KARA has been reporting and speaking on critical issues impacting abused and neglected children for many years.

This article submitted by long time CASA guardian ad Litem Mike Tikkanen

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All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

The Red Lake massacre 13 years ago happened when 16 year old Jeff Weise was ignored and unable to find help after repeatedly talking about homicide and suicide and even posting these thoughts on social media.  Within a year after the tragedy, a 3.5 million dollar mental health center was opened on the reservation.

A few years later, I interviewed a police chief from a town of 10,000 people.  He spoke of the inability of his officers to provide anywhere near appropriate services or the level of service necessary for health and safety of children and young families in his community.

He related the frequency of his officers responding to domestic violence and child abuse and the tremendous need for crisis nurseries, child protective services and lack of local drug and alcohol programs.

Whether it’s substance abuse, extreme poverty or mental health issues, young families suffer profoundly when services are not available.

These three Star Tribune stories from today’s paper clearly articulate how we under value MN children;

15,000 licensed child care providers gone

Ogema woman killed her sons and then herself

Fairfax police officer Derek Carlson

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From the Tribune article; A 2017 update to the CRPD report estimates that there is a shortage of 35,447 slots outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Two-parent households that would like to have both parents working but lack child care end up having to make the choice between career advancement and family well-being. Parents sometimes withdraw from the workforce or move to a different community where they can find child care. Single-parent households face impossible choices when child care is unavailable.

And with an already tight labor market, greater Minnesota businesses need all who want to be active in the workforce.

The Initiative Foundations are working with communities to identify solutions and provide technical expertise for child care solutions. Often, the assumption is that building a new child care center will solve the problem, but we know this is not always the case. Some creative examples include partnering with faith communities or senior living facilities to use existing space, employers providing on-site care or sponsoring outside care, or using existing commercial space rather than building an entirely new center.

For rural areas, where population density is so much lower, licensed in-home child care is and will continue to be key.

A large piece of the child care shortage puzzle is ensuring that the providers we do have decide to stay in the field. Greater Minnesota lost 15,000 licensed, family-based child care slots between 2006 and 2015, according to the CRPD. Some in-home providers are “aging out” while others have chosen other employment paths.