12 years as an active guardian ad-Litem in county child protection taught me how important people, programs, and services are to children caught up in our court system.
Without early childhood programs like daycare and early learning, at risk children can find it impossible to build the skills needed to succeed in school or in life. Life gets much worse for these children when they are faced with managing their own life as juveniles.
We know that well adjusted children become smarter adults and better citizens, contribute instead of burden our communities, and go on to have families of their own that contribute to, not cost, society.
Unfortunately, our communities are offering less and less in the way of help for abused and neglected children.
MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz has stated that 90% of the youth in our juvenile justice system have passed through child protective services. Almost all inmates in our criminal justice system passed through juvenile justice on this pipeline to prison.
Over half of all youth in the juvenile justice system have diagnosable mental illness, and over half that number have multiple, chronic, and severe diagnosis. It’s a wonder that America has only two million prisoners (five percent of the world population & 25% of the world’s prison population)
America prosecutes over 25% of its juveniles in adult courts.
Many states have bigger budget increases for prisons and jails than for schools and early childhood programs.
Children have no lobby and social workers are trained to not speak of these things outside of their work day. This combination makes the 3 million children reported to child protection each year voiceless. They have no power to escape the cruelty of sex abuse, violence, and dysfunctional upbringing & no way to avoid the mental health consequences that come with it.
America spends 7$ on the aged for every 1$ we spend on children.
Educators are forced to manage the growing population of severely damaged children without the resources (or even the understanding of the underlying issues) to control a classroom.
Instead of supporting educators, we blame them for poor performance, as if they can manage severely damaged children, many of them regularly taking psychotropic medications.
Rather than training daycare workers and supporting early childhood programs, America builds prisons & send juveniles to prison.
“Children who are the victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem, nor are they the problem of the State of Minnesota” said by former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty to State Rep Andy Dawkins and current state commissioner David Strand and demonstrates one political party’s approach to day care and early childhood services.
It is up to you & me to make at least a small effort to enlighten legislators and neighbors to the importance of services for abused and neglected children.
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