregated congregate care facilities, including, but, not limited to: boarding schools, therapeutic boarding schools, group homes, residential treatment centers, wilderness programs and camps, boot camps, and faith-based facilities that are exempt from oversight in most states may be receiving funding to engage in fraud and abuse. Since segregated congregate care has been found detrimental to all populations served in such settings, I ask that you demand an amendment to HR 1748 specifically excluding coverage of segregated congregate care by public money through grants or any other funding provided through this legislation.
Please consider this... Here is my 5 point argument against institutionalization:
a. Segregated care is unconstitutional and a civil rights violation. It is only permissible if a person is unable to survive independent of an institutional environment. For more on this, watch the HEAL Report at https://youtu.be/C4NzhZc4P0A. Or, see: http://www.ada.gov/olmstead/ which includes in part: "United States v. Florida – 1:12-cv-60460 – (S.D. Fla.) – On April 7, 2016, the United States filed an Opposition to the State of Florida’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. In the Motion, the State had asked the Court to rule, on a variety of grounds, that the United States could not recover damages for unnecessarily institutionalized children to whom the State had been deliberately indifferent."
b. Institutionalization is always dehumanizing and coercive. Institutionalization always harms the institutionalized and deprives them of protected civil rights. Dr. David Straker, Psychiatry Professor at Columbia University's School of Medicine (Ivy League) explains this in detail at http://changingminds.org/disciplines/sociology/articles/institutionalization.htm. "Many institutions, from prisons to monasteries to asylums, deliberately want to control and manage their inmates such that they conform and do not cause problems. Even in less harsh environments, many of the institutionalization methods may be found, albeit in more moderated form (although the psychological effect can be equally devastating)." (See website linked in this paragraph for more info.)
c. Institutionalization is not in the best interest of children. Institutions are not ever better for a child than living with a loving family. Source: http://www.unicef.org/cambodia/12681_23295.html
d. Reform schools, residential treatment programs, and other segregated congregate care settings have been shown to be ineffective and harmful. Best source on this currently is: https://www.acgov.org/probation/documents/EndoftheReformSchoolbyVinny.doc
e. Boarding Schools, even the "good ones", result in a form of social death, isolation, and cause both anxiety and depression. Therefore, it is clearly not in the best interest of the youth subjected to those environments. Sources: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/08/boarding-school-syndrome-joy-schaverien-review and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/secondaryeducation/11662001/The-truth-about-boarding-school-syndrome.html
I ask that HR 1748 be amended to exclude grant money or any other public funds being used for segregated congregate care under any name and of any variety from those services eligible to receive funds. I ask that if this is not included that you deny and/or remove your sponsorship and support of this legislation.
[YOUR NAME HERE][YOUR HOMETOWN/STATE HERE]"
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