Our most recent radio interview; (ten minutes) September 9th live WCCO radio interview with Jordana Green (ten minutes) A lively discussion of the critical issues facing abused and neglected children and what we can make life better for them. Support KARA’s MN Public Television documentary project on this topicDetails
Minnesota’s abused and neglected children finally catch a break. Brandon Stahl’s superb reporting on the tortured death of 4-year old Eric Dean after fifteen ignored reports finally reached the State’s top child protection people (Erin Sullivan Sutton) and is trickling down to the legislators that voted to eliminate what was at the time already weak tracking, reporting, and responding to of child abuse complains by counties.
While this is great news for the 68,000 children that are reported as abused in MN each year, it will not restore the millions of dollars that have been cut from County budgets for child protection services that would allow counties to:
Provide the public access to a transparent record keeping and tracking that will allow transparency that the rest of us might monitor how reports of abuse are responded to across the state,
Create consistent standards for screening in cases from county to county (today, four MN counties screen out 90% of child abuse reports)
Fix the damage done already to the thousands of MN children that have been screened out and are living in horrific circumstances,
It is left to be seen if the legislative turnaround will impact the 29% of abused children in the system that today are sent back to abusive homes,
Or our state ranking as 47th in the U.S. on the amount it spends on children in child protection,
Or that 80% of Minnesota’s abused children are abused again while under court supervision,Details
ois Jurgens tortured and killed her three year old adopted son Dennis Jergens over time and in a most brutal fashion. She was the adoptive mother of six children and she tortured them all over long periods of time. She was eventually convicted and sentenced for murder – but not before adopting five other children (after Dennis’s was tortured to death).
Prior to the adoption of Dennis, Lois had been hospitalized three times for mental illness and there were Mayo Clinic psychiatrist records strongly recommending against Lois becoming an adoptive parent because she was a potential paranoid schizophrenic.
She had been turned down by a number of Catholic adoption agencies, but Ramsey County (like many counties) was having trouble finding adoptive homes for abandoned and abused children. Within a year of the adoption, Dennis was admitted to the Ramsey County hospital with burns on his penis and bruises all over his two year old body.
Five years after Dennis’ death, Lois and her husband moved to Kentucky and adopted five more children (states still don’t share information in many cases).
Brandon Stahl has written clearly and accurately about four year old Eric Dean’s short tortured life and the institutional failures that lead to his death. How fifteen reports were made to the under–trained/understaffed/under-resourced county workers ignored all of them.Details
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.Details
Hennepin County Judge Heidi Schellhas shared her records of very young children taking psychotropic medications that had passed through her courtroom with me in 2005 (for my book, Invisible Children.
It was astounding to see how many six and seven year old children in Hennepin County’s Child Protection system take Prozac and other psychotropic medications. Since the book, I have followed reporting about the medicating of the very young from states and counties around the nation.
Most states that have reported on this topic run between 1/4 and 1/3 of their child protection children on psychotropics and teens in foster homes appear to use these drugs at a higher level. It appears that the use of psychotropic medications by non-foster children occur at less than 20% of the rate as the use of these drugs by foster kids.
Most states don’t track the data and those that do don’t make it easy to find.Details
These are CASA guardian ad-Litem stories KARA has gathered from around the nation;
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.Details
As part of KARA’s TPT documentary project I interviewed Minneapolis City Councilman / Mayoral candidate Don Samuels recently. He described his experiences as a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, North Side resident, and city councilman that were relevant to child well-being and child protection.
Don had a powerful observations about how much better it would be for children and the community if our child protection system concentrated on the needs of that at risk child at the moment of need instead of the systematic institutional approach that occurred each time he (Don) saw a child engaged in the child protection system.
He spoke of being in the courtroom representing a child as a CASA guardian ad-Litem, noting that the child had an attorney, the mother and father each had attorneys (they were divorced), there were social workers and a health worker for the child, the County Attorney, and the usual bailiff, Judge, and courtroom staff, and the huge costs related to all these people in this courtroom trying to make justice happen (not necessarily in the best interest of the child).
The Don Samuels story that will stick with me forever is the five year old boy (call him James) trying to commit suicide by jumping out a third story window at school. Because the boy’s teacher could find no mental health resources for this child, she called her City Council member, Don Samuels for help. Don became involved with James over about fifteen years years and came to know the traumatic life the boy lived and the very bad outcomes James kept having from the institutional care he had received.Details
The ACEs scoring is hugely important and with attention to and implementation of the programs and disciplines that reverse or mitigate the terrible impact of childhood trauma our communities will see an improvement in graduation rates, a decline in crime and prison populations, much safer and happier neighborhoods.
The opposite side of this approach are DR. Bruce Perry’s words that if these issues are not addressed, “25% of Americans will be special needs people by the end of this generation”. He spoke that sentence 8 years ago. And he & the medical community have more than adequate research to back up that statement.
Jane Stevens s the most informed and articulate person I’ve listened to in this field. She has a unique perspective as a researcher/reporter who has read and studied the huge volume of information not just from a single aspect of child abuse and neglect, but from the various institutional perspectives as well as how different communities within the states are using or not using and the results the states are seeing with the use or non-use of the ACEs research and recommendations.
If you read nothing else today, introduce yourself to www.ACEsTooHigh and http://www.acesconnection.com/Details
Saturday, August 16th KARA concluded the fourth in a series of professionally conducted video interviews being scheduled for our TPT documentary partnership (seven people/about fourteen hours of interview to date).
KARA’s strategy for the program is to blend the perspectives and insights of the children, families, child protection workers, along with other involved professionals by sharing experience within the child protection system to identify what works and what needs to be changed.
We are discovering through this process just how hard people are trying and it is becoming apparent that awareness, discussion, and change are needed.
KARA and TPT’s underlying hope for this project is to identify and discuss the critical issues that need the attention of the public and policy makers to drive changes that will create better outcomes for abused and neglected children.Details
http://acestoohigh.com/ Read a few of these smart and powerful articles and you will know more about at risk children’s issues than anyone on your block.
http://safepassagemn.com/landing-page.html This video will be the best six minutes you can spend this week.
We are all in this together. Let’s all pull in the right direction (pro child) Support KARA’s TPT documentary projectDetails
Share this link with your guardian ad-Litem and social worker friends For current and former guardian ad-Litem/social workers, join our interactive Linked In Group, and share your experiences and ideas about how to make child protection work better for children. Change happens when concerned people give their ideas and energy. Help KARA make it happen…Details
Tony Fischer and Tiffini Flynn Forslund conducted KARA’s first interview (of many being scheduled) with St Paul School Board, Vice Chair Keith Hardy.
Keith Hardy. Keith Hardy setting his sights even higher
Keith knows how abused and neglected children need help to achieve the outcomes necessary to succeed in school and he has solid ideas for improving outcomes for both children and schools.
This was a great beginning to exploring issues impacting at risk children and what needs to happen to make life better for children, our communities, and our institutions.
The systemic issues that affect our schools are key to changing the same systemic problems in our society.Details
Working with abused and neglected children and dysfunctional families is complex and grueling and needs more not less understanding and support.
Blaming social workers when a baby is found in a dumpster is not so different for blaming teachers for failed schools.
Troubled students not only don’t learn, they disrupt and make teaching the rest of the class much more difficult.
This is not so different from blaming law enforcement for the boy in the squad car (admit it, that would be ridiculous – but the analogy works in both prior examples).
Support teachers, support social workers, support justice workers. It is very hard work inside of institutions with very bad governance (and that my friends is our fault).
Support KARA’S TPT documentary project to bring these issues into the limelight and help our children get a fair start in life.Details
While the CASEY Foundation ranks MN 5th in the nation for child well-being, there are serious flaws in our racial disparity and early childhood numbers.
Almost half of MN’s African American children live in poverty. In 2001, half of the adult African American adult men were arrested (no duplicate arrests and 58% of those men went on to be rearrested for a second crime within 2 years).
Our educational performance racial disparity is among the worst in the nation.
From the CURA reporter
MN ranks at the very bottom of states that provide early childhood education to four year old’s (2% vs the national average of 25%). We now have 8000 families on a backlog for subsidized child-care.Details
Minnesota screens out 66% of child abuse complaints overall, but 4 MN counties screen out 90%. The only good thing to say about conditions in Virginia is that there seems to be some transparency in the reporting which one would hope will lead to more concern for what happens to abused and neglected children. All this talk about how we value children in America seems to be just talk.Details
This strong new piece from Rich Gehrman at Safe Passage For Children makes a powerful case for why Minnesota’s abused and neglected children are being shortchanged and what we must do to fix our troubled systems; SafePassage Video
MN Public TV is partnering with KARA for a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. To do this we need your help.Details
State Ward Children As Medical Guinea Pigs (or parents withholding medical treatment for religious reasons?)
Justina Pelletier’s sad case of medical experimentation on state wards in Massachusetts and the religious freedom to deny children with treatable diseases medical care in so many states, proves the awful truth that children have no significant rights in this nation. Almost five hundred children have died in Florida after DHS contact, more than seventy children died in California from 2008 to 2011, and the Governor of Kentucky (Steve Beshear) hid the evidence of dozens of children murdered by their parents.
* thousands of five, six, and seven year old children in child protective services in this nation are prescribed psychotropic medications to mask their terrible behavioral problems (generally without any significant therapy), &
* the explosive growth of privatized detention centers and prisons that provide inadequate and poorly supervised services for at risk youth which has lead to the exponential growth of prison populations and preteen moms,
and the picture of how America values its children becomes pretty gloomy.
That America pays day care workers about the same as it pays food service workers really shows the low value of our youngest citizens. Most other industrialized nations demand more training and credentials of their daycare workers and they pay them more (a genuine indication that children have value in those societies).
State ward children used as guinea pigs in medical experimentation needs way more scrutiny than it receives as does the consumption of Prozac like drugs on very young children.
America’s youngest citizens need more rights to safety, health, and well-being (sign our petDetails
Take a moment to check out KARA at Indiegogo and share it with your friends. All the tools and perks are there. Get perks, make a contribution, or simply follow updates. If enough of us get behind it, we can make “At Risk Children’s Documentary Project with TPT TV” happen.
Lawyers to become ‘eyes and ears’ of judges in new Family Law Guardian ad Litem pilot program
More than two dozen lawyers from the Icard Merrill law firm have signed up to be guardians ad litem as part of a new Family Law Guardian ad Litem …
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Volunteers make a difference in children’s lives
The Guardian ad Litem Program, a volunteer-based organization, works to advocate for the best interests of our communities’ most vulnerable …
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Lombard Family Law Firm Relocates and Expands Office
Insurance News Net
O’Connell is a court-approved Guardian ad litem for the Eighteenth Judicial District. Lombard family attorneys Angel M. Traub, Chantelle A. Porter, …
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Jamie B. Schwinghamer Appointed to Board of Directors for Voices for Kids of Southwest Florida, Inc.
Naples Daily News
VFK supports the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program of the 20th Judicial Circuit, which recruits and trains volunteer child advocates to represent …
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Tallmadge resident Kim Ray named Juvenile Court Volunteer of the Year
She was told that someone who works in the court-based Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Program was receiving …
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New law gives voice to neglected, abused kids
The guardian ad litem determines the child’s best interests through guidelines in the new juvenile code, training and experience and, to some extent, …
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Attorneys argue Vidinhar hearing closure
Second District Juvenile Court Judge Janice Frost heard oral arguments from Aza Vidinhar’s attorney and guardian ad litem, as well as from an …
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Elise Patkotak: Because of FASD, justice takes time in Barrow courtroom
Anchorage Daily News
There was a long time when I was a guardian ad litem with the Barrow court overseeing cases involving children in state custody. I still occasionally …
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Man sentenced for threatening daughter’s foster parents, others
The Northwest Florida Daily News
He then began calling the girl’s foster parents, their minor child, the girl’s dependency placement counselor, the girl’s guardian ad-litem and relatives of …
FL: Daniel Kids offering foster care training classes: More than 8,000 children are currently in Florida foster care (Includes video)
News 4 Jax – June 01, 2014
Here in Florida there are over 8,000 children currently in foster care. There are many ways for the community to get involved and help these kids who are in transition from foster or adoptive parents to volunteers and mentors. There’s one group of children who need a special type of foster care.
FL: How DCF kept 30 child deaths off the books
Miami Herald – June 01, 2014
Documents obtained after Innocents Lost was published show that starting at least as early as last November, as the Herald was grilling DCF on its problems in preventing the deaths of children under its watch, one branch of the agency deliberately kept as many as 30 deaths off the books – ensuring they would not be included in the published tally.
Seven children died last year from abuse or neglect despite prior knowledge by Minnesota child protection agencies that their lives were at risk, records provided to the Star Tribune show.
That total is the highest in the state’s records, which go back to 2005. The Department of Human Services said it will study each case to probe whether county social workers missed chances to save the child, but an initial review has found that some counties could have done more.Details
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 storyDetails
Children had no better friend than CASA guardian ad-Litem, Big Brother, Metro sports, PTO, School board member, and Montessorian Denny Schapiro. Energetic, committed, and of the highest integrity, he spent his life seeing to it that his community identified and addressed the important issues surrounding our youngest citizens.
We will miss you dear friend.Details
MN Public TV is partnering with KARA for a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve the lives of abused and neglected children. To do this we need your help.
KIDS AT RISK ACTION (501(c)3 non-profit, is partnering with Minnesota Public Television (TPT) to tell the INVISIBLE CHILDREN’s story through compelling interviews with children and adults within the world of child protection. KARA needs your support and asks for your gift to help make this project happen.
Larger donors will be featured on the program, invited to the pre-screening party at TPT (St. Paul), and receive priority consideration for all new projects as they develop. This project will be a big part of our ongoing efforts at KARA.
Donate Button or Contact me directly to help KARA complete this project email@example.com
Program purpose; Create awareness of the critical issues impacting at risk children & identifying how to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect.
Program themes; Mental health and coping skills, and the basic rights of children to safety, healthcare, and education.
Program production; Experts and personal stories of children and adults within the child protection system.
Program look and sound; Serious and inspiring
Target audience; General public with attention to legislators, and everyone touched by our child protection system