It hurt me to hear it suggested that Brandon Stahl’s reporting on child protection in Minnesota is somehow a cause of the troubles within the system today. It is precisely the lack of accountability, reporting and transparency that has grown our child protection troubles to where they are today.
The thing missing from last night’s Child Protection Oversight Committee meeting was the voice of someone that experienced child protective services (to put a human face on the conversation) and a fearless front line worker or CASA guardian ad-Litem to describe the depth and scope of the issues on the table.
People speaking in a roomful of professionals find it difficult to use the words or employ a passion that puts urgency and humanity into the facts that rule the fabric of our community and the lives of at risk children.
We also avoid topics that can’t be dealt with in our current institutional paradigm.
When Dee Wilson delivered the report on the Casey Foundation’s investigation of Child Protection to the County Commissioners he referenced the fact that St. Joe’s Home for Children was the primary resource for the most troubled children entering Child Protective Services.
The Casey Foundation reported that St Joe’s was not able to deal with the level of trauma and behavioral problems it is forced to manage on a daily basis.
The truth underlying Dee’s statement needs to be recognized as the tip of the iceberg it is (we don’t).
We will continue to suffer the consequences of troubled youth unable to cope in school, with their peers, birth and foster families until the significance of child abuse trauma is dealt with.
I understand how hard it is for policy makers to grasp these complex issues and know where to put resources*.
There are so many competing voices and so few obvious best choices.
The human part of this conversation that should drive our decisions is whispered, obfuscated or understated.
The voice of a child’s experience and an objective & transparent description of systems, process and strategy would go a long way in identifying the better choices.
*There are almost 900 emergency psychiatric visits to HCMC every month (in just one metro hospital) and many of them are children.
Sheriffs, police, teachers, social and health workers, foster and adoptive parents are becoming mental health service providers (Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington County sheriffs threatened to sue over this).
This is not a report on the meeting. These are my observations on how important the topic of child trauma, mental health services and the overuse of psychotropic medications on children are and how they are not recognized as key issues in these discussions.