“National Disgrace” is the headline in the Wednesday Star Tribune report on the Federal Government’s failure to enforce child protection laws, and the many children dying of abuse and neglect in plain view of child protection workers.
“Colossal Failure” were the words of MN Governor Mark Dayton when speaking about his state’s failure to provide child protection services to 4 year old Eric Dean after 15 ignored reports (by mandated reporters) of the bite marks and broken bones prior to his murder this year. The photos and the stories presented by journalist Brandon Stahl at the Star Tribune were horrific and caused the Governor to create a task force to stop the awful happenings in Child Protective Services.
We have traded at risk children and young families for failed schools, unsafe streets, full prisons, and a giant pharmaceutical industry (about a third of CP kids are on psychotropic medications for their severe behavioral problems – about the same percentage that exists in juvenile justice and criminal justice).
Mark Dayton’s task force is recommending transparency and changing the broken laws and practices that currently make keeping children safe next to impossible.
Minnesota was a leader in child protection services twenty five years ago (as was California). Today, our state spends less on child protection than 46 other states and the results are in; Racial disparity, very troubled schools, and horrific child protection failures.
Don’t use my words to blame service providers. It’s not them it’s us.
We the people keep voting in people that think maintaining adequate education and healthcare for children is a burden that need not be shared.
Instead of support and empathy for the people doing the work in education, child protection, foster and adoption we attribute bad things and poor results to their failure. I don’t have words to tell you how wrong that is.
People doing the low paid next to impossible work of helping troubled children live healthy lives don’t make big money and don’t see much success. It is a rough business.
Traumatized Kids on Prozac, with behavioral problems often unmanageable or uncontrollable and a real challenge. The least we can do is support these folks and provide them with the training and resources they need to succeed. Keep in mind that HCMC hospital in Minneapolis is now seeing almost a thousand emergency psychiatric cases a month (one metro hospital) and DR Bruce Perry’s warning that by the end of this generation 25% of American’s “will be special needs people”.
Yesterday’s Star Tribune reported on more budget cuts and layoffs that will impact caseloads for social workers and the mental health programs treating children traumatized by abuse. This can’t be good news for children in need of these services.
We talk big about valuing children but we pay daycare workers less than food service workers (and the tips are bigger). After many years of 900 to 1000 children per counselor, MN schools are now at 792 students per counselor (CA has over 1000 students per counselor). Only a very few states meet the 250 or below ratio that would provide adequate services to the youth that need them.
Addressing the needs of at risk children is the most important task a community has. Until we the people appreciate the value of providing a path to coping skills, health, and education, prisons will remain full, our streets will remain unsafe, and millions of special needs and dysfunctional Americans will drift in and out of courts, jails, schools, and state/county facilities costing billions of dollars and untold suffering.
If we truly valued children or had enough fear of the events and data facing our communities each day, we would vote for crisis nurseries, subsidized quality daycare (with qualified and fairly paid staff), reasonable staff to student and student to counselor ratios in our schools, and of course, the mental health programs and policies that would insure that all children are on a path to have the coping skills to lead a productive life among us.