Grandparents; Counties & States Can’t Live With Them, Children Can’t Live Without Them.

It is not the social worker, the teacher, or other professionals working with children that are responsible for the problems within American child protection service, it is lack of awareness and understanding by policy makers of the core problems and how best to address them through effective operational policies.

Several of my County kids had over 25 foster home placements & experienced dozens of teachers, social workers, and others like me before they were let out of the system. I was the only adult consistently in their lives in a number of cases as many others came and went.

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Indiana Sued For Making Child Protection Almost Impossible

A few years ago, Vice Presidential candidate and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels eliminated funding across the board for Indiana families adopting special needs children (after 500 adoptions by families promised these dollars for transportation, healthcare & education of their adopted children, were completed).

Indiana then became the only state in the nation to place families adopting special needs children on a wait list rather than paying subsidies.

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CASA guardian ad-Litem News (find your state here) August 2015

A baby is born addicted to opiates, a young child wakes up to find their parent unresponsive with a needle in their arm, siblings sit in the back seat of a car parked on a country road as their parents are shooting up heroin. LaPorte County and Indiana are experiencing an epidemic. It is drug abuse. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, epidemic is listed as affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community or region at the same time. Certainly we can describe the current rapid spread of opiate use an epidemic.
Last year, there were 17 deaths from heroin overdoses in LaPorte County and Indiana is increasing its needle-exchange program beyond Scott County. The Indiana Department of Child Services is reporting a record-breaking year for child abuse cases. It’s only June and in LaPorte County alone, 50 children have been placed out of their homes due to abuse or neglect.

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Child Death and Child Abuse Articles (for August 2015 – find your state/country here)

CA: County responses unacceptable (Opinion)
Ukiah Daily Journal – August 02, 2015
The Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency’s response to the Grand Jury is one of the most twisted documents I have ever read. So, I took a few minutes to sort things out and get rid of some the wool they are trying to pull over everyone’s eyes.
http://www.ukiahdailyjournal.com/opinion/20150802/county-responses-unacceptable

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Brandon Stahl’s investigating and Safe Passage’s volunteers are changing lives

 

children down hill having funBrandon Stahl’s reporting (September 2014) on the tortured death of 4 year old Eric Dean and his  powerful Star Tribune articles about tortured children & the “catastrophic failure” of child protection in Minnesota (Governor Dayton’s words), shine light into the invisible world of child abuse that is so hard to talk about and so easy to avoid.

Rich Gehrman & Safe Passage For Children of MN worked with and reported on Governor Dayton’s Task Force On Child Protection, organized 100 volunteers to speak out and call on legislators to raise awareness and bring positive change to the 60,000 Minnesota children reported to Child Protection services each year.

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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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New York Child Protection News October – November 2015

mississippi double exposure red wingThis page compiled by KARA volunteer Corey Wasser

NY: One More Problem Faced by Transgender New Yorkers: Food Insecurity
Slate – November 21, 2015
As health care access is clearly still a problem, the report requests that policymakers “Assure that all transgender people, including those in the foster care system, juvenile detention or criminal justice system, have access to the health care they need.”
http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2015/11/21/transgender_new_yorkers_poorer_more_food_insecure_than_non_trans_residents.html

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Florida Child Protection News October 2015

FL: DeWitt: Step up to save Hernando’s visitation center (Opinion)
Tampa Bay Times – October 15, 2015
What this state most certainly does not need is one less safe place for vulnerable children. That, however, is what it will get at the end of this month with the closing of the Family Visitation Center of Hernando County. Actually, the center in Citrus County will also shut down, making two fewer safe places.
http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/dewitt-step-up-to-save-hernandos-visitation-center/2249849

FL: Special-needs families find wait list up to 10 years long (May require free registration)
Orlando Sentinel – October 17, 2015
Theoretically, the state of Florida helps families like the Creeses. In fact, Avery is on the state’s waiting list to get a Medicaid waiver that would provide help, including at-home care to give Greg some relief, because, in Florida, the average wait time is six years.
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-florida-medicaid-waiver-scott-maxwell-20151017-column.html

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Children, Trauma & School (what’s it like to teach tortured children?)

Today’s Star Tribune article nails it. Thank you Annie Mogush Mason for your clear explanation of how child abuse impacts schools. Coping skills (learning skills) are not brought by the stork. Add to that, the terrible things done to at risk children in the home, children bring fear & high anxiety into the classroom instead of the ability to sit still, play well with others or learn.

Teaching *traumatized children is different than teaching other students. Way different.

The sadness that is child abuse triggers unpredictable and often violent behaviors in the classroom. Many a teacher has talked to me about the larger percentage of their daily efforts being directed toward the one, two or three disruptive students in their classroom. I know educators that have quit their jobs in tears and with genuine fear of going to work every day because of this.

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Aging Out of Foster Care (lawmakers ignoring a growing problem)

MN Law Makers are ignoring a growing demographic at great social and economic cost.
Foster care shortcomings are a social problem that is systematically forgotten, specifically for the 23,000 youth that age out of foster care, that is, turn 18 without a permanent family and are no longer eligible for government care, each year according to U.S Newswire.

The lack of government commitment and action to this cause has put our communities at risk for an abundance of overlapping economic and social costs.
The most concerning fault is the rate of homelessness for these youth, with one third of aged out youth spending their first night on the streets. Furthermore, 14 to 26 percent of homeless adults in Minneapolis were former foster care participants according to research conducted by the Hennepin County Community Services Department.

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Pennsylvania Child Protection News December 2015

Two Bills Aim To Improve Lives Of PA’s Foster Children
90.5 WESA – December 28, 2015
Act 75 of 2015 and House Bill 1603 came about a result of the 2014 federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, which mandated that every state had until Jan. 1, 2016 to pass laws that would help foster youth.
http://wesa.fm/post/two-bills-aim-improve-lives-pas-foster-children This page contributed by Krista Neuner

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New York Child Protection News December 2015- January 2016

2016-05-12 12.29.31Reporting compiled and submitted by KARA volunteer Corey Wasser

NY: New York State’s Safe Harbour Project is working to combat human trafficking (Opinion)
Buffalo News – January 24, 2016
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) works to combat human trafficking through efforts that include the Safe Harbour Project, which assists local social services and volunteer agencies in developing and providing services such as safe housing or emergency housing, mental health counseling, medical care, substance abuse counseling and education and employment skills for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation.
http://www.buffalonews.com/opinion/viewpoints/new-york-states-safe-harbour-project-is-working-to-combat-human-trafficking-20160124

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CASA guardian ad-Litem News Around The Nation 10.1.15 Through 12.31.15

FIND YOUR CASA here – This page tells the stories of CASA’s around the U.S. If you are not listed, send me your info and we will include it. Thank you Sai Yang and Century College for your research and writing on this page.

See what other CASA volunteers are doing – share your stories and blogs; info@invisiblechildren.org

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Pennsylvania Child Protection News For January & February 2016

PA: Lackawanna County settles foster child abuse case
Scranton Times-Tribune – February 27, 2016
Lackawanna County agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the mother of a 7-year-old boy who was sexually abused his foster parents’ adopted son. The mother filed suit in August 2014, alleging the abuse could have been avoided had the county’s former Children and Youth Services — now called the Office of Youth and Family Services — heeded a written profile that warned the adopted son previously sexually abused others.
http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/lackawanna-county-settles-foster-child-abuse-case-1.2012322

PA: Lawmakers work to close loophole, require doctors to get background checks (Includes video)
WHTM – February 25, 2016
Vulakovich said during the rewrite of child protection laws, doctors and medical professionals were not specifically mentioned as being required to get background checks. DHS interpreted that as an exemption even though health care professionals had always been required to have those checks. Vulakovich and Senator John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) are sponsoring a bill that would put them back in and close the loophole.
http://abc27.com/2016/02/25/lawmakers-work-to-close-loophole-require-doctors-to-get-background-checks/

PA: County supports human services funding outcry
New Castle News – February 25, 2016
The county opposes “rebalancing” initiatives for child welfare services that will force counties to reduce funding by a fourth, reduce payments to providers, shorten contract periods or use county property tax funds to cover the state’s obligation until a future budge makes a true allocation.
http://www.ncnewsonline.com/news/county-supports-human-services-funding-outcry/article_1be71fc0-db41-11e5-9c05-57c548484217.html

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Child Protection – What Needs To Change

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It is not foster parents, social workers, judges or court workers making life miserable and creating a lifetime of failure for abused and neglected children in the Child Protection system.

These people don’t enter this painful and unhappy field without firm convictions and big hearts.

I’ve known hundreds of committed teachers, health workers, and other service providers who have dedicated years of their lives and made a terrific commitment to State Ward children.

Our system today confounds their efforts and makes meaningful adult relationships for too many at risk children impossible.

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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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March Sad Stories (2016 KARA reporting)

MN: Research Shows Washburn Center for Children Treatment has Significant Impact on Children’s Social, Emotional and Behavioral Health (Press release)
Business Wire – March 10, 2016
A new report by the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) at the University of Minnesota shows that social, emotional and behavioral health services provided by Washburn Center for Children have a significant impact on children’s well-being and quality of life. Report: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwj98_Hw-rjLAhXswYMKHUxfB6sQFggjMAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcascw.umn.edu%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2016%2F01%2FWashburnReport.pdf&usg=AFQjCNF1Jg93AdPczwNODix0UEeVhwO1kQ
http://investor.biospace.com/biospace/news/read?GUID=31701794

MN: Helping doctors prevent and detect child abuse: ‘No bruise in an infant is normal’
Star Tribune – March 14, 2016
The Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis has received a $2.5 million grant to detect and prevent child abuse, with a new program to help doctors and nurses in the difficult task of differentiating accidental injuries from abuse.
http://www.startribune.com/helping-doctors-prevent-and-detect-child-abuse/372000041/

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Minnesota Child Protection News For March 2016

March 20, 2016. Princeton, MN.

Michael S. Gunderson sentenced for two counts of felony child neglect after his two sons (aged 2 and 3) were hospitalized for severe malnutrition.

http://www.startribune.com/jail-for-dad-who-left-alone-his-starving-2-and-3-year-old-boys-in-filthy-home/372830791/

March 12, 2016. Red Wing, MN.

Sammy Antonio White sentenced to 13 years in prison for physical and sexual child abuse spanning two years.

http://www.republican-eagle.com/news/crime-and-courts/3985166-red-wing-man-gets-13-years-abuse-case

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If You Don’t Do This, Who Will? (children can’t stop child abuse)

Tuesday was Day At the Hill for advocates supporting policies to improve the lives of Minnesota’s abused and neglected children.

Thank you Safe Passage for Children for organizing an effective effort to bring awareness to the people (lawmakers) that can make positive change for at risk children happen.

Without your efforts and the efforts of your volunteers, It is unlikely that lawmakers will come to understand that;

Many of the Governor’s Task Force recommendations may not be implemented or those recommendations will later be abandoned without continued oversite,

Tracking program outcomes is the only way we can know the difference between ineffective and effective and terrific programs,

The level of trauma foster children live with has created a terrible problem in our foster care system as there are fewer and fewer families able to manage the behavioral problems exhibited by this growing population of abused children,

The recent media coverage and added attention to child protection has increased reporting and is overwhelming already overburdened County systems leading to unmanageable caseloads and higher burnout rates among social workers,

A waiting list of 7000 names for subsidized daycare leaves vulnerable children in the care of drunk and drugged uncles,

It is a rewarding experience to advocate for children, I recommend it (at least once a year – it’s only for a few hours – and it can make a real difference in the policies that govern the lives of the most vulnerable among us.

Join Safe Passage For Children Volunteer army and dedicate a few hours a year telling your State Representatives how important children’s issues are to you.

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Colorado Child Protection New March 2016

CO: Denver County Human Services to close center for foster teens

Denver Post – March 01, 2016

A Denver County home for troubled teenagers in foster care will close in July, and 64 workers with the Human Services Department will lose their jobs.

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_29578534/denver-county-human-services-close-center-foster-teens

CO: Boulder’s sense of itself now challenged by homeless youth plan

Associated Press – March 06, 2016

Attention Homes, which will run the complex, has worked with runaways and troubled teenagers for decades in Boulder. In each of the last two years, it has helped nearly 750 young people at its day drop-in and overnight emergency services facility, up from 196 in 2011.

http://www.summitdaily.com/news/21002081-113/boulders-sense-of-itself-now-challenged-by-homeless

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