Beaten Child Verdict $166M In NJ The Largest Ever

Despite findings of abuse, New Jersey Child protection returned four year old Jadiel Velesques to his violent family where he was beaten so badly he cannot walk or talk, is blind, and will need the care of nurses & doctors around the clock. DYFS said that reducing casework workload and strengthening training and supervision of caseworkers has happened already. This is the largest verdict against a child protective services agency in U.S. history. It hurts me to think that the caseloads could have been reduced and the training and supervision could have been strengthened before Jadiel was beaten. Just like we could have built the mental health facility the year before Jeff Weise murdered his grandfather, 14 others, and then killed himself.

Details

In Whose Best Interest (MN courts returned this child to an abusive father 6 times)

The number of Minnesota foster children removed from their homes after being reunited with their parents, known as the “re-entry rate,” has increased in recent years and is now nearly three times the federal standard. Thomas Stone is trying to find stability after more than a decade of turmoil in Minnesota’s child foster care system. He was returned to his abusive father a half-dozen times.

Details

A Glimmer Of Hope (push for preschool)

Preschool is having its moment, as a favored cause for politicians and interest groups who ordinarily have trouble agreeing on the time of day. President Obama devoted part of his State of the Union address to it, while the deeply red states of Oklahoma and Georgia are being hailed as national models of preschool access and quality, with other states and cities also forging ahead on their own.

With a growing body of research pointing to the importance of early child development and its effect on later academic and social progress, enrollment in state-funded preschool has more than doubled since 2002, to about 30 percent of all 4-year-olds nationwide. In just the past year, Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and the city of San Antonio have enacted new or expanded programs, while in dozens of other places, mayors, governors and legislators are making a serious push for preschool.

Details

KARA planning a course for Continuing Legal Ed; For the attorneys, how many of you would consider attending?

We appreciate any feedback we can get to create the most accurate and up to date coursework for those of you who want to better understand this complicated and evolving area of law. Are there parts of the child protection topic that would be most important to you? Tell us. We will be bringing a new perspective to a much under-served subject. Please forward this to your lawyer friends.

email me directly; info@invisiblechildren.org

Details

Growing Up In An Abusive Home (the ACE study) Dr Felitti

We need Congressional Oversight Hearings to review the enormous waste of federal funds that are often used to help dangerous abusers gain custody. We agree the hearings should consider the fraud, corruption and ignorance that waste large sums of money and bankrupt so many litigants. Most important we need oversight about the failure of the courts to protect our most important asset—OUR CHILDREN
We hope everybody will join together in seeking Congressional Oversight Hearings. Sign the Petition and tell your friends about it. Let’s give our children a chance for a safe and healthy life.

Details

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.

Details

Send A Message For Early Learning In MN (only 9% of MN kids get early learning scholarships today)

Even though the legislative session doesn’t start for another month, the MinneMinds campaign continues to work to ensure more kids have access to high quality early learning. Bills have already begun to be filed and one of the first bills to be introduced calls for more resources for early learning scholarships.

Details

Florida, The Land Of Oranges & Prosecuting 14 Year Olds As Adults (sentenced to 70 years – for robbery)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In decisions widely hailed as milestones, the United States Supreme Court in 2010 and 2012 acted to curtail the use of mandatory life sentences for juveniles, accepting the argument that children, even those who are convicted of murder, are less culpable than adults and usually deserve a chance at redemption.
But most states have taken half measures, at best, to carry out the rulings, which could affect more than 2,000 current inmates and countless more in years to come, according to many youth advocates and legal experts.

“States are going through the motions of compliance,” said Cara H. Drinan, an associate professor of law at the Catholic University of America, “but in an anemic or hyper-technical way that flouts the spirit of the decisions.”

Lawsuits now before Florida’s highest court are among many across the country that demand more robust changes in juvenile justice. One of the Florida suits accuses the state of skirting the ban on life without parole in nonhomicide cases by meting out sentences so staggering that they amount to the same thing.

Details

Outcomes – Not Reorganization – Safe Passages For Children

I have been part of government reorganizations. People have to redesign logos, develop new civil service positions, decide about fonts for the stationery…. It takes years. In the meantime, programs often tread water.

A better plan is to focus all that energy on improving outcomes. Counties should regularly measure and report how their children are doing regarding mental health, level of trauma, cognitive skills, and physical development.

Details

Eliminating Child Protection Services In Arizona (will its replacement save the children?)

Governor Brewer has eliminated the states Child Protective Services Department and replaced it with a new division. Is this the silver bullet that will provide some safety to the thousands of AZ children living in horrid circumstances that have been ignored for years now? (6000 cases ignored) (10,000 cases beyond the 60 day investigation limit)

Currently, 1000 caseworkers already have caseloads that are 77 percent above the standard. It does not appear that the general public is mostly unconcerned, and not many legislators seem to be pulling for more child friendly programs. For years now Arizona has largely ignored child protection. It will surprise me if this effort makes much difference.

Details

Land Of The Free?

Even if you know that African Americans are arrested at a greater rate than their white counterparts, it’s still a shock to see the scale of the disparity. To wit, according to a new study published in the Journal of Crime & Delinquency, nearly 50 percent of all black males have been arrested by the age of 23. Overall, 30 percent of black men, 26 percent of Latino men, and 22 percent of white men have been arrested by age 18, and those numbers jump—respectively—to 49 percent, 44 percent, and 38 percent after five years.

Details

Safe Passage For Children Of MN

The 2014 state legislative session is almost here! It will start on Tuesday February 25th.

Safe Passage for Children is proposing a bill with two provisions. See a summary here.

The legislature plans to get all the bills through the committees and onto the floor of the House and Senate in 3 ½ weeks, so we need to be ready to communicate our support for the bill.

The key events for volunteers will be:

1. Training sessions to prep you for the session (see options below)

2. Visits with your state Representative and Senator.

3. Day on the Hill on Wednesday, March 5th.

Details

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.

Details

Best & Worst States For America’s Children

Where does your state rank in protecting children & what can you do to make improvements. These stories tell the best and worst of what’s happening around the nation (and in Japan)

Worst states;Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina

Best states; Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Connecticut

States News;

Arizona is one of the most dangerous states in the nation to be an abused or neglected child. For years they have not paid attention to beaten, starved, or sexually abused children.

Let’s hope that this new trend sticks; AZ: CPS Crisis: Latest report shows 3298 cases assigned
KPHO Phoenix – December 26, 2013- The head of a newly-appointed team tasked with investigating more than 6,500 ignored child abuse and neglect cases says they’ve now assigned nearly 3,298 of those cases to investigators.
http://www.kpho.com/story/24228667/cps-crisis-latest-report-shows-3298-cases-assigned

Details

Improving State Child Protection Systems In 2014 (whatever it takes)

Class action lawsuits get results where legislators don’t (Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia, D.C., New Jersey, Mississippi) Proving that it’s not who is your senator, but who is your attorney. Whatever it Takes.

From Oklahoma News on 6 12,27.13,

Oklahoma is one of 14 states sued by child advocacy group Children’s Rights. The federal class action lawsuit was filed back in 2008, claiming children in state custody were in danger, because the system wasn’t doing enough to protect them.

The state has spent millions fighting it. With the trial just two months away and a judge denying the state’s last two efforts to get the case thrown out, DHS is now considering settling the suit.

According to Children’s Right’s website, their lawsuits have led to $2 billion in additional funding for child welfare systems.

Details

Recruiting Child Soldiers (yes, we do)

The United States is one of two nations that has not signed the International Rights Of the Child Treaty.  The other is Somalia (and it doesn’t have a functioning government).  It is KARA’s position that the primary reason we refuse to sign the treaty is that it includes a prohibition against recruiting child soldiers (and…

Details

Punishing The Mentally Ill (Minnesota is not alone)

Today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune article supports a position I’ve held for years. By ignoring or under-serving people with mental health problems we are manufacturing state wards, preteen moms, and felons and this is making our cities dangerous and unsafe.

Our current policies of dumping the mentally ill in detention, jail, and prison places a huge burden on educators & juvenile, criminal justice workers, and especially the families (often grandparents, and foster and adoptive parents) that live with them.

Not much teaching gets done in a classroom populated with disturbed youth on Prozac. Safety and behavior management becomes the teachers primary concern at the expense of educating all the other youth. Our nations miserable graduation and drop out rates, STD rates (we lead the world), and crime rates (we also lead the world) are all tied to how we ignore and under-serve people with mental health issues.

Forcing foster/adoptive parents and service providers (educators, social workers, juvenile & criminal justice workers) to be the front line in managing mental health issues of the children and youth in their charge is an overwhelming task that rarely ends well for the children and youth. These children need professional guidance to overcome the serious issues that have triggered dangerous behaviors and the explosive increase in psychotropic medicating of five and ten year old children in our society.

Details

What Makes Us So Mean? (just wait til you’re in diapers)

Tennessee Congressman Stephen Fincher (who receives 3.5 million in federal crop subsidies) told the New York Times that his bible states “he who is unwilling to work shall not eat”. Not my kind of religion.

Walmart pays its employees so little that they need food stamps and have been living without health care. So the government gets to support Walmart employees and add to Walmart profits.

New Jersey eliminated mental health workers in its schools a few years ago sending all misbehaving youth to jail. New Jersey school counselor Thomas Kersting told Fox News that denying lunch to low-income children whose parents had not filled out eligibility forms would be a “teaching moment” (ie, a great idea).

No diapers, no mental health services, no food stamps, and no lunch. What makes us so mean?

Details

Hana’s Story

Still, the Williams verdict has renewed calls for adoption reform in Washington—which to date seems to be the only state studying adoptee abuse. There is also talk of a federal bill to enhance post-adoption services for families and require better data collection on failed adoptions, and some adoption agencies, including the country’s largest, Bethany Christian Services, have called for action against rehoming. And a new website, Betaseb, is attempting to provide a place for older Ethiopian adoptees to talk with each other privately and learn about their rights.

Details

Pope Blasts Capitalism

In a new Evangelii Gadium, Pope Francis has condemned doctrinaire capitalism, “deified markets,” trickle-down economics, and the finance industry. He decried the growing gap between the rich and the poor, tax evasion by the wealthy, and characterized ruthless free-market economics as a killer that was inherently sinful.

“I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centered mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth,” the pope wrote.

He also launched a broadside against former President Ronald Reagan’s signature economic theory, which continues to serve as conservative Republican dogma.

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” Pope Francis wrote. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

The pope lamented that people had “calmly accepted (the) dominion” of money over themselves and society, which he said was expressed in the recent financial crisis and the continuing promotion of consumer-based economies.

Details

6000 Child Abuse Cases Not Examined In Arizona (putting AZ in 48th place for child well being)

Clarence Carter the Director of AZ Department of Economic Security told the oversight committee that child protection was suffering from lack of funding and resources and has been only investigating the worst of the worst cases.

Skyrocketing case loads and very late (too late in many cases) review of unexamined reports of child abuse make it extremely hard to keep children safe in Arizona, a state that ranks 48th in child well being.

Details