This article in the Huffington Post about an AP compilation (over 8 months they canvassed all fifty states) on children dying while involved in America’s child protection systems makes it clear that the issues being discussed by MN Governor Dayton’s Task Force on Child Protection are shared by most if not all states in this nation.
786 children were included in the report, but 230 open-case child deaths were not (seven states with poor reporting were left out).
It is common for state institutions to make information unavailable or hard to find when it comes to child welfare and for governmental agencies “not” to cooperate or share information (especially child death information).
In my experience as a CASA guardian ad-Litem, refusing to share information to help an abused child is always to the detriment of the child being abused. It was because the state did not do a criminal background check that a 7 year old boy was put in the care of a man who had spent 2/3 of his adult life in prison for the kinds of crimes he was about to commit on the boy.
There was even a court order in an adjacent state keeping that man from being around young boys because of what he did to them. That boy was tied to a bed, beaten, starved, sexually abused, left alone in the apartment for days at a time with no toilet access or food. He was covered from head to foot, front and back, with welts and bruises when I met him. He never made the paper and no one besides myself and a few service providers know his story.
Yes, caseloads are too high, training and resources are inadequate to meet the needs of these children, and people throughout the system are unable to provide the level of care these children need. Instead of hiding these facts, we need to talk about them… loudly and persistently.
Brandon Stahl, the intrepid Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter spoke to KARA on camera about how difficult he found it to gather information on abused and murdered children in MN. Not making public information relevant to how a child died serves no good purpose. Who are we protecting by this secrecy?
When there is transparency, issues can be identified, addressed, and resolved. Until then, America’s child protection issues will remain under-reported, under-discussed, under-addressed, misunderstood, and never resolved.
We are better than this aren’t we?