Letter to Our Members

Dear Members of SRCD Asian Caucus,

We write to you to address the questions and concerns that we have heard and witnessed from our members in response to SRCD’s initial statement regarding family separation and the narrow interpretation of the organization’s 501 (c)(3) status that is seen as prohibitive of supporting child/family/human rights advocacy. We recognize that many of our members were disappointed by these statements and felt that their values did not align with those of the larger organization. Ultimately, the SRCD Asian Caucus serves and works on behalf of our members. We would like to report and highlight actions we and our allies have taken, are taking, and will be taking to address our collective concerns and to ensure evidence is used to support humanitarian issues.

You may have seen the evidence brief written by some Latino Caucus leadership and members : “The Science is Clear: Separating Families has Long-term Damaging Psychological and Health Consequences for Children, Families, and Communities.” If not, we encourage you to read it here.
Some Asian Caucus members also participated in a SRCD Webinar discussing the consequences of family separation with over 600 attendees. (Note. If you missed the webinar, you can find a link to the youtube video here).

The impact of this brief was not limited to the research and media communities. This brief was cited as evidence in the state lawsuits against family separations: As filed by the State of Washington against the Administration (See Exhibit 58-C).

Addressing the SRCD Governing Council

Second, the Tri-Caucus (Asian, African American, and Latino Caucuses), the Ethnic and Racial Issues (ERI) Committee of SRCD, and the Equity and Justice (E&J) Committee of SRCD teamed up and wrote a joint letter to the SRCD Governing Council and Leadership. Within this letter, we recognized and appreciated their apology for that initial statement, but also recommended specific short- and long-term actions to rebuild the trust that had been lost among members, and to ensure that the organization is faster at putting out statements and briefs on issues where there is clear evidence to support. This letter was sent on June 29, 2018. These demands were as follows:

  • Short-term
    • Transparency – Educate the membership and leadership about SRCD’s 501(c)(3) status by making the exact language of the 501(c)(3) available for review to SRCD members.
    • Consultation – Consult with Governing Council, and all relevant SRCD committees and Caucuseswhen providing “rapid response” statements.
    • Climate Survey – The Equity and Justice Committee has suggested this strategy as a barometer to gauge the perspectives from all segments of SRCD’s membership.
    • Developmental Scientist On-Call – This person, either a developmental scientist or staff member with the substantive background, should be readily available to respond to SRCD members on social media to respond to members in thoughtful ways and so that this medium can be used as an effective communication tool.
  • Long-term:
    • Create a Task Force on Interpretation of 501 3(c) status.
    • Create a Task Force on Best Practices for Social Policy Responses related to child development.
    • Develop a stronger policy arm so that policy briefs and statements can be disseminated quicker; SRCD can be in front rather than behind in responding to the issues in our public discourse.
    • Clarify and create “rapid response” policy for statements.
    • Develop advocacy training sessions at SRCD Biennials that teach members how to advocate on national and global child development issues.

The SRCD Governing Council and Executive Leadership responded to our requests on July 10, 2018 with general and unanimous support for our requests. Currently, the ERI, E&J, and Tri-Caucus are in continued communication about these ideas to ensure they are implemented in the short and long-term. In regards to 501 (c)3 status, the SRCD Governing Council replied:

“We have learned from legal counsel and internal discussion that SRCD as an entity has few constraints in issuing public statements about matters of executive and judicial branch policy as long as the statements are based in scientific evidence and do not lobby or advocate for passage of a specific piece of pending legislation. With regard to lobbying about specific pieces of legislation, SRCD is legally allowed to spend no more than 20 percent of its activity and budget on lobbying. SRCD Governing Council voted years ago to restrict this lobbying to science policy and not social policy. This limit in no way restricts the statements that SRCD can make regarding executive and judicial branch actions and policies.”

Again, because we feel strongly in our need to report to our members, we will send you updates as our discussions with the Governing Council and Leadership progress, and will provide you with opportunities to become involved in these solution-focused endeavors.

Next Steps, Tools, and Your Support:
In the meantime, we would like to ask three things for our members to consider:

1. Send feedback to SRCD Governing Council Members about your concerns and/or about your suggested solutions. Below are the emails and key contacts provided by SRCD in the apology letter sent June 29, 2018.
Marc H. Bornstein, President (marc.h.bornstein@gmail.com)
Natasha Cabrera, Secretary (ncabrera@umd.edu)
Ronald Dahl, Past President (rondahl@berkeley.edu)
Kenneth Dodge, Incoming President (dodge@duke.edu )

To help facilitate this process, we have provided two email templates that you can use to draft your personalized letter to the governing council. The sample email templates can also be found: (a) attached as pdf – click on title of this post; and (b) scroll to bottom of this letter.

2. If you do not wish to send an email, here are two other ways to vocalize your concerns.

• Attend the Town Hall at the SRCD 2019 biennial meeting (Dates will appear in the SRCD program). Per our request, SRCD has agreed to hold an open forum during our 2019 conference to give members an opportunity to share their questions and concerns.
• Participate in the upcoming climate survey to ensure that SRCD hears from you. Keep an eye out for this survey request soon!

3. Please continue to support our efforts. Asian researchers, unfortunately, are no strangers to fighting on behalf of the populations we study. Yet, without your voice, the field of developmental science weakens. As members, we need to keep bringing our research to the forefront of all discussions and to fight for change on behalf of Asian children and families.

Finally, I want to reiterate that we are here to report to our members and to work on your behalf. If you have any questions regarding our recent actions, or suggestions for further actions, please do not hesitate to contact us at srcdasiancaucusmail@gmail.com.

SRCD Asian Caucus Steering Committee

Link to news stories citing the Latino Caucus research brief:
1) https://asunow.asu.edu/content/asu-professor-co-authors-brief-regarding-parent-child-separations
2) https://today.uconn.edu/2018/06/science-clear-separating-families-long-term-damaging-psychological-health-consequences/
3) http://www.azfamily.com/story/38491330/az-teacher-i-had-a-duty-to-report-family-separations-as-child-abuse
4) http://fpg.unc.edu/news/statement-separation-children-their-parents
5) http://wallstreetonparade.com/science-is-clear-on-family-separations/
6) http://www.statepress.com/article/2018/07/sppolitics-asu-officials-discuss-harmful-effects-on-children-detained-at-the-us-mexico-border
7) https://azpbs.org/horizon/2018/06/asu-research-discusses-psychological-and-social-impact-of-family-separations/
8) https://cases.justia.com/federal/district-courts/washington/wawdce/2:2018cv00939/261443/15/4.pdf?ts=1530594608
9) https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-effects-of-parental-separation-on-children-1529487000

Sample Emails

Student and Early Career Sample Email

Dear SRCD Governing Council and Leadership:

I am writing to express my support for initiatives that will result in clear and prompt statements by the Association in response to policy issues related to children and families in which there is clear evidence.



Senior Researcher Sample Email

Dear SRCD Governing Council and Leadership:

I am writing to express my deep concerns on the Association’s narrow interpretation of 501(c)3 status and its neutral and delayed response to policies that are detrimental to the development of children and families. The initial response by SRCD Leadership regarding the impact of Zero Tolerance on immigrant family separations was disappointing and frustrating to me as a long-standing member of SRCD. I did not feel my values as a developmental researcher were in line with those of SRCD.

I strongly urge SRCD GC and Leadership to develop a task force that will ensure evidence-based statements and briefs are issued quickly so that the research we do can reach audiences that work on behalf of protecting children and families.



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