14 police calls to foster home led up to near-death

On the 49th call to the home, police removed the children into protective custody (only because the 7 year old was observed trying to kill the 5 year old). As I became involved in the case, the sex abuse of the older girl became apparent. The police were aware of the prostitution taking place on the premises, and it was very likely that the older child had been prostituted.

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200,000 Youth Tried As Adults Each Year; Temple University

My experience with children receiving adequate therapy for the severe trauma and resulting behavior problems that were so indelibly a part of these very young children’s lives was almost non existent.

Once these very troubled children become old enough to impact their surroundings they do so in a most troubling manner. That’s why our jails are full and our schools are troubled.

From the study; “In other words, by one mechanism or another, more than 200,000 individuals under the age of 18 are prosecuted in criminal court each year. There are three trends in the data worth noting.

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A #ProtectChildrenToo Movement? (Thank You Safe Passage For Children of MN)

This morning’s ebrief from Safe Passage for Children of MN is spot on. Their legislative efforts to stop the practice of advance notice of child protection visits to perpetrators is crucial in ending child abuse. Putting perpetrators in the room with a child during the interview is traumatizing for the child and has a profound impact on what the child will say. Giving perpetrators prior notice of investigations allows them time to threaten and cohearse a child. As a long time CASA guardian ad Litem, this is all too familiar.

Most children are not aware of how wrong their abuse is – what happens at home is by definition normal. My youngest sexual abuse case was 2 years old.

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A Finished Book

The book is finished. It just arrived from the publisher. Books are always neater and cleaner than the process that makes them. Hundreds of hours, stacks of paper, and dozens of edits. I’m genuinely embarrassed by some of the poorly edited pages that I sent to people to review and comment on what I had been writing.

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A Law Late In Coming, Not Enough, But Glad It’s Here (Thank You Governor Mark Dayton)

In my experience, in the cases above for example, none of the people in the child protection system recommended bringing charges against the perpetrators because the damaged very young children would have had to testify in these trials (and children make terrible witnesses as they are easily confused and their testimonies are almost always useless).

As the guardian ad-Litem on these cases, I was told by the judges & my superiors that my choice was to remove the children from the home (and away from the perpetrator) with good odds of winning the long term safety of the children, or to go to battle with a 5 or 7 year old as my witness against a legal system stacked against the child.

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A MN guardian ad-Litem speaks to Montana about child abuse.

Law enforcement officials said statistics show survivors of child abuse or neglect are likely to commit a violent crime later in life. A new strategy is being developed to stop both.

In 2010, Montana received nearly $3 million in grants to battle child abuse and neglect. “I’ve been around this business for over twenty years, and I’ve seen some pretty sad cases, and it’s just not good. If we can prevent even one case, then we’re doing our job. I think with a program like this we’re going to see more prevention,” Sheriff Mike Linder said.

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A Note On Paxil, Wellbutrin, Avandia & GlaxoSmithKline’s Paying Kickbacks to Doctors & Treating Children With Unapproved Psychotropic Medications

Today’s 3 Billion Dollar fine of GlaxoSmithKline for hiding information, bribing doctors, & promoting unapproved (and dangerous) drugs to children, included criminal as well as civil settlements.

Hennepin County Judge Heidi Schellhas shared a list she kept of psychotropically medicated children that passed through her courtroom in child protective services over a one year period. The list was staggering (some as young as 5).

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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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AARP and CASA

MN day care

It is a bigger step to convince people that healthy children become healthy citizens, but it is true.

Support at risk children! Become a CASA volunteer or start a KARA group in your community.
Have something to add? Attach a comment to this blog post or Contact Us to tell us your point of view or story.

Join the public debate for children (they have no senator, lobby, or voice)

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Abuse That Lasts Forever, Erin’s Law

Since then, I have witnessed very young children (under 7) try to kill themselves and seen others exhibit terrifying behaviors (starting fires, stabbing, etc) that I know to be a direct result of the abuse they have suffered.

A few of these children I have been in contact with for over ten years and I know that not a day goes by without them reliving the unspeakable acts that have made them who they are.

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ACE Study, Crime & Ramsey County (reprinted from 2006)

ACE research shows a strong historical pattern of criminality in families of child delinquents. Using Cohen’s estimates, we calculate the multi-generational “multiplier effect” to be between $3.4 and $11.5 million. In these families, criminality is likely to grow exponentially.

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America The Beautiful (unless you’re born an at risk child)

Based on the study’s data, more than 80 percent of juveniles who enter the criminal justice system early in life have at some point belonged to a gang. Seventy percent of men and 40 percent of women have used a firearm. The average age of first gun use is 14. At any given time, 20 percent are incarcerated.

Unemployment is rampant: 71 percent of the men and 59 percent of the women are without jobs as adults. Of the 1,829 youths originally enrolled in the study, 119 have died, most of them violently — a death rate three to five times as high as the one for Cook County men in the same age group over all and four times as high as the one for women. In all, 130 have been shot, shot at, stabbed or otherwise violently attacked. As a group, they show high rates of post-traumatic stress, depression and other psychiatric disorders.

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America’s Definition of Abuse

Child abuse redefines the way a child thinks and sees the world. Abused children have severely limited learning and coping skills. An abused child’s mental development has been arrested by an anxiety and fear that supercede the learning of other personal and social skills. Without personal and social skills, and a lessening of the anxieties and fears, Abused children fail at school, don’t make friends, and keep a terribly low self image.

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Amy Sherman’s Blog for Florida’s At Risk Children

Postscript… I too have had 4 year old and 7 year old suicides as a Hennepin County guardian ad-Litem and a judge that has shared with me the pages of documented Prozac, Ritalin, and other Psychotropics given to very young children. This conversation needs to take place at a higher level (where something can be done about it).

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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.

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Another Happy CASA Story

A couple of weeks ago at an “Everyday Courage” event sponsored by the California Endowment I met a very caring and compassionate woman named Rosa Arevalo. Rosa works for CASA of Los Angeles a non-profit organization that recruits, trains, and supports CASA volunteers(Court Appointed Special Advocates) to transform the lives of abused and neglected children. It is the only organization in Los Angeles County providing court-assigned volunteer advocates serving foster children in the dependency court.

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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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