At a Governor’s Task Force Oversight Meeting (on Child Protection in MN in 2014) the head of Hennepin County Commissioners Jan Callison showed genuine concern when she found out* that Social workers weren’t available on weekends or evenings for abused and neglected children when she directed the department to “fix it”.
Note that it is politics and departmental management making bad policy and not problematic workers at the core of this issue.
Jan Callison** indicated that a child protection system should be structured in the best interest of the children who need it and not primarily to accommodate workers or institutions. It was a problem at the time.
When 4 year old Eric Dean was tortured and murdered by his caregiver, there were 4 MN counties that screened out 90% of child abuse reports, social workers were not allowed to review the family’s prior histories of child abuse and Eric had 14 reports of abuse (by mandated reporters) largely ignored.
Too many policy makers and politicians lack an understanding of the depth and scope of abuse and trauma and how children and communities are being impacted by generational child abuse.
This holiday season, let’s gift our youngest voiceless and nonvoting citizens with presents that provide coping skills, healing and care to have the health & mental health necessary for leading a normal life.
By many indicators (child poverty, teen pregnancy & STDs, crime & education)… U.S. youth will be less healthy, educated or well off as their parents. Comparing these same indicators in other developed nations the results are very different and not in our favor.
For people my age, the U.S. was always a leader among the developed nations in health, quality of life, education, child well-being. Not so any more. America’s public policies have become less compassionate & much more punitive to where we now have 5% of the world’s population & 25% of its prison population. There were a stunning 13 million prison and jail releases last year alone.
Daycare is not affordable for many young families leaving many children in the care of unsafe caregivers. Crisis nurseries & mental health services for at risk youth & their parents are out of reach for the majority of people that need them. No sign of Santa Claus for children in any of this.
Public policy makers have been building more and bigger(and privatized – money making) prisons, and mostly ignoring families in trouble. Little attention has been paid to how the troubles of children impact our institutions and daily lives. Minnesota is one of many states to recognize the inadequacy of its child protection services.
Most other advanced nations have policy makers who understand that investments in early childhood programs & support for child safety and young families are a much better investment than prisons and jails.
What do you say to people that would deny health, education, and basic needs for babies and young children?
Start by reminding them that schools, public health and public safety are impacted as are taxes and insurance premiums. No religion abandons the youngest and most vulnerable within their community and let them know that investing in children is always the best investment a government can make.
When institutions are defined by what they create, instead of what they were designed to create”, it must be said that American courts and legislatures are now creating preteen moms and juvenile felons. (Kathleen Long, DANCING WITH DEMONS)
*At a recent oversight committee meeting for MN task force on child protection
** This CASA guardian ad Litem will be forever grateful to Jan Callison for her courage and commitment to abused and neglected children.