Race To The Bottom, Untrained Social Workers, Over Work & More Dead & Suffering Children In Indiana

“We have children dying in our region and we are awarded with recognition of system improvement. Really?” he wrote. “The timing of this award is hard to accept given the recent tragic death of 10-year-old Tramelle Sturgis.

“How many more kids will die before we all take a deep look at what is going on with child welfare services in Indiana and reverse the draconian cuts in funding and see how those cuts are negatively affecting the safety net of child welfare?”

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Quality Of Life

There is little that comes easier for a sixty or seventy year old person when it comes to raising children.

The physical and mental demands made on grandparents by their younger charges are tremendous.

From the bottom of my heart, Thank You.

From the rest of us, let’s see to it that they and the children they care for, get adequate help from our communities to make their tasks a little easier and more successful.

Happy Grandparents Day in advance.

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Quality Foster Care (from Safe Passage for Children)

Last week print and electronic media covered a lawsuit by the grandmother of six year old Kendrea Johnson, who committed suicide while in foster care. A past finding of child abuse only disqualified the foster mother from becoming a licensed provider for a maximum of 10 years.

People change. Some who committed past crimes may become good foster parents. But we believe certain crimes such as malicious punishment of a child and child endangerment should be added to the list of offenses that permanently disqualify individuals from providing foster care.

However this would affect only a few children. A quality assurance program that ensures uniformly excellent foster care would have more impact.

Minnesota has many skilled foster parents. We need a system that supports them while weeding out problem homes.

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Punishing Traumatized Children (the beatings will continue until the morale improves)

Thank you Chris Serres & Star Tribune for identifying how severely the St Cloud Children’s home for children fails abused and neglected kids.

Children live here because a judge found their birth homes so dangerous that the child needed to be removed from the home and placed at the St Cloud Children’s Home.

Instead of providing a safe haven, this facility has been tagged repeatedly with multiple violations over many years. Children having sex in the presence of a staff member, head banging to the point of black eyes, swollen faces and abrasions.

To put a human face on what these violations look like;
As a volunteer CASA guardian ad litem, one of my 11 year old child protection boys (call him John) was misbehaving at a Cambridge Children’s Home.

John was forced outside by a low paid, undertrained staff member, on a ten degree MN night and told that he would be allowed back inside in an hour.

Instead, John walked home, in a T shirt, on the highway from Cambridge (35 miles). 11 year-old traumatized youth don’t often make good decisions (especially children on multiple psychtropic medications).

John was in child protective services (and this group home) because his father tied him to a bed and left him alone for days without food or water from the ages of four to seven.

John was regularly sexually abused, beaten & starved over 4 years living with his dad. When I met him, this 7 year-old boy was covered in bruises from head to foot and on both sides of his body.

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Punishing The Mentally Ill (Minnesota is not alone)

Today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune article supports a position I’ve held for years. By ignoring or under-serving people with mental health problems we are manufacturing state wards, preteen moms, and felons and this is making our cities dangerous and unsafe.

Our current policies of dumping the mentally ill in detention, jail, and prison places a huge burden on educators & juvenile, criminal justice workers, and especially the families (often grandparents, and foster and adoptive parents) that live with them.

Not much teaching gets done in a classroom populated with disturbed youth on Prozac. Safety and behavior management becomes the teachers primary concern at the expense of educating all the other youth. Our nations miserable graduation and drop out rates, STD rates (we lead the world), and crime rates (we also lead the world) are all tied to how we ignore and under-serve people with mental health issues.

Forcing foster/adoptive parents and service providers (educators, social workers, juvenile & criminal justice workers) to be the front line in managing mental health issues of the children and youth in their charge is an overwhelming task that rarely ends well for the children and youth. These children need professional guidance to overcome the serious issues that have triggered dangerous behaviors and the explosive increase in psychotropic medicating of five and ten year old children in our society.

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Punishing Mental Health Problems With Horrid Juvenile Justice; In Many States, This Is The Rule, Not The Exception

Thank the legal community for shining a light on the abhorrent conditions facing mentally troubled California youth.

There’s good reason the Feds are denying California’s request to extend the time for compliance within their jails and prisons and this is a prime example.

14 years old, bipolar and placed in solitary for 22 1/2 hours daily for one hundred days. Read the whole article below. Mean people in a mean system.

California, your justice systems just stink.

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Public Records (the mystery of child abuse and child protection)

beautiful MN lake sceneMy story is triggered by a graphic demonstration of malfeasance by a public servant (Harper’s Magazine article below) and my response to conversations with Brandon Stahl at the Star Tribune and a former administrator at Hennepin County.  Both told me how inaccessible important child protection public records become when someone decides for no good reason to not share public records.

In my video interview with Brandon Stahl, he stated clearly how County Records that should have been available to him in the tortured death of Eric Dean were stonewalled, deliberately delivered over months instead of days or weeks, made expensive and hard to get in his reporting for the series he wrote for the newspaper.

Remember, the boy was dead and this reporter needed only to gather the history surrounding how the boy died.  The poor child deserved to have his story written.  We would be far worse off as a community and abused and neglected children would be facing a far worse future if Brandon had not written these stories.

My administration contact made it clear to me years ago that sharing information or creating an atmosphere of transparency was the last thing going to happen in social services in general and child protection specifically.  Yes, there are many practical sounding reasons for this but most of those reasons are specious and protect only the people not wanting the information out (Dee Wilson made this statement when he delivered the Casey Foundation’s report to the County Commissioners on Minnesota’s Child Protection Services – calling these excuses for a lack of transparency a “Red Herring”.

Below and linked above is the slow walk email correspondence of an administrator deliberately making it impossible for a reporter to gain access to what should be readily available public records.  It would be funnier if it happened in some third world country and not here.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

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Psych Drugs Action Campaign (from the National Center for Youth Law)

On April 14th four bills will be heard before the Health and Human Services Committee of the California State Legislature that improve oversight and monitoring of psychotropic medication treatment for children in foster care. We are writing to request your support. Will you or your organization help? Please send your support letters by end of…

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Prozac, Poison & Children (May 2018)

Dramatic rise in ADHD medication mishaps among kids, report finds
ABC News
Nationwide, more than 156,000 calls were placed to poison control centers for exposure to ADHD drugs among those 19 or younger between 2000 …
New study released on ADHD sheds light on rising calls of medication exposure: Experts stress … – WMBF

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Protecting Children From Bad Politics (a note from the Child Welfare League of America)

Protecting Children in Changing Times   Our Children at Risk Never before in the Child Welfare League of America’s (CWLA) 100-year history has there been a higher level of anxiety and uncertainty about the fate and well-being of our children. The plans and policies of the new leadership in Washington, DC, will do egregious damage to social…

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Protect Our Kids Act Passed By Congress (with tiny funding; 2M)

For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know I am critical of the lack of protection (concern) this nation has for its most vulnerable citizens. Other than the “Imminent Harm Doctrine” which allows the court to take children from life threatening circumstances, there is no federal protection for children in this nation. This is a step in the right direction. Thank you Texas Rep Lloyd Doggett for introducing this bill.

From the Alliance for Children & Families website;

The law creates a national commission to examine child fatalities, which the findings state are both preventable and significantly underreported, while the states lack a national standard for reporting. In previous hearings, members of Congress heard testimony about the significant gaps in reporting that prevent effective policies and practices from being implemented.

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Protect Children In the Justice System

Support youth reentry – An estimated 100,000 people under the age of 18 have left secure facilities only to turn around and reenter the system. The report says, “Youth are often discharged from care back to families struggling with domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and unresolved mental health disabilities.” Also highlighted is the issue of public safety being compromised when the released youth is not afforded necessary planning and supportive services.
NJJDCP”s full report and recommendations can be viewed at:http://promotesafecommunities.org/images/pdfs/NJJDPC_RecstoCongress_03122013_web.pdf?utm_source=Copy+of+NJJDP+Report+-Congress&utm_campaign=WNR+2-8-2013&utm_medium=email

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Prosecuting Legislators (can this work?)

A single Minneapolis hospital, HCMC sees 800 to 1000 emergency psychiatric visits a month (one of many metro hospitals).

There have never been enough beds and there will never be enough Prozac to humanely treat the people suffering from terrifying mental health problems.

When 6 year old foster child Kendrea Johnson suicided by hanging, her grandmother sued the County. After Jeff Weis shot dead his grandfather, himself and 8 others at Red Lake MN the community built a modern mental health facility so that it wouldn’t happen again.

The only stories that come to our attention are the most horrific.

There are thousands of stories left unknown except to the DHS staff, social workers and law enforcement, foster and adoptive parents, teachers & health workers dealing with severe, chronic and often dangerous people that would benefit with the help we are talking about.

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Promoting Prisons As Public Policy

I recently toured Richard Ross Juvenile In Justice museum display in Reno NV. Heart rending photos of ten and twelve year old children in America’s justice system. So powerfully does his photographers eye catch the meaning of former MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz statement that “The difference between that poor child & a felon is about 8 years”.

Chief Justice Blatz other quote hangs with me also, “90 % of the youth in juvenile justice have come through child protection services”, reminds me of just how much trauma has been suffered by abused and neglected children & how by not helping them we pretty much guarantee a pipeline to prison for them and the dangerous streets & failing schools that they leave along the way.

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Project Unbreakable

Grace Brown created “Project Unbreakable” in October, 2011, and the tumblog appears to really be gathering momentum. The idea: “Use photography to help heal those who were sexually abused by asking them to write a quote from their attacker on a poster and photographing them holding the poster.”

So many stories from so many different people. Men, too, not only women. I was so moved by this post, which includes both a photograph and an audio narrative by an elderly woman who was sexually abused as a 12-year-old girl during World War II in Germany. Do listen to her story.

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Progress & Next Steps in County Child Protection (thank you SafePassageForChildren)

This week the Hennepin County Oversight Committee reviewed efforts by child protection managers to implement recommendations in the Casey Report, which was critical of the program.

Progress was reported for example in rolling out a 24/7 child protection response, and adding screening and investigation staff.

In another part of this hearing, Casey staff presented a draft child protection ‘Practice Model’. While it identified child safety as the paramount responsibility of the program, much of the language – as Commissioner Mike Opat and others pointed out – echoed the old Family Assessment philosophy, which is weighted towards the needs and preferences of parents.

The final version of this practice model should reflect more clearly the priority that recent changes in state law and recommended practices gave to child safety and well-being.

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Privatized Juvenile Prisons – Kids For Cash The Movie (watch the trailer)

KIds For Cash the movie is a documentary about two Pennsylvania Judges who were imprisoned for 40 years because they sentenced thousands of innocent juveniles to prison for 2.5 million dollars in kickbacks. This movie captures the devastating impact imprisonment has on youth and the dangers of privatized facilities. Watch the trailer here.

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Prevention – Early Intervention – thank you Safe Passage for Children of MN

Keeping children with their families through early intervention (a very big deal).

These bills at the State Legislature can help make that happen – Tune into this Safe Passage for Children webinar here for the update on the session and the intervention & support services being proposed to make it happen.

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Preventing Child Torture (thank you Safe Passage for Children)

Government overreach or a child’s right to not be tortured? If you have been a foster or adoptive parent or someone who has worked with children abused to the point a judge removes them from their home, you know what awful things have happened to the child and how it ruins a life.

Today, Safe Passage for Children of MN has powerful thoughts about how to prevent child torture*.

*The World Health Organization defines torture as “extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.

All the children in my caseload as a volunteer CASA guardian ad litem were tortured.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

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Preteen Moms & Why (stories & statistics)

May had her first child while living as a state ward in a group home when she was 16 and her second child when she was 18 before aging out of foster care.

Her mother was 17 when May was born.

Her grandmother was even younger when May’s mother was born. How old will her daughter be when she has her first baby?

Abused children suffer traumas that last forever and leave a child feeling devoid of love with an emotional void that cannot be filled by social workers, teachers or kind foster parents.

All girls want love in their life. A baby is love. The difference between that poor child and a preteen mom with no parenting skills, a drug problem and a violent boyfriend is about 8 years.

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