“Kids Are Slowly Being Neglected To Death” – Hennepin County Judge Jane Ranum (Thank You from the children in my caseload)

hank You Star Tribune reporter Brandon Stahl

Thank You Pioneer Press reporter Ruben Rosario

Thank You former MN Supreme Court Justice Kathleen Blatz for joining the task force and your years of speaking out about the serious failures within our child protection system.

Thank You Governor Mark Dayton for using the long overdue “colossal failure” language to describe an overburdened, misunderstood, and under-supported child protection system and creating the investigative task force to make it work better for children.

From the fifty children in my CASA guardian ad-Litem caseload, Thank You.

You have given voice to the tragic failure of child protection that allows four year olds to die tortured deaths after 10, 20, 30 reports of child abuse to state agencies.

Without you, these children have no voice;

Not in the homes they are raised in,

Not in the courts that investigate their families,

Not in the media or the state legislature.

These children are silent and invisible without you.

We the public find child abuse uncomfortable and refuse to pay attention until a baby is found in a dumpster and then we wring our collective hands about ‘those awful people’ and work to punish a social worker and send the parental offender to prison.

That the parent was a fourth generation abused preteen mother with serious mental health issues has little significance to us. Justice must be served.

None of the fifty children I lobbied to remove from their toxic homes ever made the newspaper.

Not the baby with the bottom half of her body burned off, the boy who was tied to a bed, beaten, starved, and sexually abused for four years, or the more than ten other very young children who were also sexually abused – 2,3, 4, and 7 and 9.

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“Police & Sheriffs More Concerned About People’s Mental Health Than Advocates Are” (thank you Senator Barb Goodwin)

sunset costaricaI’m always pleased to find outspoken observers in the mental health discussion.  Today’s Star Tribune article begins to articulate the gaping hole in our communities (and the nation’s) approach to mental health.  Much like child suicide and child sex abuse, we have avoided the mental health topic leading to the worst case of overbuilt prisons, unsafe streets, and terribly overwhelmed schools of any industrialized nation.

Senator Barb Goodwin told Abby Simons of the Star Tribune what a sad state it is when public advocates for mental health don’t speak as urgently for mental health services as the service providers forced to deal with mentally unhealthy people.  Is it because the public doesn’t know how damaged abused and neglected children are that they don’t understand what happens to them and the people living with and among them?  I refuse to believe that it is a lack of compassion.

Can you imagine what it’s like to be a juvenile/law enforcement officer, teacher, or other caregiver/service provider choosing between personal safety and protecting a disturbed child?  I watched a 6th grade teacher, a man about my size whack a young girls head on a banister (hard) as she was trying to gouge his eyes out and biting his face.  What college teaches defense tactics to grade school teachers?

My deepest sympathy lies with the birth / foster / adoptive parents unable to obtain mental health services

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1% of U.S. Family Courts Are Safe Baby Courts

This article from the ACEsTooHigh website is a comprehensive article about the difference between traditional family courts and emerging early childhood courts is striking and worth reading in its entirety. In safe baby courts, kids don’t suffer more abuse (and that is very different than the data coming from traditional family courts. The compelling build-up of evidence isn’t just in the data. It’s also stories like this: One mother in Mississippi whose baby was born with crack cocaine in his system went into rehab, was allowed only supervised visitation while the baby remained with his grandparents, complied with the service agreement and achieved unsupervised visitation within four months and custody within six months. She went back to school and eventually received a master’s in social work, married and has a second child.

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10,000 Two and Three Year Olds On Psychotropic Meds (we will pay for this)

ore than 10,000 American toddlers 2 or 3 years old are being medicated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder outside established pediatric guidelines, according to data presented on Friday by an official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, which found that toddlers covered by Medicaid are particularly prone to be put on medication such as Ritalin and Adderall, is among the first efforts to gauge the diagnosis of A.D.H.D. in children below age 4. Doctors at the Georgia Mental Health Forum at the Carter Center in Atlanta, where the data was presented, as well as several outside experts strongly criticized the use of medication in so many children that young.

Continue reading the main story

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18 Months Old, Sexually Abused (allegedly) & Beaten To Death In Maplewood

Genisis is the 8th child murdered in the home by a caregiver since Eric Dean’s death in early 2013 and the 57th child to die of maltreatment since 2005.

The only positive is that the media and public attention absent (for decades) children murdered by their caregivers is now making front page news & driving the Governor to speak out and form a task force to study child protection issues.

Let’s hope those recommendations are enacted by the legislature and the Star Tribune (article on 18 month old Genisis Xiong death today) and other news media stay on top of child safety in our state.

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2 Year Old Shoots Florida Mother To Death (more common than you think)

Most years, more citizens are killed by toddlers with guns than terrorists in America. This time, the toddler shot his mom in a Walmart store.

Gun manufacturers have found really effective marketing tools for selling guns to children (like the pink “Crickett” for five year old’s).

While guns are manufactured all over the world, most guns are sold to American citizens as other nations (except Switzerland) have come to understand the consequences of unregulated marketing of firearms.

In 2010, 18,270 children were killed and injured by gunfire – over 100 accidentally. Florida reported almost five hundred child deaths that occurred after the children were reported to Child Protection Services. A few years ago in Florida, to make matters worse, laws were introduced making it illegal for pediatricians to ask a patient about guns in the house or if they were locked away separately from the ammunition (as a child safety issue). The gun lobby is pretty strong in Florida (the child health and safety lobby is not). The initial bill sought a five million dollar fine and five years in prison for asking a Floridian if there was a gun in the home (that is nuts, right?)

Among the industrialized nations, America has slid to near the bottom of almost every public health indicator with 20 times more gun homicides, and way more mass murders, violent crime, criminals, prisoners, and unsafe streets. If we valued public health more, children more, safe streets more, maybe we could give the gun lobby a little more push-back and secure our communities from some of the sadness making the papers every day.

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477 Child Deaths In FL (preserving families but costing lives)

When 8-week-old Kyla Joy Hall was hospitalized with a bleeding brain and fractures to both legs, both wrists and a foot, police could not determine which of her parents injured her. One thing was certain: Someone had inflicted life-threatening injuries on a newborn.

While Kyla healed in a medical foster home, child-welfare authorities moved to strip both parents of their rights to her. But when her mother bowed out of the picture — to become an actress — her father transformed, without explanation, from abuse suspect into fit parent. Josi Hall, Jacksonville firefighter, was awarded full custody despite the misgivings of his own mother.

Ten months later, Kyla’s father viciously attacked her. Her injuries included a “pulpified” liver, knuckle-sized bruises to her chest and, the decisive blow, a cleaved heart that sustained damage similar to “that of a kick from a horse,” an autopsy said.

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5 People / Week Accidentally Shot By Children (thank you Wayne LaPierre)

265 Moms, dads, brothers, sisters and selves were shot by very young children this year.

This is the first time data on people shot by children has been collected in America. I’m guessing it will go up n next year.

There are 28 states that hold gun owners criminally liable if children access their guns. There is at least one state that fines doctors (Florida- the initial bill called for a five million dollar fine and & 5 years in prison for the doctor) for counselling parents to take preventative measures with their guns if children are in the home. It’s the law. A very crazy law enforced to the detriment of children (most children accidentally shoot themselves).

Facts about children & guns;

More Americans are shot by toddlers (265) with guns than terrorists (151) just this year. This has been true for many years.

Every 30 minutes a child is killed or wounded by guns in America
Our nation leads the world in gun death
This Mother Jones Article included weapons manufacturers marketing materials aimed at very young children. It is disturbing. It was just last week a five year old Kentucky boy killed his two year old sister with his “Crickett” “my first” rifle. You can buy them in hot pink for little girls:

“The Crickett rifle is ideally sized for children four to ten years old and comes in a …Arms manufactures the following youth rifles: Crickett .22WMR Youth Rifles“

Americans killed by terrorists in the last decade (175) Americans killed by guns in the last decade (280,024)

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92% of Foster Care Kids Using Psychotropic Meds Get Them For Unaccepted Reasons (this is drug fraud)

From the Washington Post yesterday, most foster care children on antipsychoctic drugs get them for far too long and without medical justification. 2/3 of the nearly 700 claims studied raised high-risk “quality of care” issues. As a long time CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem, many of my case kids were on multiple drugs simultaneously and many of them hated being forced to use them. Some kids threw the drugs away.

In Minneapolis, I would like to know (there should be more transparency) if six year old Kendrea Johnson’s suicide by hanging involved psychotropic medications. She was a very troubled foster child, in therapy and had talked about homicide and suicide. When Jeff Weise killed himself, his grandfather and 14 others he had talked about suicide and homicide and was taking Prozac.

7 year old foster child Gabriel Myers hung himself and left a note about how he hated Prozac. KARA’s video interviews include families, a City Councilman, and other professionals talking about antipsychotic medications, very young children and suicide. This subject needs our attention now. It is cruel punishment for a child suffering from the traumas of abuse and removal from a birth home to be dealt with.

There are 3 children’s hospitals in the metro area and NO children’s mental health hospitals and there are 800 to 1000 emergency psychiatric visits at HCMC every month (many of them children).

This conversation is overdue.

What we don’t know cannot be dealt with and will not be improved. Let’s stop the next awful six year old suicide.

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A Brief History of Four Year Olds and Prozac

Medicating very young children with psychotropic drugs is accepted protocol in foster homes and child protective services throughout America.

States vary, but 33% of state ward children appears to be the lowest percentage of children being medicated. Florida is at 50% Texas has had 67’% of its state ward children between the ages of 13 & 17 medicated).

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A Note to Brandon Stahl & the Tribune (abused children still need you)

It is only because you found the death of 4 year-old Eric Dean suspicious and dedicated yourself to reporting on the awful circumstances that killed him after 15 ignored reports of child abuse, that this volunteer CASA guardian ad Litem has any hope for the thousands of other terrified and tortured children in need of child protection services today.

Working for decades with traumatized children, I’ve experienced the awful truth about the lasting impact of abuse on children and the lasting impact of abused children on our community.

Brandon, your efforts and insights into the inadequacies and failures of a system in need of transparency, accountability and media attention is why Governor Dayton called out the colossal failure of the system & created the task force that has brought significant change to an institution not given to criticism or outside influence.

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A Painful Reality About Guardians ad Litem (and other child protection workers)

Recently, I asked an acquaintance who had finished an intense volunteer experience (overseas) if she would consider CASA volunteer guardian ad Litem work or something supporting the program. Her response was surprising. She explained to me how less than useless the CASA guardian ad litem program was, how poorly trained and counter productive the volunteers were and implied pretty directly that I was quite the meathead for being a part of it or asking her to help.

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A Wish List For At Risk Children

Subsidized day care (tens not thousands of families on state’s waiting list); more mental health services (consistent and better control and use of psychotropic medications)

BA degree, mental health training & higher wages for day care workers; more training, smaller caseloads, & greater resources for social workers and school counsellors

removing law enforcement from the front lines of dealing with mentally unhealthy people & eliminating jails and prisons as housing for mentally unstable people

fail safe programs ending child death by caregiver; more and better training and resources for handling child abuse in rural MN; End child suicide

interrupt generational child abuse; expand programs for children aging out of foster care; stop courts from trying children as adults

create support, training, and alternatives for adoption and foster families; expand kinship searches & support;

encourage media to report on the state of mental health and child protection in your community

make ACEs & trauma informed policies the rule not the exception; stop child trafficking;

reduce psychotropic medication use by young children and children in child protection;

involve the community in the safety and well-being of all children;

through adequate access to mental health services);

End child abuse and mental health stigmatizing

Help KARA find and engage the brightest minds

and improved perspectives in

the search for more effective

Child Protection &

children’s

Mental

Health

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Abused To Death While Child Protective Services Observed – 1000+ American Children in six years (AP report)

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.

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Admitting I Have Problem Is The Hardest Part (thank you Brandon Stahl for identifying the problem)

Brandon Stahl’s reporting has been the best thing to happen for Minnesota’s abused and neglected children in my lifetime.

As a longtime volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I have seen an underfunded and not too healthy child protection system become sclerotic, insular, and unresponsive to the needs of our most vulnerable children.

The slow tortured death of Eric Dean was only reported in a newspaper because he died. Had he lived, we would not know about it. I have children in my CASA guardian ad-Litem caseload that suffered just like Eric, and no one knows about their suffering but me (and people that read my words).

Over the past twenty years, I have watched underfunded, under-trained, under-resourced child protection workers (including judges, educators, day care and health providers, foster and adoptive families, try to work with cold and unresponsive systems that are now creating exactly what they were designed to stop.

I have seen lives of very young children destroyed forever because easily available information was ignored. Plenty of children in Minnesota have had Eric Dean type torture that no one knows about (because our systems are overwhelmed and unresponsive).

Governor Dayton’s proposed investigation should uncover the sad truth that no child protection information gets public attention unless a child has died violently.

The fact that most counties don’t keep past reports of screened out cases and are prohibited from considering past reports when evaluating new charges of child abuse should be seen for the awful impact it is having on children living in toxic homes (it leaves children in homes where they are molested, neglected, tortured, and murdered).

That Minnesota Counties don’t report death and near death of children as required by Federal Law is misfeasance, nonfeasance, or malfeasance and should be viewed as a crime worth punishment.

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ALERT For MN Child Protection – Rolling Back Child Protection Reforms (from Safe Passage for Children MN)

This week county social services directors and the Department of Human Services (DHS) presented a plan to legislators that would significantly weaken reforms approved by the Governor’s Child Protection Task Force. Items they recommended dropping include:http://safepassagemn.com/counties-propose-rolling-back-child-protection-reforms/

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Almost Half The Children Dying From Abuse In Colorado Were In Or Known To Child Protection Workers (72 of 175)

Today’s Denver Post Article reports a just completed state child protection workload study that indicates a need for 574 more child protection workers to keep abused and neglected children safe in the state (a 49% increase). Of the 150 CP workers interviewed, 100 felt that their case load was unmanageable.

Only 25% of these workers had face to face contact with their caseload children on a monthly basis. That’s pretty cold. Monthly contact is not enough to start with. The system can be so cold and removed and the family and child are so at risk.

There is currently a call for a Colorado Child Protection Ombudsman, who would investigate complaints within the child welfare system. That would be a start towards recording and responding to the biggest problems faced by children, families, and the people trying to make the system work.

2 years ago the Post published a series about 175 Colorado children who died of abuse and neglect (72 of them known within the child protection system). The video on this site makes a compelling argument for adequate reporting, more resources, better training for workers, and smaller caseloads – monthly visits are not enough.

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Another Avoidable Child Death

Gordon Collins-Faunce, a father with PTSD & related psychotropic medications, and a history of physical and sexual abuse growing up in his own foster family, hurled his two-month old son into a chair. Ethan Henderson died three days later. Child Protective services had been alerted but deemed the boy was safe. While it is easy to blame the workers, it solves nothing without attention to the systems, resources and procedures that will prevent the next Ethan Henderson from an abusive family home.

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Another Failed State (no protection from child rape and no foster parents in Montana)

Kids with chaotic family situations, with behavior and mental health issues, as young as you can imagine, end up needing emergency housing. The need for foster families trained to help these kids is ever present.

Youth Dynamics is a non-profit organization operating across Montana. Katie Gerten works out of the Kalispell office licensing people to be foster parents. She said in the past six months she’s has about 20 children referred to her office to be placed in foster care that she had to turn down. She said it’s hard to find people up for becoming foster parents.

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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.

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Another Screened Out Of Child Protection Baby Dies In MN

Freda Perdue, 33, was charged Friday in Ramsey County District Court with child neglect and child endangerment.

According to the criminal complaint:

Police were called last Saturday to the East Metro Place in White Bear Lake on a report of a male infant who was not breathing.

Police found Perdue crying next to the baby, who appeared to have blood around his nostrils. He was taken to St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, where he was pronounced dead.

Perdue told police that the night before she had laid the baby on his back on a mattress where her three other sons and a neighbor boy were sleeping.

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April 2016 Sad Stories

CA: Vacaville commissioner advocates for preventing child abuse
The Reporter – March 31, 2016
She’s a mom, an advocate, a businesswoman and a Vacaville Community Services commissioner, and in honor of April being a double whammy–it’s both Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month–Christina Baird is offering her expertise to help keep kids safe.
http://www.thereporter.com/general-news/20160330/vacaville-commissioner-advocates-for-preventing-child-abuse

FL: 2 sheriff’s office employees disciplined for mishandling allegations in Bradenton child abuse case
Bradenton Herald – March 31, 2016
Two Manatee County Sheriff’s Office employees were disciplined for their mishandling of allegations that 15-month-old Knowellan Kelly and his three siblings were being abused, by failing to complete or signing off on an incomplete investigation, according to internal affairs reports.
http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/crime/article69299067.html

FL: State leads nation with more than 10,000 Guardian ad Litem Volunteers
Chipley Bugle – March 31, 2016
The Guardian ad Litem Program has exceeded its goal of more than 10,000 volunteers. In Holmes and Washington Counties, 37 trained and dedicated volunteers spoke on behalf of 127 abused and neglected children from our community who are currently or previously going through court proceedings within the last year.
http://chipleybugle.com/2016/03/31/florida-leads-nation-with-more-than-10000-guardian-ad-litem-volunteers/

FL: Trauma can produce PTSD in our own neighborhoods (Opinion)
Times-Union – March 31, 2016
For too long, post-traumatic stress disorder was a mental illness associated solely with the stress of battle. Today physicians and researchers realize that this debilitating illness strikes in our own neighborhoods.
http://jacksonville.com/opinion/editorials/2016-03-31/story/trauma-can-produce-ptsd-our-own-neighborhoods

IN: April is Prevent Child Abuse Awareness Month
Brazil Times – March 31, 2016
“Each day our agency must respond to reports of tragic abuse and neglect,” said Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) Director Mary Beth Bonaventura. “This month gives us an opportunity to highlight community resources to help at-risk parents and ultimately keep children safe.”
http://www.thebraziltimes.com/story/2291363.html

IN: Officials aim to educate about child abuse
Lafayette Journal & Courier – March 31, 2016
Connor, also executive director of Tippecanoe County Court Appointed Special Advocates, said a heroin epidemic nationwide and locally is driving mental health and domestic violence problems in the community. As a result, Tippecanoe County CASA currently has more than 80 children on its waiting list. “Children become victims because of those issues,” Connor said.
http://www.jconline.com/story/news/crime/2016/03/31/officials-aim-educate-child-abuse/82212520/

KY: Home of the Innocents to open E-town foster site
Courier-Journal – March 31, 2016
The Home of the Innocents is opening a new foster care office in Elizabethtown. The Louisville-based charity, that tends to abused and abandoned children, is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the new Hardin County outlet on Friday at noon. The open house is at 11 a.m. The office is at 2608 Ring Road in the Hardin County seat.
http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2016/03/31/home-innocents-open-e-town-foster-site/82463696/

KY: Republican Senate continues bipartisan accomplishments for Kentuckians (Opinion: Senator Mitch McConnell)
Franklin Favorite – March 31, 2016
The recently passed Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) would help address the opioid epidemic by providing additional tools for enhanced prevention, education, treatment and recovery programs that are already underway across Kentucky. The bill calls for the expansion of naloxone, a drug which can counter the effects of an opioid overdose. The bill would strengthen and enhance prescription drug monitoring programs, to crack down on “doctor shopping,” a practice used to obtain multiple prescriptions for drugs that can be abused.
http://www.franklinfavorite.com/opinion/editorials/article_f7b586f3-17bf-5814-88d5-bac07f8dd10e.html

MO: Audit questions Missouri’s eligibility checks for subsidized child care
Associated Press – March 31, 2016
A state audit of how Missouri spends federal funding has raised concerns about how the Department of Social Services verifies people’s eligibility to receive subsidized child care.
http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/missouri/2016/03/31/audit-questions-missouris-eligibility-checks-subsidized-child-care/82496958/

MS: & US: Judge Strikes Down Mississippi Ban on Same-Sex Adoptions (Includes video)
NBC News – March 31, 2016
A federal judge struck down Mississippi’s ban on adoption by same-sex couples Thursday–making the practice legal nationwide. Also: Federal Judge Halts Enforcement of Mississippi Ban on Adoptions by Same-Sex Couples: http://www.hrc.org/blog/federal-judge-halts-enforcement-of-mississippi-ban-on-adoptions-by-same-sex?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss-feed
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/judge-strikes-down-mississippi-s-ban-same-sex-adoptions-n548856

NY: Attorneys for foster kids claiming abuse fighting to obtain ACS case files needed for lawsuit
New York Daily News – March 31, 2016
Lawyers for 10 children alleging abuse while in foster care are fighting for access to the kids’ ACS case files, part of an ongoing federal lawsuit seeking reforms to the child welfare system.
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/lawyers-foster-kids-fighting-obtain-acs-case-files-article-1.2584724

PA: Pennsylvania one of lowest reported child abuse rates in country (Includes video)
WHAG – March 31, 2016
Advocacy groups allege Pennsylvania has developed a culture of cover-ups. High-profiles cases like in Altoona-Johnstown, where a grand jury found Diocese members abused hundreds of children, and a similar scenario involving Penn State’s football coach Jerry Sandusky highlight the issue.
http://www.your4state.com/news/4state-in-focus/4sif-child-abuse/pennsylvania-one-of-lowest-reported-child-abuse-rates-in-country

PA: York County CASA: Child Abuse/Neglect Advocacy (Includes video)
ABC27 – March 31, 2016
In recognition of the collaboration needed to help prevent child abuse and neglect, the York County CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, program will be holding a public film screening of the documentaries Removed parts I and II on Friday April 1, 2016. These films were created with the intent of bringing to light the often unknown subjects of foster care and child abuse/neglect.
http://abc27.com/2016/03/31/york-county-casa-child-abuseneglect-advocacy/

TN: Training to help adults notice, prevent child abuse
Knoxville News Sentinel – March 31, 2016
The National Children’s Alliance has called it “the most effective tool to stop child abuse.” So the Community Coalition to Protect Children is hoping as many people as possible–parents, church leaders, teachers, foster parents, child-care workers and community members–can take advantage of the chance to get the training for free.
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/local/training-to-help-adults-notice-prevent-child-abuse-2f4ad4d6-8d56-479c-e053-0100007f8f8c-374179661.html

TX: No excuse: ChildSafe sets lofty goal to combat child abuse, neglect (Includes video)
KSAT – March 31, 2016
ChildSafe served more than 4,300 children last year, and CEO Kim Abernethy said at the end of February this year, the organization has already seen a 32 percent increase in the number of children that depend on ChildSafe for counseling.
http://www.ksat.com/features/childsafe-chooses-lofty-april-goal-1-million

UT: Sponsor of vetoed grandparents rights bill to work with Gov. Herbert to refine legislation
Deseret News – March 31, 2016
The sponsor of a grandparents’ rights bill vetoed by Gov. Gary Herbert over concerns it could jeopardize adoptive parents’ rights said Thursday he is willing to work with the governor to refine the legislation.
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865651296/Sponsor-of-vetoed-grandparents-rights-bill-to-work-with-Gov-Herbert-to-refine-legislation.html?pg=all

VA: Majority of local Social Service calls deal with child neglect
The News Virginian – March 31, 2016
Nearly two thirds of the calls received last year by the local Social Services office dealt with the physical neglect of a child. That was the report delivered by the staff of the Shenandoah Valley Social Services office Wednesday, sharing information on child abuse and neglect, legal definitions and caseloads in the service area of Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta County.
http://www.dailyprogress.com/newsvirginian/news/majority-of-local-social-service-calls-deal-with-child-neglect/article_2f1e459c-f6e3-11e5-88e5-3789aa9e8e8e.html

VA: Navigating identities
Fairfax County Times – March 31, 2016
Rosen didn’t have a project in mind when she first learned about ConnectGens. This idea of conflicting identities for adoptive children had always been in the back of her mind, but it was not something she ever put into words. She also noted that when she was going through the adoptions process and when her son was younger there wasn’t a ton of information available on adoption.
http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/articles/navigating-identities/article_117846b6-f777-11e5-99c3-7bc51331246e.html

WV: Official: Child abuse cases on the rise in West Virginia (Includes video)
WHAG – March 31, 2016
Most parents would never intentionally hurt their children, but some do and others could use some help defining what abuse is to make sure they do not cross a line harming their child.
http://www.your4state.com/news/4state-in-focus/4sif-child-abuse/official-child-abuse-cases-on-the-rise-in-west-virginia

US: A crisis with little data: States begin to count drug-dependent babies
Kaiser Health News – March 31, 2016
Many states — including some that have been hardest hit by the opioid crisis — don’t know how many of their youngest residents each year are born physically dependent on those drugs.
http://khn.org/news/a-crisis-with-little-data-states-begin-to-count-drug-dependent-babies/

US: Foster Caretaker Must Be Ready to Be Thoroughly Supportive of LGBT Youth (Opinion)
Youth Today – March 31, 2016
For many youth, foster care can be a safe place for care and support when the biological family does not provide appropriate care. However, foster care experiences can be impacted by many factors, such as sexual and identity orientation.
http://youthtoday.org/2016/03/foster-caretaker-must-be-ready-to-be-thoroughly-supportive-of-lgbt-youth/

US: Know Someone Who Grew up in Foster Care? Three Things They Need From Us (Opinion)
The Huffington Post – March 31, 2016
As National Social Work Month winds down, I’ve been thinking about what older foster youth and those aging out of state care need from their social worker, counselor or other supportive people in their lives. What do they want and need to help them make the leap from dependence on the system to successful independent adulthood? The best way, the only way, to find out what these young people need is to listen.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-lee/know-someone-who-grew-up_b_9584598.html

US: My adopted daughter is part Native American — and I was terrified she’d be taken away (Opinion)
She Knows – March 31, 2016
“She’s legally free,” I said. “Her birth father has relinquished his rights”. “It doesn’t matter” he said, his voice tense. “Being legally free is a state law. The Indian Child Welfare Act is federal law; it supersedes everything else.”
http://www.sheknows.com/living/articles/1117475/adopted-daughter-is-part-native-american

US: National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Honoring Our Most Innocent Victims (Opinion)
The Huffington Post – March 31, 2016
This April marks the 33rd anniversary of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. It is a time dedicated to child abuse education, awareness and prevention. The issue, which is in the media every day causes one to shiver at the thought of what happens to our children, yet it is the most ignored issue because it’s so ugly. Also: April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-heroux/april-is-child-abuse-prev_b_9586460.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ross-ellis/national-child-abuse-prev_1_b_9577188.html?utm_hp_ref=impact&ir=Impact

US: Presidential Proclamation–National Child Abuse Prevention Month, 2016 (Press release)
The White House – March 31, 2016
During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we recommit to giving every child a chance to succeed and to ensuring that every child grows up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment that is free from abuse and neglect. Information Gateway resource: National Child Abuse Prevention Month 2016 Community Involvement Resource Guide: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/03/31/presidential-proclamation-national-child-abuse-prevention-month-2016

US: Relapse rates fall with use of long-acting medication to treat opioid addiction among criminal justice-involved adults
Medical News Today – March 31, 2016
Opioid addiction is a rapidly escalating public health crisis in the United States. Now, new research findings could shed important light in addressing this epidemic. “We believe our study is the first of its kind to look at the real-world effectiveness of extended-release naltrexone in community settings,” says lead author Joshua D. Lee, MD, MSc, associate professor in the Departments of Population Health and Medicine at NYU Langone. “It may be particularly effective with populations, such as recently released prisoners, who typically don’t have access to other evidence-based daily medications for opiate disorders, like methadone or buprenorphine.” Study: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1505409
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/308523.php

US: Same-Sex Couples Can Now Adopt Children In All 50 States
The Huffington Post – March 31, 2016
A federal judge ruled Thursday that Mississippi?s ban on same-sex couples adopting children is unconstitutional, making gay adoption legal in all 50 states.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mississippi-same-sex-adoption_us_56fdb1a3e4b083f5c607567f

US: Why the Lexi Page case may go to the US Supreme Court
The Christian Science Monitor – March 31, 2016
The case echoes several other cases pitting the foster care system against the ICWA. In 2013, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, a case involving Veronica, a young Cherokee girl, reached the US Supreme Court.
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2016/0331/Why-the-Lexi-Page-case-may-go-to-the-US-Supreme-Court

INTERNATIONAL

Canada: Child welfare in Manitoba election spotlight
The Canadian Press – March 31, 2016
Manitoba’s beleaguered child-welfare system came under the provincial election spotlight Wednesday with promises from all parties to cut a record number of kids in care.
http://globalnews.ca/news/2608630/child-welfare-in-manitoba-election-spotlight/

International: Longer maternity leave linked to better infant health (Press release)
Medical News Today – March 31, 2016
For each additional month of paid maternity leave offered in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), infant mortality is reduced by 13%, according to a new study by researchers from McGill University and UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. The finding, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, marks the first time that research has examined the impact of paid maternity leave on infant mortality in LMICs. Previous work has shown that paid time off is consistently associated with lower mortality of babies under one year old in high-income countries. Report: http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001985
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/308504.php

Mali: & Senegal: Transforming the lives of child beggars (Press release)
SOS Childrens’ Villages – March 31, 2016
A new programme is transforming the lives of 1,500 street children in Mali and Senegal by restoring their basic human rights. In collaboration with SOS Children and the European Union, child beggars are being reunited with their families and given access to quality education.
http://www.soschildrensvillages.org.uk/news/transforming-the-lives-of-child-beggars

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April, May & June 2015 Sad Stories

une 30, Austin Texas New law after child dies in hot car will save lives

June 26, Minneapolis Minnesota, Hennepin County screens out child abuse reports to reduce caseloads (multiple high profile child deaths draw attention of the Casey Foundation)

June 27, Columbia South Carolina, Man gets prison sentence for killing 14 month old boy

June 25, Farmington Maine, Franklin County child abuse rate among highest in the state

June 24, South Dakota, Terrible Racial Disparities lock up 3 times more SD youth than other states with longer sentences

June 24, Salina Kansas, 7 year old Jonathan Michael Kelley’s drowning death under investigation

June 29, Battle Creek Michigan, Leo Ackley to have new trial in death of 3 year old’s (Baylee Stenman) felony murder

June 24, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Julie Pittman indicted for felony neglect and the death of 6 month old son (unnamed in article)

June 24, Iowa City Iowa, Jorge Pereze convicted of child endangerment resulting in beating death of 20 month old son Marcus Balderas

June 24, US, Abuse of youth in U.S. juvenile prisons = sexual victimization and widespread abuse Annie E Casey Foundation report

June 22, Pennsylvania, Foster Care kids given psychotropic meds at 3 times the normal rate

June 22, Boone County Kentucky puts child protection on hold for 92 cases of child abuse due to lack of funding, high turnover and rising caseloads.

June 26, Oberlin Louisiana, Bobby Davis Jr guilty of negligent homicide in 2nd degree murder by blunt force trauma of girl friend’s 2 year old daughter (unnamed in article)

June 19, Waterloo Iowa, Police investigate toddler death at daycare

June 16, Minneapolis Minnesota, Stressed child protection system spotlighted by 2 year old Sophia ONeill’s violent death by Cody Samuel Feran-Baum

June 19, New Zealand, Worst child death rate in the nation, Northland

June 16, Sandpoint Idaho, Death of 3 year old boy (not named in article) left in 130 degree car under investigation

June 19, Fulton Georgia, William Gaddy arrested on murder charge in death of beating death of 2 year old girl (unnamed in article)

June 17, Bowling Green, Kentucky, Tiffany Dawn Sampson & Robert Roger Dishman charged with second degree criminal abuse in the death of 19 month old Adrian Louis Maldonado

June 9, Manitoba Canada, Less than 1/3 of foster care youth graduate high school

June 9, US, medical news, Children and teens with Down syndrome and psychotropic medications

June 9, New York Times, Innocent Real Child waits for adoption

June 9, Richmond Virginia, Caseworkers underpaid, overworked and disgusted with dismissive attitude towards abused and neglected children file a lawsuit in Federal Court

June 9, Rhode Island, 45 children missing from child welfare – sex trafficking suspected

June 9, Ohio, Child abuse caseloads explode (double last year)

June 9, Buffalo New York, Record child abuse levels and end of Head Start funding create big problems

June 9, Minnesota, Indian couple sues to allow adoption to white family

June 8, US, Almost 18 million children annually witness or are victims of assaults with weapons (one in four children)

June 8, Connecticut, Transgender girls rights violated when sent to state prison

June 8, Los Angeles California, Relative foster child placements under- supported by the County

June 8, Georgia, High caseloads, gruesome child deaths, stagnant pay and low social worker morale

June 8, Nova Scotia Canada, Troubling pattern of placing First Nation children in government – supervised care

June 8, UK, Disturbing Facebook footage of cruelty to Children draws criticism

June 8, Tennessee, Tennessee children suffer from high Adverse Child Experiences (CDC report)

June 8, Texas, Texas Baptist Home for Children (allegedly)repeatedly ignored Bryan and Austin Cook’s crying for help as they were molested.

June 7, Spartanburg South Carolina, Big increase in child abuse reports

June 7, New Jersey, Statistics and stories confirm child abuse hiding in the shadows – a serious public health epidemic

June 6, Oklahoma, Where will the children go?

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Are Class Action Lawsuits The Future For Child Protection? (Just filed in Arizona)

Note, this article is not about blaming people doing the work – it’s about legislators that are unaware of the dire straits abused and neglected children are facing and their slow and inadequate reaction to the conditions existing in our most important institutions today.

Many states are failing their most vulnerable citizens in the most tortured and traumatizing ways. National Disgrace (Star Tribune) & Colossal Failure are the words being used across America describing child protection in state after state. Four and five year old children are dying by homicide and suicide.

Two days ago, a lawsuit was filed against the AZ Department of Child Safety alleging “severe shortage of mental and physical health services”, “failure to conduct timely investigations of child abuse reports”, and a widespread failure of the State to help troubled children maintain family relationships.

If lawmakers do not make and allocate funding for policies that keep children safe, this nation resorts to lawsuits that pay damages and fines for such failures. Sometimes, the court includes very expensive punitive awards to make it explicit that the state needs to function better for children. It’s an expensive way of creating policy and children have to suffer greatly before that happens.

From my perspective as a longtime volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, it is far less costly, and way more ethical and productive for legislators to fund programs and address problems than it is to obfuscate, ignore, and watch the slow torture of abused and neglected children evolve into class action lawsuits and the next generation of abused and neglected children becoming parents of another generation of abused and neglected children. We are costing this nation its quality of life by trading at risk children and young families for failed schools, unsafe streets, a giant prison system, and monstrous pharmaceutical industry (and million of children reported to child protection each year).

Every five years a new generation of abused and neglected children enter our schools and communities.

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Arming Teachers/Shooting Students (advocating for less violence and a more civil society)

How many teachers signed up to pack a weapon when they entered the profession? Turnover in education is already a huge problem. Packing a gun is what police and soldiers do. Shooting someone takes real and extensive training.

Arming teachers, the commonality of school lock downs and active shooter student training and placing the army or police force inside of our schools are extreme measures being taken that instill fear in students and make teaching more like combat than education. Wiki list of school shootings in America.

Federal Funding, Zero Tolerance and Inadequate Alternatives mean that more states are policing schools with armed officers. Before the 1970’s police were almost absent from elementary and junior high schools.
Today in American schools

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