birdwatching in MazatlanI’m very pleased to know that the head of Hennepin County Commissioners Jan Callison showed genuine anger and concern when she found out* that Social workers weren’t available on weekends for abused and neglected children and that she directed the department to “fix it”.  Note that it is departmental management making bad policy and not problematic workers at the core of this issue.

The child protection system should be structured in the best interest of the children who need it and not just to accommodate workers or institutions.  It is a problem.

Too many policy makers and politicians are putting the interests of America’s youngest (voiceless and nonvoting) citizens on the back burner to the detriment of children, young families and our communities.

By many indicators (child poverty, teen pregnancy & STDs, crime & education) U.S. youth will be less healthy, educated  or well off as their parents. Comparing these same indicators in other developed nations the results are very different and not in our favor.

For people my age, the U.S. was always a leader among the developed nations in health, quality of life, education, child well-being. Not so any more. America’s public policies have become less compassionate & much more punitive to where we now have 5% of the world’s population & 25% of its prison population.  There were a stunning 13 million prison and jail releases last year alone.

Daycare is not affordable for many young families leaving many children in the care of unsafe caregivers.  Crisis nurseries & mental health services for at risk youth & their parents are out of reach for the majority of people that need them.  No sign of Santa Claus for children in any of this.

Public policy makers have been building more and bigger(and privatized – money making)  prisons, and mostly ignoring families in trouble.  Little attention has been paid to how the troubles of children impact our institutions and daily lives.  Minnesota is one of many states to recognize the inadequacy of its child protection services.

Most other advanced nations have policy makers who understand that investments in early childhood programs & support for child safety and young families are a much better investment than prisons and jails.

What do you say to people that would deny health, education, and basic needs for the babies and young children?

Start by reminding them that no religion abandons the youngest and most vulnerable within their community and that investing in children is always the best investment a government can make.

When institutions are defined by what they create, instead of what they were designed to create”, it must be said that American courts and legislatures are now creating preteen moms and juvenile felons. (Kathleen Long, DANCING WITH DEMONS)

*At a recent oversight committee meeting for MN task force on child protection

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