Another Asset For Protecting Children; The Law

Perhaps one of the best things that ever happened to foster care in Mississippi was a class-action lawsuit initiated by an advocacy group some 1,200 miles away.

Since its 2004 filing, Olivia Y. v. Barbour has shaken the state’s system to its core, not only revamping procedures and policies aimed at bolstering children’s safety and the reunification of families but also restructuring the environment of those working to make those goals happen.

“It’s not what it used to be,” said Hollye Alvarado, a family protection worker with the Division of Family and Children’s Services of the Mississippi Department of Human Services Region VI. “I definitely wouldn’t have been here without the lawsuit because there’s so many positive changes from it.

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Thank You Houston Texan Receiver Andre Johnson

Wow, what a swell guy and great example for the rest of us; Andre bought $19,521 worth of Toys R Us gifts for children in Child Protective Services today. Here’s the link (you can see the very long receipt).

I like his message too;

“A lot of these kids get discouraged because of where they grew up and things like that. I grew up in a single-parent home and I was fortunate to achieve my goals. So, whatever goals you have, just keep them out in front of you, don’t let anybody distract you away from them, because there will be distractions that try to detour you away from your goals. That’s the biggest thing.”

Pass it on to your friends (it may give them ideas)

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Bastards; How Yesterday’s Rejection Of The Disabilities Treaty Damages America’s Children

Even after a wheelchair delivered heartfelt plea from 89 year old, handicapped, former Senator Bob Dole, our U.S. senate rejected the UN treat to ban discrimination against people with disabilities.

The reason given was that acceptance would “infringe on American sovereignity”.

The real reason is that we would have to agree to the International Rights of the Children Treaty and quit training American 12 year old’s as soldiers like the rest of the world has.

America is the ONLY nation to not sign the Rights of The Children Treaty (Somalia doesn’t count because it does not have a functioning government).

The rest of the world (200 + nations) agrees that it is wrong to train children as young as 12 as soldiers.

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Foster Care & Prostitution, A Terrible Relationship

The following LA Times article establishes the fact that most of the prostitutes in Los Angeles have been foster children. This rings true to me for two reasons;

1) About half the kids in my volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem cases had been sexually abused (and that lasts forever),

&

2) The most recent national data shows that 80% of of children aging out of foster care are leading dysfunctional lives. Los Angeles is now transferring the the responsibility for juvenile prostitutes from the criminal justice system to the foster care system.

Another sad statistic is that 25% of America’s juveniles are tried in adult courts, & as former MN Supreme Court Chief Justice has stated, “90% of the youth in the juvenile justice system have passed through child protection service”.

What more proof do we need to establish that American institutions are producing exactly that which they were designed to stop?

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Children Living Under Bridges

Because of the media’s coverage of dog food eating seniors living under bridges, Bud and Margaret were able to live a clean, modest lifestyle and not die in the pain and disgrace of poverty, living in tents or under bridges.

Today, America has children living under bridges (lots of them).

The number of homeless students attending Duluth public schools jumped 21% this year (a statewide trend and worse in many parts of the nation).

Among the *industrialized nations, (the 24 nations with long established infrastructures and democracies) the U.S. ranks number 1 in child poverty with 23% of our children living in poverty.

Homeless children are 3 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than those living at home. Homeless children find it much harder to succeed in school or in life and their delinquency & crimes rates are far higher than the general population.

There is not a religion on the planet that abandons children & those people claiming there is do not have real religion (point that out to them).

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CASA Minnesota Wine Tasting & Silent Auction For a Great Cause (Stop By & Say Hi – January 10th, Buy Your Ticket Today)

Join us on Thursday, January 10, 2013 from 6 – 9:30 pm to celebrate, and help continue, the good work of CASA Minnesota! Featuring wine tasting courtesy of the experts at South Lyndale Liquors, cheese and desserts, and a fabulous silent auction. More details about the event can be found here: Uncorked Invitation

RSVP by December 31st by printing the Uncorked RSVP card and mailing it to: CASA Minnesota, P.O. Box 17358, Minneapolis MN 55417. Or register online via Paypal using the link below:

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Our Only Hope For A Safe, Livable America; Talking About Mental Health

Friday’s horrific national tragedy — the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut — has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

While every family’s story of mental illness is different, and we may never know the whole of the Lanza’s story, tales like this one need to be heard — and families who live them deserve our help.

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Pounding On Children (the beatings continue)

Because Americans demand that almost every kind of pistol & deadly assault weapon be made available with almost no family or background check, in any quantity, and thousands of rounds of unaccountable ammunition, pretty much guarantees that children will kill themselves and be killed by others as a statistical absolute of the growing carnage that defines our nation.

At the same time, Americans turn their back on more and more poor children every year (we now have the highest child poverty rate in the industrialized world) with inadequate housing, day care, crisis nurseries, nutrition, health care, and especially, mental health care.

Three trillion dollars in the projected next 3 year base cost of war & military in this nation (59 cents out of every tax dollar) should make America the safest nation in the world. It does not.

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Focus On Texas, California, & Florida Child Welfare

CA: Programs for transitioning San Diego foster youth
San Diego Entertainer Magazine – November 26, 2012
Just in Time for Foster Youth (JIT) envisions a future in which every youth leaving the foster care system has a community of caring adults waiting for them after 18. We believe consistent, long-term help from the heart is the foundation for the success of our youth so that they can thrive and enjoy productive, satisfying lives.
http://www.sdentertainer.com/lifestyle/just-in-time-for-foster-youth-steve-sexton/

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Reducing Violence Against Children; Protect Our Kids Act (contact your senator today)

The bill would address violence against children in their homes by creating a national commission to address child abuse and neglect fatalities—upwards of 2,000 per year. Eighty percent of the victims are 3 years old and younger. The bill has the backing of hundreds of organizations, including the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, which has spent the last three years working to advance legislation.

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Join Me For A Grand Time & A Great Cause At the CASA MInnesota Auction & Wine Tasting Fundraiser (January 10th)

Join me on Thursday, January 10, 2013 from 6 – 9:30 pm to celebrate, and help continue, the good work of CASA Minnesota! Featuring wine tasting, cheese and desserts, and a fabulous silent auction. More details about the event can be found here: Uncorked Invitation Please contact me if you have items for our silent auction, mike@invisiblechildren.org

RSVP by December 31st by printing the Uncorked RSVP card and mailing it to: CASA Minnesota, P.O. Box 17358, Minneapolis MN 55417. Or register online via Paypal using the links below:

ticket individual

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Child Welfare Policies That U.S. Shun; A Note From David Strand (share this with your state rep)

Other policies protecting children include prohibitions on trying children as adults in court, and targeting of children up to 12 in advertising. Also drug abuse is treated as a disease and not a crime.
The result of all these social investments is that criminal behavior is minimized. Denmark has 8 prisons. If they had the incarceration rate of the US they would need 80. Think about the tremendous savings in correcting anti-social behavior. By the way, they refuse the concept of for-profit prisons as it is considered a dangerous idea. And people in prison do not lose their right to vote. The election participation is about the same as the general population.
Another aspect of the child friendly society is to elevate teaching to the highest regarded profession. Teachers generally outrank even judges in respect. An important benefit to teachers with children is that they do not have to concern themselves with saving for college and university costs. All children who qualify academically are awarded taxpayer paid college education. As a result teachers generally teach for life.

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Healing Through Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy (or, things I stole from the Surviving Spirit Website)

Our Story

The ideas, thoughts and dreams for The Surviving Spirit

The Surviving Spirit had its origins a long time ago in the mid-nineties. As a musician I had many unique opportunities to perform in different venues that would have a fair amount of folks in attendance who were dealing with the concerns of trauma, abuse, or mental health [mental illness]. These performances took place in peer support centers, psychiatric hospitals, day treatment centers, conferences, workshops, outdoor events, festivals, fairs, rallies, fundraising events and so much more. I was always blown away by the amount of people who not only shared parts of their difficult lives with me, but who also had these incredible gifts and creative talents — whether as an artist, musician, author, crafts person, photographer, author, writer, sculptor, poet, etc. Their listing of talents covers all styles and genres. Many others would also contact me through my website and send me information on their respective creative abilities.

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Better Record Keeping & Higher Standards For Tracking Child Maltreatment & Protection

Our series on child welfare has called attention to a report by the state’s Office of the Legislative Auditor, which found that standards for child maltreatment vary widely across the state and that counties do not keep data about reports consistently.
We also explored issues with Family Assessment, the child protection option in which families are required to participate in an assessment of risk to their children but do not have to accept services. The limited data available indicates that 70% of families are now diverted to this track and very few of these actually receive any services.

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Planned Evacuation Routes, Teachers Packing Heat (what’s next, Uzi’s?)

It hurts me to see the NRA making public policy & politicians blaming teachers for failed schools while they (those same policy making people) are ignoring the screaming need for early childhood programs that could stem the poverty and mental health tsunami that has attacked our inner cities (Detroit, Flint, Houston, Compton, Baltimore…giant swaths of a new and dangerous America )

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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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America: 20 Times More Gun Homicides Than The Rest Of The Developed World

America at that time had slid far from the top in almost all of the important measurements.

Today’s Institutes of Medicine & National Research Council 378 page study demonstrates that our nation is at the bottom of almost every health indicator, early death, the world’s leader in gun death, and U.S. women are now second to last in life expectancy.

David Strand’s study determined that programs helpful to young families and children used regularly in other nations always lead to safer, healthier, and more educated societies.

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CASAMN Silent Auction & Fundraiser Great Fun & A Big Success (our first annual)

Thank you everyone who shared time, energy, and generosity for (Court Appointed Special Advocates for children) CASA Minnesota’s first annual Silent Auction & Wine Tasting Fundraiser.

It a terrific affair & a good time was had by all (especially me).

Our guitarist Mark play excellent soft guitar sounds, the donors of valuable things were just remarkable in their big-heartedness, and a whole bunch of happy and fun loving people showed up to taste the wine & treats, share information and stories, and help fund our organization through their attendance and support of the silent auction (a very big winner).

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Learn About CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Here; Videos

Friends, these videos from the CASA National website clearly articulate the CASA mission and shed light on the institutions and circumstances of abused and neglected children in America today.

Feel free to pass one on to a friend;

I Am For The Child

Dr Phil Show April

The CASA Difference

CASA PSA

77,000 CASA volunteers speak for over 200,000 abused and neglected children throughout the U.S. today. The need for child advocacy in our communities is huge and only partially met by this organization and other American institutions today.

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Tortured Twice In Louisiana; A Sad Abused Ten Year Old Boy Facing Prison For Escaping His Abuser

Joseph Hall was a *tortured little ten year old boy and a ward of the state when he shot his nazi father in the head in Louisiana. His father frequently held hate filled nazi gatherings in the home & in drunken a drug fueled rage he beat his son severely and regularly.

Joseph had been thrown out of many schools and shown violent behavior (reported violent behavior) since he was 3 years old.

What does being a Ward of the State mean in Louisiana? Why after 20 calls to the home by Social Services & multiple reports of strangling people & other violent behavior, was he left in this toxic stew of a home?

What does it take for a child to find refuge in Louisiana? Will the state execute the boy (he is being tried as an adult & Texas has ignored a federal ban on executing the mentally incompetent).

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A KARA Guide To Understanding Texas Approach To Education

begin with a puritans early world view that corporal punishment & abstinence works (think Cotton Mather & the WitchCraft trials) and denouncing the teaching of “higher order thinking”.

In 2011, Representative Michael Villarreal proposed that sex education taught in public schools be medically accurate (the bill never made it out of committee). In its place Texas Republicans approved Corporal punishment, refusing federal funding for schools, and denying pre-school and kindergarten, as a step forward for Texas children.

At least 3 Texan school districts teach that;

Premarital sex can have fatal consequences,

If a woman is dry, the sperm will die,

3 of the 4 text books used in 30% of Texan school districts never mention condoms but do promote “getting plenty of rest” to avoid contracting Sexually Transmitted Disease.

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New York Saves $666 per State Ward Child (Destroying Children & An Important CASA Program)

New York State Ranks 44th in adoption of state ward children and 40th in moving children off of the state ward list.

At a cost of about $666/per child, abused and neglected children have had a personal volunteer CASA voice speak for them in the cold, hard, underfunded institution that is child protection in New York. CASA graduates in New York are half as likely as non CASA children to re enter the system (and a whole host of other positive measurements). One of my CASA case boys alone has cost Hennepin County several million dollars (without counting the people he has stabbed, teacher he assaulted, lives he has crushed, or property he has destroyed).

In his case, my county saved the money (under $500) it would have cost to complete a background check on the man who requested custody of his son while he was still in prison.

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Guns and Children In Florida (it’s not guns that kill people) It’s Bad Laws About Guns

In Florida it is against the law for a Pediatrician to ask a patient about guns in the house.

In 2010 almost 20,000 children were killed or wounded by firearms in America (A child is killed or wounded every thirty minutes) (Slate article Feb 1)

Simply explaining public health issues to parents seems like a natural function of the medical profession.

At Children’s Health of Ocala, Florida, Pediatrician, Dr. Okonkwo was asking routine public safety questions about swimming pools, bike helmets & loaded guns in the home of one of his patients.

Dr Okonkwo was right about locking ammunition and guns separately as a public health issue for children.

For this he could be accused of “unnecessarily harassing” the mother of his patient (the child).

Turns out, it is against Florida law to ask questions about gun ownership or ammunition in the entire state of Florida. The initial bill called for a five million dollar fine & five years in prison (for asking a Floridian if there was a gun in the home).

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