Call For Minnesota Children (pick up the phone – write something) PreK, school readiness, early learning, things kids need

The legislature is back in session after their break. That means we are back to work on advocacy. And thank you for all the contacts you have already made. Time for more.

You may have heard that the conference committee was formed and the conferees were named. Here is what that means. The house education committee has passed their bill. The senate education committee has passed their bill. Some elements in the bills are similar. Some are not. Five senators, and five representatives (the conferees) have been chosen to meet and work out the differences. Then, it will be re-passed in the House and Senate and ready to go to the governor.

The conferees of the E-12 Education Committee are:

Sad Stories April 2017 Part I

KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

These pages are a sampling of what should be reported – the great majority of child trauma, abuse & tragedy are never reported.

American states are struggling to find answers for saving at risk children and reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect in our communities.

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health January 2017)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines Florida reports 48% of its foster children are forced to take Prozac like drugs.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Traveling College Child Abuse – Child Protection Exhibit (for your campus activity space, library/museum)

KARA delivers to campus activity centers and departments a low cost, powerful visual display series of stories, graphics and news to build awareness and start discussion about the issues facing at risk children in your community. Six month lead time is projected presently. This display includes a menu of presentations and workshops and can be tailored to events and conditions in your community. Start this conversation on your campus.

Support this program directly (contact KARA for more info – info@invisiblechildren.org Campus Display in subject line)

Florida Child Protection News for March 2017

hree charged with abusing autistic child at recreation center

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) —

Three adults were arrested Thursday afternoon after an investigation determined they were involved in the physical and mental abuse of an autistic child.

According to the Pensacola Police Department, 53-year-old Rose James, 19-year-old Kemon Johnson and 20-year-old Jarrett Clifton have all been charged with cruelty toward a child. Authorities say the incident was first reported to police on February 28th by an investigator with the Department of Children and Families.

The incident happened around 1:30 p.m. on December 30, 2016, at the Gull Point Recreation Center. The trio were employed at the center through Keegan Staffing.

Authorities say surveillance video from the center showed Johnson repeatedly threatening a 12-year-old boy with a metal stick. At one point Johnson grabbed the child and pushed him to the ground. Surveillance video also showed James slapping the child in the face and kicking him, and Johnson and Clifton dragging the child by his arms out of camera view.

A detective says a motive for the incident remains under investigation. They added approximately a dozen children were in the gym when the incident happened. Authorities say James had worked at the center for three years. Clifton and Johnson had worked for a couple of weeks.

Reported by Kristie Henderson WearTV Retrieved from http://weartv.com/news/local/three-charged-with-abusing-autistic-child-at-recreation-center

Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota (and how lawsuits help two year olds)

Sad as it may be, lawsuits might be the most effective tool available for abused and neglected children to get the services they need from the state. Today’s message from Safe Passage for children of Minnesota about the AFSCME union lawsuit (below) is one of several game changing service provider suits that I have witnessed. The recent suit threatened by MN sheriffs worked to the advantage of at risk youth as it opened up the conversation around the lack of mental health services in this state (and most other states). The AFSCME suit points out how unfair it is to load up case after case on workers doing an almost impossible job and them blaming them when things go badly for a child (it always seems to be the social workers fault when a terrible child story hits the paper.

Legislators have all they can do to answer the people they have yelling at them (business interests, sports fans and transportation enthusiasts among them)

Abused children don’t have a say in the matter and things continue to degrade in in their young lives until some adult somewhere does something. Sue the pants off of em (my grandmother used to say and now I see why.

Safe Passage For Children of Minnesota article;

International Child Protection News March 2017 (send us your news from around the world – info@invisiblechildren.org with research/writing in the subject line)

KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. This is only a sampling of what should be reported – the great majority of child trauma & abuse never gets reported.

Aspiring researcher / writers, KARA needs you. Help KARA report on at risk children in your community.

Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org with Research/Writing in the subject line.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN – Join The KARA Team (and receive free weekly updates on Friday mornings)

Compilation of information and writing on this page is the hard work of the KARA team and volunteer Eshanee Singh

Please donate now and support these pages &

1) Our documentary on the needs of at-risk children and breaking the cycle of abuse

2) Our second book and college child abuse travelling displays (let us know if your college or university wants to participate)

MN Mesabi Academy, St Cloud Group Home & Florida (privatized group homes in America)

Unlike some other similar facilities, Mesabi Academy has both secure and non-secure living quarters and it takes young delinquents sent by courts as well as those referred by county child protective services agencies. It has generated far more complaints by parents, residents, staff and others than any other comparable facility in the state. Complaints can involve a variety of concerns about care, treatment, the staff or the facility itself. Sources: Minnesota’s departments of Human Services, Corrections, 2009-2016

Being A Mandated Reporter (and what it means)

As a longtime volunteer, CASA guardian ad litem and writer/reporter on child abuse I know how voiceless children are. Think about it, they don’t even know that what is happening to them is wrong.

I also know how common child sexual abuse is and how sex abuse traumas destroy childhoods and lasts forever. It is the most tragic and under-reported crime in America.

Yesterday I sat through a terrific class on self-defense developed for children about escaping from sexual predators.

The instructor presented powerful information that will save pain and violence for kids in the class before and even after they enter adulthood.

About half of all women experience sexual violence in their life and about one fifth of men.

As a CASA guardian ad litem I helped to remove fifty children from toxic homes where half of them had been sexually abused.

One two-year-old, several four-year old’s and the rest under ten – and most of them suffered daily for years before child protection became involved. I have witnessed again and again the long term effects of child sex abuse traumas.

I was crushed at the end of the presentation when the instructor flat out stated that she very deliberately allowed no opportunity for a child in her class to describe sexual violence already experienced because “I am a mandated reporter and you know what that means”.

How few opportunities a child has to tell someone and how likely the abuse is going to continue until they do tell someone that can help them.

What’s a five-year old to do?

Let’s not put ourselves out or get some of this on us is a big part of the problem.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Sad Stories March 2017 Part III

Sign Up Here For KARA’s Free Friday Morning Real Story

KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

These pages are a sampling of what should be reported – the great majority of child trauma, abuse & tragedy are never reported.

American states are struggling to find answers for saving at risk children and reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect in our communities.

The U.S. is experiencing the 4th and 5th generation of abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and with serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues.

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health January 2017)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines Florida reports 48% of its foster children are forced to take Prozac like drugs.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Compilation of information and writing on the Sad Stories pages are the hard work of David Vang, Mike Toronto, Jamar Weston, Adolf Nchanj and Blaz Zlate, Callie Benscoter, (student volunteers at Century College) Katie Frake, Boston College, Julie O, and KARA.

donate now and support these pages &

Invite KARA to Speak/Workshop/Exhibit at your next event: info@invisiblechildren.org

Parental Leave In Canada & the Rest of the Industrialized World (be nice to your baby – 18 months)

In Sweden, parents are entitled to 480 days of paidparental leave when a child is born or adopted. … The remaining 90 days are paid at a flat rate. Those who are not in employment are also entitled to paidparental leave. Parental leave can be taken up until a child turns eight.
10 things that make Sweden family-friendly – Sweden.se

https://sweden.se/society/10-things-that-make-sweden-family-friendly/

Working mothers and fathers have equal entitlements to paid parental leave(Elterngeld) of up to 12 – 14 months, which can taken by one or both parents. The standard leave for one parent caregiver is 12 months, but gets extended to 14 months if the other parent also takes 2 months of leave.
Parental Leave – ExpatBabies

www.expatbabies.com/frankfurt/need-to-know/parental-leave…/parental-leave/16647

If parents chose not to go back to work after maternity/paternity and parental leaveis over, they are entitled to paid childcare leave that continues until the child is 3 years old. Parents are paid a care allowance and a care supplement.
Finland;

Maternity, Paternity, and Parental Leave in Family Centered Finland

finnishmythoughts.weebly.com/…/leave-for-new-parents-maternity-paternity-and-parent…

Iceland; Maternity / paternity leave. Parents that have been employed for six months or longer in Iceland are entitled to paid leave when a child is born, at adoption or permanent foster of a child younger than eight years old. … It is recommended that people continue to pay dues to their union during maternity/paternity leave.
Maternity / paternity leave | Family | English | Fjölmenningarsetur

www.mcc.is/english/family/maternity–paternity-leave-/
In total, parents in Denmark get 52 weeks of paid parental leave. The general rule is that the mother has the right to four weeks of leave directly before the planned birth and then to a further 14 weeks of leave after birth. … They can choose to be on parental leave at the same time or in periods one after the other.

In total, parents in Denmark get 52 weeks of paid parental leave. The general rule is that the mother has the right to four weeks of leave directly before the planned birth and then to a further 14 weeks of leave after birth. … They can choose to be onparental leave at the same time or in periods one after the other.
Maternity leave and paternity leave when working in Denmark

Switzerland;

Maternity leave lasts 98 days (or 14 weeks), from the day it starts. Both full-time and part-time employees are entitled to maternity leave. Women who return to work earlier lose their entitlement to compensation. Mothers are paid 80% of their wages in the form of a daily allowance, but no more than CHF 196 per day.
Duration of maternity leave and wage continuation – www.ch.ch

https://www.ch.ch/en/maternity-leave/
www.oresunddirekt.se/…parenting…denmark/parental-leave-when-you-work-in-denmar…

A Modest Proposal

Three hundred years ago, an Irish Minister wrote an explosive satire that was misinterpreted by many readers of his day (printed in its entirety below).

In a gruesome and widely read logical argument, Jonathan Swift clearly articulated a plan that would relieve the suffering of Irish families and their youngest children by selling babies to the English to be eaten (in a stew that he included the recipe for).

Back in the day, these writings were the modern equivalent of you tube or a longer version of Twitter and consumed voraciously by all who could read (or read them to others).

Public policy of the era treated the Irish more like animals than people and Irish children were doomed to lives of crime, prostitution, and abject poverty.

While a satire, Swift’s underlying argument was the completely serious view that death might be preferable to children doomed to disease, crime, prostitution, & the horrid cruelties suffered by abandoned children of his time.

His writings provide a painful comparison to the data and media stories that identify the most vulnerable citizens of today’s America.

Sad Stories March 2017 Part II

OR: Report: Child welfare review teams under microscope
Merced Sun-Star – March 06, 2017
Barely three days after 12-year-old Caden Berry of Keizer died, the head of Oregon’s child welfare agency ordered a full review of the agency’s interactions with his family.
Also: Report: Child welfare agency struggled to fix problems: http://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/5126903-151/report-child-welfare-agency-struggled-to-fix-problems?referrer=fpblob
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/news/business/article136731693.html
OR: 44 children left in harm’s way: Oregon’s child welfare agency struggled to fix problems
Statesman Journal – March 04, 2017
Clyde Saiki, director of the state Department of Human Services, wanted to know if “system issues” may have prevented the state from saving the boy’s life. DHS has publicly published reviews for at least 44 children since 2004, involving children the agency knew of who died or were severely injured.
http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/crime/2017/03/04/inside-state-child-welfare-investigative-team/96928358/
TX: Democratic lawmaker says Texas CPS workloads make ‘a travesty’ of child protection
Dallas Morning News – March 06, 2017
The bill would encourage CPS to hire 893 more employees over the next two years and create an additional 825 slots at sister agencies such as Adult Protective Services, Child Care Licensing and the unit that operates the protective services department’s hotline for reporting abuse, the Legislative Budget Board has estimated.
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/child-protective-services/2017/03/06/democratic-lawmaker-says-texas-cps-workloads-make-travesty-child-protection

It Cant Happen Here

A very smart person that I consider a friend suggested that the sad story of Florida’s foster care system (in the blog article just prior to this one) is not comparable to the state of foster care in my state of MN. Suggesting that things are fine in MN’s foster care system. Nothing to see here, let’s talk about something else.

Dee Wilson delivered the Casey Foundations report on child protection in MN and softly stated that our group home facilities were grossly unable to deal with the level of trauma and behavioral problems that these overwhelmed homes were experiencing.

Just a week ago MN closed the group home in St Cloud MN because of many violations over many years.

That home allowed kids to bang their heads against walls to the point of concussions, facial injuries and head trauma along with forced sex in the presence of staff.

Don’t blame the staff*. It’s the management and the people making the rules. It is always the management that determines the wage, the training and the supervision that will be in place in every business endeavor. It’s always the policy makers that determine the oversight and resources available to the homes providing the service. These things are made extremely clear in the Florida video.

To expect low waged and undertrained people to manage children traumatized by years of abuse now being managed by a cold and distant state is just unworkable.

Friends of KARA – A Favor (watch this video)

Mari Frankel’s video documentary below is stunning. Although it is about Florida’s foster system (by a CASA GAL just like me) it demonstrates the problems within the child protection system and the traumas & medications foster children live.with.

Mari Frankel’s video is aligned with KARA’s book and documentary projects that address child protection stories that are happening in MN.

Share this with people you know and/or,

Contact me to talk about ideas for making this video in MN (we have begun the process and have been partnered with TPT) but need help to complete the project.

Let’s be a voice for children

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

https://vimeo.com/139417634

The password is foster

March 2017 Sad Stories Part I

Baby Justice Rees’ father responds to charges in infant’s death
KCRA Sacramento
The father of Baby Justice Rees, who found dead two years ago in a Yolo County slough, faces an involuntary manslaughter charge in connection to …
Dead baby’s father lashes out from jail – Davis Enterprise
Father charged after baby found dead near Sacramento River – Santa Rosa Press Democrat
DA Announces New Charges for Frank Rees in Death of Baby – The People’s Vanguard of Davis (subscription)
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

Questions remain in baby’s death
WPRI 12 Eyewitness News
WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Investigators said Thursday they were still trying to determine how a seven-month old Warwick baby died. Willow Ramos …
DCYF previously investigated family of infant who died in Warwick – WPRI 12 Eyewitness News
Ex-Hanson resident charged with neglect after infant daughter dies – Wicked Local
Father charged after unresponsive baby daughter dies in RI – WHDH-TV
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

Florida Child Protection News February 2017

Florida February Child Protection News gathered and presented by Dr. Denise R. Womer, Ph.D., is a former law enforcement officer for 17 years and former DCF Investigator for the State of Florida. Dr. Womer has taught in higher education for 14 years and currently is a Professor for Kaplan University teaching in the School of Social and Behavior Sciences.

KARA encourages you to send us your child protection documentaries and videos for consideration on this site.

This powerful piece defines Florida’s current foster care system, and it represents much of what happens throughout our nation today.  Please share it widely as this is important information for millions of children that suffer these failings every day in our nation.

https://vimeo.com/139417634  The password is “foster”

JANUARY 30, 2017

Sexagenarian Sex Offender Arrested for Child Pornography In Sarasota, Florida

The last two days of the month of January 2017 ended with a Sexagenarian sex offender arrested for child pornography in Sarasota Florida. A Sexagenarian is a person who is from 60 to 69 years old. The Federal Bureau of Investigations monitors the internet for child pornography and sex offender activity. A computer can be traced by the IPS address by examining photographs that are downloaded, as well as the exchange of files. Each IPS address is unique to each computer, smartphone, and other similar devices. A 69-year-old, Daniel L. Berry is a registered sex offender and his activities of downloading and searching child abuse and downloading child pornography. When the FBI task force for Child Exploitation contacted Sarasota P.D. A search of his residence revealed a thumb drive with pornography and he was arrested and a bond of $100,000.00 was set. Berry was arrested three years ago, for a similar charge. Watch the video at the following link it is eye opening as well as the article.

Lawyer Hearld (2017, Jan 30). Sexagenarian Sex Offender Arrested for Child Pornography In Sarasota, Florida. Retrieved from http://www.lawyerherald.com/articles/47505/20170130/69-year-old-sex-offender-arrested-for-child-pornography-in-sarasota-florida-daniel-l-berry-fbi-task-force-child-exploitation-ip-address.htm#YdhzVfQCfi2P6iOI.99

 

FEBRUARY 2, 2017

Collier man accused of child abuse

A 62-year-old Naples resident, John Rigsbee was arrested and charged with child abuse

Recent KARA Media

Part 1 of a 3 part series looking into Child Abuse and the Child Welfare System. This episode we are joined by Mike Tikkanen, world leader in advocacy for abused children. He explains the state of the system, the secrecy and lack of transparency inherent in the system and why it is a widespread phenomena.

Hear Episode and Read Article

Making America Safe & Happy Again (investing in people)

The 35 W bridge failure will end up costing about one billion dollars (below) and if our policy makers would wake up, they will see that it was about five hundred times more expensive than the requested bridge maintenance that would have kept the bridge in “pristine condition”**

International At Risk Children’s News February 2017

Australia: Royal Commission releases damning statistics of child abuse in Australian Catholic Church
New Kerala – February 06, 2017
Seven percent of Australia’s Catholic priests were accused of abusing children in the six decades since 1950, according to new data from the Royal Commission.
http://www.newkerala.com/news/fullnews-225753.html
Canada: Ministry Says Supports ‘Available’ to Youth Exiting Province’s Care. How Available?
TYEE – February 05, 2017
A guide to options for at-risk young adults, and why advocates say they aren’t enough.
https://thetyee.ca/News/2017/02/06/Foster-Youth-Exiting-Care/
Greece: Unaccompanied Minors in Greece: Who Can ‘Save’ Them?
University of Oxford, Faculty of Law – February 06, 2017
It is estimated that unaccompanied minors accounted for approximately 35 per cent of the total population that crossed from Turkey to Greece in 2015.
https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2017/02/unaccompanied
India: New online adoption system fails orphans
Mid-Day.com – February 05, 2017
Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) from The Adoption Federation of Maharashtra (AFM) – an association of the state’s 65 adoption agencies – that helps facilitate the adoption process in the state.
http://www.mid-day.com/articles/new-online-adoption-system-fails-orphans-mumbai-news/17966196
International: Deadliest winter for refugee and migrant children crossing the Central Mediterranean, says UNICEF (Press release)
Press Release Point – February 03, 2017
A record number of refugee and migrant deaths in the Mediterranean over the past three months, including an estimated 190 children*, has prompted an urgent appeal from UNICEF to leaders of European Union member states meeting in Malta.
http://www.pressreleasepoint.com/deadliest-winter-refugee-and-migrant-children-crossing-central-mediterranean-says-unicef
Switzerland: Portraits help ‘stolen children’ reclaim their lives
swissinfo – February 04, 2017
A series of photographs showing in the Swiss capital Bern tell the story of Switzerland’s ‘discarded children’.
http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/multimedia/foster-care_portraits-help–stolen-children–reclaim-their-lives/42925666

Minnesota Child Protection News January & February 2017

Man In Custody Following Death Of Eagan Woman, Unborn Child
CBS Local
“We are devastated at the tragic death of my daughter Senicha and her unborn son. She was a loving, kind, smart and beautiful young woman who …
Woman killed in Eagan home ID’d; her 32-week fetus also died – Minneapolis Star Tribune
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

Pregnant woman found dead in Eagan townhome was ‘excited to be a mother’
TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press
Pregnant woman found dead in Eagan townhome was ‘excited to be a mother’ … Lane, a neighborhood east of Minnesota 13 and south of Lone Oak Road. … “We are devastated at the tragic death of my daughter Senicha and her …
Flag as irrelevant

February 2017 Sad Stories Part IV

AZ: Homeless youth invisible in Southern Arizona
Arizona Sonora News – February 16, 2017
“Homeless youth, is one of those things that sort of perplexes people,” said Kristyn Conner, director of development at Youth On Their Own, a dropout prevention program in Tucson. “It is out of sight and out of mind. With adult homelessness, you can see it. But with homeless youth, it is different because they aren’t actually living on the streets as much as their adult counterparts.”
Information Gateway resource: Services for Youth: Homeless and Runaway: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/youth/interventions/homeless-runaway/
http://arizonasonoranewsservice.com/homeless-youth-invisible-in-southern-arizona/
CA: L.A. County supervisors call for action on missed payments from child protection agency
Los Angeles Times – February 16, 2017
Los Angeles County supervisors this week called for an inquiry into the “root cause” behind hundreds of missed payments from the county’s child protection agency to foster care parents, group home managers and others depending on public assistance.
Also: County Supes Push DCFS To Make Back Payments To Foster Parents by Mid-March: http://patch.com/california/santamonica/s/g19ef/county-supes-push-dcfs-to-make-back-payments-to-foster-parents-by-mid-march?utm_source=article-mostrecent&utm_medium=rss&utm_term=politics%20%26%20government&utm_campaign=recirc&utm_content=normal
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-missed-payments-supervisors-20170215-story.html
CA: Panel presents state of foster care in Humboldt County
Eureka Times-Standard – February 16, 2017
There are currently 317 children in foster care in Humboldt County, according to panel member Deb Engs, a project manager for the county Department of Health & Human Services Child Welfare Services division. There are only 63 licensed foster care homes through the state. Many of the local foster children are not placed there.
http://www.times-standard.com/general-news/20170216/panel-presents-state-of-foster-care-in-humboldt-county
CA: Why do more L.A. County black children end up in foster care? Experts clash over the reason
Los Angeles Times – February 16, 2017

February 2017 Sad Stories (part III)

Dyers sentenced to 15 years for felony child abuse
The Coloradoan
Two Fort Collins parents convicted of neglecting their daughter’s seizure condition and allowing her to all but waste away were sentenced Thursday to …
Fort Collins couple Doug and Leah Dyer sentenced to 15 years in child abuse case – Loveland Reporter-Herald
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

BLOGS
MILO: ‘I Was A Victim Of Child Abuse’
Conservative Read
“I am a gay man, and a child abuse victim.” wrote MILO in a Facebook post shortly after his press conference, “Between the ages of 13 and 16, two …
Flag as irrelevant

Forced Closing of St Cloud’s Children’s Home (the nightmare of mental health services for abused children)

Today’s Star Tribune covered the closing of the St Cloud’s Children’s Treatment Home on the front page of the paper is a very big deal (thank you Chris Serres and Star Tribune for excellence in reporting).

It really is front page news that children at this institution were allowed to bang their heads against walls until they had concussions, facial injuries and head trauma. These young troubled children had sex on the facility grounds, forced sex and sex in the presence of staff.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

There were many violations over many years.

As a Hennepin County CASA guardian ad Litem, I have never seen a group home able to handle the severity of mental health issues of the children I brought to them. I have witnessed a great many well-meaning and undertrained staff fail to manage badly behaving traumatized children.

Children that have been removed from their birth family have endured trauma. Trauma is torture (as defined by the World Health Organization, “Extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.

Trauma and torture impact the biological development of a child in profound ways that make severe behavioral problems common and leading a normal life so much harder. How would you un-teach sexual or drug using behavior to a 9 year old that grew up with it?

Foster (a film) Florida’s Foster Care System (don’t let this happen to you)

This is the most powerful piece I have seen about foster care. Although it is on Florida’s system, it represents much of what happens throughout our nation today. Please share it widely as this is important information for millions of children that suffer these failings every day in our nation.

https://vimeo.com/139417634
The password is foster

KARA encourages you to send us your child protection documentaries and videos for consideration on this site.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

Child Protection & PizzaGate KARA Interview (troubled children in a troubled society)

Part 1 of a two part series looking into Child Abuse and the Child Welfare System. This episode we are joined by Mike Tikkanen, world leader in advocacy for abused children. He explains the state of the system, the secrecy and lack of transparency inherent in the system and why it is a widespread phenomena.

Protecting Children From Bad Politics (a note from the Child Welfare League of America)

Protecting Children in Changing Times   Our Children at Risk Never before in the Child Welfare League of America’s (CWLA) 100-year history has there been a higher level of anxiety and uncertainty about the fate and well-being of our children. The plans and policies of the new leadership in Washington, DC, will do egregious damage to social…

February Sad Stories Part II

Sign Up Here For KARA’s Free Friday Morning Real Story 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…

February Sad Stories 2017 Part I

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Bill-would-let-nonrelatives-care-for-foster-10920621.php
KY: Westerfield introduces bill to set age of criminal responsibility for youth
Kentucky New Era – February 08, 2017
Criminal complaints filed have been filed against children as young as 4.
Information Gateway resource: Youth Involved With Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/youth/collaboration/dualsystem/
http://www.kentuckynewera.com/web/article_7232ebe2-ee8d-11e6-9100-cb7fb0fa0fdd.html
MA: Report: Despite efforts, 35 kids died in state care
Boston Herald – February 10, 2017

Black Children Matter (and child protection systems)

Yesterday at the State Capital in St Paul, Black Lives matter rallied outside for fair treatment by the police and inside (where I was) at the rotunda for fair treatment in child protection for black families and children.

Child protection is viewed by many in the community as a finance driven machine making life miserable for families and ruining the lives of their children.

Far too many group homes and foster care givers fall far short of providing a safe haven for traumatized children and state ward children are often;

* forced to take psychotropic medications without adequate mental health services

* abused while in child protective services

From reporting to discharge, the over representation of Black children in the child protection system cannot be overstated.

Nationally,

37% of children are reported to child protection by the time they are 18 unless they are black, when the number jumps to 54%.

Black families are 4 times more likely to be subjects of a child protection investigation & 5 time more likely to experience a child protection report than white families.

Black children are 5.3 times more likely to be placed in foster homes than white children.

After 20+ years as a white volunteer CASA guardian ad litem, I know that the system leaves few people involved with it satisfied and I very much see why black families think the system is a money driven machine.

Not having a child protection system would be unethical and deadly for children. Our best hope is to make the changes that are critical to building a fair and effective system that breaks the cycle of generational child abuse.

Communities that fail to support young mothers and their children will not have schools performing at acceptable reading, math or graduation rates and they will continue to suffer high crime and incarceration rates. The U.S. criminal justice system has approached a near 80% recidivism rate within the prison system.

To this end, Kids At Risk Action strongly supports the efforts of Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota

www.safepassagemn.com and the CASA guardian ad litem volunteer program www.casamn.org

Fostering Special Needs & Dying Children (a special kind of parent)

Too many children know tremendous suffering without getting to experience most of the joys and wonders of childhood.

For paralyzed, chronically or terminally ill children life is very different and extremely demanding on the parent caregiver.

In Los Angeles county’s department of Children and Family Services, there are 600 children (out of the 35,000 monitored by the county) who have severe medical needs and have been abandoned by their birth parents.

Whether it is the sadness and trauma of abuse or the inability of a parent to care for a child a judge has ordered the child be removed from the only home she has ever known.

What kind of person has the courage to say, “I want to be your father, I want to be your mother” to a child in a county welfare system who cannot walk, or play, suffer daily seizures and cannot speak?

Mohamed Bzeek, a quiet, devout Muslim foster father and his wife Dawn in Azusa CA have fostered dozens of traumatized and seriously disabled children. Mohamed has buried about ten children, some died in his arms.

Punishing Traumatized Children (the beatings will continue until the morale improves)

Thank you Chris Serres & Star Tribune for identifying how severely the St Cloud Children’s home for children fails abused and neglected kids.

Children live here because a judge found their birth homes so dangerous that the child needed to be removed from the home and placed at the St Cloud Children’s Home.

Instead of providing a safe haven, this facility has been tagged repeatedly with multiple violations over many years. Children having sex in the presence of a staff member, head banging to the point of black eyes, swollen faces and abrasions.

To put a human face on what these violations look like;
As a volunteer CASA guardian ad litem, one of my 11 year old child protection boys (call him John) was misbehaving at a Cambridge Children’s Home.

John was forced outside by a low paid, undertrained staff member, on a ten degree MN night and told that he would be allowed back inside in an hour.

Instead, John walked home, in a T shirt, on the highway from Cambridge (35 miles). 11 year-old traumatized youth don’t often make good decisions (especially children on multiple psychtropic medications).

John was in child protective services (and this group home) because his father tied him to a bed and left him alone for days without food or water from the ages of four to seven.

John was regularly sexually abused, beaten & starved over 4 years living with his dad. When I met him, this 7 year-old boy was covered in bruises from head to foot and on both sides of his body.

International Child Protection News January 2017

Uganda: This former Ugandan child soldier is accused of war crimes. But is he also a victim? (Opinion)
Washington Post – December 06, 2016
More than two decades ago, Dominic Ongwen was a boy on his way to school in northern Uganda when he was abducted by the brutal rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army and turned into a child soldier. On Tuesday, he took a seat before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for the first day of a trial in which he is charged with 70 war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, torture and sexual slavery, mostly committed in attacks on camps for internally displaced people.

January 2017 Sad Stories Part II

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.

American states are struggling to find answers for saving at risk children and reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect. Today, many state ward children are the 4th and 5th generation of abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Compilation of information and writing on this page is the hard work of David Vang, Mike Toronto, Jamar Weston, Adolf Nchanj and Blaz Zlate, Callie Benscoter, (student volunteers at Century College) Katie Frake, Boston College, Julie O, and KARA.

Florida Child Protection News for January 2017

Beautiful white heron hunting

Florida Child Protection News is gathered for KARA by Dr. Denise R. Womer, Ph.D., a former law enforcement officer for 17 years and former DCF Investigator for the State of Florida. Dr. Womer has taught in higher education for 14 years and currently is a Professor for Kaplan University teaching in the School of Social and Behavior Sciences.

In Florida, fourteen news articles reviewed revealed infants and children suffered either abuse, neglect, or death from parents and or their caretakers. These parents or caretakers were discovered in some cases to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, engaged in some form of domestic violence, left an infant or children unsupervised or intentionally physically assaulted the victim. This is only part of the story in Florida.

Criminalizing Elementary School Children (policing our schools & punishment)

Federal Funding, Zero Tolerance and Inadequate Alternatives mean that more states are policing schools with armed officers. Before the 1970’s police were almost absent from elementary and junior high schools.

Today, armed officers are dealing with an escalation of violence and criminal prosecutions for children as young as 6, 7 and 8. Prosecuting kids in place of using resources to help them adapt destroys the fabric of a child’s life and achieves the exact opposite of what children need and society expects from an elementary or junior high school experience.

There are a significant number of us who believe it more important to punish bad behavior in children than it is to help them develop the skills they need to live among us. When these folks hold sway in education, the institution suffers, the child suffers, and the community gains one more troubled adult a few years later. For too long, America has led the world in crime, incarceration, violence and troubled schools. While not the only reason, treating at risk children with behavioral problems as offenders instead of troubled youth has played a big role.

The articles below are obvious examples of policing and education gone wrong. No child should have to live with this kind of institutional abuse. ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

When 14-year-old Ryan Turk cut ahead of the lunch line to grab a milk, he didn’t expect to get in trouble. He certainly didn’t plan to end up in handcuffs. But Turk, a black student at Graham Park Middle School, was arrested for disorderly conduct and petty larceny for procuring the 65-cent carton. The state of Virginia is actually prosecuting the case, which went to trial in November.

Changing the rules of the game requires federal, state, and local reforms. With little evidence that police in schools make students safer and plenty that they facilitate harm to students’ liberty and well-being, the Department of Justice should end the cops program’s SRO grants to districts. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for billions that promote unjust school conditions and put kids at greater risk of future involvement with the criminal justice system. And students should feel like they can talk to school officials when they have problems without forfeiting their constitutional rights and winding up in the back of police cars.

Interrupting Child Abuse (thank you Jan Callison & thank you Star Tribune)

It should be big news* that Hennepin County Commissioner Jan Callison** stood up for abused and neglected children when she found out County Child Protection service providers did not respond to abused & neglected children on weekends, late nights or holidays.

You could tell Commissioner Callison was upset when a service provider at a Task Force Oversight Committee meeting described the County’s procedure of leaving children in violent and abusive homes for days because public policy favored social workers not working holidays, late nights and weekends over the safety of children in dangerous circumstances.
The good news is that Governor Mark Dayton created a task force to investigate Child Protective Services and that many of the worst failures are being addressed instead of ignored.

The bad news is that four, five and six year old children had to die tortured deaths to attract the media and outrage a public before terrible public policy could be exposed and corrected.

None of the 50 children I worked with in Child Protection ever made the newspaper.

Teaching In a Strange Land (mental health workers without training)

What struck me hardest in today’s INVISIBLE CHILDREN presentation at a suburban elementary school was the dedication and desire my audience of 60 educators have for the children in their classrooms. Even the most difficult kids.

Martin Luther King Day was a train the trainer day for these teachers. Our discussion on trauma and dealing with traumatized children sparked keen conversation and shined a light on the depth and scope of the mental health issues students bring to school.

Did you know that 37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

This a particularly American problem and it is growing. Educators, like social workers, law enforcement, adoptive and foster parents, must grasp the new mental health reality if they are to succeed in their work with this population.

Most of my audience today “got it” when I talked about child abuse, foster homes, and what it takes to get into Child Protective Services and why abused and neglected children exhibit irrational and sometimes dangerous behaviors and need to be understood if learning is to occur.

January Sad Stories Part I (thru 1.13.17)

river-vista-double-exposureSign Up Here For KARA’s Free Friday Morning Real Story

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.

American states are struggling to find answers for saving at risk children and reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect.  Today, many state ward children are the 4th and 5th generation of abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18.  (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Compilation of information and writing on this page is the hard work of  David Vang, Mike Toronto, Jamar Weston, Adolf Nchanj and Blaz Zlate,  Callie Benscoter, (student volunteers at Century College) Katie Frake, Boston College, Julie O, and KARA.

SUPPORT KARA HERE (5$/mo suggested)   Support these pages and KARA’S documentary and book projects

Dear Elementary School Teacher (I’m sorry for being such a problem)

I may look like the other 4th graders in your classroom, but I am not. I’m very different. My birth family’s repeated traumatic sex assaults and beatings have had a powerful and lasting impact on my body and mind. I don’t love or trust anyone and don’t feel loved or trusted at all.

The reptilian, fear activated part of my brain, the amygdala, is much larger than other children’s. This interferes with my ability to sit still in a classroom and I’m unable to concentrate on the things you are talking about. My mind is always filled with fearful thoughts and anxiety about the next bad thing that’s about to happen. It couldn’t be otherwise. The Prozac I’m forced to take (about a third of all foster children are medicated by psychotropics) makes me stupid and slow and I hate that. Some seven year olds know what the suicidal ideation on the side of the Prozac box actually means (fully formed thoughts of self harm and suicide delivered in waking moments).

I don’t have the coping skills to handle small personal things in the classroom like other children. Certain words and behaviors by others trigger a violent learned fear response in me that other kids don’t seem to have. I can be violent and did not learn social interaction at home, My reactions to minor things do not come from the executive function of my brain. I can’t control myself, things just happen.

Please understand that foster children are not foster children because a parent tired of caring for them or someone hit a child once or twice. At least I’ve not seen that among the foster kids I know. I’ve come to know many foster children through the County system as I’ve moved from foster home to foster home. It is the “Imminent Harm Doctrine”, that let’s a judge remove a child from a birth home. Literally, a child’s life must be in danger before the court will take a child away from birth parents. It really is almost as traumatic to be removed from the home as it is to stay and suffer the abuse. No matter how bad the abuse is, the fear of waking up in a strange place, with no one you have ever seen before is extremely frightening to a seven year old.

I became a state ward because my mother, who had been horribly abused as a child herself, had very violent boyfriends who thought sex with children was acceptable behavior. One of the boyfriends kicked me so hard I went into convulsions & needed an ambulance ride to the hospital (I was seven). The medical staff saw the awful bruises and placed me in child protection.

Body Memories – Why Child Sex Abuse Never Ends (letters from survivors and non survivors)

Dear Doctor,

As a medical professional you have taken an oath to do no harm, but there are ways in which you can hurt your patients without even recognizing you are doing so. What seems to you as a simple exam may cause injury to those who have been victimized by someone’s touch. This is a subject that we, survivors of sexual violence, have been meaning to discuss with you for some time now, but your authority can be more intimidating than you may know. I am also unsure if you are aware just how much power you, as a physician, hold and to the extent that you affect the lives of all of your patients. Your interactions with us travel much deeper than the physical core.

The relationship between patient and doctor is also mental, built on trust, understanding, and the security of knowing that your doctor has your well-being at heart. We, as your patients, entrust in you the most intimate parts of our bodies and our lives. But this trust has to be earned, and it is much harder for us patients who have been so severely violated. The intent of this letter is not to in any way criticize your work as a

Pennsylvania Child Protection News December 2016

children down hill having funKARA 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

Compilation of information and writing on this page is the hard work of  Krista Neuner

KARA is looking for children’s news in other states – contact us to see if you would like to grow awareness in your state; mike@invisiblechildren.org (include writing and research in the subject line)

Minnesota 7 Year Old Dies as a Martyr to a Parents Religion

Adopted seven-year old Seth Johnson has suffered terribly for years and it appears has died a painful (avoidable) death at the hands of Tim and Sarah Johnson. Thank you Paul Walsh, Brandon Stahl & Star Tribune.

The parents have moved to New Zealand and will most likely use a religious exemption defense that is very often successful as this case proceeds.

1 In 3 Children Investigated For Abuse by 18 (Washington University Study)

river-vista-double-exposureAs a long time volunteer County CASA guardian ad Litem it has been hard to comprehend the explosive growth of child abuse in my lifetime.  This study (lead author Hyunil Kim PhD Student at the Brown School at Washington University St Louis) published in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health is troubling on several levels.

First, to reach numbers this high by only including reports of child abuse that met County standards for a case to be investigated, indicates that this already high number (37% overall & 53% for Black Children) is possibly even higher

Transforming the System: A Call For Action

Grounded in compassion and learning, we must act forcefully to promote transparency, understanding and change to reform how abused and neglected children find safe permanent homes and deal with the traumas that brought them into child protection. Beginnng this year, the ACA makes advanced mental health services available to traumatized children giving them a chance to heal and thrive.

This effort requires focused support for achievable objectives.

When we’ve done that, we will have transformed the System.

Possible actions include:

Activist organizations uniting in every community to push for awareness of and changes in policies that are failing or demonstrably superior.

Action teams in each Congressional district communicating regularly with their Congressperson (support these teams where they are and create them where they don’t exist).

Child-affirming activist communities whose members build awareness and understanding of programs and policies impacting at risk children can improve those laws and policies.

With this approach, we can address the child, the family and the system.

December 2016 Sad Stories Part 1

MD: Youth homelessness in Baltimore higher than previously thought
The Baltimore Sun – November 30, 2016
More than 1,400 young people under the age of 25 were unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, without a safe, stable, affordable place to live, according to data collected by homeless advocates, service providers, the University of Maryland, the city and other stakeholders.
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-homeless-youth-20161130-story.html
NY: ‘What Did They Do?’ Officials Question ACS Response in Jaden Jordan Case
DNAinfo – December 01, 2016
Law enforcement officials probing the nearly fatal beating of a 3-year-old boy are questioning why a city child welfare caseworker – and not a trained investigator or the NYPD – was called days before the tragedy to check out a tip that the toddler was being kept in a dog cage by a Brooklyn man, DNAinfo New York has learned.
https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20161201/gravesend/jaden-jordan-administration-for-childrens-services-salvatore-lucchesse
NY: A Better, But Still Broken, NYC Child Welfare System Means Another Child Murdered (Opinion)
The Huffington Post – November 30, 2016
As CEO’s of three of the oldest and largest charities serving New York City’s children, we are determined to learn any lesson we can to protect children from harm. We stand with all New Yorkers in demanding accountability, and we want to see pragmatic and meaningful reform that truly protects children.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeremy-christopher-kohomban-phd/a-better-but-still-broken_b_12501974.html

Pennsylvania Child Protection News Sept – November 2016

Pennsylvania officials reveal improved service to child abuse hotline
Philly Voice – September 15, 2016
In 2015, the department reported a 14-percent increase in phone calls from 164,911 to 188,357, a 39-percent increase in cases of suspected child abuse and a 162-percent increase in requests for child-abuse history clearances. DHS admitted that 43 percent of calls were abandoned or deflected and 48 percent of clearances were processed within 14 days as required by law.
http://www.phillyvoice.com/pennsylvania-officials-reveal-improved-service-child-abuse-hotline/

Pennsylvania couple waives arraignment in child-giving case
ABC 27 News – September 2, 2016
A Pennsylvania couple and a Philadelphia-area man to whom they allegedly gave their 14-year-old daughter in exchange for money have waived their arraignments.
http://abc27.com/2016/09/02/pennsylvania-couple-waives-arraignment-in-child-giving-case/

Minnesota At Risk Children’s News November 2016

Recommendations Announced For Improving Child Services
CBS Local
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hennepin County leaders are making new recommendations to help protect children in Minnesota. A child protection …
Flag as irrelevant

Hennepin County discussing $26 million child protection plan that would add nearly 250 new staffers
Minneapolis Star Tribune
No longer would children need to endure maltreatment before they get social services in Minnesota’s most populous county. … Hennepin County has had 15,400 child protection reports so far this year, but county leaders expect to …
Flag as irrelevant

Hennepin County shifts child protection mission with new model
Minneapolis Star Tribune
No longer will a child need to endure maltreatment before they get social services in Minnesota’s most populous county, an unprecedented step in the …
Flag as irrelevant

International Child Protection News November 2016

Africa – SADC Model Law Key Step Towards Ending Child Marriages.
The Zimbabwean.
A new model aimed at ending child marriages, provides guidance at all levels of the decision making process. Parliamentarians, ministries of justice and policy makers will work together