This is the first time in 30 years (since three year old Dennis Jergens tortured murder) that well written and multiple child abuse stories from our cities major media are forcing our community to consider how shallow our commitment to at risk children is.
As a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I worked with dozens of children with toxic and painful home lives very much like Eric Dean’s home. None of my caseload children ever made the paper – not the girl who had the bottom half of her body scalded off, not the boy sexually abused, tied to a bed & left alone for days, starved and beaten for four years, not the suicidal four year old, the prostituted seven year old, or the small boy who walked back home (35 miles) from Cambridge on a ten degree night in a T shirt because he was thrown out of a group home as punishment for his mental health problems. Their stories, and a million others every year, are never in the newspaper, never told on TV or radio, and rarely spoken of by the people that know them.
These are awful and uncomfortable stories that we would rather not speak of and the children themselves rarely know just how wrong what has happened to them is. Nor do they know the life long traumatizing damage that has been done to them.
But I know.
I also know, that until the rest of the community cares enough about the horrific damage done to thousands of abused children every week (and not just the tortured dead children that make the newspaper) to have in place a child protection system that identifies and deals with children needing services, reporting, and policies to keep them safe, our prisons will remain full, our schools to fail, our communities unsafe, and children will be traumatized in their homes on a daily basis.
Without Brandon Stahl’s Star Tribune reports, Governor Dayton would not have ordered a joint county-state investigation of Minnesota’s child protection services and Adrian Peterson’s son being beaten with a stick and forced to eat leaves would not have been a news item any more than the guardian ad-Litem cases I have written about in this article and Adrian would still be playing football as a star for the Vikings and his forty pound son would be hit again and again by a 240 pound professional athlete.
What follows is a brief report on the abused and neglected children tortured or murdered in Texas recently. Brandon, would you consider a trip to Texas to save those children?
Texas Has 12,000 children in foster care with a staff of 124 caseworkers but there are 350 CPA’s overseeing the payments to foster homes.
2 more stories;
In October, 11-month-old Orien Hamilton died in the Cedar Park home of her step-aunt, who was her foster mother, while in the care of a man with a violent history. State investigators said Lutheran Social Services of the South, the placement contractor overseeing Orien, didn’t adequately screen the man, the father of the aunt’s three children, to find that he was living at the house.
Orien’s father said he also had warned Child Protective Services, which is supposed to regularly monitor foster children, that the man was staying in the home with Orien.
Jacob Salas is accused of crushing the child’s head between his knee and the floor.
In July, 2-year-old Alexandria Hill died in Rockdale, an hour northeast of Austin, after her foster mother allegedly slammed her head on the floor. The foster mother, Sherill Small, who later was charged with capital murder, reportedly told police she lost her temper. The state determined Texas Mentor, a for-profit placement contractor, didn’t conduct adequate background checks on people who visited the home and violated other state standards.
After Orien’s death, state officials announced new safety measures, including an increase in unannounced visits to foster homes and tighter background checks for visitors.
Retired Judge John Specia, head of the department that regulates foster care, has since traveled the state, holding forums with private foster care agencies to try to improve the system ahead of the redesign, which will take years to fully implement.
For Marcia Robinson Lowry, head of Children’s Rights, which has filed lawsuits nationwide since the 1980s as a way to force reform, these efforts come too late and aren’t enough.
“The trouble is it takes a dead child for (Specia) to be concerned about the foster care system he runs,” Lowry said.