Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Recognition Event – Could Not Have Been Better

CASAMN’s keynote speaker and honored guest Star Tribune investigative journalist Brandon Stahl, was surprised to come face to face with his biggest fan club.
Brandon has been so busy investigating and reporting on Minnesota’s child abuse, child death and child protection news that he was caught off guard by a room full of people who gave him standing ovations every chance they got.
We in that room knew deeply that if it were not for Brandon Stahl’s reporting, Governor Dayton would not have spoken out about child protection or formed the task force that has made the kind of changes to child protection that can improve the lives of these tortured and troubled children.
Because of Brandon’s serious and intrepid writing, it’s no longer a law that social workers are forbidden to review prior histories of child abuse when evaluating a new charge.
No longer is it acceptable for the state to screen out sixty percent of child abuse reports (the national average is thirty percent) or for counties to screen out 90% of abuse calls (when four year old Eric Dean was tortured to death, four Minnesota counties did so).
Brandon’s keynote talk was singing to the choir. His audience of volunteer court appointed special advocates (CASA guardians ad Litem) witness his reporting on the results of public policy on two and four year old children. Kids that are beaten, starved and sexually abused until the community intervenes.
The event truly did honor the tireless efforts of volunteer guardians ad Litem and it was touching to see how moved the audience and the speaker were when those standing ovations happened.

Thank you Laurie and Dana for organizing the best event I’ve attended in a long time. It was a terrific experience and everyone left feeling better about the work they were engaged in.
It could not have been better.

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Call For Minnesota Children (pick up the phone – write something) PreK, school readiness, early learning, things kids need

The legislature is back in session after their break. That means we are back to work on advocacy. And thank you for all the contacts you have already made. Time for more.

You may have heard that the conference committee was formed and the conferees were named. Here is what that means. The house education committee has passed their bill. The senate education committee has passed their bill. Some elements in the bills are similar. Some are not. Five senators, and five representatives (the conferees) have been chosen to meet and work out the differences. Then, it will be re-passed in the House and Senate and ready to go to the governor.

The conferees of the E-12 Education Committee are:

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Sad Stories April 2017 Part I

KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

These pages are a sampling of what should be reported – the great majority of child trauma, abuse & tragedy are never reported.

American states are struggling to find answers for saving at risk children and reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect in our communities.

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health January 2017)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines Florida reports 48% of its foster children are forced to take Prozac like drugs.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

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Traveling College Child Abuse – Child Protection Exhibit (for your campus activity space, library/museum)

KARA delivers to campus activity centers and departments a low cost, powerful visual display series of stories, graphics and news to build awareness and start discussion about the issues facing at risk children in your community. Six month lead time is projected presently. This display includes a menu of presentations and workshops and can be tailored to events and conditions in your community. Start this conversation on your campus.

Support this program directly (contact KARA for more info – info@invisiblechildren.org Campus Display in subject line)

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Florida Child Protection News for March 2017

hree charged with abusing autistic child at recreation center

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) —

Three adults were arrested Thursday afternoon after an investigation determined they were involved in the physical and mental abuse of an autistic child.

According to the Pensacola Police Department, 53-year-old Rose James, 19-year-old Kemon Johnson and 20-year-old Jarrett Clifton have all been charged with cruelty toward a child. Authorities say the incident was first reported to police on February 28th by an investigator with the Department of Children and Families.

The incident happened around 1:30 p.m. on December 30, 2016, at the Gull Point Recreation Center. The trio were employed at the center through Keegan Staffing.

Authorities say surveillance video from the center showed Johnson repeatedly threatening a 12-year-old boy with a metal stick. At one point Johnson grabbed the child and pushed him to the ground. Surveillance video also showed James slapping the child in the face and kicking him, and Johnson and Clifton dragging the child by his arms out of camera view.

A detective says a motive for the incident remains under investigation. They added approximately a dozen children were in the gym when the incident happened. Authorities say James had worked at the center for three years. Clifton and Johnson had worked for a couple of weeks.

Reported by Kristie Henderson WearTV Retrieved from http://weartv.com/news/local/three-charged-with-abusing-autistic-child-at-recreation-center

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Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota (and how lawsuits help two year olds)

Sad as it may be, lawsuits might be the most effective tool available for abused and neglected children to get the services they need from the state. Today’s message from Safe Passage for children of Minnesota about the AFSCME union lawsuit (below) is one of several game changing service provider suits that I have witnessed. The recent suit threatened by MN sheriffs worked to the advantage of at risk youth as it opened up the conversation around the lack of mental health services in this state (and most other states). The AFSCME suit points out how unfair it is to load up case after case on workers doing an almost impossible job and them blaming them when things go badly for a child (it always seems to be the social workers fault when a terrible child story hits the paper.

Legislators have all they can do to answer the people they have yelling at them (business interests, sports fans and transportation enthusiasts among them)

Abused children don’t have a say in the matter and things continue to degrade in in their young lives until some adult somewhere does something. Sue the pants off of em (my grandmother used to say and now I see why.

Safe Passage For Children of Minnesota article;

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Child Abuse – Numbers & Why They Matter (thank you Chris Serres & Star Tribune)

MN has recently forcibly closed foster group homes in St Cloud and Buhl and housed state ward children in hospital rooms because there was no place else to put them.

How would it make you feel as a traumatized six year old to live in a hospital room because our community just does not have the money or concern to find you a home?

Not normal, not loved or of any value at all.

Think about becoming a volunteer CASA guardian ad Litem (or making a donation to a fund that gives foster children things that the state does not provide – make them more like your children

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International Child Protection News March 2017 (send us your news from around the world – info@invisiblechildren.org with research/writing in the subject line)

KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. This is only a sampling of what should be reported – the great majority of child trauma & abuse never gets reported.

Aspiring researcher / writers, KARA needs you. Help KARA report on at risk children in your community.

Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org with Research/Writing in the subject line.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN – Join The KARA Team (and receive free weekly updates on Friday mornings)

Compilation of information and writing on this page is the hard work of the KARA team and volunteer Eshanee Singh

Please donate now and support these pages &

1) Our documentary on the needs of at-risk children and breaking the cycle of abuse

2) Our second book and college child abuse travelling displays (let us know if your college or university wants to participate)

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Invisible Children Around the World; United Kingdom

Early intervention is vital – not only in ensuring that fewer and fewer children grow up in abusive or neglectful homes, but also to help as many children as possible reach their full potential.

The Audit Commission has estimated that, if effective early intervention had been provided for just one in ten of those young people sentenced to custody each year, public services alone could have saved over £100 million annually.

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Speak For An Abused Child in Court (short video) WE NEED YOU!

Volunteer: Be the voice for a child that doesn’t have one! (Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul Area OPPORTUNITIES)

One hundred and seventy five Hennepin County children are without a guardian ad litem today – WE NEED VOLUNTEERS.

Do you know any? Send this to a friend and share it with your social media.

With the response to recent reporting of child abuse and child death in MN, a corresponding increase of child abuse cases are entering the system & means that volunteers are badly needed.

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MN Mesabi Academy, St Cloud Group Home & Florida (privatized group homes in America)

Unlike some other similar facilities, Mesabi Academy has both secure and non-secure living quarters and it takes young delinquents sent by courts as well as those referred by county child protective services agencies. It has generated far more complaints by parents, residents, staff and others than any other comparable facility in the state. Complaints can involve a variety of concerns about care, treatment, the staff or the facility itself. Sources: Minnesota’s departments of Human Services, Corrections, 2009-2016

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Being A Mandated Reporter (and what it means)

As a longtime volunteer, CASA guardian ad litem and writer/reporter on child abuse I know how voiceless children are. Think about it, they don’t even know that what is happening to them is wrong.

I also know how common child sexual abuse is and how sex abuse traumas destroy childhoods and lasts forever. It is the most tragic and under-reported crime in America.

Yesterday I sat through a terrific class on self-defense developed for children about escaping from sexual predators.

The instructor presented powerful information that will save pain and violence for kids in the class before and even after they enter adulthood.

About half of all women experience sexual violence in their life and about one fifth of men.

As a CASA guardian ad litem I helped to remove fifty children from toxic homes where half of them had been sexually abused.

One two-year-old, several four-year old’s and the rest under ten – and most of them suffered daily for years before child protection became involved. I have witnessed again and again the long term effects of child sex abuse traumas.

I was crushed at the end of the presentation when the instructor flat out stated that she very deliberately allowed no opportunity for a child in her class to describe sexual violence already experienced because “I am a mandated reporter and you know what that means”.

How few opportunities a child has to tell someone and how likely the abuse is going to continue until they do tell someone that can help them.

What’s a five-year old to do?

Let’s not put ourselves out or get some of this on us is a big part of the problem.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

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SAFE PASSAGE FOR CHILDREN MN (Federal audit of MN child welfare shows inadequate metrics, resources, quality assurance & training)

If you live and Minnesota and are willing to make time for one trip a year to the Capital in St Paul to speak for a child, there is nothing more meaningful that you could do for at risk children than volunteer with Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota. The appointment with your state legislator/s is arranged by Safe Passage for Children and you are provided a brief outline of the key issues facing abused children for you to share with your legislator.

Meeting time is seldom over 15 minutes but that will be enough time for you to show commitment to children and share the most critical information available with someone who can make a difference in the lives of the children you are advocating for.

Your state legislators actually do listen to you and they care what you have to say. Without your 15 minutes of child advocacy, legislators have little insights into the issues facing abused and neglected children. After all, children have no voice in the homes they are raised in, the media or government (they can’t vote).

Thank you Safe Passage for another powerful day on the hill

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

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Sad Stories March 2017 Part IV (child protection news from around the nation)

Dad jailed in Gentilly infant’s death accused of mentioning crack use, accidental fall before arrest
The Advocate
Under questioning after his infant son’s death last week, Jeffery Edward Coleman said that he had used crack before the boy accidentally fell from a …
Gentilly man arrested on murder charge in infant boy’s death, NOPD says – NOLA.com
Man arrested in death of 17-day-old boy – WWLTV.com
Infant’s autopsy findings contradict Gentilly father’s explanation, NOPD says – NOLA.com
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

Infant mortality improves in South Carolina
Charlotte Observer
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that South Carolina has made progress in reducing the infant death rate in the …
Infant Mortality Improves in South Carolina – U.S. News & World Report
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

New Orleans police investigate infant’s death as homicide
Washington Times
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – New Orleans police have opened a homicide case as they investigate the death of an infant. WVUE-TV reports …
New Orleans police investigate infant’s death as homicide – KTBS.com – Shreveport, LA News … – KTBS
Newborn boy’s death in Gentilly called a homicide by NOPD – NOLA.com
Man wanted for death of 17-day-old boy – WWLTV.com
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

Decatur man faces murder charge in infant death
Herald & Review
The infant was taken to Decatur Memorial Hospital and later transferred to HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield. The child was pronounced dead …
Decatur police arrest man in infant’s death – WAND
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

New Orleans Police Investigate Infant’s Death as Homicide
U.S. News & World Report
The television station reports that an autopsy by the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office determined that the child died as a direct result of his injuries.
Flag as irrelevant

Medical examiner: Baby appears to have died sharing bed with mother
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A newborn sleeps in his crib, which is properly outfitted for his safety. (Photo: Rick Wood / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)Buy Photo.
Medical Examiner Investigating Death Of Second Milwaukee Baby This Week – Patch.com
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

Father arrested in Gary infant’s death
nwitimes.com
MUNSTER — The 23-year-old father charged last week in the death of his infant daughter was taken into custody Tuesday by the Lake County …
Flag as irrelevant

Infants found dead in South Jersey apartment complex
Philly.com
Two 7-month-old twin girls were found dead in a Lindenwold apartment on Wednesday after their mother called 911 and told dispatchers her twins …
Infant twins found dead in Lindenwold, NJ apartment – 6abc.com
Carbon monoxide poisoning not suspected in deaths of infant twins – NJ.com
Infant twin girls found dead inside apartment – New York Post
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

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Sad Stories March 2017 Part III

Sign Up Here For KARA’s Free Friday Morning Real Story

KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

These pages are a sampling of what should be reported – the great majority of child trauma, abuse & tragedy are never reported.

American states are struggling to find answers for saving at risk children and reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect in our communities.

The U.S. is experiencing the 4th and 5th generation of abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and with serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues.

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health January 2017)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines Florida reports 48% of its foster children are forced to take Prozac like drugs.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Compilation of information and writing on the Sad Stories pages are the hard work of David Vang, Mike Toronto, Jamar Weston, Adolf Nchanj and Blaz Zlate, Callie Benscoter, (student volunteers at Century College) Katie Frake, Boston College, Julie O, and KARA.

donate now and support these pages &

Invite KARA to Speak/Workshop/Exhibit at your next event: info@invisiblechildren.org

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Minnesota Child Protection News March 2017

MN Child Protection News March 2017
KARA gathers news about abused Minnesota’s abused children every month and provides a snapshot of Child Protection and how our state values its children.
If you are an aspiring writer/reporter, KARA needs you to help gather and report on these stories.
Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org with REPORTING in the subject line.
All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children
Follow;
Safe Passage For Children MN (Join them and make child friendly legislation a reality)

CASAMN (become a guardian ad Litem and speak for abused children)
KARA Star Tribune Articles; Child Protection Who Will Speak For Children?

KARA Star Tribune Articles; Child Protection Who Will Speak For Children?

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Wanting To Know (caring enough to know)

Does Minnesota (your state here) want to know how its thousands of foster children are doing in school? Is there information available for people that care and want to see abused and neglected children at least get a chance to graduate from high school and lead a normal life?

The lack of transparency surrounding child abuse, child protection, foster care, drugging of very young children (Prozac, Ritalin, Zoloft…) indicates that while we talk big about valuing children in our community, we don’t care enough to want to know what their needs are.

If we knew that 80% of youth aging out of foster care were leading dysfunctional lives (last study of ten years ago), that 48% of state ward children are being forced to take psychotropic medications (true in Florida today) or that 4 MN counties screened out 90% of child abuse calls (true at the time of 4 year old Eric Dean’s murder by his step mother), then some concerned citizen, politician or administrator somewhere might be outraged enough to lobby for change.

Until information by our institutions becomes public, the problem simply does not exist and no one appears to care enough to see these awful things change.

Cudos to Minnesota for turning the child endangerment model into a genuine child protection model. It’s a great first step.

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Parental Leave In Canada & the Rest of the Industrialized World (be nice to your baby – 18 months)

In Sweden, parents are entitled to 480 days of paidparental leave when a child is born or adopted. … The remaining 90 days are paid at a flat rate. Those who are not in employment are also entitled to paidparental leave. Parental leave can be taken up until a child turns eight.
10 things that make Sweden family-friendly – Sweden.se

https://sweden.se/society/10-things-that-make-sweden-family-friendly/

Working mothers and fathers have equal entitlements to paid parental leave(Elterngeld) of up to 12 – 14 months, which can taken by one or both parents. The standard leave for one parent caregiver is 12 months, but gets extended to 14 months if the other parent also takes 2 months of leave.
Parental Leave – ExpatBabies

www.expatbabies.com/frankfurt/need-to-know/parental-leave…/parental-leave/16647

If parents chose not to go back to work after maternity/paternity and parental leaveis over, they are entitled to paid childcare leave that continues until the child is 3 years old. Parents are paid a care allowance and a care supplement.
Finland;

Maternity, Paternity, and Parental Leave in Family Centered Finland

finnishmythoughts.weebly.com/…/leave-for-new-parents-maternity-paternity-and-parent…

Iceland; Maternity / paternity leave. Parents that have been employed for six months or longer in Iceland are entitled to paid leave when a child is born, at adoption or permanent foster of a child younger than eight years old. … It is recommended that people continue to pay dues to their union during maternity/paternity leave.
Maternity / paternity leave | Family | English | Fjölmenningarsetur

www.mcc.is/english/family/maternity–paternity-leave-/
In total, parents in Denmark get 52 weeks of paid parental leave. The general rule is that the mother has the right to four weeks of leave directly before the planned birth and then to a further 14 weeks of leave after birth. … They can choose to be on parental leave at the same time or in periods one after the other.

In total, parents in Denmark get 52 weeks of paid parental leave. The general rule is that the mother has the right to four weeks of leave directly before the planned birth and then to a further 14 weeks of leave after birth. … They can choose to be onparental leave at the same time or in periods one after the other.
Maternity leave and paternity leave when working in Denmark

Switzerland;

Maternity leave lasts 98 days (or 14 weeks), from the day it starts. Both full-time and part-time employees are entitled to maternity leave. Women who return to work earlier lose their entitlement to compensation. Mothers are paid 80% of their wages in the form of a daily allowance, but no more than CHF 196 per day.
Duration of maternity leave and wage continuation – www.ch.ch

https://www.ch.ch/en/maternity-leave/
www.oresunddirekt.se/…parenting…denmark/parental-leave-when-you-work-in-denmar…

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A Modest Proposal

Three hundred years ago, an Irish Minister wrote an explosive satire that was misinterpreted by many readers of his day (printed in its entirety below).

In a gruesome and widely read logical argument, Jonathan Swift clearly articulated a plan that would relieve the suffering of Irish families and their youngest children by selling babies to the English to be eaten (in a stew that he included the recipe for).

Back in the day, these writings were the modern equivalent of you tube or a longer version of Twitter and consumed voraciously by all who could read (or read them to others).

Public policy of the era treated the Irish more like animals than people and Irish children were doomed to lives of crime, prostitution, and abject poverty.

While a satire, Swift’s underlying argument was the completely serious view that death might be preferable to children doomed to disease, crime, prostitution, & the horrid cruelties suffered by abandoned children of his time.

His writings provide a painful comparison to the data and media stories that identify the most vulnerable citizens of today’s America.

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Foster Care & Adoption In America (families and change needed)

Almost every state needs more foster / adoptive families. This shortage reflected in the articles and stories below point to one more overwhelmed part of America’s troubled child protection system.

There are correctable reasons children are being left in hospitals and state facilities because there are no foster / adoptive homes.

To name a few;

Some states pay a base rate to foster families lower than the actual cost of feeding a child and almost no help for adoptive families.
Too many states make it hard for grandparents and other family members to adopt or foster a state ward child.
Some states provide far to little help to foster /adoptive families for the trauma & behavioral problems state ward children often bring with them into the home.
A quick review of the articles herein give you a sense of the depth and scope of the problems state ward children are facing and a better understanding of why so few of the 12 to 18 million children reported to child protection in this nation each year are receiving the help they need to become contributing members of our communities.

These sad stories go a long way in explaining why schools are so troubled and jails are so full.

Feel free to share this article widely (especially with policy makers and legislators – include a personal note and speak for a child).

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Sad Stories March 2017 Part II

OR: Report: Child welfare review teams under microscope
Merced Sun-Star – March 06, 2017
Barely three days after 12-year-old Caden Berry of Keizer died, the head of Oregon’s child welfare agency ordered a full review of the agency’s interactions with his family.
Also: Report: Child welfare agency struggled to fix problems: http://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/5126903-151/report-child-welfare-agency-struggled-to-fix-problems?referrer=fpblob
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/news/business/article136731693.html
OR: 44 children left in harm’s way: Oregon’s child welfare agency struggled to fix problems
Statesman Journal – March 04, 2017
Clyde Saiki, director of the state Department of Human Services, wanted to know if “system issues” may have prevented the state from saving the boy’s life. DHS has publicly published reviews for at least 44 children since 2004, involving children the agency knew of who died or were severely injured.
http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/crime/2017/03/04/inside-state-child-welfare-investigative-team/96928358/
TX: Democratic lawmaker says Texas CPS workloads make ‘a travesty’ of child protection
Dallas Morning News – March 06, 2017
The bill would encourage CPS to hire 893 more employees over the next two years and create an additional 825 slots at sister agencies such as Adult Protective Services, Child Care Licensing and the unit that operates the protective services department’s hotline for reporting abuse, the Legislative Budget Board has estimated.
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/child-protective-services/2017/03/06/democratic-lawmaker-says-texas-cps-workloads-make-travesty-child-protection

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It Cant Happen Here

A very smart person that I consider a friend suggested that the sad story of Florida’s foster care system (in the blog article just prior to this one) is not comparable to the state of foster care in my state of MN. Suggesting that things are fine in MN’s foster care system. Nothing to see here, let’s talk about something else.

Dee Wilson delivered the Casey Foundations report on child protection in MN and softly stated that our group home facilities were grossly unable to deal with the level of trauma and behavioral problems that these overwhelmed homes were experiencing.

Just a week ago MN closed the group home in St Cloud MN because of many violations over many years.

That home allowed kids to bang their heads against walls to the point of concussions, facial injuries and head trauma along with forced sex in the presence of staff.

Don’t blame the staff*. It’s the management and the people making the rules. It is always the management that determines the wage, the training and the supervision that will be in place in every business endeavor. It’s always the policy makers that determine the oversight and resources available to the homes providing the service. These things are made extremely clear in the Florida video.

To expect low waged and undertrained people to manage children traumatized by years of abuse now being managed by a cold and distant state is just unworkable.

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Friends of KARA – A Favor (watch this video)

Mari Frankel’s video documentary below is stunning. Although it is about Florida’s foster system (by a CASA GAL just like me) it demonstrates the problems within the child protection system and the traumas & medications foster children live.with.

Mari Frankel’s video is aligned with KARA’s book and documentary projects that address child protection stories that are happening in MN.

Share this with people you know and/or,

Contact me to talk about ideas for making this video in MN (we have begun the process and have been partnered with TPT) but need help to complete the project.

Let’s be a voice for children

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

https://vimeo.com/139417634

The password is foster

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March 2017 Sad Stories Part I

Baby Justice Rees’ father responds to charges in infant’s death
KCRA Sacramento
The father of Baby Justice Rees, who found dead two years ago in a Yolo County slough, faces an involuntary manslaughter charge in connection to …
Dead baby’s father lashes out from jail – Davis Enterprise
Father charged after baby found dead near Sacramento River – Santa Rosa Press Democrat
DA Announces New Charges for Frank Rees in Death of Baby – The People’s Vanguard of Davis (subscription)
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

Questions remain in baby’s death
WPRI 12 Eyewitness News
WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Investigators said Thursday they were still trying to determine how a seven-month old Warwick baby died. Willow Ramos …
DCYF previously investigated family of infant who died in Warwick – WPRI 12 Eyewitness News
Ex-Hanson resident charged with neglect after infant daughter dies – Wicked Local
Father charged after unresponsive baby daughter dies in RI – WHDH-TV
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

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