STATEMENT: Erikson’s Ongoing Commitment to the Youngest Detainees  

In light of renewed calls for increasing deportations of undocumented immigrants, as well as the Trump administration’s proposal to cut programs and services for detained children, the Erikson community affirms our opposition to the separation of any child from a parent or caregiver, and we are growing our role in addressing the urgent developmental needs of the youngest detainees.

As early childhood educators, practitioners, and advocates, we are deeply troubled by any effort to cut needed services for children of any age, such as the Trump administration’s recent proposal to reduce education, recreation, and legal services for detained children, as well as basic necessities like soap, toothbrushes, and a decent place to sleep. School, sports, and group activities provide structure, predictability, and opportunities to build relationships with caring and trusted adults.

But it is the youngest children who are often forgotten in this escalating crisis. Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are the least visible victims of traumatic family separations at the border, yet they need the most intervention to mitigate the harmful effects the experience has on their development during the critical window of their first five years. With threats of more deportations looming, it is likely the numbers of separated children will increase, as will the trauma they, and their parents, experience.

While Erikson is expanding the infant and early childhood mental health training and services we provide in communities with separated children, the need is great, and it can remain even after parents and children are reunited. Traumatic separation can damage parent-child attachment, and skilled intervention may be needed to repair and strengthen that bond for some time after reunification.

At Erikson Institute, we know that a child’s experiences in their early years will shape their entire lifetime. Traumatic separation is a terrible thing for anyone, but especially for children from birth to 5. Our nation must recognize this situation as a humanitarian crisis and assume responsibility for the healthy development of all children in our nation’s care by increasing, not decreasing, the types and amount of services we provide for them.

For ways to help, please visit the “Lawyers for Good Government” website here. Yes Magazine also lists 20 Ways You Can Help Immigrants Now. If you need direct support, call the ICIRR Family Support Hotline at 1-855-HELP-MY-FAMILY (1-855-435-7693). The hotline is available 24 hours a day in English, Spanish, Korean and Polish. Volunteers provide legal and social services referrals and basic legal rights information.