The Death of Arianna Hunziker & Lawsuits

Arianna Hunziker was “starved, dehydrated, bound, immobilized and abandoned in a home littered in trash and smelling of of urine”.  Foster parents Sherrie and Bryce Dirk went to prison for murdering Arianna.  There is something terribly disturbing about a State sanctioned foster family killing a two year old State Ward child that needs to see the light of day.

The lawsuit in today’s paper points out that another MN community is having a hard time with either the resources, training or protocol for keeping at risk children safe.  Being a foster child should not be one more horrific encounter with child abuse.  It’s plenty hard when your birth parents make your suffering so bad that a judge removes you from their home to place you with a family you have never seen before.

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Adoption & Foster Care In America – (their stories, your state)

Foster Care; Every state is struggling to make life safe for traumatized state ward children. Here are their stories from October & November 2017;

KS: Nowhere Else to Go: Why Kids Are Sleeping in Child Welfare Offices (Commentary)

Governing – October 11, 2017

Every month, there are kids in Kansas forced to sleep on cots or couches in a foster care contractor’s office because they don’t have anywhere else to stay that night.

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

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Taking Care of Foster Care (thank you We Have Kids)

No states have enough qualified foster homes to care for the children that need a loving family.

This website gives the most insightful description of foster care in America that I have come upon.

There’s so much to know about foster care and adoption and we really should be much more aware, kind and generous to the dedicated families that step up to help heal our nation’s abused and neglected children.

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Foster Care Day Rates vs Dog Care Day Rates (it just doesn’t seem right)

For decades it has been true that people engaged in the keeping of pets are perceived to be more valuable than foster families caring for State Ward children.  Doggy day care is (and has been for a very long time) as or more expensive (on average $40/day) than child care (on average $30/day) should make us think a little harder about the hope we have for the future of at risk children.

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MN Foster Care During COVID

Fewer children are entering the foster care system during the pandemic.

This is not because there is less child abuse and trauma.

Families are more stressed than before COVID.

Drug and alcohol use, domestic violence and child abuse are up because of this.

The following information is gathered from local MN news sources over the last 60 days.

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Adoption, Kinship and Grandparents (a tribute)

The saddest letters KARA receives come from grandparents that have watched their grandchildren horridly abused and then kept out of the loop while a cold and efficient system moves the child into a home and cutting off all further contact for the grandparents.

Almost 8 million children in America live with grandparents and other relatives. Most of them receive little or not help from governmental agencies.

Not all counties and states appreciate that it is easier for a child to restart a painfully disrupted life with someone they are connected to and have memories of than waking up in a home they have never seen before with people they don’t know.

Grandparents often don’t know about the court proceedings that are about to forever alter their relationship with grandchildren as they may live in another city or have become estranged from their badly behaving children.

Even if grandparents know of court proceedings, it can be very hard for them to have standing in the court or navigate the system once they are in it.

The saddest letters KARA receives come from grandparents that have watched their grandchildren horridly abused and then kept out of the loop while a cold and efficient system moves the child into a home and cutting off all further contact for the grandparents.

Everyone needs a lawyer and lawyers are expensive. I know grandparents that have spent tens of thousands of dollars trying desperately to provide a safe and familiar home for their grandchild.

It doesn’t seem right that money should be a biggest part of an adoption equation for grandma and grandpa (or other relatives) to make their argument for custody.

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Ethan’s Story

Ethan was 17 years old when I met him. Again, what I know of his story is limited, but the ugliest truths of it seemed to jump off the page and into my brain as I read his file to prepare for our interview. At his first foster care placement, he was sexually and physically abused by his foster father who had an alcohol problem. His foster mother was aware of the abuse going on, but because she was a victim of the domestic violence herself, was unable to stand up for the children in her home. Whether Ethan was removed from this placement (I refuse to refer to it as a “home” given the state of things) before or after this information came to light, is unbeknownst to me.

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COVID and Foster Care

The COVID crisis is stretching all of our community resources.  Every state is struggling to provide safe homes for foster children.

Fixing the problems this article brings to light will require an informed and involved community and government…

Click here to find out how to begin to make this happen where you live.

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COVID & Child Protection, Foster Care & Privatized Group Homes

The State of Minnesota forcibly closed the privatized group home at St Cloud for repeated violations  including head banging that caused concussions & sex in front of staff.  2 St Paul boys group homes have been closed recently and there has long been a shortage of qualified foster homes in outstate Minnesota (as it is all around the nation).

This video demonstrates how terrible privatized group homes can become (Florida forces 48% of their state wards onto Prozac like drugs and now lives with eleven year old’s prostituting themselves out of their foster group homes).

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92% of Foster Care Kids Using Psychotropic Meds Get Them For Unaccepted Reasons

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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Draft KARA TEDx Talk (14 minute video)

Addressing Generational Child Abuse As A Public Health Issue (14 minute video) & how to heal damaged children to make our communities happy and safe again

Take a moment and share your response to KARA’s short video overview of child abuse & child protection in America as an online comment to this post or by email; info@invisiblechildren.org.

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Child Abuse & the LGBT Community

Decades of CASA guardian ad Litem work for the County have made clear the screaming need State Ward children have for loving families and the lack we have of them. Especially older State Wards. This article is about LGBT adoptions and critical issues facing foster children and the families seeking to adopt them.

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CASA MN Trivia Night & Silent Auction (Oct 17)

CASA MN supports the guardian ad litem child advocacy program gives grants to children in foster care through CASA Cares. This is our annual fundraiser and it’s great fun and a great cause.

Gather a group of friends or co-workers for a team or come and join a team to compete in a fun night of trivia.

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Recent Stories, Statistics & Articles About Adoption & Foster Care

After a 9 day trial, foster mom Melissa Sondrol was convicted of of assaulting her infant state ward child, breaking multiple bones and withholding medical information from providers. The court was not allowed to hear her prior histories of abuse. This infant has suffered for years in MN and will live a life very different from other children due to the traumas visited upon him as a foster child – and the things that happened to him prior to entering child protection.

Stories about the shortage of foster care providers, lack of training and resources and transparency within the system are not uncommon – remember, we only read about the very worst cases – the sadness in foster care goes much deeper.

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Civil Rights of A Three Year Old (and what happens without them)

Zepora Fortenberry will spend 27 months in prison for watching her boyfriend Charles Homich punch 3 year-old Zayden Lawson to death.

Zayden was one of two foster children this mom cared for along with her two biological children.

For weeks (or months) Zayden and his siblings lived in sheer terror of Zepora’s boyfriend.

It must have been torture and traumatizing for the other children to witness the insane and evil violence repeatedly done to Zayden in their home while their mother watched.

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Recent Child Abuse and Child Protection Stories; Arizona/Arkansas

Recent Child Abuse and Child Protection Stories; Arizona/Arkansas
Kids At Risk Action tracks the stories of abused and neglected children and the people, policies and programs that impact them. This is a snapshot of how Arizona and Arkansas value their children.
This is only a small fraction of the stories about the lives of the state’s most vulnerable citizens over the past twelve months.
The vast majority of child abuse and child protection issues are never reported or talked about.
Kids At Risk Action needs an aspiring writer/research to help gather and report on these stories in your state. Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org with REPORTING in the subject line.

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How Church & State Bigotry Hurts Abused Children

Not just anyone can manage adoption or fostering of children that have been tortured by their caregivers*.

Years of child protection work have proven to me that gay couples are not only wonderful parent choices for abandoned children, but that they may be the very best choice.

As outcasts themselves, the GLBT community knows what frightened and alone means to a child and can relate to fear and anxiety of being different in a harsh environment.

Abused children carry their traumas with them and have mental health issues and behaviors that are often uncontrollable, violent and dangerous to themselves and others.

It takes special people to raise traumatized children.

So when the Church or the State refuse gay couples the right to adopt it eliminates an already inadequate pool of foster/adoption families and leaves abandoned children even more alone and frightened at a time they most need a loving home and family. This is a special kind of cruelty and deserves to be outed. Share this widely.

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