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

Drugging Our Kids (a report I would like to have for MN)

In 1996 there were 1100 students per counselor in MN high schools and one child psychiatrist for all the children in the Hennepin County child protection system. At that time and now, no child makes it into Child Protection unless he or she has had suffered repeated traumas and needed consistent professional mental health help. As a County Volunteer guardian ad litem, I watched as tons of MN children were forced to take Prozac, Ritalin and other psychotropic medications. These children suffered all the side effects common to those drugs including the suicidal ideation printed on every package of the drug.

In 2014, 20,000 one and two year old children were forced to take these drugs and Johnson and Johnson was fined 4 billion dollars for illegally selling them to pediatricians for use on children (and there are four thousand cases awaiting trial).

This article (and the series within) presents a raw view into the terrible mishandling of children’s mental health.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

Let Me Show You The Money

One of my guardian ad Litem boys Alan – not his real name, was tied to a bed, left alone for days at a time (from 4 to 7 years of age – four whole years), sexually abused, starved and beaten so badly that he was covered head to foot in bruises on both sides of his body when I first met him.

This boy’s new adoptive caregiver had a court order in place from another state forbidding him contact with young boys because of what he did to them – but this was not found out at the time and custody of this poor four year old boy was granted to this violent sex offender.

Alan was taken from a perfectly fine foster home to be starved, raped and beaten for four years – until his caregiver first brought him to school when he was seven years old and turned into child protection.

Alan already cost the County/State over 3 million dollars by the time he aged out of foster care. This number does not include the teacher he beat up, a school mate he stabbed, or any of the terrible things he did to the 29 foster and adoptive families that tried so hard to save him or the violence he did to people and things in his daily life.

He also had AIDs and was on one of the most expensive medications I had ever encountered (about $40,000 / year for the pills alone).

Alan has always been a state ward and most likely will always be a state ward. We became friends over a 12 year period and I understood why he did what he did, why he hated authority (you get that way when you are horribly abused by a parent or caregiver) and how the rest of his life was most likely going to play out after he aged out of foster care.

80% of youth aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives.

Blaming Alan for violent outbursts and hurting people is like blaming the 35W Bridge for killing and injuring all those men, women and children when it fell in the river a few years ago.

Federal and State engineers said at the time that it was when, not if this bridge would fail for lack of maintenance. The bridge was in the bottom three percent of all bridges in America when it collapsed and it was no surprise to those that know bridges.

Police Shootings & You and Me

People smarter than me have clearly explained the underlying institutional dysfunctions that ensure the next police shootings.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown accurately stated that law enforcement has become the safety system in schools, a primary community mental health service provider, and of course the armed responder to a growing number of society’s violent problems.

Recently, Minnesota sheriffs from Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington Counties wrote a half page Star Tribunearticle threatening to sue the State for failing to provide timely mental health services to people locked up in their jail cells. This failure has turned law enforcement into a provider of mental health services to a large and growing population of often dangerous people.

MN Law enforcement officers killed 12 people in 2015 and each year are dealing with more unstable people and potentially dangerous encounters with the wrong training needed to slow this racially unbalanced social dysfunction.

August Sad Stories (part 1)

KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and  attention to our youngest and most vulnerable  citizens.  Please note that what you see here is only a sampling of what should be reported –  the great majority of child trauma & abuse never gets reported. ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN…

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)

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 &…

Minnesota’s Back Story; Treating Children’s Mental Health

Today’s Star Tribune article (thank you Chris Serres) exposing the violence done to Minnesota’s youngest citizens while in state care reminded me of my own experiences growing up.

In my middle class 1977 neighborhood, the family next door’s 15 year old grandson became psychotic and behaved dangerously.

Mom and dad tried to find him mental health help to no avail.

The only option that provided treatment for their son was the Juvenile Justice system. The boy’s entrance into the system required he be charged with a crime. Their son killed himself a few years later.

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).

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

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

Flag as irrelevant

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

Flag as irrelevant

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 …

Flag as irrelevant

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 …

Flag as irrelevant

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 …

Flag as irrelevant

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 …

Flag as irrelevant

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 …

Flag as irrelevant

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 …

Flag as irrelevant

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 …

Flag as irrelevant

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 …

Flag as irrelevant

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.

Flag as irrelevant

Gender Pay Gap & How it Relates to Child Well – Being (see where Minneapolis ranks)

I was raised by a single mom who made a fraction of the salary that men in her office earned. It was harder in other ways for her also as overt sexism was not just tolerated, it was the rule.

It hurts me to see that today my home town is the second poorest in the nation in this study;

http://www.businessinsider.com/gender-pay-gap-in-us-cities-2016-6

I’m Not The Crazy One (20,000 one & two year old’s on Prozac – now that’s crazy)

90% of mental health hospital beds that were available in the 1960’s are gone today while our overall population grew over 40% in that time.

When America eliminated mental health hospitals in the 60’s, teachers, juvenile and criminal justice workers and social workers became defacto mental health service providers. This is no small feat. Humans are complex beings and understanding a mind takes extensive effort & training (especially a traumatized or troubled mind). Few service providers get that training.

April 2016 Sad Stories

CA: Vacaville commissioner advocates for preventing child abuse
The Reporter – March 31, 2016
She’s a mom, an advocate, a businesswoman and a Vacaville Community Services commissioner, and in honor of April being a double whammy–it’s both Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month–Christina Baird is offering her expertise to help keep kids safe.
http://www.thereporter.com/general-news/20160330/vacaville-commissioner-advocates-for-preventing-child-abuse

FL: 2 sheriff’s office employees disciplined for mishandling allegations in Bradenton child abuse case
Bradenton Herald – March 31, 2016
Two Manatee County Sheriff’s Office employees were disciplined for their mishandling of allegations that 15-month-old Knowellan Kelly and his three siblings were being abused, by failing to complete or signing off on an incomplete investigation, according to internal affairs reports.
http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/crime/article69299067.html

FL: State leads nation with more than 10,000 Guardian ad Litem Volunteers
Chipley Bugle – March 31, 2016
The Guardian ad Litem Program has exceeded its goal of more than 10,000 volunteers. In Holmes and Washington Counties, 37 trained and dedicated volunteers spoke on behalf of 127 abused and neglected children from our community who are currently or previously going through court proceedings within the last year.
http://chipleybugle.com/2016/03/31/florida-leads-nation-with-more-than-10000-guardian-ad-litem-volunteers/

FL: Trauma can produce PTSD in our own neighborhoods (Opinion)
Times-Union – March 31, 2016
For too long, post-traumatic stress disorder was a mental illness associated solely with the stress of battle. Today physicians and researchers realize that this debilitating illness strikes in our own neighborhoods.
http://jacksonville.com/opinion/editorials/2016-03-31/story/trauma-can-produce-ptsd-our-own-neighborhoods

IN: April is Prevent Child Abuse Awareness Month
Brazil Times – March 31, 2016
“Each day our agency must respond to reports of tragic abuse and neglect,” said Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) Director Mary Beth Bonaventura. “This month gives us an opportunity to highlight community resources to help at-risk parents and ultimately keep children safe.”
http://www.thebraziltimes.com/story/2291363.html

IN: Officials aim to educate about child abuse
Lafayette Journal & Courier – March 31, 2016
Connor, also executive director of Tippecanoe County Court Appointed Special Advocates, said a heroin epidemic nationwide and locally is driving mental health and domestic violence problems in the community. As a result, Tippecanoe County CASA currently has more than 80 children on its waiting list. “Children become victims because of those issues,” Connor said.
http://www.jconline.com/story/news/crime/2016/03/31/officials-aim-educate-child-abuse/82212520/

KY: Home of the Innocents to open E-town foster site
Courier-Journal – March 31, 2016
The Home of the Innocents is opening a new foster care office in Elizabethtown. The Louisville-based charity, that tends to abused and abandoned children, is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the new Hardin County outlet on Friday at noon. The open house is at 11 a.m. The office is at 2608 Ring Road in the Hardin County seat.
http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2016/03/31/home-innocents-open-e-town-foster-site/82463696/

KY: Republican Senate continues bipartisan accomplishments for Kentuckians (Opinion: Senator Mitch McConnell)
Franklin Favorite – March 31, 2016
The recently passed Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) would help address the opioid epidemic by providing additional tools for enhanced prevention, education, treatment and recovery programs that are already underway across Kentucky. The bill calls for the expansion of naloxone, a drug which can counter the effects of an opioid overdose. The bill would strengthen and enhance prescription drug monitoring programs, to crack down on “doctor shopping,” a practice used to obtain multiple prescriptions for drugs that can be abused.
http://www.franklinfavorite.com/opinion/editorials/article_f7b586f3-17bf-5814-88d5-bac07f8dd10e.html

MO: Audit questions Missouri’s eligibility checks for subsidized child care
Associated Press – March 31, 2016
A state audit of how Missouri spends federal funding has raised concerns about how the Department of Social Services verifies people’s eligibility to receive subsidized child care.
http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/missouri/2016/03/31/audit-questions-missouris-eligibility-checks-subsidized-child-care/82496958/

MS: & US: Judge Strikes Down Mississippi Ban on Same-Sex Adoptions (Includes video)
NBC News – March 31, 2016
A federal judge struck down Mississippi’s ban on adoption by same-sex couples Thursday–making the practice legal nationwide. Also: Federal Judge Halts Enforcement of Mississippi Ban on Adoptions by Same-Sex Couples: http://www.hrc.org/blog/federal-judge-halts-enforcement-of-mississippi-ban-on-adoptions-by-same-sex?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss-feed
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/judge-strikes-down-mississippi-s-ban-same-sex-adoptions-n548856

NY: Attorneys for foster kids claiming abuse fighting to obtain ACS case files needed for lawsuit
New York Daily News – March 31, 2016
Lawyers for 10 children alleging abuse while in foster care are fighting for access to the kids’ ACS case files, part of an ongoing federal lawsuit seeking reforms to the child welfare system.
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/lawyers-foster-kids-fighting-obtain-acs-case-files-article-1.2584724

PA: Pennsylvania one of lowest reported child abuse rates in country (Includes video)
WHAG – March 31, 2016
Advocacy groups allege Pennsylvania has developed a culture of cover-ups. High-profiles cases like in Altoona-Johnstown, where a grand jury found Diocese members abused hundreds of children, and a similar scenario involving Penn State’s football coach Jerry Sandusky highlight the issue.
http://www.your4state.com/news/4state-in-focus/4sif-child-abuse/pennsylvania-one-of-lowest-reported-child-abuse-rates-in-country

PA: York County CASA: Child Abuse/Neglect Advocacy (Includes video)
ABC27 – March 31, 2016
In recognition of the collaboration needed to help prevent child abuse and neglect, the York County CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, program will be holding a public film screening of the documentaries Removed parts I and II on Friday April 1, 2016. These films were created with the intent of bringing to light the often unknown subjects of foster care and child abuse/neglect.
http://abc27.com/2016/03/31/york-county-casa-child-abuseneglect-advocacy/

TN: Training to help adults notice, prevent child abuse
Knoxville News Sentinel – March 31, 2016
The National Children’s Alliance has called it “the most effective tool to stop child abuse.” So the Community Coalition to Protect Children is hoping as many people as possible–parents, church leaders, teachers, foster parents, child-care workers and community members–can take advantage of the chance to get the training for free.
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/local/training-to-help-adults-notice-prevent-child-abuse-2f4ad4d6-8d56-479c-e053-0100007f8f8c-374179661.html

TX: No excuse: ChildSafe sets lofty goal to combat child abuse, neglect (Includes video)
KSAT – March 31, 2016
ChildSafe served more than 4,300 children last year, and CEO Kim Abernethy said at the end of February this year, the organization has already seen a 32 percent increase in the number of children that depend on ChildSafe for counseling.
http://www.ksat.com/features/childsafe-chooses-lofty-april-goal-1-million

UT: Sponsor of vetoed grandparents rights bill to work with Gov. Herbert to refine legislation
Deseret News – March 31, 2016
The sponsor of a grandparents’ rights bill vetoed by Gov. Gary Herbert over concerns it could jeopardize adoptive parents’ rights said Thursday he is willing to work with the governor to refine the legislation.
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865651296/Sponsor-of-vetoed-grandparents-rights-bill-to-work-with-Gov-Herbert-to-refine-legislation.html?pg=all

VA: Majority of local Social Service calls deal with child neglect
The News Virginian – March 31, 2016
Nearly two thirds of the calls received last year by the local Social Services office dealt with the physical neglect of a child. That was the report delivered by the staff of the Shenandoah Valley Social Services office Wednesday, sharing information on child abuse and neglect, legal definitions and caseloads in the service area of Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta County.
http://www.dailyprogress.com/newsvirginian/news/majority-of-local-social-service-calls-deal-with-child-neglect/article_2f1e459c-f6e3-11e5-88e5-3789aa9e8e8e.html

VA: Navigating identities
Fairfax County Times – March 31, 2016
Rosen didn’t have a project in mind when she first learned about ConnectGens. This idea of conflicting identities for adoptive children had always been in the back of her mind, but it was not something she ever put into words. She also noted that when she was going through the adoptions process and when her son was younger there wasn’t a ton of information available on adoption.
http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/articles/navigating-identities/article_117846b6-f777-11e5-99c3-7bc51331246e.html

WV: Official: Child abuse cases on the rise in West Virginia (Includes video)
WHAG – March 31, 2016
Most parents would never intentionally hurt their children, but some do and others could use some help defining what abuse is to make sure they do not cross a line harming their child.
http://www.your4state.com/news/4state-in-focus/4sif-child-abuse/official-child-abuse-cases-on-the-rise-in-west-virginia

US: A crisis with little data: States begin to count drug-dependent babies
Kaiser Health News – March 31, 2016
Many states — including some that have been hardest hit by the opioid crisis — don’t know how many of their youngest residents each year are born physically dependent on those drugs.
http://khn.org/news/a-crisis-with-little-data-states-begin-to-count-drug-dependent-babies/

US: Foster Caretaker Must Be Ready to Be Thoroughly Supportive of LGBT Youth (Opinion)
Youth Today – March 31, 2016
For many youth, foster care can be a safe place for care and support when the biological family does not provide appropriate care. However, foster care experiences can be impacted by many factors, such as sexual and identity orientation.
http://youthtoday.org/2016/03/foster-caretaker-must-be-ready-to-be-thoroughly-supportive-of-lgbt-youth/

US: Know Someone Who Grew up in Foster Care? Three Things They Need From Us (Opinion)
The Huffington Post – March 31, 2016
As National Social Work Month winds down, I’ve been thinking about what older foster youth and those aging out of state care need from their social worker, counselor or other supportive people in their lives. What do they want and need to help them make the leap from dependence on the system to successful independent adulthood? The best way, the only way, to find out what these young people need is to listen.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-lee/know-someone-who-grew-up_b_9584598.html

US: My adopted daughter is part Native American — and I was terrified she’d be taken away (Opinion)
She Knows – March 31, 2016
“She’s legally free,” I said. “Her birth father has relinquished his rights”. “It doesn’t matter” he said, his voice tense. “Being legally free is a state law. The Indian Child Welfare Act is federal law; it supersedes everything else.”
http://www.sheknows.com/living/articles/1117475/adopted-daughter-is-part-native-american

US: National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Honoring Our Most Innocent Victims (Opinion)
The Huffington Post – March 31, 2016
This April marks the 33rd anniversary of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. It is a time dedicated to child abuse education, awareness and prevention. The issue, which is in the media every day causes one to shiver at the thought of what happens to our children, yet it is the most ignored issue because it’s so ugly. Also: April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-heroux/april-is-child-abuse-prev_b_9586460.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ross-ellis/national-child-abuse-prev_1_b_9577188.html?utm_hp_ref=impact&ir=Impact

US: Presidential Proclamation–National Child Abuse Prevention Month, 2016 (Press release)
The White House – March 31, 2016
During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we recommit to giving every child a chance to succeed and to ensuring that every child grows up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment that is free from abuse and neglect. Information Gateway resource: National Child Abuse Prevention Month 2016 Community Involvement Resource Guide: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/03/31/presidential-proclamation-national-child-abuse-prevention-month-2016

US: Relapse rates fall with use of long-acting medication to treat opioid addiction among criminal justice-involved adults
Medical News Today – March 31, 2016
Opioid addiction is a rapidly escalating public health crisis in the United States. Now, new research findings could shed important light in addressing this epidemic. “We believe our study is the first of its kind to look at the real-world effectiveness of extended-release naltrexone in community settings,” says lead author Joshua D. Lee, MD, MSc, associate professor in the Departments of Population Health and Medicine at NYU Langone. “It may be particularly effective with populations, such as recently released prisoners, who typically don’t have access to other evidence-based daily medications for opiate disorders, like methadone or buprenorphine.” Study: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1505409
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/308523.php

US: Same-Sex Couples Can Now Adopt Children In All 50 States
The Huffington Post – March 31, 2016
A federal judge ruled Thursday that Mississippi?s ban on same-sex couples adopting children is unconstitutional, making gay adoption legal in all 50 states.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mississippi-same-sex-adoption_us_56fdb1a3e4b083f5c607567f

US: Why the Lexi Page case may go to the US Supreme Court
The Christian Science Monitor – March 31, 2016
The case echoes several other cases pitting the foster care system against the ICWA. In 2013, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, a case involving Veronica, a young Cherokee girl, reached the US Supreme Court.
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2016/0331/Why-the-Lexi-Page-case-may-go-to-the-US-Supreme-Court

INTERNATIONAL

Canada: Child welfare in Manitoba election spotlight
The Canadian Press – March 31, 2016
Manitoba’s beleaguered child-welfare system came under the provincial election spotlight Wednesday with promises from all parties to cut a record number of kids in care.
http://globalnews.ca/news/2608630/child-welfare-in-manitoba-election-spotlight/

International: Longer maternity leave linked to better infant health (Press release)
Medical News Today – March 31, 2016
For each additional month of paid maternity leave offered in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), infant mortality is reduced by 13%, according to a new study by researchers from McGill University and UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. The finding, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, marks the first time that research has examined the impact of paid maternity leave on infant mortality in LMICs. Previous work has shown that paid time off is consistently associated with lower mortality of babies under one year old in high-income countries. Report: http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001985
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/308504.php

Mali: & Senegal: Transforming the lives of child beggars (Press release)
SOS Childrens’ Villages – March 31, 2016
A new programme is transforming the lives of 1,500 street children in Mali and Senegal by restoring their basic human rights. In collaboration with SOS Children and the European Union, child beggars are being reunited with their families and given access to quality education.
http://www.soschildrensvillages.org.uk/news/transforming-the-lives-of-child-beggars

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

Today’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…

Think Again MN Feb 16 (includes KARA presentation)

THE IMPACT OF DOMESTIC ABUSE ON CHILDREN
Tuesday, February 16
6 p.m. Light Supper and Social 6:30 P.M. Program
Cafeteria, Hennepin Technical College, 9000 Brooklyn Blvd, Brooklyn Park, Map
RSVP on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1kWpPiG or to CarolWoehrer@usfamily.net

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

Violence Against Children & Policing

This morning’s Safe Passage For Children about how police have put battered children back in the home because they like to keep families together reminds me of a man who kicked a 7 year old girl so hard she went into convulsions and went into the hospital Emergency Room with her injury. The police in that case sought safety for her and her siblings and involved Child Protection right away.
That girl had been sexually abused for four years (from 4 to 7), my first visit to her younger year sister was at the suicide ward of the hospital & the 2 other children had problems so severe that they could not be together in foster care because of the things that happened when they were together.

The man who did these things to the children remained in the home for many years, and was never charged or made to answer for any of his crimes. More than ten years later he was still sexually abusing children in the same home and he had never been mentioned in the justice system.

Children have no rights in the homes they live in, no access to safety other than our community efforts to keep children safe and no way to influence policy makers to improve the existing system. The Safe Passage Article above includes a snapshot of how the rest of the industrialized world keeps children safe and is well worth reading.

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

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.

Children, Trauma & School (what’s it like to teach tortured children?)

Today’s Star Tribune article nails it. Thank you Annie Mogush Mason for your clear explanation of how child abuse impacts schools. Coping skills (learning skills) are not brought by the stork. Add to that, the terrible things done to at risk children in the home, children bring fear & high anxiety into the classroom instead of the ability to sit still, play well with others or learn.

Teaching *traumatized children is different than teaching other students. Way different.

The sadness that is child abuse triggers unpredictable and often violent behaviors in the classroom. Many a teacher has talked to me about the larger percentage of their daily efforts being directed toward the one, two or three disruptive students in their classroom. I know educators that have quit their jobs in tears and with genuine fear of going to work every day because of this.

What Do You Wish For Today?

For Thanksgiving this year, let’s all wish really hard to make life better for at risk children.

As a long-time Volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I wish for; The implementation of the recommendations by the Governor’s Task Force on Child Protection and the additional attention and resources necessary to make children safe in my community (and yours too).

Fewer ten and twelve year old children charged as adults in our judicial system,

What’s It Like?

What’s it like to be;

The admitting person in the psychiatric ward of a metro hospital turning away violently troubled children because there is no space? HCMC in Minneapolis averages about 900 emergency psych visits a month, many of them children.

A social worker, grandparent or guardian ad-Litem visiting a traumatized four year old child in the suicide ward of a hospital,

The first grade teacher who called City Counsel member Don Samuels asking what to do about a student trying to kill himself in her classroom,

The parent of a child with tragic mental health problems and turned away from the hospital or a son held in a cinder block cell for six days because of the no “imminent threat” excuse (when really, there’s just a lack of resources)?

Michael Swanson’s mom who lived years of terror for years trying for to find mental health services for her boy prior to his murdering two Iowa store clerks.

Six year old foster child Kendrea Johnson, who hung herself and left a sad note and the terrible reality that yes indeed, children try and occasionally succeed in killing themselves (contrary to the police and medical examiners Star Tribune statements at the time).

The hospital employees at St. John’s Hospital that were brutally attacked by a delirious patient because their facility did not have the safety features designed to protect staff members from the level of violence often seen in mentally troubled people.

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

  Brandon 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…

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.

CASA guardian ad-Litem News (find your state here) August 2015

A baby is born addicted to opiates, a young child wakes up to find their parent unresponsive with a needle in their arm, siblings sit in the back seat of a car parked on a country road as their parents are shooting up heroin. LaPorte County and Indiana are experiencing an epidemic. It is drug abuse. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, epidemic is listed as affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community or region at the same time. Certainly we can describe the current rapid spread of opiate use an epidemic.
Last year, there were 17 deaths from heroin overdoses in LaPorte County and Indiana is increasing its needle-exchange program beyond Scott County. The Indiana Department of Child Services is reporting a record-breaking year for child abuse cases. It’s only June and in LaPorte County alone, 50 children have been placed out of their homes due to abuse or neglect.

The Sadness Of Child Protection – 2 Year Old’s Murdered by Caregivers

These past weeks have been awful for vulnerable children in MN.

Stomped on, kicked, torn liver kidney & pancreas Sophia O’Neill was violently murdered by 17 year old Cary Faran-Baum died because she wouldn’t stop crying. There’s been way too many violent child deaths in MN this past year – many of these children were known to child protection services.

Sophia was known to child protection (they didn’t investigate the case because caseloads are high and resources did not allow it).

In a family video taken before her death, Sophia explains that Faran-Baum had hit her in the face and left bruises noticible in the video. Sophia died not only of Cary Faran-Baum’s violent mindless attack. She died because there are too few crisis nurseries, inadequate daycare facilities and a general lack of concern in my community for other people’s children.

Too many of these children are known to child protection, a poorly understood and undervalued system fraught with serious problems. It’s wrong to blame the people doing the work – the problems begin with us – the people making the rules and designing the system.

As a long time volunteer Hennepin County guardian ad-Litem, it’s clear to me that my community has never cared much for the problems of young families (or their babies & 2 year olds).

If we did, there would be more crisis nurseries and daycare and children would not be left in the care of drunk uncles, violent boyfriends and child molesters.

As it is today, we only read about the dead kids. Thousands of children traumatized by violence and abuse inflicted on them by their care givers don’t make the paper (unless there is a death).

Why CASA Guardian ad-Litem?

After years of watching and working as a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem in child protection two things have become clear to me;

1) Abused and neglected children really do need a CASA guardian ad-litem advocate &

2) The system really needs insiders to speak loudly and repeatedly about the real world of America’s child protection system. Workers within the system (besides volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litems) find it politically unwise to say things that reflect badly on the system (at the risk of losing their jobs). Volunteers have

As much as I respect the very hard work done by dedicated case workers (I mean every word of that – there is no harder work), case loads are too high, resources are too slim and few will risk their jobs to speak out about individual or system failures.

If I could change one thing in child protection today it would be the transparency, tracking and accountability that would come from the speaking out by those who witness these travesties every day.

The reason our communities don’t have crisis nurseries, quality daycare and other child friendly programs that would promote learning and coping skills and launch at risk youth into productive lives is that we don’t talk about it. When you don’t talk about it, it does not exist.

“it” being the suicide by seven year old’s on Prozac, sexual abuse and repeated horrific violence against six year old’s that we see when they finally make it into Child Protection.

The only thing the public knows about the at risk children we see every day are the kids that die when the media brings it to public attention (generally showing a glaring system failure but solving nothing).

Until Brandon Stahl and the Star Tribune made a focus on just how bad life was for poor four year old Eric Dean, media coverage about child abuse was almost non existent. It is only because of this reporters consistent and intrepid work that Governor Dayton’s “colossal failure” language formed a task force that brought public attention to absurd policies and gross negligence that desperately needed changing, that change happened.

My point is that until a thing is spoken of it does not exist and nothing is going to change. The public has a short memory and the media won’t be here for long.

If all the public knows is that eight very young children have been murdered by their parents and caregivers since Eric Dean’s death after 15 largely ignored reports of child abuse – it is a much smaller problem than the horrific stories that accompany a very large percentage of the tens of thousands of children reported to child protection in MN each year (and the 6 million children reported nationally each year).

Maybe I’m an unreasonable optimist – but if more people were aware of the cyclical nature of child abuse, the prevalence and dangers* of medicating abused children with powerful anti-psychotic drugs (instead of adequate life changing therapies), how common life threatening behaviors are to damaged children and just how costly, impactful and long lasting abuse is for the thousands of children passing through Child Protection every year – we would support programs that would save those children from the terrors they have lived with and will continue to live with (and pass onto their children and the next generation).

All adults are the protectors of all children (thank you Don Shelby)

*about one third of children in child protection systems are proscribed these drugs

Child Abuse – Society Is Paying For This (Hank Marotske today’s Star Tribune)

Truer words were never spoken.

I am encouraged by Abby Simmons Star Trib reporting today on the MN Child Abuse Task Force 11 point plan to make child protection a priority in Minnesota. That a bipartisan group of lawmakers are able to agree that keeping children out of harms way is the least we can do for them gives hope to the possibility of crisis nurseries, day care, and mental health services*.

If adopted, counties can no longer screen out 90% of child abuse reports, reported cases will be shared with police, assessments will be used only when safety of the child is not an issue, and the use of prior child abuse reports will become part of the investigation instead of off limits. Well done MN Task Force On Child Abuse.

The task force needs to stay on the job for another year to keep these critical issues in front of the public (right where it needs to be). Children removed from toxic homes can be helped to deal with the traumas of abuse and neglect and go on to do well in school and life. As CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem dealing with many children over many years I’ve come to know the high cost of abused children falling through the cracks going on to lead dysfunctional lives and their own families of dysfunctional children.

Healing from trauma and abuse, parenting and coping skills do not come from the stork. We can save children as well as our society with sound child protection in Minnesota (and show the nation how it ought to be done**.

Keeping children out of harm’s way is the least we can do for them. Let’s show the nation that Minnesota values children.

*It was pointed out to me recently by Steve Lepinske at the Washburn Center for Children that while there are 3 children’s hospitals in the metro, there are no children’s mental health hospitals. The treatment of traumatized children is a public health/mental health issue.

Powerful Video Expose On Drugging 5 & 10 Year Old State Ward Children

This video from Mercury News is the most comprehensive and powerful discussion I have seen on the topic of forcing abused and neglected children to take psychotropic medications.  Remember, state ward children have no voice in this discussion.  These decisions are made for them by a closed system that rarely shares information and by and…

On The Death Of 6 Year Old Kendrea Johnson (another perspective)

Strangled dead tangled in a jump rope is not something that happens to six year old children (Star Tribune today) Thank you Star Tribune for giving voice to the voiceless children of Minnesota.

As a Hennepin County CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem, I watched abused and neglected children, traumatized children, whether they be two, four, or six years old, do terribly destructive things and try to kill themselves. My first visit to a four year old CASA case girl was at the suicide ward of Fairview hospital. She had watched the beatings and rape of her mother and sister (who was three years older than her) for most of her four years on earth. Think of the terror going through a child’s mind watching drug crazed, violent, and sexual abuse of your mom and sister. It changes a person.

I’ve written about the seven year old foster boy who hung himself and left a note about how he hated being forced to take Prozac. Children in foster care are often medicated to keep them from hurting themselves and others. You really don’t get into foster care unless you have been traumatized and behavioral issues are endemic to trauma victims. A very real side effect of psychotropic medications is suicidal ideation (fully formed thoughts of killing yourself, delivered by your brain – like a daytime nightmare).
The article in the Tribune makes Kendrea’s death sound like a pretty normal young child accident (Wow). Her younger brother was born drug addicted (the womb has no barrier to protect an infant from drugs and alcohol). Kendrea had been in a number of foster homes (one of my CASA case boys had been in 29 foster placements when he aged out of child protection). This death was not normal. Traumatized children need our help. Tens of thousands of MN children are victims of the kind of abuse Kendrea lived with all of her young life. Very few of them find the help they need to live a normal life. It would be the right thing to do to deliver these children the help they need to make sure they do not injure themselves or others with dangerous behaviors.

Remember friends, we only read about the children that die.

Tuesday, June 17 6pm KARA Brooklyn Park Think Again Presentation, Pizza, and Social

Early Childhood Education Boosts Academic Achievement and Career Success Tuesday, June 17               6 p.m. Pizza and Social           6:30 p.m. Program Brooklyn Park Council Chambers, 5200 85th Avenue N Please RSVP and Share on Facebook or to Carol Woehrer, carolwoehrer@usfamily.net A question and answer session will follow the presentations. Sponsored by the Maple Grove, Osseo, Brooklyn…

Speaking For The Weakest & Most Vulnerable Among Us – Star Tribune Articles

It hurts me to see people in high positions who are responsible for child protection make claims that there’s nothing to see here, things are just fine, child protection is working as it needs to (“Counties are committed to safety of kids,” April 25).

There is very little fine about it, and by accident or by design, information about it is hard to find and rarely published. By almost any measure and from my perspective over many years as a volunteer guardian ad litem within the system, there are not enough resources, record keeping is poor, child protection cases need to be over the top to get into the system, and children stand only a small chance of getting what they need to recover from the years of abuse and neglect they have suffered.

Things have gotten worse since Minnesota went from screening out one-third of the cases to screening out two-thirds. Screening out 90 percent of cases (as four Minnesota counties do) is a very big deal.

Another Happy CASA Story

A couple of weeks ago at an “Everyday Courage” event sponsored by the California Endowment I met a very caring and compassionate woman named Rosa Arevalo. Rosa works for CASA of Los Angeles a non-profit organization that recruits, trains, and supports CASA volunteers(Court Appointed Special Advocates) to transform the lives of abused and neglected children. It is the only organization in Los Angeles County providing court-assigned volunteer advocates serving foster children in the dependency court.

CASA Guardian ad-Litem Distinctions (clarity on different kinds of guardian ad-Litems)

There are three very different kinds of guardian ad-Litem; Volunteer, Staff, and Lawyer.

1) Volunteer CASA GALs generally take just a few cases and get to know the families and children in the court proceedings very well. CASA stands for, Court Appointed Special Advocate. as a CASA GAL, I had fifty children in my case load over twelve years. Some of those children stayed with me over the entire twelve years. I knew them and their families very well.

2) Staff GALs are given case loads similar to case loads that social workers are given. In my experience, staff GALs have more cases and less time per child/case.

3) Attorneys are paid by the County or by the parent depending on the state. In my experience, attorneys rarely visit the family, and generally meet the child for the first time at court.

Feel free to add clarifications to this posting if I’ve missed something or you disagree with me.

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.

KARA TV Interview Mike & Tiffini

KARA board members Tiffini Flynn Forsland & Mike Tikkanen were Interviewed on Catherine Hoaglund’s Metro Cable Network Channel 6, Catherine’s Crossing to bring attention to key issues facing abused and neglected children. Catherine asked powerful questions about the brutal truths faced by at risk children and what our community could do to help children in toxic homes develop the coping skills necessary for leading a normal life.

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.

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.

Big Pharma – Who Do We Blame?

The root of the problem is that each and every (almost) abused and neglected child in the system has severe mental health issues and there are almost no useful alternative medical systems in place to address this – instead we use drugs.

The World Health Organization defines torture as “Extended exposure to violence and deprivation”. Every child I worked with as a CASA guardian ad-Litem (about 50) experienced extended exposure to violence and deprivation.

Only the worst of the worst cases make it into the system. When I started in 1996, 2/3’s of the reports were investigated. Today because of budget cuts, 1/3 are being investigated.

Half the kids in my case load had been sexually abused. That is a trauma that no five or ten year old gets over without professional help. When they come of age, they get into trouble because they can’t cope. They did not learn how to read, play well with others, or learn to sit quietly in a room – they have been traumatized.

Committed To Children’s Issues – Aitkin DFL

Everyone in this group got it. They appreciated just how serious under-serving babies & children can be and what a great investment programs that improve at risk children are.

Why has subsidized daycare remained unobtainable for 95% of Minnesotans that need it?

Why were no mental health services available for Jeff Weiss (Red Lake) or Michael Swanson’s mother (ten years of searching for help).

The sadness that remains decades after the violence committed by children in need of services is never measured, never considered by the media or politicians and never considered outside the cost of jails and prisons that so often become the cornerstone of at risk children’s lives.

I’m hopeful that the Aitkin DFL club will continue our conversation and the battle to speak out for children to give them a voice in a world that today doesn’t hear them.

Punishing Mental Health Problems With Horrid Juvenile Justice; In Many States, This Is The Rule, Not The Exception

Thank the legal community for shining a light on the abhorrent conditions facing mentally troubled California youth.

There’s good reason the Feds are denying California’s request to extend the time for compliance within their jails and prisons and this is a prime example.

14 years old, bipolar and placed in solitary for 22 1/2 hours daily for one hundred days. Read the whole article below. Mean people in a mean system.

California, your justice systems just stink.

More Daycare & Crisis Nurseries = Fewer Tortured & Murdered Babies

A 25-year-old man admitted in court Monday in northwestern Minnesota to inflicting deadly head and neck injuries on the 22-month-old daughter of his girlfriend.

Raul Perez, of Ada, pleaded guilty in Norman County District Court to second-degree murder in the death of Ariel Reyes last August.

Perez lived with the girl and her mother.

A doctor at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo noted many injuries to Ariel, including bruises to her jaw, forehead, thigh, shoulder and the base of her spine. Also diagnosed were numerous severe brain injuries and bleeding at the back wall of an eye.

Riverside CA, 6 Investigations – Case Workers Find The Abuse Allegations “Unfounded” (but the 8 year old boy is dead)

Over the last ten years, six investigations involving Pearl Fernandez found no reason to take her son, Gabriel Fernandez, into protective custody.

Gabriel’s suicide note about repeated sexual abuse & his circular face welts were part of a long list of ignored information from mandated reporters.

California Child Protection workers were very familiar with Gabriel’s history.

Today, Pearl and her boyfriend were charged with murder and torture for the gruesome death of their 8 year old boy.

82% of Riverside’s 44,737 cases were investigated (this is impressive) 21 % were substantiated. More than 20 children are murdered each year as open cases within the Riverside CA child protection system. Blaming social workers won’t solve this. Providing them training and resources might.