Zero Kids Waiting September Newsletter

Zero Kids Waiting is the monthly eNewsletter of Minnesota Adoption Resource Network, a 33-year old organization that creates and supports lifelong nurturing families for children needing permanency.

As an email subscriber to Zero Kids Waiting, you will receive a monthly update about what our organization and others are doing to promote adoption of Minnesota children and teens.

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To learn more about Minnesota’s waiting children and our goal to reach Zero Kids Waiting visit State Adoption Exchange

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Zero Kids Waiting (lifelong nurturing families for children needing permanency)

What a great asset for Minnesota children. Here’s their latest newsletter (note all the great articles and resources;

Zero Kids Waiting is the monthly eNewsletter of Minnesota Adoption Resource Network, a 33-year old organization that creates and supports lifelong nurturing families for children needing permanency.

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Yesterday’s State Of The Child Summit (Children In Legal Proceedings) at Hamline University

It was the simple truths that struck me hardest as I listened to the Hamline University presenters yesterday. I was reminded of MN’s former Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz statement that “90% of the youth in juvenile justice have come through child protection”, and that, ” The difference between that poor child and a felon, is about eight years”. The pipeline to prison starts here.

Behavior problems in schools are not well served by hiring more police officers. As a long time guardian ad-Litem, it is apparent to me how authority figures are viewed by abused and neglected children (a big segment of the behavioral problems at school). It has hurt me to see well meaning officers treated horridly by abused children through no fault of their own. Traumatized kids lash out at authority and take no prisoners. This gets them in big trouble and their behavior problems get worse, not better. Police interactions are often just one more trauma to be suffered by an abused child. Don’t blame the police – they didn’t set this system up.

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Yesterday, Don Shelby, KARA & An Expose That Grows Awareness & Concern For Abused and Neglected Children

Yesterday was a big day for Kids At Risk Action. The KARA board talked with Don Shelby for five hours discussing the complicated task of how to create a television expose telling a story that moves people to action to improve the lives of abused and neglected children.

This project will take time, and a great deal of energy and resources. After yesterday, we are confident that with a seasoned reporter and storyteller like Don on board, this project will succeed.

It became clear as we talked that Don Shelby has a thirty year background in telling this kind of story and his heart is with children.

To be most effective, KARA must build a following of people that stand with us on children’s issues.

Watch KARA’s TV short clips here and sign up for our weekly news updates here (9am emailed to you on Fridays) Share these links with your friends and networks and help us build the following we need to make change for children.

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Wow & Thank You For Supporting CASA Minnesota

CASA Minnesota’s Brewing Hope event turned out to be a smash hit and a great time was held by all.

Thank you to everyone that came and shared in the fun and especially those of you Donated or went home with silent and live auction booty.

Have fun on the African vacation, at Stouts Island Lodge, and the University Club next year (and the many other great dining, service, and happy event items donated for the event).

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Wow – Thank You Amy and Friends

Last night’s KARA party and fundraiser was great fun and a super success. The food was remarkable and between the banana ice cream cinnamon wonder and the multiple courses of beefy and veggie creations, I was hard pressed to not have two of many things.

We met new volunteers and supporters and raised significant money for KARA’s INVISIBLE CHILDREN Campus program

Damon & I had the pleasure of engaging many of you in KARA’s mission and strategy. We have high hopes of keeping your interest in our efforts in the years to come as we build an army of people that want to improve the lives of at risk children.

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Why Teachers Quit Teaching

When I first began teaching more than 25 years ago, hands-on exploration, investigation, joy and love of learning characterized the early childhood classroom. I’d describe our current period as a time of testing, data collection, competition and punishment. One would be hard put these days to find joy present in classrooms.

I think it started with No Child Left Behind years ago. Over the years I’ve seen this climate of data fascination seep into our schools and slowly change the ability for educators to teach creatively and respond to children’s social and emotional needs. But this was happening in the upper grades mostly. Then it came to kindergarten and PreK, beginning a number of years ago with a literacy initiative that would have had us spending the better part of each day teaching literacy skills through various prescribed techniques. ”What about math, science, creative expression and play?” we asked. The kindergarten teachers fought back and kept this push for an overload of literacy instruction at bay for a number of years.

Next came additional mandated assessments. Four and five year olds are screened regularly each year for glaring gaps in their development that would warrant a closer look and securing additional supports (such as O.T, P.T, and Speech Therapy) quickly. Teachers were already assessing each child three times a year to understand their individual literacy development and growth. A few years ago, we were instructed to add periodic math assessments after each unit of study in math. Then last year we were told to include an additional math assessment on all Kindergarten students (which takes teachers out of the classroom with individual child testing, and intrudes on classroom teaching time.)

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Why Teachers Quit – 2 Perspectives (Finland & Harvard)

When I interviewed teachers for my INVISIBLE CHILDREN book, an art teacher cried as she told me how she had entered teaching because she wanted to make a difference by bringing her love of art and teaching together. No Child Left Behind turned her into a warden with little time for sharing art or her passion for teaching with students that wanted to learn. In her perspective, the school scoring mandate meant that troubled students ended up in her room, because there was no worry about the performance in the “art” class. Fifty students, not thirty. Troubled students with violent outbursts, not seekers of art and beauty. She spent most of her time keeping students safe, not teaching the concepts of color and contour.

She was a dedicated, kind, and generous educator that recognized that the politics driving her chosen vocation were ruining her dream and her life. She told me why she gave up.

She was crying when she told me her story on the curb at a Mayday parade in Minneapolis. I will always remember her.

Her story is repeated in the data and the writings I recommend below.

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What We Can Learn From Kentucky (kinship rules)

JEFFERSONTOWN, Ky. – In Kentucky, a lot of children are being raised by extended family members: at 6 percent of all kids, it’s one of the highest kinship-care rates in the nation. A new report from Kentucky Youth Advocates outlines what the group says needs to be done to increase support for grandparents and others raising kids who cannot safely live with their parents.

According to Jeanne Miller-Jacobs, who with her husband is raising their three grandkids, more assistance is badly needed.

“The biggest hurdle that we’ve had is misinformation,” she said. When we first got the kids, the financial part of kinship care never came up.”

She said her grandchildren, ages five, three and one, came to live with them because their parents struggle with drug addiction.

Kinship care has doubled in Kentucky in the last decade, and earlier this year, the state stopped taking new applications for its Kinship Care Program, which provides caregivers $10 a day to help meet a child’s basic needs.

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Want To Know More About the CASA guardian ad-Litem Program?

Nearly 9000 children are reported abused or neglected every day in this country – over 3000 a year in Minnesota alone. You might not be in a position to take one of these children into your home. But you CAN be their voice. As a Volunteer Guardian ad Litem (a court appointed special advocate), you have the power to stand up for an abused or neglected child. You can restore their voice – and their hope. Giving just 5-10 hours a month of your time can make all the difference in the outcome of our children. Attend one of our information sessions, get free training and become a volunteer Guardian ad Litem!
Learn about being a CASA guardian ad-Litem; www.casamn.org

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The Unspoken Truth (from Kristin Rode)

My name is Robert Hamelin and when I was 4 years old I entered the Foster Care System. My stepmother began to physically and mentally abuse me. I was taken out of the home I lived in, with her and my father and moved into the first foster home. When I was 9 years old my father was killed. He was the only good memory I had left. His loss had such a deep impact on me. I knew now that I was completely alone. By the time I reached the 6th grade I began acting out for attention. My behaviors became worse. The abuse had continued worse than ever, as now, I was being sexually abused. By the time I was 18 years old I joined the Marine Corps. I needed stability but even more important, I needed to find out if I could overcome my past and succeed, despite 14 years of violent child abuse.

The system failed me but it did not beat me!

Today I am a successful Regional Vice President for Transamerica. I have raised 5 beautiful daughters, 4 of which have already graduated from college. What is disheartening is 32 years after I got out of the Child Protection System, it continues to fail children and the abuse, still all too common. We need to come together to fix a broken system.

Each year, about six hundred thousand abused and neglected American children are removed from their homes, placed into group homes, foster homes, and adoptive homes with minimal mental health counseling and often not much history or training provided to the new care giver. These children are expected to adjust well into society, succeed in school and with their peers

Children in child protective services are only removed from their homes if their lives are in imminent harm. These children are often returned to their homes by Child Protective Services if changes are made. Many children are returned to abusive homes, with little to no follow-up.

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The Teachers Dilemna (and what is not talked about in education)

Assaults on teachers, starting with first graders hitting teachers with chairs & stabbing with pencils & knives. In some of the bigger inner city schools, teachers are afraid to walk to their cars after the school day ends and guns are now appearing in classrooms with growing frequency. Too many districts are suggesting that teachers be armed.

*The lack of books & basic resources for educators to complete their tasks is unacceptable. Detroit teachers were threatened this spring with working without pay this coming summer. If they had not reacted as they did, that might have actually happened.

To not support the people engaged in the important work of building our next generation of service providers, business people and lawmakers is an atrocious mistake. We will benefit by or suffer from the things that are happening in our schools today. We build and support those schools (or we don’t).

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The Race To Incarcerate Women (this does not bode well for children)

Why a Prison Birth Project?
Since 1977, the female prison population has increased by 872% (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008). Over 85% of the women in prison were the primary caregivers to their children before incarceration, and approximately 25% of women in prison have either given birth at some point during the year prior to or are pregnant at the time of their arrest (U.S. Department of Justice).These women have little access to services or rehabilitation related to birth preparation and parenting while in prison.
Labor, delivery, and birth rarely involves family, friends, or support, and most often consists of the woman being searched, shackled, and taken to a hospital under the watch of guards. Their babies are taken away from them soon afterwards. Some mothers will not see their children again then until their release; some may never see them again. These women experience shame, powerlessness, and fear during labor, and are left exposed and likely to suffer to post‐partum depression, life‐long parent‐child attachment issues, and an overwhelming insecurity in their ability to be a successful parent.

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The Power of Coping Skills & Life Without Them

A sad personal email this morning from a grieving mother has caused me to reflect on friends who ended their own lives and the four, five and six year old children I have known, or known about, who tried or succeeded at suicide.

My cousin Ron Mahla (Actor and brilliant person) and my dear friend Tommy Garretson (Vietnam War Vet with a winning smile and great sense of humor) were both gentle and bright souls that were squeezed to death by sadness and a growing inability to cope with their lives.

In both deaths, I’m almost certain that neither told anyone or thought to get help to cope with the events in their lives (there were no signs of impending suicide).

Coping skills are everything. Have them and we can make it – without them, we are at risk.

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The Most Important Child Friendly Sites of This Week

http://acestoohigh.com/ Read a few of these smart and powerful articles and you will know more about at risk children’s issues than anyone on your block.

http://safepassagemn.com/landing-page.html This video will be the best six minutes you can spend this week.

We are all in this together. Let’s all pull in the right direction (pro child) Support KARA’s TPT documentary project

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The Ghost Of Christmas Future

TAt a Governor’s Task Force Oversight Meeting (on Child Protection in MN in 2014) 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 or evenings for abused and neglected children and that she directed the department to “fix it”.

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The Election & Children (from Safe Passages For Children of Minnesota)

This recent piece from Safe Passages for Children of Minnesota paints a more positive picture for Minnesota’s at risk children than can be seen in the rest of the nation.

It’s good to know that MN politicians on both sides of the isle care about the youngest and most vulnerable among us. They recognize that healthy children become healthy adults creating a safe and productive community.

The rest of the nation’s children are at risk as attacks on healthcare and education will dismantle working programs and the well-being of millions of America’s poorest and youngest citizens.

Politicians blaming educators and other service providers replace objective discussions about what it takes to improve safety nets and troubled institutions. It hurts me to see just how quickly children’s services become wasted money that some states have been all too ready to reduce for political benefits.

Thank you Minnesota legislators for doing the right thing. Your critical thinking skills and the ethical standards you have maintained to accomplish so many of the recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on Child Protection Services and Mental Health will benefit this state for decades to come.

As the holiday season approaches, let’s all be grateful for the hard work of these two task forces (and the people that volunteered to staff them) and the results they have accomplished this year.

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The Accountability Gap in Child Protection (Thank you Safe Passage For Children)

This article copied from the Safe Passage For Children newsletter clearly articulates the importance of record keeping as it pertains to reports of repeated calls of child abuse.  Unfortunately, the system is overwhelmed, and it is all too easy to simply not keep good records. What we don’t know can’t hurt us.  But it certainly…

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Thank You Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota

This year Minnesota children were safer and received more services due in large part to the loyal donors and passionate volunteers of Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota.

Safer Children

13,600 more children annually are getting help from county child protection agencies due to changes our passionate volunteers helped make in state law.  

More Resources

Counties and the state increased their budgets for child protection and foster care by over $200 million since 2015.  In addition, counties added nearly 500 caseworkers – a 60% increase.

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Thank You Safe Passage For Children

As a long time CASA guardian ad-Litem who finds it impossible to believe that the depth and scope of child abuse in my community (both local and national) is largely unspoken until some poor child is found in a dumpster or has his brains bashed out against a wall by a caregiver, I am excited by the efforts to quantify these sad facts by Safe Passages For Children.

It is precisely because we don’t keep track, or if we do, don’t publish the mountain of unhappy things happening to our children. If these things were recorded, reported, and discussed, our institutions could function more effectively and children would be much safer and happier.

What follows is a major effort by Rich Gehrman and Safe Passages For Children to identify the tip of this iceberg (thank you Rich and company)

Please sign our petition for safe and healthy MN children (even if you are not from MN)

Petition to make health, education, and well being available to all MN children

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Thank You Houston Texan Receiver Andre Johnson

Wow, what a swell guy and great example for the rest of us; Andre bought $19,521 worth of Toys R Us gifts for children in Child Protective Services today. Here’s the link (you can see the very long receipt).

I like his message too;

“A lot of these kids get discouraged because of where they grew up and things like that. I grew up in a single-parent home and I was fortunate to achieve my goals. So, whatever goals you have, just keep them out in front of you, don’t let anybody distract you away from them, because there will be distractions that try to detour you away from your goals. That’s the biggest thing.”

Pass it on to your friends (it may give them ideas)

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Thank You Governor Dayton (shining a light on Minnesota’s Child Protection system)

It took real courage for Minnesota’s Governor to use the phrase “Colossal Failure” when describing the role child protective services played in the tortured death of four year old Eric Dean.  The politics of child protection are not favorable to politicians. Plenty of Governors would have let the story die down without making too much…

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