Best Protection for the Child:

a ‘Conversation Points Memo’

Bill O’Reilly begins each “O’Reilly Factor” with a “Talking Points Memo.” His thoughts, feelings, and gathered facts about current events are penned for the entire world to see. 

This writer is no Bill O’Reilly, the late Walter Cronkite or Tim Russert! I’m Paul Schandevel: Christian, husband, dad, foster parent and social worker. Yet I do have thoughts, feelings and gathered facts – or a “Talking Points Memo” – to share.  I call my talking points memo “Conversation Points Memo.” 

 The child welfare doctrine, “Best Interests of the Child,” is used by most courts in the United States to determine numerous issues related to the well-being of at-risk children.  It replaced an early 20th century child welfare doctrine “Tender Years.” 

The contributors of note:  “Until the early 1900’s, fathers were given custody of the children in cases of divorce, separation, and other custody issues.”  The child welfare doctrine “Tender Years” rested on the theory that children are not resilient and changes in a child’s living situation would be detrimental to their well-being. 

 The “Tender Years” child welfare doctrine gave way in the 1970’s to the “Best Interests of the Child” child welfare doctrine which favors the traditional role of mother, not father, as the primary caregiver.  Conversation Points believes this change in child welfare doctrine moved the country from one extreme to another, devaluing not only the role of father, but the role of God the Father. 

 For example, in determining the best interests of the child or children when two parents separate, courts order investigations by social workers, attorneys-ad-litem, and therapists into the child’s family environment.  The court compares information disseminated with a “welfare checklist”: 

What are the wishes and feelings of the children?  Who can provide the best physical, emotional, and educational care now and in the future?  How capable is each parent to meet the needs of the child?  What harm is the child suffering now or will the child suffer in the future?

The court, with a bias toward placing at risk children back into homes with mothers, considers the needs, wishes, and feelings of the child to ensure the human rights of children – or does it? At first glance one thinks the doctrine “Best Interests of the Child” does what it says; court decisions about the welfare of children in the United States are based on what is in the best interest of the child.

Conversation Points believes factual evidence indicates court decisions are often made in the best interest of adult agendas, not the child.  It is time again for a change of the child welfare doctrine.  The strength of the United States as a nation is at stake!

The child welfare doctrine of the 19th and 20th century stressed the best interest of the father; the child welfare doctrine of the later 20th and early 21st century stresses the best interest of the mother.  Conversation Points believes the 21st century child welfare doctrine should change to stress the value God places on children and a society’s responsibility to Him to prove stewardship for His at-risk-children.

 Over the next few columns, Conversation Points will state its case by presenting factual evidence showing a need to change the child welfare doctrine to “The Best Protection for The Child,” which ensures an environment where growth and maturity will happen and not may happen.