Thank You former MN Supreme Court Justice Kathleen Blatz for joining the task force and your years of speaking out about the serious failures within our child protection system.
Thank You Governor Mark Dayton for using the long overdue “colossal failure” language to describe an overburdened, misunderstood, and under-supported child protection system and creating the investigative task force to make it work better for children.
From the fifty children in my CASA guardian ad-Litem caseload, Thank You.
You have given voice to the tragic failure of child protection that allows four year olds to die tortured deaths after 10, 20, 30 reports of child abuse to state agencies.
Without you, these children have no voice;
Not in the homes they are raised in,
Not in the courts that investigate their families,
Not in the media or the state legislature (they can’t write and don’t vote).
These children are silent and invisible without you.
We the public find child abuse uncomfortable and refuse to pay attention until a baby is found in a dumpster and then we wring our collective hands about ‘those awful people’ and work to punish a social worker and send the parental offender to prison.
That the parent was a fourth generation abused preteen mother with serious mental health issues has little significance to us. Justice must be served.
None of the fifty children I lobbied to remove from their toxic homes ever made the newspaper.
Not the baby with the bottom half of her body burned off, the boy who was tied to a bed, beaten, starved, and sexually abused for four years, or the more than ten other very young children who were also sexually abused – 2,3, 4, and 7 and 9.
Most of these children remained in their homes suffering their abuse for years.
Most of these very young children were given psychotropic medications instead of useful mental health services and they never did receive the help they needed to recover from the violence that had been done to them as children.
Most of my guardian ad-Litem kids did not go on to lead productive lives.
Today, seven percent of MN child abuse cases are investigated. Only the very worst of the very worst cases ever make it into child protective services. Minnesota’s family assessment process does not even ask the question “if” the child was abused. We don’t want to know. The system is underfunded, undertrained, and under – resourced and can’t handle what it works with today.
Quote from Erin Sullivan Sutton (Assistant Commissioner from children and family services);
“It’s a mistake to think child protection was a success before the advent of family assessment”.
I think this is an understatement, but it does draw our attention to the depth and scope of the problem.
It is against Minnesota law to use prior reported cases of child abuse within a family to determine if the family is torturing their children. Legislators that defend this practice have not thought it through. This was after all a death sentence for Eric Dean, Dennis Jergens, Desi Irving, Lakesha Victor, and over twenty five other children who were killed while well known to child protective services (and what about the hundreds of other children that remained in violent, dangerous and neglectful homes).
The trauma’s suffered by abused and neglected children last a lifetime and go a long way towards explaining the mental health issues leading to the violence, crime, prisons, failed schools, and unsafe streets in our communities.
Children deserve better.
Children should have the right to a safe home and certainly not to die when the community has been told again and again and again about their abuse.