Responding To Toni Carter’s Star Tribune Article Yesterday (County Commissioner & Pres MN Assoc. of Counties)

Minnesota’s counties received nearly 68,000 reports of child abuse or neglect last year but closed most of those cases without investigation or assessment.

A review of state and federal data by the Star Tribune shows that the number of child abuse reports being screened out without any protective action rose last year to the third-highest rate in the country.

In all, the state screened out more than 48,000 such abuse reports last year ­— and authorities often made their decisions after only gathering information from a phone call or a fax.

What happens to those cases is largely unknown. Records are not open to the public. Many counties also don’t keep track of closed cases, potentially resulting in multiple reports of abuse of a child without intervention. A bill advancing through the Legislature would require counties to keep information on screened-out cases for a year to spot recurring child abuse.

“We’re finding gross discrepancies in what one county does vs. another,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis.

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Tip Of The Iceberg – Medicating Six Year Olds

We forget that before Prozac, there was Thorazine and the side effects were pronounced and obvious. These new drugs are much more insidious in how side effects manifest themselves.

The underlying issues driving dangerous and emotionally charged behaviors in children must be identified and dealt with if mental health is going to be attained. Anything less fails the child and the community.

Public policy assumes that it’s economically way cheaper to provide drugs than really helping a child.

Work done by the medical community and the Federal Reserve proves that building children is much more economically viable than trying to rebuild badly broken adults. In my volunteer work within the system, I’ve seen it born out again and again.

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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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KARA Talk Monday Night In Stillwater (7pm)

Friends of Kids At Risk Action, board member Tiffini Flynn Forslund & I present our INVISIBLE CHILDREN talk at the Critical Thinkers Club in Stillwater Monday night April 14th at 7pm.
The meeting is held at the FamilyMeans Bldg., 1875 Northwestern Ave (opposite the Stillwater Water Tower). Here are driving directions:

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Help Wanted Volunteer Staff Writer (for Sad Stories and CASA pages)

Would you like to do more for at risk kids? Can you commit to four hours weekly for at least the next 3 months, to rewrite the information that I gather for these pages?

Review them; CASA News Sad Stories, and contact me if this fits your style and competency.

Buy our book or donate

Sample 4 minute video of Mike’s awesome talk on child protection in America (invite me to speak at your conference – Mike@invisiblechildren.org )

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Making Children Whole (with the help of the community)

Think what you might about the unborn, it seems only fair that a living breathing baby should have the right to basic health care (if only to continue breathing).

It is terrifically expensive to treat the chronic illness and behavioral problems that blossom out of children born into toxic and unhealthy circumstances where mom’s without parenting skills, or coping skills, eat poorly, drink excessively and often have serious mental health issues. Many of the moms I’ve known from child protection were the fourth or fifth generation of abused girls having their own families of abused children. Without help from the community, their children never break out of toxic birth home environments and never learn the skills they need to live a productive life.

Crisis nurseries and subsidized quality daycare make up for some of the problems these children live with in the home. Coping skills are not delivered by the stork but they can be gleaned from other care providers (if the community reaches out).

In my lengthy Protestant upbringing, I can only remember a Jesus that wanted to provide for the weakest and most vulnerable among us – especially children.

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Thank You Ruben Rosario (for today’s powerful Pioneer Press article supporting our Invisible Children Petition)

“In the spirit of a) enlightened self-interest and b) in order to form a more perfect union, we the people of Minnesota declare that all children have an equal right to preventative health care (the right to see a doctor before they are sick) including prenatal care and to quality early learning (pre-K) programs,” the petition states.

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Sign Our Petition For Child Rights, Safety, and Healthcare

Help KARA make a better world for America’s children and sign our petition for basic rights, health care, and safety (even if you’re not from MN)

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/childrens-civil-human?source=c.em.mt&r_by=6732677

Every signature helps.

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A Modest Proposal & The Kansas State House (special thanks to Jonathan Swift & Gail Finney)

The juxtaposition of Jonathon Swifts “Modest Proposal” to sell the poor newborn babies of Ireland as food to solve the poverty and suffering of Irish parents has a parallel to the beating and bruising of children proposal being advanced by Kansas State Rep Gail Finney in several ways.
First and foremost, is the repugnant assumption that beating or eating children will make anyone’s lives better is insane. Murder is murder. We also know that beaten children will beat their own children (and others).

2500 years ago, Pliny told us “what we do to our children, they will do to society”. Look around you at the full prisons, troubled schools, and dangerous streets. It didn’t get this way because of the overemphasis on early childhood programs and support for poor young families.

In Swift’s defense, he was being satirical and ironic. Finney has no defense (she’s just mean and crazy – like Bachman). Parallel two is that 30 states have outright banned corporal punishment (proposed by Finney) and there are no states that allow the boiling, broiling, or baking of children (as proposed by Swift).
For readers among us, below are Swift’s full text and a more about Representative Finney’s bizarre work in Kansas.

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Safe Passage For Children Of MN (unintended consequences of legislation)

Guardrails Plus Guidelines

Legislation often has unintended consequences. For example a proposed Minnesota bill would eliminate smoking from foster homes. Makes sense for new licenses, but it could disrupt current placements where children are doing well.

Rather than addressing every situation with a law or regulation, consider ‘guardrails’ for ones that are clearly out of bounds, and guidelines for the rest.

A guardrail for example would be that an adult who has sexually perpetrated on children should never have access to kids. Guidelines would help determine if a father who had a felony 15 years ago gets consideration in a custody decision.

Guidelines require ongoing training, quality control, and accountability for outcomes. But they are more efficient than continually working around inflexible rules. Plus, they give skilled workers room to apply their expertise.

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Support Safe Passage For Children (abuse continues when it is not investigated)

Safe Passage For Children is promoting legislation that will require counties to keep data on abuse reports which will identify when children are repeatedly reported as abused. As a long time CASA guardian-ad-Litem, I can recall plenty of instances where children were re-reported again and again before anyone looked into it. In one case, 49 police calls to the home in which a seven year old was prostituted (over four years). The definition of malfeasance and torture of a child.

Send this Link to your State Representative and anyone else you think might support Rich Gehrman and his Safe Passage for MN children.

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INVISIBLE CHILDREN Book Accepted Into Public Library Today

INVISIBLE CHILDREN will now be on the shelves of the public library. You can search for it online or click on this book link to reserve it. It has been some years in coming, and I like to think this is a sign that the conversation around abused and neglected children is finally getting the attention it deserves. Forward this to people that might want to know.

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Inside AZ Child Protection Politics

Does Legislature have the will to fix CPS this time?

At long last – or again, that is — we have an answer to why Ariana and Tyler Payne had to die, and Jacob Gibson and Schala Vera and 20-month-old Liana Sandoval, whose battered body was found wired to a rock at the bottom of a canal in 2001, one day after Child Protective Services found no evidence of abuse.

At long last – or again, that is – we know why Annie Carimbocas had to die, and Haley Gray and Vanessa Martinez and 3-year-old Angelene Plummer, who was beaten, burned, raped and murdered in 2005 after CPS declared eight times that she was safe.

At long last – or again that is – we know why Janie Buelna left us in 2011, her body scarred, her teeth broken, her leg ravaged by an untreated burn when a simple phone call by CPS might have saved her.

And 22-month-old Za’Naya Flores, who starved to death in 2012 while a CPS caseworker wrote monthly reports on her progress.

At long last – or again that is – we know what the heck is going on in Child Protective Services. And we know how to fix it.

The question is: will we?

On Friday, Gov. Jan Brewer’s Independent Child Advocate Response Examination team – a task force of troubleshooters tapped in December after the agency’s latest epic fail — released its report on what is wrong with Arizona’s most beleaguered agency.

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Child Abuse In Your State (recent news from across the nation – thank you Child Welfare in the News)

IN: Can parents sue DCS? Yes, divided justices rule
Indiana Lawyer – January 01, 2014
A sharply divided Indiana Supreme Court decision that a family may sue the state’s child protection agency for negligence is sure to resonate within the Department of Child Services, attorneys familiar with the case said. “The whole purpose of this appeal was to try to hold the Department of Child Services accountable for its failure to abide by statutory requirements,” said Adam Sedia of Rubino Ruman Crosmer & Polen LLC of Dyer, who successfully argued the case decided in a 3-2 opinion Nov. 26.
http://www.theindianalawyer.com/can-parents-sue-dcs-yes-divided-justices-rule/PARAMS/article/33138

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Executing Nine Year Olds (the best TED talk ever – or why I like lawyers)

photo compliments of Richard Ross David R Dow (voluntarily) represents the poor on death row – no one else cares. Two people a month are executed in Texas. Lawyer Dow points out that it is children in need of protection that have no way of avoiding the juvenile justice system that end up in the criminal justice system. The very worst cases end up on death row. How can we intervene? This is not rocket science. Points of intervention

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The Science Of Neglect (Harvard University 6 Minute Video)

This scientific approach to child neglect is a strong argument for early childhood programs like crisis nurseries and subsidized daycare. The costs of not providing these things far outweighs the front end investment is children.

http://www.cmhnetwork.org/news/science-of-neglect

The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has published a new 6-minute video,InBrief: The Science of Neglect (2013), which explains how significant neglect can harm to a young child’s development, including cognitive delays, impairments in executive functioning, and disruptions of the body’s stress response. It also looks at why effective interventions are likely to pay significant dividends in better long-term outcomes in learning, health, and parenting of the next generation. The video provides an overview of The Science of Neglect: The Persistent Absence of Responsive Care Disrupts the Developing Brain (2012), a working paper by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. A two-page summary is also available.

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Mental Health & Education (thank you Star Tribune for this honest conversation)

The complex needs of abused and neglected children are a giant, and I argue, the primary challenge facing America’s education system today. Different states handle the problem in different ways, but very states make the public aware of the depth and scope of the mental health issues like Minnesota has.

Teachers being forced to become social workers and mental health providers is a severe and growing problem in all American schools. Educators speaking openly about the dangers and fear of recurring outbursts by deeply troubled students injuring themselves or other children is a rarity in today’s media, but the data, including crime, graduation rates, test scores, and international achievement comparisons, would indicate otherwise.

There is little question that this problem is impacting the quality of education in our communities and needs to be addressed with adequate understanding and resources. The full Star Tribune article appears below, and I encourage you to read it, share your comments, and & make it available to educators you know.

Teachers deserve more support and a better understanding of the issues impacting education in America today.

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KARA’s Minnesota Friends of Children Please Support Bill Number SF 704/HF 1106

KARA board members Sam Ashkar and Mike Tikkanen accompanied Rich Gehrman and his Safe Passage For Children colleagues to support a bill at the state capital on thursday supporting child protection screening practices protecting children throughout MN. This bill SF 704 / HF 1106 gives simple guidelines, clarifies standards, and improves accountability for reporting and screening practices for abused children in terrible circumstances. It is the least we can do.

Please forward this to your friends and make a call to your state representative (and to State Senate Republican leader David Hann who is influential on this committee; 651-296-1749 )

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Protect Children In the Justice System

Support youth reentry – An estimated 100,000 people under the age of 18 have left secure facilities only to turn around and reenter the system. The report says, “Youth are often discharged from care back to families struggling with domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and unresolved mental health disabilities.” Also highlighted is the issue of public safety being compromised when the released youth is not afforded necessary planning and supportive services.
NJJDCP”s full report and recommendations can be viewed at:http://promotesafecommunities.org/images/pdfs/NJJDPC_RecstoCongress_03122013_web.pdf?utm_source=Copy+of+NJJDP+Report+-Congress&utm_campaign=WNR+2-8-2013&utm_medium=email

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