3rd grade reading proficiency, by race/ethnicity
Percent of students scoring a 21 or higher on the ACT — overall and by student group (2014)
With Governor Dayton’s Task Force recommendations reported in today’s Star Tribune article (Dayton’s Task Force Agrees On Overhaul, Brandon Stahl), I am optimistic that this (“great” example) approach to child well being could become a reality.
Ten years ago, the father of one of my family’s Mexican foreign exchange students explained how he (as a State of Sinaloa Legislator) had traveled to MN and CA to review child protection systems. At the time, these were the two states he deemed to have the most advanced and effective systems in the nation.
MN has at one time done child protection as well or better than any other state – when reviewed by someone without bias.
MN reduced child protection funding by over forty million dollars these past few years. This explains sad stories like Eric Dean’s death after fifteen (ignored) reports of abuse by mandated reporters and why family assessments replaced child protection, why social workers are shorted training, process, and resources needed to effect the change that could heal toxic families or provide safety to their young charges.
The other side of this (“great example”) headline are states setting a “worst” examples?
There are many states where it is increasingly dangerous for children born as the next generation of (sad stories) abused and neglected children to become preteen mothers and adolescent felons, many of whom are proscribed psychotropic medications to control dangerous behaviors. If you Google “worst states in America”, they are the states with;
spent on prenatal care, crisis nurseries, early childhood education, child welfare and child protection,
child poverty, infant mortality, child abuse death, child death, teen death, births to teen moms, sexually transmitted diseases among youth, least amount spent on child welfare, child poverty, uninsured children,
These states fail to grasp the impact of not saving at risk children and breaking the cycle of dysfunctional children and generational child abuse.
Youth without coping skills or basic parenting ability, often with alcohol & drug problems and tendencies towards violence and sex abuse have a huge impact on the schools they attend, dropout rates, jail and prison populations, and the quality of life in their communities.
Minnesotans should recognize that the forty million dollars in child protection cuts these past few years has probably cost many times that much in troubled youth with marginal coping skills, mental health issues, and *violent/criminal behaviors.
When it is your child, neighbor, or friend that is mugged, assaulted, robbed, or worse, these words have much more impact.
Ask your teacher friends what it’s like to preside over a classroom with troubled youth, or your friend with a child adopted from County Child Protection,
Ask your social worker friends what it is like to work within a system where the needs are so great and the resources so few.
*Nationally, the insurance costs of crime are between 1 and 1.6 trillion dollars a year.
Sample 4 minute video of Kids At Risk Action talk on child protection in America (invite KARA to speak at your conference – Mike@invisiblechildren.org )
Support KARA’s TPT Documentary Project with your gift Chose Kids At Risk Action at Amazon Smile (they donate to KARA out of your online purchases)
Over 25 years ago the rest of the world (194 nations) decided that children have basic human rights and begin signing the International Rights of the Child Treaty. Under this document, children are to have the rights to education, safety and well being including not to be made soldiers, not to be enslaved).
America is the only nation that has not signed that agreement, largely because we still demand that southern states continue to militarize youth as young as eleven, through military schools.
All children have the rights guaranteed by the Convention, without discrimination of any kind.
“The child shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration. Every child, without any exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to these rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, whether of himself or of his family.”
These rights are:
Please share this widely
Sample 4 minute video of Kids At Risk Action talk on child protection in America (invite KARA to speak at your conference – Mike@invisiblechildren.org )
Supoort KARA’s TPT Documentary Project with your gift Chose Kids At Risk Action at Amazon Smile (they donate to KARA out of your online purchases)
Please forward this letter (or in your own words) to Governor Dayton; firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve taken from Brandon Stahl’s article on uninvestigated child sex abuse cases that someone has decided that children reported as sexually abused before 2013 will go uninvestigated and stay where they are (even if they are still being sexually abused) as the County doesn’t see it important to put resources to finding out if these children are still endangered.
In my caseload as a CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem, I know children as young as two who were sexually abused – and the resulting traumas that followed them for life. They deserve to be rescued.
I find this cheap, short sighted policy making appalling and I know that it is much more costly to ignore them than to do the right thing.
Will someone besides Brandon Stahl please speak out for these kids?
What kind of a community writes off the worst kinds of child abuse for relatively modest financial reasons?
Any investigation into the financial aspects of these bad decisions will discover that we do not save money by allowing children to remain in horridly abusive homes.
These are the kids with severe behavioral problems and poor coping skills that fail in our schools, become preteen moms, adolescent felons, and make our communities unhealthy and unsafe.
What costs money are failing schools, unsafe streets, prisons and recidivism (70% nationally).
What a cold hard people we have become (and bad at math).
It’s over now, but for years, universal child daycare has been the rule (at $7.30) in Quebec.
I just can’t help pointing out that some of our neighbors to the North feel very strongly that children’s daycare is worth government subsidy. $75,000 is the low income threshold and $200,000 is the high income threshold.
True, the politics of public service have beat up the program and $20 is becoming the new norm.
Keep in mind that over time, children in quality day care thrive, learn important stuff, and perhaps more importantly, don’t smoke crack cocaine with their out of jail uncle while mom works.
The U.S. expels more children from daycare than any other nation (and has for some time). It’s an issue that bodes badly for the poor educators that later serve these children in public schools and goes a very long way in explaining America’s suffering graduation rates, high crime, and prison populations.
If we valued children half as much as we claim to, there would not be 8000+ children on waiting lists in MN for subsidized daycare.
Do you know who your state legislator is? This will not change until some of us make that call. Share this widely.
Sample 4 minute video of Kids At Risk Action talk on child protection in America (invite KARA to speak at your conference – Mike@invisiblechildren.org )
California has over 500,000 children children lacking stable housing.
35% of Mississippi’s children live in poverty.
Arkansas, Alabama, & New Mexico have the next highest rates of child poverty and homelessness in the nation.
Homelessness leads to mental health issues, crime, school problems (low performance and graduation rates). Children in poverty with poor living conditions suffer from multiple stresses that last a lifetime.
No one wins when children that can’t cope with their surroundings become adults that can’t cope with their surroundings. We all benefit when children can become productive members of the community leading healthy lives. Read the report here.
one in thirty kids – 2.5 million American children, experienced homelessness last year.
Many states don’t offer children insurance, Crisis nurseries, daycare, prenatal care, or healthcare – and parental leave for new babies is off the table in half the nation.
The U.S is well known for having the highest child poverty rates, STD rates, juvenile crime and preteen pregnancy rates among the advanced nations.
States that don’t offer prenatal care, daycare, insurance, or housing for 2 year olds cost themselves great sums in the long run; crime, prisons, and dysfunctional adults – the opposite of taxpaying, productive citizens. are very expensive.
I maintain that those states are filled with legislators that can’t add. If they could, they would see the terrific long term costs unhealthy children without coping skills create within their communities in crime, prisons, health care and extreme costs to schools and social services in their communities (and this makes for really unhappy/unsafe neighborhoods).
Unhealthy and unprepared children explain our why our schools repeatedly rank at or near the bottom with reading, math, science, history test scores and our graduation rates remain among the lowest of the industrialized nations.
Today’s Star Tribune article by Daniel Heimpel on creating an Office Of Child Protection is a great idea but long term probabilities for its success are not very good.
Children can’t vote and adults are mostly given to fist shaking and blaming if reminded of institutional failures when a child is found in a dumpster or dead after fifteen reports of child abuse.
States will fight hard for their rights to not provide insurance, prenatal care, or child protection and make it sound like they are “saving families” in the process.
A child protection Czar would be busy 24 / 7 fighting state by state with Louisiana, Mexico, South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and a handful of others that are really committed to policies of ignoring poor families, child death, child mortality, child poverty, child health, and uninsured children.
I like the idea of protecting children and creating a child protection Czar, but Hercules died a very long time ago and I don’t know who else could fight that fight.
DE: State Investigated Slain Del. Girl’s Mom 4 Times
Asssociated Press – November 10, 2014
Child protection officials in Delaware closed four separate investigations into a mother now charged in the beating death of her 4-year-old daughter, closing all of them after ruling that repeated complaints of abuse and neglect were unsubstantiated.
MN: Lessons from child abuse deaths go unheeded in Minnesota (Opinion)
Minneapolis Star Tribune – November 09, 2014
A Star Tribune examination of state and county records shows little evidence that the mortality reviews are stopping child protection failures. The reviews often take years to complete – and sometimes do not occur at all. What’s more, findings from such reviews are frequently sealed off from public scrutiny, despite a federal law requiring more disclosure.
San Antonio Nov 7 2014 Captured fugitive Matthew Aranda sentenced in 3 year old Melody Velasquez death, http://www.foxsanantonio.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/captured-fugitive-sentenced-childs-death-7912.shtml#.VGFWbvnF98E
Bakersfield CA Nov 7 2014 No bail in foster child’s death in the killing of 3 year old Serenity Gandara http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/local/x400519558/No-bail-in-foster-childs-death
West Caln township PA, Nov 6 2014 3 year old Scotty McMillan hung up by feet, beaten & killed http://7online.com/news/police-3-year-old-hung-up-by-feet-beaten-killed-in-pa/383684/
Pittsburgh PA Nov 6 2014 five week old baby dead, two other children suffered abuse, Lincohn Levys charged with aggravated assault, Sheena Alston charged with child endangerment. http://www.wpxi.com/news/news/local/couple-faces-judge-after-death-child/nh2jy/
San Diego CA Nov 3 2014 Daycare provider held on 2M bail in 11 month old Louis Michael Oliver’s death. http://fox5sandiego.com/2014/11/03/daycare-provider-held-on-2-million-dollars-bail-in-childs-death/
TX: Texas Girl Was Taken Away From Parents Because They Smoked Pot, Only to Be Killed in Foster Care (Opinion)
Houston Press – November 06, 2014
While the idea of removing a toddler from her parents’ care not for abuse, but for simple marijuana use, is puzzling at best, what’s even more disconcerting is that the same rules didn’t apply to her foster family.
http://blogs.houstonpress.com/news/2014/11/placing_kids_in_foster_care_for_weed_cases_has_dire_consequences.php Read the rest of this entry →
Please send KARA clips from your local news regarding child protection information in your state and please let me know if you are reading this from outside the U.S. and would like to see more news about child abuse and child protection issues from your community.
US: Will Supreme Court muzzle teachers in child abuse trials? (Commentary)
Staten Island Advance – October 06, 2014
On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal arising out of Ohio which, depending on how it’s resolved, could eliminate a critically important method of proving child abuse.
US: Incarceration plays a major role in health and health disparities in the United States Read the rest of this entry →
Thank You former MN Supreme Court Justice Kathleen Blatz for joining the task force and your years of speaking out about the serious failures within our child protection system.
Thank You Governor Mark Dayton for using the long overdue “colossal failure” language to describe an overburdened, misunderstood, and under-supported child protection system and creating the investigative task force to make it work better for children.
From the fifty children in my CASA guardian ad-Litem caseload, Thank You.
You have given voice to the tragic failure of child protection that allows four year olds to die tortured deaths after 10, 20, 30 reports of child abuse to state agencies.
Without you, these children have no voice;
Not in the homes they are raised in,
Not in the courts that investigate their families,
Not in the media or the state legislature (they can’t write and don’t vote).
These children are silent and invisible without you.
We the public find child abuse uncomfortable and refuse to pay attention until a baby is found in a dumpster and then we wring our collective hands about ‘those awful people’ and work to punish a social worker and send the parental offender to prison.
That the parent was a fourth generation abused preteen mother with serious mental health issues has little significance to us. Justice must be served.
None of the fifty children I lobbied to remove from their toxic homes ever made the newspaper.
Not the baby with the bottom half of her body burned off, the boy who was tied to a bed, beaten, starved, and sexually abused for four years, or the more than ten other very young children who were also sexually abused – 2,3, 4, and 7 and 9.
Most of these children remained in their homes suffering their abuse for years.
Most of these very young children were given psychotropic medications instead of useful mental health services and they never did receive the help they needed to recover from the violence that had been done to them as children.
Most of my guardian ad-Litem kids did not go on to lead productive lives.
Today, seven percent of MN child abuse cases are investigated. Only the very worst of the very worst cases ever make it into child protective services. Minnesota’s family assessment process does not even ask the question “if” the child was abused. We don’t want to know. The system is underfunded, undertrained, and under – resourced and can’t handle what it works with today.
Quote from Erin Sullivan Sutton (Assistant Commissioner from children and family services);
“It’s a mistake to think child protection was a success before the advent of family assessment”.
I think this is an understatement, but it does draw our attention to the depth and scope of the problem.
It is against Minnesota law to use prior reported cases of child abuse within a family to determine if the family is torturing their children. Legislators that defend this practice have not thought it through. This was after all a death sentence for Eric Dean, Dennis Jergens, Desi Irving, Lakesha Victor, and over twenty five other children who were killed while well known to child protective services (and what about the hundreds of other children that remained in violent, dangerous and neglectful homes).
The trauma’s suffered by abused and neglected children last a lifetime and go a long way towards explaining the mental health issues leading to the violence, crime, prisons, failed schools, and unsafe streets in our communities.
Children deserve better.
Children should have the right to a safe home and certainly not to die when the community has been told again and again and again about their abuse.
Child Welfare in the News is distributed at no charge by Child Welfare Information Gateway (www.childwelfare.gov), a service of the Children’s Bureau/ACF/HHS (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb). It features news stories on topics of interest to child welfare and related professionals. Inclusion does not imply endorsement of any view expressed in an article, and opinions or views do not reflect those of Child Welfare Information Gateway, the Children’s Bureau, or staff. Other free subscriptions from Child Welfare Information Gateway are available at: www.childwelfare.gov/admin/subscribe
The following are collected from September 9th to today;
—CA: Drugging Our Kids
San Jose Mercury News – September 20, 2014
Children in California’s foster care system are prescribed unproven, risky medications at alarming rates.
FL: DCF was alerted 2 weeks before deadly rampage
Bradenton Herald – September 22, 2014
Two weeks before Don Charles Spirit annihilated his family, Florida child protection investigators were told that his grandchildren were surrounded by drug abusers – living with a grandfather whose history included the accidental killing of his son, and the physical abuse of his daughter and grandkids.
MN: Gov. Dayton orders changes to Minnesota’s child protection programs
Northland’s News Center – September 22, 2014
Governor Mark Dayton ordered the Department of Human Services Monday, to take a closer look at how child abuse cases are investigated. Also: Abuse case drives Dayton to order county child welfare reviews (Includes audio): http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/09/22/gov-dayton-plans-measures-to-combat-child-abuse
http://www.northlandsnewscenter.com/news/Gov-Dayton-orders-changes-to-Minnesotas-child-protection-programs-276397681.html Read the rest of this entry →
KIds For Cash the movie is a documentary about two Pennsylvania Judges (Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan) who were imprisoned for 40 years because they sentenced thousands of innocent juveniles (some as young as ten years old) to prison for 2.5 million dollars in kickbacks.
Judge Ciavarella received a 28 year sentence, and Conahan is awaiting sentencing)
This movie captures the devastating impact imprisonment has on youth and the dangers of not policing privatized facilities. It seems wrong to me that the prison owners who paid the illegal kickbacks are not being sentenced along with the judges. Thousands of lives were ruined and there is no getting back a childhood or erasing the damage done to the poor children ruined by this monstrous institutional failure.
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The language in today’s Star Tribune describing the bloody whipping of Viking’s star Adrian Peterson’s four year old boy *(Tyrese Robert Ruffin) demonstrates the lengths my community will go to to protect the rights of 250 pound men to brutalize their 45 pound four year old children. MN Vikings Adrian Peterson beat his son repeatedly with a stick and had used belts to beat him on numerous other occasions (the child’s words in the Houston police report).
Beaten savagely by a 240 pound professional athlete, this very young child had leaves stuffed into his mouth and suffered open wounds on his back and buttocks, and a bruised penis. He still had welts a week after the beating.
The Star Tribune today ran two articles about this poor traumatized boy with “not reasonable” and “reactions dwell on line between discipline & abuse” in the titles. Nowhere in the articles is child protection mentioned. It is mostly a discussion about football.
Adrian’s defense was that his father beat him the same way. For the religious among us, “visiting the iniquity (horrors) of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
or the much easier to remember, “like father, like son”.
None of this will help Tyrese become a normal, coping child and there is reason to believe that the he suffers from some behavioral problems already (I would argue a result of the traumas inflicted upon him by his monster of a father).
If you search this blog by, “the states”, you will find that children throughout America live in danger of violence and death with not enough help from their state, county, or federal government. They only get help from the media when they die and someone needs to go to jail.
The only law that protects children at a federal level is the “Imminent Harm Doctrine” which allows a judge to remove a child whose life is endangered by a a caregiver. Judges have great leeway in determining what ”imminent harm” means. In MN it means that 80% of children will be abused again while under court supervision and that 29% of abused children will be sent back to the abusive conditions they were rescued from,
To be fair, most states have underfunded courts and child protection systems. We as a people, tend instead to deny resources and blame the social worker when a baby is found in a dumpster – instead of funding programs that might help children.
Instead of the critical thinking which would draw our attention to the vast numbers of children reported abused each year (six million), we seem to prefer an absence of awareness to children’s issues.
Four year old Eric Dean’s recent tortured murder brought about the usual wringing of hands, blaming, and pontification but will things change?
Crisis nurseries, subsidized day care, mental health care, child protection standards for counties to follow, along with reporting and accountability, would actually make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. Thank you Governor Dayton for pointing out the “colossal failure” of the child protection system in MN. It really could use our support.
Looking at today’s paper, it appears our community is more inclined to argue about how many times or how hard you can hit your child because “you have the right to”. Kansas recently proposed a law allowing caregivers (all caregivers including coaches, teachers, and just about anyone in charge of a child) to hit a child up to ten times and leave bruises and bloody noses.
What’s the difference between discipline and abuse? Trauma. And it lasts forever.
From today’s Houston newspaper, “As of publication, Peterson is not under arrest and is expected to play for the Vikings this weekend when they host the Patriots. (UPDATE: Shortly after publication of this story the Vikings deactivated Peterson for Sunday’s game against the Patriots.)”
*note about Tyrese name not appearing anywhere in the approximately 8000 words printed in the Star Tribune today indicates the boys lack of importance to the story. Every lawyer’s name got ink, as did multiple football celebrities and experts from a number of disciplines.
September 9th live WCCO radio interview with Jordana Green (ten minutes)
A lively discussion of the critical issues facing abused and neglected children and what we can make life better for them.
Minnesota’s abused and neglected children finally catch a break. Brandon Stahl’s superb reporting on the tortured death of 4-year old Eric Dean after fifteen ignored reports finally reached the State’s top child protection people (Erin Sullivan Sutton) and is trickling down to the legislators that voted to eliminate what was at the time already weak tracking, reporting, and responding to of child abuse complaints by counties.
While this is great news for the 68,000 children that are reported as abused in MN each year, it will not restore the millions of dollars that have been cut from County budgets for child protection services that would allow counties to:
Provide the public access to a transparent record keeping and tracking that will allow transparency that the rest of us might monitor how reports of abuse are responded to across the state,
Create consistent standards for screening in cases from county to county (today, four MN counties screen out 90% of child abuse reports)
Fix the damage done already to the thousands of MN children that have been screened out and are living in horrific circumstances,
It is left to be seen if the legislative turnaround will impact the 29% of abused children in the system that today are sent back to abusive homes,
Or our state ranking as 47th in the U.S. on the amount it spends on children in child protection,
Or that 80% of Minnesota’s abused children are abused again while under court supervision,
It will also not shrink case loads, create more crisis nurseries, shrink the waiting list for subsidized day care (over 8000), or make the child protection system more child and family friendly.
The biggest issue might be that these terrified and tortured children have no control or voice in their own homes, no voice or lobby at the statehouse to make laws to protect them, no voice (except for Brandon Stahl) in the media, and the only federal law that protects children in America is the “imminent harm doctrine” that forbids people from killing their children, which is interpreted by different courts in very different ways.
These issues are beyond the powers of the children being affected and are up to us the adults who will give voice to the tragic circumstances abused and neglected children live through every day of their young lives.
Support KARA’s MN Public Television Documentary Project on this topic
This is the first time in my memory that a key reporter (Brandon Stahl) from a major newspaper (Star Tribune) has taken the time and energy to thoroughly investigate child abuse. The greatest sadness in all this may be that a baby must die for the public to care enough to read about it. As a volunteer guardian ad-Litem and CASAMN board member, I’ve come to know many children that have lived horrific lives and some that have tried to escape by killing themselves (one four year old, and a seven year old foster boy that hung himself and left a note).
Lois Jurgens tortured and killed her three year old adopted son Dennis Jergens over time and in a most brutal fashion. She was the adoptive mother of six children and she tortured them all over long periods of time. She was eventually convicted and sentenced for murder – but not before adopting five other children (after Dennis’s was tortured to death).
Prior to the adoption of Dennis, Lois had been hospitalized three times for mental illness and there were Mayo Clinic psychiatrist records strongly recommending against Lois becoming an adoptive parent because she was a potential paranoid schizophrenic.
She had been turned down by a number of Catholic adoption agencies, but Ramsey County (like many counties) was having trouble finding adoptive homes for abandoned and abused children. Within a year of the adoption, Dennis was admitted to the Ramsey County hospital with burns on his penis and bruises all over his two year old body.
Five years after Dennis’ death, Lois and her husband moved to Kentucky and adopted five more children (states still don’t share information in many cases).
Brandon Stahl has written clearly and accurately about four year old Eric Dean’s short tortured life and the institutional failures that lead to his death. How fifteen reports were made to the under–trained/understaffed/under-resourced county workers ignored all of them.
There will be blaming and hand-wringing by the county administrators until this story goes away, and then we can expect a long silence until the next horrific and completely avoidable child death occurs in our state.
There are four counties in MN that screen out 90% of child abuse cases and the rest of the state screens out 71%.
In my own child protection volunteer work, the state of Wisconsin had a court order forbidding a man to be around young boys because of what he did to them.
This man had spent 2/3 of his adult life in prison for crimes he had committed upon young boys when he was given custody of his four year old son. That boy, his son, was tied to a bed and left alone for days at a time without food or water, sexually abused, and beaten from head to toe. When I met this boy, his whole body was covered with bruises (he was seven years old).
This boy’s four year, tortured, near death experience was the direct result of a county not having the most simple safeguards in place.
The court order was a public document, the prison record for crimes against children were available in any background check – how much more blatant could this oversight have been?
I have come to believe that the fault lies in our aversion to the topic and the absence of discussion about child abuse that has made it so prolific in our nation. Six million children are now reported annually in this nation and very few of those reports are responded to and fewer still are tracked and monitored.
There is very little difference in the circumstances that killed Dennis Jergens, and the circumstances that almost killed my guardian ad-Litem case child, and now, those circumstances have killed Eric Dean.
The horror of abusive child death are the sign of a damaged social safety net. If our young and most vulnerable can’t be looked after, we are surely a misguided community.
We also know that the long lasting results of child abuse will fill our prisons, damage out education system, and have made life unsafe and unhappy in many of our communities.
Thank you Brandon Stahl for your excellent work. Please continue until a few more of us wake up to help these children from our institutional neglect and put in place safeguards that will improve the lives of abused and neglected children.
Gordon Collins-Faunce, a father with PTSD & related psychotropic medications, and a history of physical and sexual abuse growing up in his own foster family, hurled his two-month old son into a chair. Ethan Henderson died three days later. Child Protective services had been alerted but deemed the boy was safe. While it is easy to blame the workers, it solves nothing without attention to the systems, resources and procedures that will prevent the next Ethan Henderson from death or terrible injury in an abusive family home. Support KARA’s tpt Television documentary about child abuse Read the rest of this entry →
A few months ago Brandon Stahl presented Star Tribune readers with the sad fact that four Minnesota counties screen out 90% of child abuse calls. Today, you have shown us how a child can be reported to Child Protection Services fifteen times with egg sized lumps, multiple bite marks, broken arm, swollen cheeks, black eye, facial scabs and puncture wounds and have those reports screened out as unimportant fourteen times.
Eric’s death was as violent and tortured as his life was. Eric’s day care providers tried again and again to report to Pope County Child Protection the bleeding and bruises that had been visited on a helpless child but even these mandated reporters finally gave up when they realized that the County had no intention of taking any action to save this child.
This story has been repeated 54 times in Minnesota since 2005 (children that have been murdered by their caregivers after being reported to child protection).
29% of abused MN children are sent back into the abusive conditions they were rescued from.
MN now ranks 47th among the states on the amount it spends on children in child protection
30% of Minnesota families reported for abuse receive services
The waiting list for subsidized daycare in MN is over 8000 names long (people just quit signing up)
80% of Minnesota’s abused children are abused again while under court supervision (this data from U of M CURA Reporter Summer Fall 2013).
For all the talk about how precious children are, some Minnesota children are more precious than others. This is how Minnesotans value other people’s children.
As a longtime CASA guardian ad-Litem, I have seen horrific things done to very young children and feel compelled to repeat their stories. We need to have this conversation if anything is going to change.
I know what abuse and violence does to children – and the effects of abuse and violence are with that child forever.
These terrified and tortured children have no rights, no lobby to be heard at the State House, and with no CASA guardian ad-Litem, no voice to describe what it’s like to be tortured to death as a three year old in your own home.
Think about just how lucky you were to be born into a family that loved you (or at least didn’t beat, neglect, or molest you).
Minnesota’s under-funding of programs that could provide reporting and services to at risk children is a moral failure. If it were not for Brandon Stahl’s reporting on Eric Dean’s very avoidable senseless death, just the few people who had him in their daycare center would know about this tragedy. There is something amoral in community that allows three year old children to be tortured to death and then forgotten about.
At times like this, the path of least resistance is to hate and blame Pope County and their Child Protection Services. I will argue that it is us, as a State and its voters, that have just not deemed these children important enough to make the reporting and investigation of child abuse a priority and mandate standards to insure that 3 year old children are not tortured to death in the presence of Child Protection Workers.
Support KARA’s TPT Documentary Partnership Project (pass this on to your friends)
Today’s Denver Post Article reports a just completed state child protection workload study that indicates a need for 574 more child protection workers to keep abused and neglected children safe in the state (a 49% increase). Of the 150 CP workers interviewed, 100 felt that their case load was unmanageable.
Only 25% of these workers had face to face contact with their caseload children on a monthly basis. That’s pretty cold. Monthly contact is not enough to start with. The system can be so cold and removed and the family and child are so at risk.
There is currently a call for a Colorado Child Protection Ombudsman, who would investigate complaints within the child welfare system. That would be a start towards recording and responding to the biggest problems faced by children, families, and the people trying to make the system work.
2 years ago the Post published a series about 175 Colorado children who died of abuse and neglect (72 of them known within the child protection system). The video on this site makes a compelling argument for adequate reporting, more resources, better training for workers, and smaller caseloads – monthly visits are not enough.
Child Welfare in the News is distributed at no charge by Child Welfare Information Gateway (www.childwelfare.gov), a service of the Children’s Bureau/ACF/HHS (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb). It features news stories on topics of interest to child welfare and related professionals.
SC: Exclusive – Robert Guinyard’s life and death in SC’s child welfare system
The State – August 17, 2014
Since his death, Robert has become the face of the debate over whether Social Services is doing all it can to protect children like the 4-year-old, one of 67 children who died last year after contact with the state’s child welfare agency.
http://www.thestate.com/2014/08/17/3623563/exclusive-robert-guinyards-life.html Read the rest of this entry →
Last night KARA board members Sam, Tiffin, and I attended a small gathering of people committed to improving the lives of abused and neglected children to meet and talk with Jane Stevens, journalist and founder of ACEsTooHigh and the ACEsConnection.
Jane spoke about the impact the ACEs research is having and how different states are approaching the powerful information on how trauma impacts children that continues to flow from the medical community.
Awareness of the ACEs scoring is hugely important and communities that are working to implement programs that reverse or mitigate the impact of childhood trauma are seeing improvement in graduation rates, a decline in crime and prison populations, much safer and happier neighborhoods.
The opposite side of this approach are DR. Bruce Perry’s words that if these issues are not addressed, “25% of Americans will be special needs people by the end of this generation”. He spoke that sentence 8 years ago. And he & the medical community have more than adequate research to back up that statement.
Jane Stevens s the most informed and articulate person I’ve listened to in this field. She has a unique perspective as a researcher/reporter who has read and studied the huge volume of information not just from a single aspect of child abuse and neglect, but from the various institutional perspectives as well as how different communities within the states are seeing with the use or non-use of the ACEs research and recommendations.
Saturday, August 16th KARA concluded the fourth in a series of professionally conducted video interviews being scheduled for our TPT documentary partnership (seven people/about fourteen hours of interview to date).
KARA’s strategy for the program is to blend the perspectives and insights of the children, families, child protection workers, along with other involved professionals by sharing experience within the child protection system to identify what works and what needs to be changed.
Through this process we are discovering just how hard people are trying and it is becoming apparent that awareness, discussion, and change are needed.
KARA and TPT’s underlying hope for this project is to identify and discuss the critical issues that need the attention of the public and policy makers to drive changes that will create better outcomes for abused and neglected children.
The committed and hardworking people doing the work cannot meet the existing needs of the children they serve (only the worst cases get in to the system) and the privations of these children regularly exceed the training, resources, and capacity of our institutions and the foster and adoptive parents that love and care for them. Political neglect and lack of public awareness keep things the same.
Thank you to our interviewees, Tony Fischer, and Tiffini Flynn Forslund for making these interviews possible.
I had the good fortune of meeting Tom Daly who wrote a history of Shakopee women’s prison and he told me how women benefited from the educational offerings and the ability to visit with their children while in prison (his book featured below).
It was Tom’s opinion that the the recidivism rate stayed well below thirty percent when the prison was in a “reform” mode. Today it hovers around 70 percent, like the rest of American prisons (now that the reforms are gone).
Most women in America’s prisons today are incarcerated under the Kingpin laws. Most of these women are primarily guilty of being in love with or afraid of, some man (the kingpin). The Kingpin has had years sawed off of his drug dealing sentence for each new “assistant/dealer/co conspirator that he gives us to prosecutors. Most of these women never see the money, not a threat to society, never posing any real threat to society.
The average tenure of women prison wardens is under one year. I spoke at a women’s prison warden’s conference in Bloomington MN a few years back and heard the stories of how awful it is to face these women and continue the grossly unfair conditions and punishment that the law requires.
Pregnant women are or can be shackled in childbirth in 29 states.
Most imprisoned women are incarcerated for Drug Offenses
The sexual abuse of women in prison is a huge problem
Most women in prison are parents and were primary caregivers prior to incarceration
The number of children with an incarcerated mother has doubled between 1991 and 2007
The trend is getting worse and no one benefits. Counties spend millions of dollars to find homes for the children of incarcerated moms and it makes childhood much worse for children than a public health approach to the drug laws would.
Keith knows how abused and neglected children need help to achieve the outcomes necessary to succeed in school and he has solid ideas for improving outcomes for both children and schools.
This was a great beginning to exploring issues impacting at risk children and discovering what needs to happen to make life better for children, our communities, and our institutions.
The systemic issues that affect our schools are key to changing the same systemic problems in our society.
Anyone concerned with children, child protection, and the arguments for or against aggressive state policies should take the time to read this two part series in the Atlantic Journal Magazine this month.
What follows are key pieces that I find a very compelling case for all of us to tell our stories (over and over) and work to improve the programs, support, training, and institutions that impact at risk children. My comments are in italics.
Please add your thoughts in the comment section below.
Key Quotes from the Journal;”
Both my parents were physically abusive, and my father was sexually abusive as well (I later found out he also sexually abused my older half-sister, who moved away when I was two). The first time I made an outcry to an adult about my abuse, I was 4. CPS was called, they made a visit, nothing happened. Over the next several years, CPS was called several more times: a doctor who noted that a pelvic infection in an 8-year-old was not right; a teacher who observed bruises and erratic behavior. When I was 14, I called them myself because my father choked me until I passed out and I was frightened he would kill me. Sometimes they sent someone to look into it, sometimes not. I only found out about the other calls when I got to look at my file later on. Between ages 4 and 15, there were a total of 5 calls made to CPS on my behalf. Nothing was ever done. That’s 10 years of my life. I have fifty stories just like this as a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem – violence and or sexual abuse happened to almost every child in my caseload.
Do you know what 10 years looks like to a child who doesn’t know when or why she will be beaten next, just that it will likely be soon? To a child who, night after night, dreads her bedroom door opening? I could have, maybe (foster care is no picnic either) been safe all that time, if there really was the problem of over-aggressive CPS response that you describe. You know how I got out? A teacher helped me run away to a youth shelter. I had a great deal more support than the average child in foster care. Eventually, the state terminated my parent’s custodial rights. And here I am, alive, so many years later, with a family of my own. Grateful. Was everyone I encountered in CPS awesome? No. But as a whole, they saved my life. Very few of the children I worked with went on to lead happy lives.
You might blame me for not printing the counter argument to this perspective that was printed in the same magazine.
I am unable to do so, because after many years as a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I have never seen a case in the Hennepin County system (where I have worked) that was not over the top abuse, generally years of abuse, most of the time the kind of abuse that made my skin crawl (prostituted seven year old, suicidal four year old, sexually molested two year old, and much much more).
My whole being screams for more funding, fewer cases per worker, better training, and more resources for the children and people working with them. Those working to discredit the people doing the work have got it all wrong. Abused and neglected children need more, not less from we the people, we the community.
Working with abused and neglected children and dysfunctional families is complex and grueling and needs more not less understanding and support.
Blaming social workers when a baby is found in a dumpster is not so different for blaming teachers for failed schools.
Troubled students not only don’t learn, they disrupt and make teaching the rest of the class much more difficult.
This is not so different from blaming law enforcement for the boy in the squad car (admit it, that would be ridiculous – but the analogy works in both prior examples).
Support teachers, support social workers, support justice workers. It is very hard work inside of institutions with very bad governance (and that my friends, is our fault).
As an educated person that simply understands the value of productive citizens and the terrific cost of dysfunctional people have as social burdens on society, I am appalled at the conditions in states (Louisiana, Texas, South Carolina, Virginia, Alaska, and Mississippi) where there are few safeguards for at risk children.
There will never be enough prisons or safe places for the rest of us to avoid the crime and violence that untreated traumatized children bring with them as they grow into adulthood. For those who use religious arguments against government intervention as a safety net for these children, shame on you.
There is not a religion on the planet that abandons the weakest and most vulnerable among us.
This review about the dangers mandated reporters are facing is taken from a series of excellent articles on child abuse by the Daily Kos
As a longtime volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I have too much experience with failure to identify/failure to report terrible things done to children. Reporters genuinely fear for their safety and reputation and fail to report (0r, “see”) horrific abuse to avoid potential damage to themselves.
Minnesota screens out 66% of child abuse complaints overall, but 4 MN counties screen out 90%. The only good thing to say about conditions in Virginia is that there seems to be some transparency in the reporting which one would hope will lead to more concern for abused and neglected children. All this talk about how we value children in America seems to be just talk.
Connecticut DCF Vows to Investigate After 9 Child Deaths This Year Milford, Connecticut June 22, 2014
Following the deaths of nine children this year who had been placed with families involved with Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families, an investigation is being called for. All of the deaths are reportedly caused by something other than natural causes.
KIDS AT RISK ACTION (501(c)3 non-profit, is partnering with Minnesota Public Television (TPT) to tell the INVISIBLE CHILDREN’s story through compelling interviews with children and adults within the world of child protection.
6 million children are reported to child protection services in the U.S. each year (60,000 in MN alone) Only a fraction of these children receive the help they need to lead productive lives. Help KARA change this.
This strong new piece from Rich Gehrman at Safe Passage For Children makes a powerful case for why Minnesota’s abused and neglected children are being shortchanged and what we must do to fix our troubled systems; SafePassage Video
MN Public TV is partnering with KARA for a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. To do this we need your help.
Justina Pelletier’s sad case of medical experimentation on state wards in Massachusetts and the religious freedom to deny children with treatable diseases medical care in so many states, proves the awful truth that children have no significant rights in this nation. Almost five hundred children have died in Florida after DHS contact, more than seventy children died in California from 2008 to 2011, and the Governor of Kentucky (Steve Beshear) hid the evidence of dozens of children murdered by their parents.
* thousands of five, six, and seven year old children in child protective services in this nation are prescribed psychotropic medications to mask their terrible behavioral problems (generally without any significant therapy), &
* the explosive growth of privatized detention centers and prisons that provide inadequate and poorly supervised services for at risk youth which has lead to the exponential growth of prison populations and preteen moms,
and the picture of how America values its children becomes pretty gloomy.
That America pays day care workers about the same as it pays food service workers really shows the low value of our youngest citizens. Most other industrialized nations demand more training and credentials of their daycare workers and they pay them more (a genuine indication that children have value in those societies).
State ward children used as guinea pigs in medical experimentation needs way more scrutiny than it receives as does the consumption of Prozac like drugs on very young children and parents denying their children medical help for treatable illnesses is just wrong.
America’s youngest citizens need more rights to safety, health, and well-being (sign our petition here) and share it with your friends.
Take a moment to check out KARAs public TV documentary on this and other children’s issues and share it with your friends. All the tools are there. Get perks, make a contribution, or simply follow updates. If enough of us get behind it, we can make ‘At Risk Children’s Documentary Project With TPT TV’ happen!
Take a moment to check out KARA at Indiegogo and share it with your friends. All the tools and perks are there. Get perks, make a contribution, or simply follow updates. If enough of us get behind it, we can make “At Risk Children’s Documentary Project with TPT TV” happen.