Sunday, January 16, 2011


The Hartford Courant ran an article today about Connecticut's DCF (Department of Children and Families) sending seriously ill children out-of-state for treatment. This costs more than in-state treatment but supposedly, CT will not pay their own non-profits to plan, train staff, and set up programs for these kids when they have no guarantee the State of CT will fill these new "beds."

One huge problem with sending kids long distances from their homes is that many families cannot travel to distant states to visit these "sent away" kids for financial, family, or time restraint reasons. Let's assume that regular phone calls aren't even close to in-person visits. That means the kid who feels "abandoned" by his parents in this way may develop additional serious problems. Problems like clinical depression, behavior, anxiety, or aggressive disorders over and above what removed him from his own home in the first place.

Contrast this with kids fleeing a home with such serious domestic violence issues that they arrive at the shelter from distant American states, Puerto Rico, or overseas. They are not happy campers, to be sure, but I have often been surprised by these kids' greater openness than the more "local kids" at the shelter, and their sometimes urgent desire to talk about their experiences with the abuser. They don't love living at the shelter, but they readily note that they're safe there.

So what is the difference between these two groups of kids?

Seriously ill CT children who require treatment placements out-of-state presumably suffer significantly by losing visitation with their parent figures, siblings, and extended family. Yet mothers and kids fleeing extreme domestic violence situations may have had to travel so far to get away from the abuser that they lose family and personal connections in a similar way.

One important difference between these two groups is that kids running from a distant abuser still have their mother. They may have confused feelings about her, but she feeds, clothes, and takes care of them every day.

Could the greater security and confidence of shelter kids who have come from far away have to do with not worrying as much that the abuser will find them or that their mother will return to him?

Is there psychological safety in physical distance from danger for kids from the very worst DV situations?
Sure makes me wonder.

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