By Jerry Milner, The Imprint, February 11, 2021
As a child welfare social worker for a few decades now, serving as the leader of the U.S. Children’s Bureau was the greatest honor of my career, perhaps my life. In my field, there is no comparable position to lead the country in shaping a vision, if one chooses, that can affect the lives of vulnerable children, youth and parents in such profound ways.
It is also a place where the reigning political ideology can affect actions, drive priorities and determine who will benefit. An administration’s priorities and policies can help connect families with what they need or prevent them from getting it. It is a place where values, even those not explicitly articulated, become readily apparent and reveal views on whole segments of our population and determine if they are treated humanely and experience equity and justice.
Knowing this, I made a pact with myself before assuming the role. I promised to resign if either of two things happened, in order to satisfy my conscience: the systematic separation of children from their parents at the border, and granting the right of organizations that receive federal tax dollars to deny services to people they deemed unacceptable based on their religious beliefs.