Another Guardian ad-Litem Speaks (thank you David Strand)

Here is how civilized, non-superstitious nations fight problems afflicting their children. The citizens of these enlightened societies use government resources. Their governments are actually controlled by them. Doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers and counselors are employees of the public, via government. They don’t have for-profit hospitals, for-profit schools or for-profit prisons.

They also emphasize prevention instead of cure. Consequently, they spend far less than we do for health care, education, and corrective justice. That’s why their health care and education systems are far less expensive while producing better outcomes. It’s more bang for the buck, what Americans are supposed to prefer.

Details

America’s Science Phobia Ravages Children

The facts of recent demographic studies are mind boggling. In 2008, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shocked the nation with the news that fully a fourth of America’s teen girls now have a sexually transmitted disease, with rates still rising. Earlier the Alan Guttmacher Institute announced results of a study comparing teens in the U.S. with Great Britain, Canada, France and Sweden. By far U.S. teenagers have the highest rates of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs), pregnancy, births and abortions. For example, the teen pregnancy rate of the U.S. is four times the French rate, three times the Swedish rate and twice as high as Great Britain and Canada. America’s policy of turning its back on our youth is nothing short of shocking in its irresponsibility.

Details

Manifesto For Minnesota Children

Education is the engine of progress and prosperity. No nation can achieve its potential for greatness without investing in its human capital. The extent to which children successfully negotiate the treacherous passage to adulthood depends on the earliest years of brain and emotional development. That explains why early childhood education is crucial to society.

America’s current public policy regarding at-risk children is an economic and moral failure:

“We reject community investment programs (implemented today by nearly all developed countries) that stress preventing the creation of at-risk children. Instead we assume colossal costs of corrective measures that mostly fail regardless of how earnestly they are pursued.”

The results of this undocumented policy are many:
1.A child is a work-in-process toward citizenship. A successful citizen adds $5 million of economic value to society in his/her life. If unsuccessful, that person instead costs society several million dollars in expenses. Therefore, the lost opportunity value between a success and a failure is somewhere between $5 and $10 million per child.

Details

RECENT DOCUMENTARY INTERVIEWS (David Strand)

The most disturbing realization from my interview with David Strand is the difference between America’s loud and persistent rhetoric about how “valuable” our children are and how our public policies actually treat them.

We have the highest rate of child poverty among the industrialized nations, charge 25% of our youth in adult courts (just recently quit executing juveniles), and have no meaningful public policy for child safety outside of the “Imminent Harm Doctrine” (which allows a judge to remove a child when his/her life is endangered by their caregivers).

If you want to know how other industrialized nations value children, ask David Strand. David helped form public policy for children over the ten years he lived in Europe. When he returned to the U.S. he wrote an in depth evaluation of the vast difference in public policy towards children between the U.S. and the other 23 advanced nations that we had historically compared ourselves to. NATION OUT OF STEP was the title of his book and it clearly articulated the falling quality of life measurements resulting from failed or non existent public policies regarding how AMERICA treats its children.

If America wants its schools to compete, prisons and crime to shrink, and build a healthier and more capable citizenry, David makes clear that none of this can happen without functioning public policies that address the safety and well-being of children.

Strand spent time as a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem and became familiar with the depth and scope of the problems facing at risk children in his home state (MN). His observations about just how out of whack our public policies are towards children and young families go a long way towards explaining why we have ten times the crime and ten times the prison populations of most other advanced nations. David knows Art Rolnick and Art’s work at the Federal Reserve bank in 2003 defining the high rate of return on investments in programs that promote healthy children.

Perhaps the most painful recognition I came away from this ninety minute interview that it is common for other industrialized nations to use America as an example of what not to do. They don’t want bigger prison systems, more crime and failing schools and they will vote for whatever it takes to not have those our failures.

Details

Thank You Ruben Rosario (for today’s powerful Pioneer Press article supporting our Invisible Children Petition)

“In the spirit of a) enlightened self-interest and b) in order to form a more perfect union, we the people of Minnesota declare that all children have an equal right to preventative health care (the right to see a doctor before they are sick) including prenatal care and to quality early learning (pre-K) programs,” the petition states.

Details

Sign Our Petition For Child Rights, Safety, and Healthcare

Help KARA make a better world for America’s children and sign our petition for basic rights, health care, and safety (even if you’re not from MN)

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/childrens-civil-human?source=c.em.mt&r_by=6732677

Every signature helps.

Details

GOP Is Right; We Are Spending Too Much (because we invest too little)

David Strand is a KARA board member, he has lived in Finland, worked on the making of public policies for children and written about how other advanced nations make public policy on children’s issues. He is a frequent contributor to KARA’s web pages. Look up his other articles under “select a category – David Strand” on the right hand side. David’s article today;

Edwin Green (recently deceased and not his real name) was an executive for 3M from the 1960’s into the 80’s. He once gave me a lecture on business philosophy, a lesson that resonates in today’s climate of political impasse. Edwin mentored me and asked why I was bothering to study for an MBA at night school. I replied my engineering education was quite narrow and studying business helped me understand working at 3M. Smiling broadly, Edwin told me he (also an engineer) hadn’t studied business but “he knew how to run a business.” Mostly, he said, all you have to know is when “to spend a nickel to make a dime”, his one-minute lecture.

Details

Committed To Children’s Issues – Aitkin DFL

Everyone in this group got it. They appreciated just how serious under-serving babies & children can be and what a great investment programs that improve at risk children are.

Why has subsidized daycare remained unobtainable for 95% of Minnesotans that need it?

Why were no mental health services available for Jeff Weiss (Red Lake) or Michael Swanson’s mother (ten years of searching for help).

The sadness that remains decades after the violence committed by children in need of services is never measured, never considered by the media or politicians and never considered outside the cost of jails and prisons that so often become the cornerstone of at risk children’s lives.

I’m hopeful that the Aitkin DFL club will continue our conversation and the battle to speak out for children to give them a voice in a world that today doesn’t hear them.

Details

America: 20 Times More Gun Homicides Than The Rest Of The Developed World

America at that time had slid far from the top in almost all of the important measurements.

Today’s Institutes of Medicine & National Research Council 378 page study demonstrates that our nation is at the bottom of almost every health indicator, early death, the world’s leader in gun death, and U.S. women are now second to last in life expectancy.

David Strand’s study determined that programs helpful to young families and children used regularly in other nations always lead to safer, healthier, and more educated societies.

Details

Child Welfare Policies That U.S. Shun; A Note From David Strand (share this with your state rep)

Other policies protecting children include prohibitions on trying children as adults in court, and targeting of children up to 12 in advertising. Also drug abuse is treated as a disease and not a crime.
The result of all these social investments is that criminal behavior is minimized. Denmark has 8 prisons. If they had the incarceration rate of the US they would need 80. Think about the tremendous savings in correcting anti-social behavior. By the way, they refuse the concept of for-profit prisons as it is considered a dangerous idea. And people in prison do not lose their right to vote. The election participation is about the same as the general population.
Another aspect of the child friendly society is to elevate teaching to the highest regarded profession. Teachers generally outrank even judges in respect. An important benefit to teachers with children is that they do not have to concern themselves with saving for college and university costs. All children who qualify academically are awarded taxpayer paid college education. As a result teachers generally teach for life.

Details

Save Enormous Downstream Costs (Listen Carefully To David Strand’s Advice)

Compared to woeful neglect of the needs of young families in the US and Minnesota, this study revealed the success of preventative public policies that provide universal health care, universal maternity leave, and universal access to professionally staffed nursery school. This is developmental child care, not custodial care so often chosen here because it costs less. Taxpayers would be saved enormous downstream costs by the judicious use of preventative and developmental care for young, struggling families.

An example documented in Minnesota is the research done by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank under the direction of economist Art Rolnick. His team found that there is no better return to the taxpayer than the investment in high quality early childhood education. When our lawmakers intentionally ignore this highly relevant research, they do a disservice to their constituents. This is an example benchmarking, the difference between operating expenses and investments and also the value of resisting the temptation of ruinous short term gain.

Details

How Politics Impact America’s Children

KARA board member David Strand has written a powerful article in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune pointing out how America’s politics continue to bring communities generational poverty that has resulted in the problems this CASA volunteer has worked with over many years.

“Their methods for leveling the economic playing field start with providing all young children with healthy conditions for physical and mental development. Surprisingly, much of the research they rely on comes from America’s best universities.

The proof is that it works — these countries have broken the link of intergenerational poverty that afflicts our country.”

Details

KARA Action Group Manifesto For Early Childhood Education

Education is the engine of progress and prosperity. No nation can achieve its potential for greatness without investing in its human capital. The extent to which children successfully negotiate the treacherous passage to adulthood depends on the earliest years of brain and emotional development. That explains why early childhood education is crucial to society.

America’s public policy regarding at-risk children is an economic and moral failure:

Details

Another CASA volunteer voice

Even considering four decades of exhilarating professional life, my most powerful lesson followed retirement in 1996. This happened when I volunteered as a guardian ad-litem for Hennepin County from 1998 to 2000.

Guardians are court-appointed advocates assigned to help Juvenile Court judges decide the fate of children removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. It is part of the Child Protection System in our state.

The hardest was to look into the eyes of these unlucky kids and realize that they had no chance for a normal life. I could only take that for two years. It was a “kick in the pants” that opened my eyes.

Details

What We Do To Our Children, They will Do To Us

Our precious America, we are taught, is the exception to the world. No other nation can even come close. Tragically, a great many children suffer from a denial of the reality in our country.

The evidence is confirmed by new studies reported in the mainstream media. In March the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released the results of a study of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) among teenage girls. It was a shock. One in five white teens and half of African-American young women are infected with a STD. Across all groups the incidence was one of every four teens, and climbing!

Details

From Child Protection to Soldier

Pressed by the demands of the “global war on terrorism”, theUnited States is violating an international protocol that forbids the recruitment of children under the age of 18 for military service, according to a new report released Tuesday by a major civil rights group that charged that recruitment practices target children as young as 11 years old.

The 46-page report, “Soldiers of Misfortune”, was prepared by theAmerican Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for submission to the U.N. Committeeon the Rights of the Child.

Details

Speak Up For Children

More importantly, supporting day care for disadvantaged children is the right thing to do for all Minnesota’s kids.

In a public meeting at Hamline, Rolnick lamented that this ‘no brainer’ idea is overshadowed at the Capitol by wasteful sports stadiums (and cries for lower taxes*).

More of us need to raise our voices for children if there is going to be a change in public policy toward the weakest and most vulnerable among us (children have no voice but ours in this political system).
* authors words

Details