Remembering Mark Proctor

Mark Proctor passed away this past week and Minnesota lost one of its most committed and effective advocates for children in the child protection and foster care system. I know of no one more dedicated to making life better for abused and neglected children. Mark brought depth, wit and a deep working knowledge of the child protection system to our CASAMN board meetings. He was a truly positive force and a joy to work with.

Mark supported guardians ad litem as a former director of the Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA program in South Dakota, and as a member of the CASA Board of Directors here. He got the first legislation ever proposed by Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota introduced in the state Legislature in 2010.

He was always present when any advocacy for children needed to be done.

Mark will be greatly missed not only by his colleagues but by the children of Minnesota, many of whom did not know him but still benefited from his work.

Here is the information about his memorial services this coming Saturday, September 17th:

Mark Proctor passed away in Mendota, MN September 6, 2016.

An “Irish Wake” Celebration of Life will occur at 1:00 PM on Saturday, September 17, 2016 at the Mendota VFW in Mendota, MN. Buffet lunch will be beforehand from 10:45 AM-12:30 PM; please let me know if you plan to attend the lunch and how many people to prepare for by emailing drkaylazp@yahoo.com.

Memorials can be given to the Mark Proctor Scholarship at Black Hills State University (http://www.bhsu.edu/)or to Safe Passage for Children of MN (http://safepassagemn.com/donate/).

Thank you for your support at this time.

Kayla Zirpel-Proctor and Family/Friends of Mark Proctor

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CASAMN October 26th Fundraiser (save the date & help us find sponsors)

We need your help! Your sponsorship of this event will be essential to the fundraiser’s success and will enable CASA Minnesota to continue providing volunteer Guardian Ad Litem’s to abused and neglected children involved in Juvenile Court proceedings in our communities & to help fund CASA Cares for kids! We would be most grateful for your sponsorship at any level (including live and silent auction items). Join us for a celebration and a great cause.

CASA volunteers – also known as Guardians ad Litem in the State of Minnesota—are everyday citizens whom judges appoint to advocate for the safety and well-being of children who are in the court system as a result of abuse and/or neglect. They stand up for these children and change their lives.

CASA Cares is a grant program, formerly known as Friends of Children that benefits children in foster care by providing bikes, helmets, camps, school supplies, and other items that allow them to enjoy a positive childhood experience and further help them to overcome adversity by seeing that we as a community can help meet their needs!

CASA Minnesota is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that supports Minnesota CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) programs and the volunteers who have helped more than two million children find safe, permanent homes. Your contributions are tax-deductible! Share this with your friends and networks (All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children)

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CASA Guardian ad Litem News From Around the Nation July 2016

FIND YOUR CASA here – This page tells the stories of  CASA’s around the U.S.  If you are not listed, send me your info and we will include it.  Thank you KARA volunteers for your research and writing on this page.

All Adults Are the Protectors Of All Children

Join the Conversation at Linked In & receive weekly updates from around the nation

Guardian ad Litem Presentation for Prospective Volunteers

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I’ll Be There Next Year Too (CASA Cares Golf Tournament for Foster Children)

Thank You Steve Betchwars for your seventh fun and most terrific year supporting the needs of foster children with your Birdies, Bogies & Bratwurst event.

Everyone had fun, almost everyone won something and everyone did just fine on the course (far as I could tell).

Savory food, great weather and wonderful people (see you again next year).

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CASA guardian ad-Litem News Around the Nation for June 2016

FIND YOUR CASA here – This page tells the stories of CASA’s around the U.S. If you are not listed, send me your info and we will include it. Thank you Sai Yang and Century College for your research and writing on this page.

These CASA guardian ad-Litem articles have been gathered from around the nation.

This is where you can find out what the other 975 CASA’s from around the nation are up to.

Volunteer to help KARA maintain this page; info@invisiblechildren.org (do you know an active or retired GAL that might have time to gather guardian ad-Litem news?)

All Adults Are the Protectors Of All Children

Join the Conversation at Linked In & receive weekly updates from around the nation

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CASA guardian ad-Litem News April & May 2016

CASA Child Advocates
Montgomery County Newspaper
WHY: CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County held its first in-office corporate training for volunteers last month at the new Exxon Mobil …
CASA breakfast serves up a ‘Ray of Hope’ – Bonner County Daily Bee
CASA of Denton County to hold information session – Star Local Media
Look into becoming a CASA volunteer – Victoria Advocate
Full Coverage

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CASA training begins in June
Choteau Acantha
Training will be begin in June for Front Range CASA volunteers to serve as court-appointed special advocates for abused and neglected children.
Golden Crescent CASA needs volunteers – Victoria Advocate
Local Scottsdale resident advocates for foster children – Scottsdale Independent
Full Coverage

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Area CASA swears in 4 new advocates
Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Judge Patrick Flanigan swears in the second class of court-appointed special advocates, or CASAs, for CASA of Bee, Live Oak and McMullen counties …

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New CASA advocate
White Mountain Independent
Presiding Judge Michael Latham congratulates Michele Sexton after swearing her in as a court appointed special sdvocate (CASA) for Apache County …

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Pay it Forward recognizes Jeanne Linn of CASA
KTVZ
The biggest CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) fundraiser of the year took place Thursday evening at Broken Top Golf Club CASA works with …

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CASA program a great way to help local foster children
Ontario Argus Observer
Court Appointed Special Advocates get to know children in foster care. They spend time with the kids, observe their interactions with their families, and …

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Dining For A Cause – CASA Of Ocean County
Micromedia Publications
casa1 OCEAN COUNTY – CASA of Ocean County will celebrate their 10 year anniversary advocating for Ocean County children in foster care on …

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CASA of Terrebonne: More than 100 kids need a volunteer
Daily Comet
One-hundred and eleven foster care children are currently in need of a volunteer to advocate for them in the local courts system, according to CASA of …

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Members learn about CASA
The Hillsdale Daily News
HILLSDALE — The Hillsdale Intermediate School District administration building, located on West Bacon Street, was the scene for the most recent …

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County court adds six advocates for kids
Daily Astorian
The Clatsop Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program recently announced six new volunteers have joined in serving abused and neglected …

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WEB
Become an Alameda County Court Appointed Special Advocate
Idealist.org
Are you interested in being a powerful voice in a child’s life? Come to an Informational Session to learn if being a CASA Volunteer is right for you.

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Interviewing Abused Children in Front of Their Alleged Perpetrators Is Wrong (thank you Rich Gehrman & Safe Passage for Children)

Rich Gehrman told the Hennepin County Child Protection Oversight Committee that most of its time has been talking about change but not making changes happen. He also understands the impossible situation an abused child is in when asked questions about acts committed upon them by the person in the chair next to them. For anyone not as strong as the person who committed the act, it is almost impossible to tell the truth or even any part of the truth.

The good news from this Committee today is that finally, after all these years, abused children will receive services on weekends. God knows, abuse never takes a break on weekends.

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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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Another Guardian ad-Litem Speaks (thank you David Strand)

Here is how civilized, non-superstitious nations fight problems afflicting their children. The citizens of these enlightened societies use government resources. Their governments are actually controlled by them. Doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers and counselors are employees of the public, via government. They don’t have for-profit hospitals, for-profit schools or for-profit prisons.

They also emphasize prevention instead of cure. Consequently, they spend far less than we do for health care, education, and corrective justice. That’s why their health care and education systems are far less expensive while producing better outcomes. It’s more bang for the buck, what Americans are supposed to prefer.

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Mental Health, Prozac, Holding Pens, Children & Sheriffs – (why nurses, teachers, social workers & foster / adoptive parents need to speak out)

mn fall panorama leaves turnedToday’s Star Tribune article about hospitals without the capacity to deal with the surge in emergency psych visits relates directly to the sheriff’s (Washington, Ramsey and Hennepin Counties) threat to sue because their departments had become mental health service providers as a result of the state’s failing to honor the 48 hour rule.

It would be useful if more educators, social workers, police officers & public health nurses would speak up on this topic also.  The levels of suffering, violence and disruption caused by not addressing mental health in our community has lead to unmanageable public institutions and prisons larger (almost ten times larger per capita) than in other industrialized nations).

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CASA Guardian ad-Litem News Through March 2016

These CASA guardian ad-Litem articles have been gathered from around the nation for the month of March.

If you are an aspiring journalist and would like to help Kids At Risk Action increase the quality and quantity of CASA guardian ad-Litem news, send us a request for more info (info@invisiblechildren.org)

All Adults Are the Protectors Of All Children

Guardian ad Litem Presentation for Prospect Volunteers

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If You Don’t Do This, Who Will? (children can’t stop child abuse)

Tuesday was Day At the Hill for advocates supporting policies to improve the lives of Minnesota’s abused and neglected children.

Thank you Safe Passage for Children for organizing an effective effort to bring awareness to the people (lawmakers) that can make positive change for at risk children happen.

Without your efforts and the efforts of your volunteers, It is unlikely that lawmakers will come to understand that;

Many of the Governor’s Task Force recommendations may not be implemented or those recommendations will later be abandoned without continued oversite,

Tracking program outcomes is the only way we can know the difference between ineffective and effective and terrific programs,

The level of trauma foster children live with has created a terrible problem in our foster care system as there are fewer and fewer families able to manage the behavioral problems exhibited by this growing population of abused children,

The recent media coverage and added attention to child protection has increased reporting and is overwhelming already overburdened County systems leading to unmanageable caseloads and higher burnout rates among social workers,

A waiting list of 7000 names for subsidized daycare leaves vulnerable children in the care of drunk and drugged uncles,

It is a rewarding experience to advocate for children, I recommend it (at least once a year – it’s only for a few hours – and it can make a real difference in the policies that govern the lives of the most vulnerable among us.

Join Safe Passage For Children Volunteer army and dedicate a few hours a year telling your State Representatives how important children’s issues are to you.

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CASA guardian ad-Litem News Around The Nation 1.1.16-2.13.16

FIND YOUR CASA here – This page tells the stories of CASA’s around the U.S. If you are not listed, send me your info and we will include it. Thank you Sai Yang and Century College for your research and writing on this page.

See what other CASA volunteers are doing – share your stories and blogs; info@invisiblechildren.org

– See more at: CASA News

An advocate for adolescents
Sierra Vista Herald
For the last 20 years, Hager has volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate — who call themselves CASAs — for Cochise County. A CASA is …
Chamber Spotlight: CASA volunteers work to help abused, neglected children – gulflive.com (blog)
CASA volunteer training set for February – Tahlequah Daily Press
Determined, and a bit overwhelmed, I work through rigorous CASA training – Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
Full Coverage

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DCS workers deny allegations they failed to protect abused child
nwitimes.com
Elizabeth Lozano took the 4-year-old boy to a hearing in Lake County on Oct. 23, 2013, and a court-appointed special advocate noticed he had a …

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Public invited to CASA of McKean County annual meeting
Bradford Era
Bob Esch, board president, will talk about what is special about being a Court-Appointed Special Advocate. CASA volunteer Gary DeVore of Port …

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Letter: Remembering Chief Judge Kaye
Albany Times Union
The Court Appointed Special Advocates Programs of New York state and the New York State CASA Association are deeply saddened by the recent …

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CASA guardian ad-Litem News Around The Nation 10.1.15 Through 12.31.15

FIND YOUR CASA here – This page tells the stories of CASA’s around the U.S. If you are not listed, send me your info and we will include it. Thank you Sai Yang and Century College for your research and writing on this page.

See what other CASA volunteers are doing – share your stories and blogs; info@invisiblechildren.org

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Mental Health Shortages, Sheriffs & Children

I attended Syl Jone’s play BECAUSE at the Mixed Blood Theatre last week. It’s a moving piece that explores living with mental health issues from multiple perspectives leaving the audience with a personal sense of what it’s like to be this person, live with this person and understand this person. Syl is now the Resident Fellow for Narrative Health at HCMC (I think every hospital should have such a position – how else can these stories be told?)

I asked Syl at the play if he would consider writing about the mental health issues of children in child protective services, he seemed interested. If you know Syl Jones, please let him know how important this topic is.

Back to Sheriffs and Children (the title).

At the end of the play, Syl Jones & a panel (moderated by Eduardo Colon, the new Psychiatry Chief at HCMC) of professionals & one very articulate person living with serious mental health issues further explored the realities of mental health and mental health services in our community.

Today’s Star Tribune continues Dr Colon’s discussion about the shortage of beds for psychiatric emergencies and draws attention to how the problem is being compounded by the law that inmates take priority over everyone else for emergency psych beds (the 48 hour rule).

This newly enforced rule is a result of the sheriff’s (Washington, Ramsey and Hennepin Counties) threat to sue because their departments had become mental health service providers as a result of the state’s failing to honor the 48 hour rule.

While I’m all for providing services to inmates in need of psychiatric beds, I am appalled that the children in need of protection are suffering because of the shortage of beds and the use of psychotropic medications in place of therapy. I have attended multiple children on hours long trips outside of the metro because services were not available for them here.

The depth and scope of children’s mental health in this community is profound. As a long time CASA guardian ad-Litem I have accompanied many children on long trips for mental health services because there were no services here & I know that much of what is provided here is inadequate (this was referred to by Dee Wilson from the Casey Foundation).

Thank You Dr Colon, HCMC and Syl Jones for starting this conversation – it may be the only way our community can begin to understand the profound depth and scope of mental health issues and their impact on our quality of life.

Please share this post with policy makers and contacts in foster/adoption, education, health, policing and social workers.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

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CASA MN News (help KARA find volunteer guardian ad-Litems for MN’s abused children – share this)

CASA Minnesota is a local nonprofit organization whose mission is to support and promote volunteer advocates to ensure that every abused and neglected child in Minnesota has a safe, stable and permanent family. Our advocates are everyday citizens who become extraordinary volunteers. Judges appoint volunteer advocates to speak for the safety and well-being of a child in the court system. CASA Minnesota volunteers stand up for these children and help change their lives.

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San Francisco Chronicle Article Rob Waters (it’s been 10 years and not much has changed)

reprinted from Sunday, February 12, 2006 (SF Chronicle)

One Child, One Therapist/An innovative program partners foster children with therapists for as long as they’re needed, providing a stability otherwise missing
Rob Waters

When child psychologist Norman Zukowsky first met him, 6 1/2-year-old “William” had already lived through more hardship and trauma than many people experience in a lifetime.

He was born exposed to drugs and alcohol,one of three children of a drug-addicted mother who lived in an unheated garage with no cooking or bathroom facilities.

Child welfare reports suggest that the children were physically abused, exposed to sexual behavior and often went without food or clothing. Eventually, William was
removed from his mother’s care only to be placed with a relative who scarred his chest beating him with a belt.

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Laurie Kusek Awarded Rotary’s Highest Honor Given To A Non Rotarian (for her volunteer work with CASA MN)

It’s always fun to see good people recognized for their efforts. 2 weeks ago Laurie Kusek was honored by the Minneapolis Rotarians for her persistence and energy in helping CASA MN (nonprofit) continue to recruit and retain volunteer guardian ad-Litems and promote the CASA guardian ad Litem program’s efforts to advocate for children in child protection.

Accepting the award Laurie spoke clearly about how critical the role of a guardian ad-Litem is as the voice for an abused child removed from home living under court jurisdiction. Hopefully our new Rotarian friends will know some future volunteers for the guardian ad-Litem program. All Adults Are the Protectors Of All Children

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Adoption, Kinship and Grandparents (a tribute)

The saddest letters KARA receives come from grandparents that have watched their grandchildren horridly abused and then kept out of the loop while a cold and efficient system moves the child into a home and cutting off all further contact for the grandparents.

Almost 8 million children in America live with grandparents and other relatives. Most of them receive little or not help from governmental agencies.

Not all counties and states appreciate that it is easier for a child to restart a painfully disrupted life with someone they are connected to and have memories of than waking up in a home they have never seen before with people they don’t know.

Grandparents often don’t know about the court proceedings that are about to forever alter their relationship with grandchildren as they may live in another city or have become estranged from their badly behaving children.

Even if grandparents know of court proceedings, it can be very hard for them to have standing in the court or navigate the system once they are in it.

The saddest letters KARA receives come from grandparents that have watched their grandchildren horridly abused and then kept out of the loop while a cold and efficient system moves the child into a home and cutting off all further contact for the grandparents.

Everyone needs a lawyer and lawyers are expensive. I know grandparents that have spent tens of thousands of dollars trying desperately to provide a safe and familiar home for their grandchild.

It doesn’t seem right that money should be a biggest part of an adoption equation for grandma and grandpa (or other relatives) to make their argument for custody.

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Safe Passage For Children Forum; Early Childhood Development & the Child Welfare System (11/23 6pm)

Safe Passage Forum: Early Childhood Development & the Child Welfare System
Gather in Person 6pm; Via Phone/Webinar: 6:15pm
Program Beings 6:30pm
Webinar/Phone login Details Below.
Join Safe Passage for Children for a presentation and discussion on the relationships between early childhood development and child protection. Option to participate in person or via webinar.
Bob-e Simpson Epps, Master Trainer / Facilitator for Adverse Childhood Experiences Study and 2012 Bush Fellow will lead this forum designed for Volunteers of Safe Passage and friends.
Together we will explore the connections between child abuse / neglect and early childhood development; including the impact of trauma on brain development and what has been learned more broadly from ACES research.
Please invite friends and colleagues.

Login Details:
By Phone: +1 (571) 317-3112; Access Code: 298-987-637
By Video Webinar: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/298987637; For Audio: Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) – a headset is recommended. Or, call in using your telephone: +1 (571) 317-3112, Access Code: 298-987-637

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ALERT For MN Child Protection – Rolling Back Child Protection Reforms (from Safe Passage for Children MN)

This week county social services directors and the Department of Human Services (DHS) presented a plan to legislators that would significantly weaken reforms approved by the Governor’s Child Protection Task Force. Items they recommended dropping include:http://safepassagemn.com/counties-propose-rolling-back-child-protection-reforms/

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Brandon Stahl’s investigating and Safe Passage’s volunteers are changing lives

 

children down hill having funBrandon Stahl’s reporting (September 2014) on the tortured death of 4 year old Eric Dean and his  powerful Star Tribune articles about tortured children & the “catastrophic failure” of child protection in Minnesota (Governor Dayton’s words), shine light into the invisible world of child abuse that is so hard to talk about and so easy to avoid.

Rich Gehrman & Safe Passage For Children of MN worked with and reported on Governor Dayton’s Task Force On Child Protection, organized 100 volunteers to speak out and call on legislators to raise awareness and bring positive change to the 60,000 Minnesota children reported to Child Protection services each year.

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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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