Child Welfare In The News (find your state here – some international)

June 5, 2014 in CASA, Child Death, Crime and Courts, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States

rabbit yawningKARA gathers information and reports on child protection issues around the nation.  Check this out to see what’s happening in your state (and some international reporting).

Feel free to send us information about important children’s issues in your state,


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New York Saves $666 per State Ward Child (Destroying Children & An Important CASA Program)

January 27, 2013 in CASA, Crime and Courts, Guardian ad-Litem, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States

4 little kittens..New York Ranks 44th in adoption of state ward children and 40th in moving children off of the state ward list (NY Times 1.27.13 SMALL SAVINGS, BUT CHILDREN PAY THE PRICE).

At a cost of about $666/per child, abused and neglected children have had a personal volunteer CASA voice speak for them in the cold, hard, underfunded institution that is child protection in New York City.  CASA graduates in New York City are half as likely as non CASA children to re enter the system (and a whole host of other positive measurements).

One state ward child could not  read in school until his CASA volunteer pointed out the boy simply needed a new prescription for his glasses.

From personal experience as a MN CASA volunteer, I can guarantee Governor Andrew Cuomo & NY that you will not be saving any money by eliminating funding for CASA programs.

In my public talk (4 minute video clip of my presentation) I point out how 3 families in my CASA volunteer case load have cost the county many millions of dollars by not providing basic services to children while they were young enough to save from the ravages of violence and abuse.

One of my CASA case boys alone has cost Hennepin County several million dollars (without counting the people he has stabbed, teacher he assaulted, lives he has crushed, or property he has destroyed). 

In his case, my county saved the money (under $500) it would have cost to complete a background check on the man who requested custody of his son while he was still in prison.

Dad had been incarcerated for the same crimes he was about to commit on his four year old son (violent sexual and physical abuse of very young boys).

There was a court order (reviewed years later) in an adjacent state forbidding that man to be in contact with young children.

This four year old boy had no CASA volunteer.  Instead, he was tied to a bed, sexually abused, beaten, and starved for four years at the hands of his recently paroled, violent, abusive father.

All for a savings of under $500.  This poor tortured young boy has cost my county and state millions to date.

Since he was 7 in 1996, he has been a state ward.

Today he has AIDS and is taking the most expensive drug therapy available.  He will remain a ward of the state in some form, until he dies.

New York is about to ax $800,000 from a program that provides 120 CASA volunteers that provide services to 1500 State Ward Children with the misguided thought that savings will occur.

We talk about valuing children in this nation, but this is not an example of that.   Some of us dealing with at risk children think it’s statements about valuing children in America are just allot of hot air.  “What we do to our children, they will do to society” Pliny the Elder, 2500 years ago.

Please send this post to your friends and legislators and let them know that this sort of short term policy making insures fewer high school graduates, more prisons, and higher crime rates in already crime ridden and unhappy communities.


Let’s make 2013 a better year for children; 

Inspire your campus or organization by motivating them to stand up for at risk children with Mike’s Invisible Children keynote talk.  

Motivate your posse to fully appreciate the value of their efforts & commitment & give them tools to make better things happen for children in your community.

Contact me to start a conversation   Support Kids At Risk Action & Purchase Amazon Kindle Invisible Children Ebook for 2.99 (support KARA) or Printed Book $16.95

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Catholic Charities of Boston vs. The Vatican (the outcome was inevitable)

October 24, 2012 in Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy

Thank you former Chairman of the Catholic Charities of Boston (Peter Meade) and the seven other board members that resigned in protest against the Church using the Catholic Charities organization to be used as a weapon against gay & lesbian couples.

  • As a long time CASA guardian ad-Litem having placed very troubled abandoned children in gay and lesbian homes, I can make powerful arguments for gay and lesbian family adoptions.
  • In every state, the needs of older, troubled abused and neglected children to find loving homes far exceeds the demand.
  • Gay and lesbian couples know what it’s like to be castaways (disenfranchised, dis-included, unwanted, etc).
  • The sensitivity, commitment, and terrific efforts I have witnessed in these homes for these children is at the very top of my list for well-meaning people doing very hard work (raising special needs children demands 24/7 on the job attention to detail, accepting less than great results, little appreciation, and allot of pain).
  • There is NO religion that supports abandoning children (eliminating loving homes for abandoned children is another form of abandonment).
  • I could go on.  However, the argument ends with the sorry statistic that 80% of children aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives  (these children need loving homes).

By not allowing gay / lesbian couples to adopt, there will be that many more state ward children becoming state ward adults.

Which will add to the number of schools that don’t work, prisons we have to build, and communities that become unsafe.

Politicizing abused and neglected children should be viewed as the reprehensible act that it is.

If you are a Catholic reading this piece, please share it with your priest.

Support KARA’s effort to support at risk children; sponsor a conversation in your community (invite me to speak at your conference) / Buy our book or donate Follow us on Twitter  Share This Blog 


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Mike Tikkanen Speaker

February 21, 2009 in Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Mike Tikkanen, mike tikkanen speaking, Public Policy


Successful entrepreneur and author Mike Tikkanen combines his business acumen with his passion for neglected and abused children to offer answers to some of our communities most serious and complex problems.

Since 1996, he’s volunteered in the Guardian ad-Litem program as a court appointed special advocate (CASA). Mike has worked with about fifty “Invisible Children” that have become part of the County Child Protection System. Mike has become passionate about the madness that surrounds the treatment of abused and neglected children.

Learn the key issues facing abused and neglected children, what programs and policies work to improve their lives, and how you can be a better advocate for at risk children.

A public speaker on business for the past twenty years, Mike decided to bring public attention to what goes on behind closed doors and in the dark corners of our communities.  Mike recently held a workshop at the United Nations in New York, and has spoken at many conferences (Social Workers, Women’s Prison Wardens, Educators) and hundreds of business, community, and religious organizations.

Once you’ve heard Mike’s message on Invisible Children, you’ll never be the same. If you want a program that gets your audience thinking, you’ll call Mike Tikkanen. He guarantees a message filled with rock solid evidence, emotion, and ideas. Call him for Luncheons, breakouts, and keynotes.

Areas of Expertise:

Grassroots Change for At Risk Children
Supporting Education for All
Growing Healthy Families and Children

Simplifying the Mental Health Discussion

Mike’s Most Requested Programs:

The Impact of Abuse & Abandonment

(on Children & Communities)

Why Some Kids Don’t Learn in School

(and what it’s like to teach them)

Punishing Abused Children

(restorative justice vs more punishment)

Mental Health and Psychotropic Drugs For Children

(street drugs, big pharma, and therapy)

Economic Issues of Abuse and Neglect

(short term and long term costs and considerations)

A Local, National, and an International Perspective

(comparisons of quality of life and children’s issues between cities, states, and nations)


“Mike encourages everyone to become aware of the critical issues impacting abused and neglected children.  After you hear him speak, you will ask yourself; what can I do to help?”,  Shirley Schroeder, Teacher, guardian ad-Litem, Mother, Grandmother

“A passionate, informative, and compelling look at the shameful treatment of vulnerable Children, how it impacts society, and what we can do about it. Tikkanen effectively mixes personal experience and real-life stories…”,  BurtBurlow, President Growing Communities For Peace

“It is truly critical for adults from all corners of our society to speak out on behalf of children, especially children without someone who cares about them and their futures…”, Connie Skillingstad, Executive Director Prevent Child AbuseMinnesota

“All children are born into a promise that the adults in their lives would take care of them. Unfortunately, that promise all too often gets broken and the only recourse these children have is a Child Protection System and Juvenile Justice System that certainly could use more help.”,  Minnesota State Senator, Mee Moua

“Open your ears to riveting and accurate stories of today’s children. Mike’s eye opening experiences encourage us all to reach out and make life better for troubled children in our communities”,  Donald Schmitz, Author and Founder of the Grandkids and Me Foundation

A Rough Day in the News

November 9, 2008 in Crime and Courts, Invisible Children, Kids At Risk Action (KARA)

Three items jumped out at me from yesterday’s New York Times (11.09.08).


In St Johns Arizona, an eight year old boy shot and killed his father and another man. Child abuse was mentioned in the first reports, but is being denied by neighbors and friends. The police have asked that the boy be tried as an adult. 

I am recommending that anyone who reads this contact the St Johns Arizona Police office and ask them to increase their training budget for their department because no sane person wants eight year old children to become part of this nations criminal justice system.


Next, Public defenders in seven states are rejecting new cases and suing to stop the increase in caseloads, claiming that they are unable to provide any real service to anyone under current circumstances. Some lawyers now have 500 cases. One attorney had 13 cases set for trial on the same day. The state of MN recently quit providing public defenders for parents having their children removed through child protection services (it was reversed due to public pressure, but it shows that even a fairly wealthy, and historically liberal state can make onerous decisions).


The state of Arkansas, in what is called “antipathy” to the election of Obama, have voted to forbid unmarried couples from adopting children. This is mainly to thwart gay people from adopting. Anyone working in child protection knows the terrific lack of homes, love, and resources facing adoptive children. It is hard for me to fathom the mean spirited emotions that would so negatively impact already distressed children.


As a long time guardian ad-Litem, I’ve had the experience of gay couples adopting, and it has all been extremely positive. For one, gays have empathy for the abuse and fear carried by abandoned children. They have suffered themselves the social and family pain of ostracism and personal doubt (all abandoned children blame themselves and don’t often completely overcome the mental anguish of being removed from their birth family).


Consider calling Jerry Cox, the president of Family Council Action Committee, (501) 375-7000) the man who obtained the 95,000 signatures that made this bill into law and asking him if he has spent one day in child protection, or knows one child that needs an adoptive home. Maybe ask him if he has any gay friends.


Tell him what I have said about how hard it is for adoptive children to find homes, and how cruel it is to make it even harder. You might mention to him that there isn’t a religion in the world that deliberately makes life more difficult for the weakest and most vulnerable among us & if his religion is behind this meanness, he should abandon his church and find a kinder gentler religion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Tell us your story, comment, or perspective.  If this is worth sharing with others, press the share this button below and send it to someone you know.

Saving Money Saving Children

September 21, 2005 in Crime and Courts, Invisible Children, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy

Hurricane Katrina caused great suffering for thousands of innocent people. Katrina’s adult victims have lost everything but with help, they can still have hope for a return to normal. In five, or ten years the majority of Katrina’s adult victims will have started new lives and Katrina will only be a painful memory.

Ignoring well-known and completely understood dangers creates harm that lingers for years and innocent people will struggle to recover their broken lives. Children removed from a birth-home because of abuse and neglect, have also lost everything. But abused children do not have the benefit of having lived a normal life to which they can return.

A key difference between Katrina’s adults and abused and abandoned children stuck in Child Protection systems is that adjusting and returning to normal is just not possible for most children.
Abandoned children are unable to even envision just what “normal” is.

They see it around them, they want it, but they can’t achieve it. They weren’t taught “normal” in their birth homes. These children learned chaotic and insane behaviors at a young age. Instead of learning how to interact with peers they learned about violence and alcohol, sex and drugs.

Children raised with sex, drugs, violence, and insanity develop differently than normal kids. Abandoned children do not have the skills of socialization.

Abused children have adapted their behaviors to survive in impossible environments. Most of their adapted behaviors are asocial and personally destructive outside of their toxic home environment.

Generally they fail at school, with peers, and with authority figures. The consequences of these deficiencies are ruining the lives of At Risk Children and our society.

Failing schools, preteen pregnancy rates, and burgeoning prison populations point to the severe and lasting impact abused and abandoned children are having on our communities.

About 90% of the children in juvenile justice systems have come out of child protection systems (MN Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz). About 90% of the adults in the criminal justice system have come out of the juvenile justice system. We have created a Prison Feeder system.

Child abuse is to children, what Katrina was to the tens of thousands of Louisiana’s suffering adults. A catastrophic disruption in the normal process of life on earth.

Three million children a year are referred into child protection systems in the U.S. Almost one million children are removed from their birth families. It’s eerie that 600,000 felons are released from American prisons every year.

Had the Army Corp of Engineers been allowed to make the necessary upgrades to Louisiana’s locks and levies the huge expense of rebuilding an entire city could have been avoided. The catastrophic death and suffering of tens of thousands of Louisiana residents could have been avoided also.

If America was to practice a proactive approach to our abused and neglected children, we could avoid the huge expenses of crime, prisons, failing schools, and preteen pregnancies.

Our schools would work and fewer fourteen and fifteen year old girls would have babies that they cannot care for.

We have the resources.

We know what the problem is.

We must quit wasting money on prisons and punishment of children that have been punished all their lives.

Vote for early childhood programs and support mental health initiatives.
Support programs for At Risk Youth.  Start a KARA group in your community

Have something to add?  Tell us your point of view or story…

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