Michele Norris Star Tribune article on MN child care today is just the tip of this iceberg.

in many states, single Parents pay over 50% of their income for infant center care and married parents with 2 children pay over 100% of their household income for center based care (or they would if they could make it work).  Minnesotans pay over 15 thousand dollars for infant care (when public college tuition is 11 thousand dollars.  

For a nation claiming to value children – one could argue it’s for the dollars they bring in and not their future role as citizens.  Drunk uncle/boyfriend daycare is an awful thing the media…

regularly reports on; rapes, beatings and abandonment of 2 and 3 year olds by troubled or meth impaired people traumatizing, neglecting and killing very young children in their care.

In their care because affordable / safe daycare was not to be found in the community.  No crisis nurseries and daycare rates exceeding the earning power of the working parents faced with dangerous alternatives to a safe and learning environment for their child.

Daycare in many states is unregulated creating plenty of nightmare horror stories about impaired and trouble as providers are causing harm to infants and toddlers.

When I became a CASA guardian ad Litem volunteer a few decades ago, there were 34 families on a list for subsidized daycare because my state had a great program for young families that made it affordable.  2 years later, the new governor (Pawlenty) ditched the program and the waiting list for subsidized daycare went to over 7000 families (why would you put your name on the list?).

Generational poverty and generational child abuse are related and a public health crisis growing in our nation.

Children from those families are doomed without community support.  Marion Wright Edelman has been right for 30 years; pipeline to prison for the boys (and a growing number of girls) and more teen and preteen pregnancies in states that won’t allow abortion.

90% of the youth in juvenile justice come through child protective services, over 30% of American youth are arrested before their 23rd birthday, 80% of children aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives and 5 year prison recidivism rates have hit 80% in America.

A citizenry made up of 30% special needs people (see DR Bruce Perry – ACES – AVAHealth.org) cannot remain at the top of the world for health, safety, education or public well-being.

We are trading at risk children and young families for failed schools, unsafe streets, a giant prison business and growing pharmaceutical industry (Prozac like drugs –  1/3 of foster children take them).  

American institutions are now producing what they were designed to stop.  Child protection systems provide the fodder for a juvenile justice system which manufactures future inmates for our criminal justice system as they create dangerous and unhappy communities.

We have 1/4 of the world’s prison population with 1/20th of the world population; 2.3 million Americans in prison and jails, 7 million more out on parole (mostly poor, mostly men of color) and the human and financial costs are enormous.

300 years ago, Ben Franklin put forth the “Penny wise and Pound Foolish argument” that so nails the failure of the anti tax movement.

In MN a few years ago, our biggest and most traveled bridge collapsed for want of a much fought over (and refused) 5 million dollars maintenance request by DOT Engineers.

14 people died, 104 were seriously injured, and the costs of rebuilding, death claims, the Governor’s own conservative additional driving cost estimates (the city was cut in half as it was the only hiway bridge connecting the two halves) and business that failed because of inaccessibility,  were about a billion dollars (about 200 times more costly than the maintenance that would have stopped the collapse and saved the lives and suffering of so many people).

On a parallel child centerd note, for the saving of 50 dollars, my state did not execute a child custody background check on a man who had spent 2/3 of his adult life in prison for the same crimes he was about to commit on his four year old son.  The state missed or ignored a court order in an adjacent state forbidding that man from being near young boys for what he did to them.  Four years later, I became the boy’s guardian ad-Litem.

When this boy aged out of foster care a few years ago, he had cost the county almost three million dollars.  He has AIDS and will always be a state ward.  He could live a long time.

Even if he were to stop being a state ward today, the negative return on investment (by not spending the fifty dollars to investigate the father – who was in prison at the time he requested custody) would be 60 thousand dollars spent for each one of the fifty dollars not spent.  To make it worse (much worse) these numbers do not reflect the cost of suffering this fellow caused the people he stabbed, teacher he beat up, or untold misery visited upon so many people that crossed his life growing up.

We are all much poorer and more miserable because of this – and then there is the child.

KARA has been reporting and speaking on data and

critical issues impacting abused and neglected children for many years.

This article submitted by long time CASA guardian ad Litem Mike Tikkanen

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