Thank You Safe Passage For Children

As a long time CASA guardian ad-Litem who finds it impossible to believe that the depth and scope of child abuse in my community (both local and national) is largely unspoken until some poor child is found in a dumpster or has his brains bashed out against a wall by a caregiver, I am excited by the efforts to quantify these sad facts by Safe Passages For Children.

It is precisely because we don’t keep track, or if we do, don’t publish the mountain of unhappy things happening to our children. If these things were recorded, reported, and discussed, our institutions could function more effectively and children would be much safer and happier.

What follows is a major effort by Rich Gehrman and Safe Passages For Children to identify the tip of this iceberg (thank you Rich and company)

Please sign our petition for safe and healthy MN children (even if you are not from MN)

Petition to make health, education, and well being available to all MN children

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Sign Our Petition For Child Rights, Safety, and Healthcare

Help KARA make a better world for America’s children and sign our petition for basic rights, health care, and safety (even if you’re not from MN)

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/childrens-civil-human?source=c.em.mt&r_by=6732677

Every signature helps.

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Beyond Capacity; Arizona’s Child Protection System (not the only state)

Child Protective Services oversight committee shows Arizona’s child welfare system experienced a greater caseload increase than all but one state in the 10 years ending in 2012, while most states saw decreases.

University of Chicago researcher and former federal child welfare commissioner Bryan Samuels’ review of state and federal data also found the response time in Arizona for child abuse and neglect complaints soared from 63 hours to nearly 250 hours between 2009 and 2012.

Samuels said the data he reviewed at the request of state officials working to overhaul the broken system showed Arizona’s child welfare system became overwhelmed as caseloads soared. That led to a large increase in the amount of time children were in the system before being reunified with their families or placed in permanent homes.

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477 Child Deaths In FL (preserving families but costing lives)

When 8-week-old Kyla Joy Hall was hospitalized with a bleeding brain and fractures to both legs, both wrists and a foot, police could not determine which of her parents injured her. One thing was certain: Someone had inflicted life-threatening injuries on a newborn.

While Kyla healed in a medical foster home, child-welfare authorities moved to strip both parents of their rights to her. But when her mother bowed out of the picture — to become an actress — her father transformed, without explanation, from abuse suspect into fit parent. Josi Hall, Jacksonville firefighter, was awarded full custody despite the misgivings of his own mother.

Ten months later, Kyla’s father viciously attacked her. Her injuries included a “pulpified” liver, knuckle-sized bruises to her chest and, the decisive blow, a cleaved heart that sustained damage similar to “that of a kick from a horse,” an autopsy said.

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Great Discussion On Privatized Foster Care In Georgia (Linked In)

Fascinating debate occurring in Georgia that has life-altering impacts on children. Have you studied the research on privatization of foster care and/or other child welfare services? If so, please share what you’ve learned? Has your state had experience with partial or full privatization? Any lessons to share with Georgia and the rest of the country from that?

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Daycare In America (more sad stories)

A South Carolina woman who allegedly operated an unlicensed daycare out of her home faces multiple charges after a child under her care died. But investigators say that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Pamela Clark Wood, 49, was arrested March 6. Police began investigating Wood last month after Greenville County Sheriff’s deputies received a call about anunresponsive 3-month-old baby girl, who later died.

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Politics & Children – A Zero Sum Game

A very recent MN Governor (not this one) ended subsidized daycare in the state – the waiting list is now 7000 children.

Two percent of MN children are enrolled in high quality early childhood education programs- the national average is 25% and MN has the lowest rate among the 38 states that offer the programs.

Cutting the pie smaller for children is destructive, leads to failing students and schools, troubled communities, and the highest crime rates in the industrialized world. We talk allot about our state leading the nation in racial disparity but don’t seem to have a handle on how we might change that (Hennepin County arrested 44% of its adult Black men in 2001 – no duplicate arrests).

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Comment Thread On The Child Beating Bill In Kansas

Friends of KARA, below are the comments made on a network debating the Kansas state bill that would allow the beating of children by virtually any caregiver and the leaving of bruises. The good news is that most people hate it for its neanderthal approach to child rearing but there are a fair number of folks that just want the right to beat children.

My mom was born 9 years prior to women’s rights being passed in America. Before this, almost no amount of violence was illegal against a man’s wife. Not so different with children in America today. The passing of this law in Kansas will demonstrate just how tragically ill informed state legislators can be.

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Children In The News – read about your state here (thank you child welfare.gov)

ID: Bill to protect children of faith healers in Idaho will not get a hearing
Associated Press – February 26, 2014
House leaders ruled out a hearing on a bill meant to curb the number of children who die because their parents choose faith healing and not medical assistance for religious reasons.
http://www.katu.com/news/local/Bill-to-protect-children-of-faith-healers-in-Idaho-will-not-get-a-hearing-247401091.html

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70 Child Abuse Deaths In California’s Child Protection System

When paramedics arrived, eight-year old Gabriel Fernandez was not conscious. His skull was cracked. Three ribs were broken. Bruises and burns covered his body. Two teeth were knocked out of his mouth. X-rays would later show that the third-grader had BB pellets embedded in his lung and groin. Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, 29, and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre, 32, told the paramedics that Gabriel’s injuries were self-induced. Later Aguirre said that he delivered ten or so blows to Gabriel’s stomach for lying and “being dirty.”

Before Gabriel’s death, his mother was the target of six investigations of child abuse. One of Gabriel’s teachers reported the boy coming to school battered. One of Gabriel’s therapists reported that Gabriel said that he was forced to perform oral sex on a family member. Gabriel told a teacher he’d been beat with a belt buckle until he bled and his mother shot him with a BB gun. Gabriel wrote a suicide note, found by his teacher.

According to documents obtained by the LA Times and a recent wrongful death lawsuit filed by Gabriel’s grandparents, Gabriel was never interviewed privately by a social worker about his abuse. Fernandez and Aguirre have been charged with first degree murder of a child. The two have yet to enter their pleas. Two months after Gabriel’s death, four DCFS employees related to his case were fired.

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Faith Healing & Another Child Death In Philadelphia

8 month old Brandon Schaible died of treatable pneumonia because his parents don’t believe in medicine.

This is not as rare as one would hope. In Idaho, 144 children have died in the Followers of Christ Church due to lack of medical care. Religious shield laws are everywhere (does your state have them?

Idaho makes it legal to deny children medical care (including to death). In Oregon 15-month-old Ava Worthington. 16-year-old Neil Beagley. 8-month-old Alayna May Wyland. 9-hour-old David Hickman died that way. Below are articles related to child death due to religious practice and the legal underpinnings (further down) that make withholding medical treatments from children legal.

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Hitting Children & Leaving Bruises On Kansas Children Could Be The Law Next Session

State Rep Gail Finney says whacking children is about restoring parental rights (along with the rights of teachers and other caregivers) and not child abuse. I guess that depends on how you define abuse. Imagine letting other people whack your child and leaving bruises.

Kansas already allows whacking children without leaving marks, but that just doesn’t pass Gail’s smell test. She wants to see red.

Gail has vowed to continue bringing it up if it doesn’t make it this year. Kansas ranks 36th among the states in child death & 29th in juvenile incarceration according to Geography Matters, Child Well-Being among the states.

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Another Failed State (no protection from child rape and no foster parents in Montana)

Kids with chaotic family situations, with behavior and mental health issues, as young as you can imagine, end up needing emergency housing. The need for foster families trained to help these kids is ever present.

Youth Dynamics is a non-profit organization operating across Montana. Katie Gerten works out of the Kalispell office licensing people to be foster parents. She said in the past six months she’s has about 20 children referred to her office to be placed in foster care that she had to turn down. She said it’s hard to find people up for becoming foster parents.

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For The Record – Minneapolis Arrests 44% Of Its Black Adult Male Population (2001 was not that long ago)

The central question posed by this report
is, “How can young African American men
and Hennepin County help each other
succeed?” For years, there have been
many mechanisms in place to benefit 18
to 30-year-old African American men; yet
the outcomes for many of these men
continue to be poor. For example:
• Forty-four percent are arrested
each year.
• They are 27 times more likely to go to
jail than young white men.
• Twenty-eight percent of these young
men enrolled in the Minneapolis Public
Schools graduate from high school in
four years.
• They are twice as likely to die
as young white men ages 18 to 30. read the whole report here;

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Drilling For Mass Murder & Arming Teachers Institutionalizes Fear and Insanity In Our Schools (please stop)

All across America, schools are practicing lock downs and pretend mass shootings, arming teachers, bringing firearms and terror into school to traumatize ten year old children and make educators hate and fear their work.

Kansas is requiring its teachers to carry firearms, some states are using fake blood and real automatic weapons fire in their practice drills.

How many teachers signed up expecting to be issued a pistol on the first day of school?

Is this what you want your children to live with? I’ve had a gun pointed at me, it is traumatizing and practicing this on children should be a criminal act.

It is also a false premise that you can turn art teachers into capable crime stoppers.

Police and military personnel receive extensive and very real training to reach a point where they can function effectively under combat conditions. Most people are fooling themselves to expect much out of a few hours of weapons training when the real thing happens. God I hate the NRA.

Kansas is requiring its teachers to carry firearms, some states are using fake blood and real automatic weapons fire in their practice drills.

How many teachers signed up expecting to be issued a pistol on the first day of school?

Is this what you want your children to learn and live with? I’ve had a gun pointed at me, it is traumatizing and practicing this on children should be a criminal act.

It is also a false premise that art teachers become capable crime stoppers with a few hours of weapons practice. Believe me, it takes a special kind of person to draw down and accurately fire a weapon in a life death situation.

Police and military personnel receive extensive and very real training to reach a point where they can function effectively under combat conditions. Most people are fooling themselves to expect much out of a few hours of weapons training when the real thing happens. The NRA sells guns not textbooks (remember that).

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Abused and Neglected Children’s News (thank you Child Welfare In The News)

MA: Patrick To Address Controversy Surrounding Child Welfare Agency
Associated Press – January 27, 2014
The failure of the Department of Children and Families to keep track of a missing 5-year-old boy whose family had been under its supervision is inexcusable but has given the state an opportunity to re-examine the agency and make changes, Gov. Deval Patrick said Monday. Also: Gov. Patrick: DCF review to be completed by the spring: http://www.myfoxboston.com/story/24554144/2014/01/27/gov-patrick-to-discuss-dcf-probe#ixzz2rh7CVuAs
http://www.wbur.org/2014/01/27/patrick-speak-dcf-controversy

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Beaten Child Verdict $166M In NJ The Largest Ever

Despite findings of abuse, New Jersey Child protection returned four year old Jadiel Velesques to his violent family where he was beaten so badly he cannot walk or talk, is blind, and will need the care of nurses & doctors around the clock. DYFS said that reducing casework workload and strengthening training and supervision of caseworkers has happened already. This is the largest verdict against a child protective services agency in U.S. history. It hurts me to think that the caseloads could have been reduced and the training and supervision could have been strengthened before Jadiel was beaten. Just like we could have built the mental health facility the year before Jeff Weise murdered his grandfather, 14 others, and then killed himself.

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A Glimmer Of Hope (push for preschool)

Preschool is having its moment, as a favored cause for politicians and interest groups who ordinarily have trouble agreeing on the time of day. President Obama devoted part of his State of the Union address to it, while the deeply red states of Oklahoma and Georgia are being hailed as national models of preschool access and quality, with other states and cities also forging ahead on their own.

With a growing body of research pointing to the importance of early child development and its effect on later academic and social progress, enrollment in state-funded preschool has more than doubled since 2002, to about 30 percent of all 4-year-olds nationwide. In just the past year, Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and the city of San Antonio have enacted new or expanded programs, while in dozens of other places, mayors, governors and legislators are making a serious push for preschool.

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Florida, The Land Of Oranges & Prosecuting 14 Year Olds As Adults (sentenced to 70 years – for robbery)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In decisions widely hailed as milestones, the United States Supreme Court in 2010 and 2012 acted to curtail the use of mandatory life sentences for juveniles, accepting the argument that children, even those who are convicted of murder, are less culpable than adults and usually deserve a chance at redemption.
But most states have taken half measures, at best, to carry out the rulings, which could affect more than 2,000 current inmates and countless more in years to come, according to many youth advocates and legal experts.

“States are going through the motions of compliance,” said Cara H. Drinan, an associate professor of law at the Catholic University of America, “but in an anemic or hyper-technical way that flouts the spirit of the decisions.”

Lawsuits now before Florida’s highest court are among many across the country that demand more robust changes in juvenile justice. One of the Florida suits accuses the state of skirting the ban on life without parole in nonhomicide cases by meting out sentences so staggering that they amount to the same thing.

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Eliminating Child Protection Services In Arizona (will its replacement save the children?)

Governor Brewer has eliminated the states Child Protective Services Department and replaced it with a new division. Is this the silver bullet that will provide some safety to the thousands of AZ children living in horrid circumstances that have been ignored for years now? (6000 cases ignored) (10,000 cases beyond the 60 day investigation limit)

Currently, 1000 caseworkers already have caseloads that are 77 percent above the standard. It does not appear that the general public is mostly unconcerned, and not many legislators seem to be pulling for more child friendly programs. For years now Arizona has largely ignored child protection. It will surprise me if this effort makes much difference.

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What We Can Learn From Kentucky (kinship rules)

JEFFERSONTOWN, Ky. – In Kentucky, a lot of children are being raised by extended family members: at 6 percent of all kids, it’s one of the highest kinship-care rates in the nation. A new report from Kentucky Youth Advocates outlines what the group says needs to be done to increase support for grandparents and others raising kids who cannot safely live with their parents.

According to Jeanne Miller-Jacobs, who with her husband is raising their three grandkids, more assistance is badly needed.

“The biggest hurdle that we’ve had is misinformation,” she said. When we first got the kids, the financial part of kinship care never came up.”

She said her grandchildren, ages five, three and one, came to live with them because their parents struggle with drug addiction.

Kinship care has doubled in Kentucky in the last decade, and earlier this year, the state stopped taking new applications for its Kinship Care Program, which provides caregivers $10 a day to help meet a child’s basic needs.

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Best & Worst States For America’s Children

Where does your state rank in protecting children & what can you do to make improvements. These stories tell the best and worst of what’s happening around the nation (and in Japan)

Worst states;Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina

Best states; Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Connecticut

States News;

Arizona is one of the most dangerous states in the nation to be an abused or neglected child. For years they have not paid attention to beaten, starved, or sexually abused children.

Let’s hope that this new trend sticks; AZ: CPS Crisis: Latest report shows 3298 cases assigned
KPHO Phoenix – December 26, 2013- The head of a newly-appointed team tasked with investigating more than 6,500 ignored child abuse and neglect cases says they’ve now assigned nearly 3,298 of those cases to investigators.
http://www.kpho.com/story/24228667/cps-crisis-latest-report-shows-3298-cases-assigned

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Improving State Child Protection Systems In 2014 (whatever it takes)

Class action lawsuits get results where legislators don’t (Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia, D.C., New Jersey, Mississippi) Proving that it’s not who is your senator, but who is your attorney. Whatever it Takes.

From Oklahoma News on 6 12,27.13,

Oklahoma is one of 14 states sued by child advocacy group Children’s Rights. The federal class action lawsuit was filed back in 2008, claiming children in state custody were in danger, because the system wasn’t doing enough to protect them.

The state has spent millions fighting it. With the trial just two months away and a judge denying the state’s last two efforts to get the case thrown out, DHS is now considering settling the suit.

According to Children’s Right’s website, their lawsuits have led to $2 billion in additional funding for child welfare systems.

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