Every month Kids At Risk Action draws attention to the plight of abused and neglected children by gathering the stories of at risk children from around the nation. You will find your community on this page. Please share this page with your friends and networks to make this conversation come alive with the hope that…Details
I attended Syl Jone’s play BECAUSE at the Mixed Blood Theatre last week. It’s a moving piece that explores living with mental health issues from multiple perspectives leaving the audience with a personal sense of what it’s like to be this person, live with this person and understand this person. Syl is now the Resident Fellow for Narrative Health at HCMC (I think every hospital should have such a position – how else can these stories be told?)
I asked Syl at the play if he would consider writing about the mental health issues of children in child protective services, he seemed interested. If you know Syl Jones, please let him know how important this topic is.
Back to Sheriffs and Children (the title).
At the end of the play, Syl Jones & a panel (moderated by Eduardo Colon, the new Psychiatry Chief at HCMC) of professionals & one very articulate person living with serious mental health issues further explored the realities of mental health and mental health services in our community.
Today’s Star Tribune continues Dr Colon’s discussion about the shortage of beds for psychiatric emergencies and draws attention to how the problem is being compounded by the law that inmates take priority over everyone else for emergency psych beds (the 48 hour rule).
This newly enforced rule is a result of the sheriff’s (Washington, Ramsey and Hennepin Counties) threat to sue because their departments had become mental health service providers as a result of the state’s failing to honor the 48 hour rule.
While I’m all for providing services to inmates in need of psychiatric beds, I am appalled that the children in need of protection are suffering because of the shortage of beds and the use of psychotropic medications in place of therapy. I have attended multiple children on hours long trips outside of the metro because services were not available for them here.
The depth and scope of children’s mental health in this community is profound. As a long time CASA guardian ad-Litem I have accompanied many children on long trips for mental health services because there were no services here & I know that much of what is provided here is inadequate (this was referred to by Dee Wilson from the Casey Foundation).
Thank You Dr Colon, HCMC and Syl Jones for starting this conversation – it may be the only way our community can begin to understand the profound depth and scope of mental health issues and their impact on our quality of life.
Please share this post with policy makers and contacts in foster/adoption, education, health, policing and social workers.
ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDRENDetails
This morning’s Safe Passage For Children about how police have put battered children back in the home because they like to keep families together reminds me of a man who kicked a 7 year old girl so hard she went into convulsions and went into the hospital Emergency Room with her injury. The police in that case sought safety for her and her siblings and involved Child Protection right away.
That girl had been sexually abused for four years (from 4 to 7), my first visit to her younger year sister was at the suicide ward of the hospital & the 2 other children had problems so severe that they could not be together in foster care because of the things that happened when they were together.
The man who did these things to the children remained in the home for many years, and was never charged or made to answer for any of his crimes. More than ten years later he was still sexually abusing children in the same home and he had never been mentioned in the justice system.
Children have no rights in the homes they live in, no access to safety other than our community efforts to keep children safe and no way to influence policy makers to improve the existing system. The Safe Passage Article above includes a snapshot of how the rest of the industrialized world keeps children safe and is well worth reading.
All Adults Are The Protectors of All ChildrenDetails
Although counties disagree, the Department wants an outside expert to review screening practices. This is because, contrary to new guidelines, counties are still responding to half as many maltreatment reports as an average state, and the percentage of cases getting an investigation rather than a less rigorous assessment has barely changedDetails
It’s hard to believe that a political administration could go so far in negating the value of a city’s children as just happened in Flint Michigan.
For 2 years Flint children have been poisoned with lead and other toxins in the face of scientific evidence, political backlash and community outrage with nothing but misfeasance, malfeasance and non-feasance from the Governor’s office (all 8000 of Flints children).
Flint needs disaster relief from the EPA, CDC and Army Corps of Engineers to stop the State sponsored child abuse that poisoned the children of Flint Michigan.
Elected officials need to be made aware that what happened in Flint was wrong and the people in charge made public, made to resign and be punished. Sign Michael Moore’s petition on Facebook to let Michigan’s Governor know that what he has done to Flint’s children is a crime (if the Michigan State found you knowingly poisoning your children over an extended period of time you would be guilty of second degree felony child abuse)*
Michigan Penal Code, section 750.136b:
“A person is guilty of child abuse in the second degree if…the person knowingly or intentionally commits an act likely to cause serious physical or mental harm to a child,” Michigan Penal Code, section 750.136b states. “[This] is a felony punishable by imprisonment for a first offense of not more than 10 years…[and] for a second or subsequent offense not more than 20 years.”Details
Today it’s time we learn about the growing problem of newborns dying after being sent home with mothers struggling with drug addiction. This Reuters investigation starkly demonstrates that doctors are not alerting social services to thousands of infants living in toxic homes with addicts. Every 19 minutes an American baby is born dependent on opioids.
KARA needs your help finding information on the topic (forward related local news & your stories); firstname.lastname@example.org
All Adults Are The Protectors Of All ChildrenDetails
Foster families in Oklahoma are suing the state because they were asked by DHS to store guns according to best safety practices, In Florida actual fines and threats of incarceration face doctors for similar acts. Imagine talking to parents about protecting their children against gun accidents.
265 moms dads, brothers, sisters and selves were shot by very young children this year.
That’s where we live today friends. I wonder what Kansas and Texas are up to?Details
Today’s Star Tribune article nails it. Thank you Annie Mogush Mason for your clear explanation of how child abuse impacts schools. Coping skills (learning skills) are not brought by the stork. Add to that, the terrible things done to at risk children in the home, children bring fear & high anxiety into the classroom instead of the ability to sit still, play well with others or learn.
Teaching *traumatized children is different than teaching other students. Way different.
The sadness that is child abuse triggers unpredictable and often violent behaviors in the classroom. Many a teacher has talked to me about the larger percentage of their daily efforts being directed toward the one, two or three disruptive students in their classroom. I know educators that have quit their jobs in tears and with genuine fear of going to work every day because of this.Details
The facts of recent demographic studies are mind boggling. In 2008, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shocked the nation with the news that fully a fourth of America’s teen girls now have a sexually transmitted disease, with rates still rising. Earlier the Alan Guttmacher Institute announced results of a study comparing teens in the U.S. with Great Britain, Canada, France and Sweden. By far U.S. teenagers have the highest rates of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs), pregnancy, births and abortions. For example, the teen pregnancy rate of the U.S. is four times the French rate, three times the Swedish rate and twice as high as Great Britain and Canada. America’s policy of turning its back on our youth is nothing short of shocking in its irresponsibility.Details
FL: DeWitt: Step up to save Hernando’s visitation center (Opinion)
Tampa Bay Times – October 15, 2015
What this state most certainly does not need is one less safe place for vulnerable children. That, however, is what it will get at the end of this month with the closing of the Family Visitation Center of Hernando County. Actually, the center in Citrus County will also shut down, making two fewer safe places.
FL: Special-needs families find wait list up to 10 years long (May require free registration)
Orlando Sentinel – October 17, 2015
Theoretically, the state of Florida helps families like the Creeses. In fact, Avery is on the state’s waiting list to get a Medicaid waiver that would provide help, including at-home care to give Greg some relief, because, in Florida, the average wait time is six years.
Number of uninsured Pa. kids declined slightly last year, study finds
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – October 28, 2015
More than 139,000 Pennsylvania children did not have health insurance last year, according to a study released Wednesday.
Children & Youth Services makes life-saving changes in wake of 9-year-old’s death
FOX43 – September 2, 2015
It’s been just over a year since the horrific death of nine-year-old Jarrod Tutko Jr., who died after a lifetime of neglect. His death revealed dysfunction and disarray within Dauphin County Children and Youth Services. Caseworkers visited the home, and there were repeated calls for help- including from a hospital and a school, on behalf of his siblings. But in the end, the calls were missed, and Jarrod was found dead weighing 16 pounds. The state placed CYS on a provisional license after it was revealed that caseworkers were overworked and “didn’t know how to do their jobs,” sometimes crying at their desks.
Brandon Stahl Sets A Precedent For Excellence In Reporting (share this with your local newspaper – it could be repeatable & help children)
The issues of child abuse and child protection services are complicated and not well understood by the general public, state legislators, or even the people delivering the services. In the almost twenty years I’ve spent as a volunteer in the system (CASA guardian ad-Litem), I’ve not witnessed a reporter going as deep into the heart of a child protection story until reading Brandon Stahl’s series in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
When a baby is found in a dumpster or some other horrific suffering of a four year old makes the paper, an article of outrage leaves the reader hating and blaming a person or institutional failure. Because it takes a sustained and painful effort to take a deeper look into the depth and scope of the nightmarish conditions that preceded the great sadness of a child’s suffering and death at the hands of a caregiver, the reporting almost always stops right here.
Thirty years ago in White Bear Lake MN (near my home), Lois Jergens went on to adopt five more children after murdering 4 year old Dennis Jergens. None of the approximately fifty children I lobbied to be removed from their homes because of torture, sex abuse, or neglect were ever known to anyone outside the child protection system. The absence of information about abused and neglected children is directly related to our high crime rates, full prisons, troubled schools, and unsafe neighborhoods. We would all benefit by knowing the trauma of ground truth – then we could face it and deal with it. It would be better for us and better for children.
Today, Brandon Stahl is peeling back the layers of this complicated institution of child protection. So few people know anything substantive about it and even the people running it can be so wrong so often (as in passing laws about not using past history of abuse in current investigations or family assessments instead of child protection in high risk cases).
In our interview with Brandon Stahl, he was clear about just how hard it is to pry information out of institutions that either have done a very bad job of gathering and keeping it, or simply don’t want it known. He spoke of the substantial financial investment his newspaper had to make in order to get the basic information about the murder of four year old Eric Dean by his step-mother after fifteen reports of child abuse by mandated reporters.Details
265 Moms, dads, brothers, sisters and selves were shot by very young children this year.
This is the first time data on people shot by children has been collected in America. I’m guessing it will go up n next year.
There are 28 states that hold gun owners criminally liable if children access their guns. There is at least one state that fines doctors (Florida- the initial bill called for a five million dollar fine and & 5 years in prison for the doctor) for counselling parents to take preventative measures with their guns if children are in the home. It’s the law. A very crazy law enforced to the detriment of children (most children accidentally shoot themselves).
Facts about children & guns;
More Americans are shot by toddlers (265) with guns than terrorists (151) just this year. This has been true for many years.
Every 30 minutes a child is killed or wounded by guns in America
Our nation leads the world in gun death
This Mother Jones Article included weapons manufacturers marketing materials aimed at very young children. It is disturbing. It was just last week a five year old Kentucky boy killed his two year old sister with his “Crickett” “my first” rifle. You can buy them in hot pink for little girls:
“The Crickett rifle is ideally sized for children four to ten years old and comes in a …Arms manufactures the following youth rifles: Crickett .22WMR Youth Rifles“
Americans killed by terrorists in the last decade (175) Americans killed by guns in the last decade (280,024)Details
reprinted from Sunday, February 12, 2006 (SF Chronicle)
One Child, One Therapist/An innovative program partners foster children with therapists for as long as they’re needed, providing a stability otherwise missing
When child psychologist Norman Zukowsky first met him, 6 1/2-year-old “William” had already lived through more hardship and trauma than many people experience in a lifetime.
He was born exposed to drugs and alcohol,one of three children of a drug-addicted mother who lived in an unheated garage with no cooking or bathroom facilities.
Child welfare reports suggest that the children were physically abused, exposed to sexual behavior and often went without food or clothing. Eventually, William was
removed from his mother’s care only to be placed with a relative who scarred his chest beating him with a belt.
This CBS report on child protection in British Columbia is direct and to the point. It’s honesty and tone would be instructive for many U.S. states that suffer from the same issues without the will to face them head on.
It hurts me that we don’t talk more openly about child abuse and how life changing it is for children. Until we do, there’s little chance that the changes required to make our systems work will occur.
I really liked this quote from the report; “In the future, we must accept and act on a simple principle: child protection is one of the most difficult jobs in government and it should be recognized and rewarded with higher compensation.” It is.Details
This page compiled by KARA volunteer Corey Wasser NY: One More Problem Faced by Transgender New Yorkers: Food Insecurity Slate – November 21, 2015 As health care access is clearly still a problem, the report requests that policymakers “Assure that all transgender people, including those in the foster care system, juvenile detention or criminal justice…Details
New York Times article has identified that over 100,000 prescriptions for antipsychotic medicines were written in 2014 – children 2 and younger (many still in cribs). A shortage of child psychiatrists is partially blamed.
These drugs are powerful mind altering chemicals just one generation removed from Thorazine. To use them like candy for babies and 3 year old children is dangerous.
This Mercury News video series on foster care children provides a stunning insight into the growing use of unproven and dangerous medicines given to state ward children.
MN DHS in June of 2014 ended physchiatric consultations for high-dose ADHD and SGA drugs for children over 3 years old.
Big pharma has been fined billions of dollars for criminally promoting these drugs for use by children. Johnson & Johnson paid 3 billion for the “illicit promotion of Rispererdal” and is still defending thousands of cases in court today. This is just one example of the depth and scope of big pharma’s continued willingness to make money at the expense of vulnerable children. This CASA guardian ad-Litem has too many stories of very young state ward children forced to take these drugs and the side effects they cause. 92% of foster children using psychotropic medicines get them for unaccepted reasons)
No one questioned whether foster child Kendrea Johnson was on psychotropics when she hung herself and left a note. Her social worker did not know that she was suicidal and seeing a therapist at the time.
There was no question why 7 year old foster child Gabriel Myers hung himself – his suicide note clearly articulated that he killed himself because he hated being forced to take Prozac.
All Adults Are The Protectors of All ChildrenDetails
Narcotic addicted babies are born every 19 minutes in America. 27,000 in 2013.
A federal law requiring hospitals to report drug addicted moms to child protection services is largely ignored. This heartbreaking series about the preventable deaths of drug-addicted babies ends includes ideas that can solve the problem. Reuters filed more than 200 Freedom of Information Act requests and reviewed almost 6000 child fatality reports to identify these cases.
Only 7 states specifically tracked referrals of newborns in drug withdrawal and only half the number of cases that were diagnosed were tracked in those states. Most states only require reporting only babies exposed to illegal drugs – but prescription drug addiction is growing to become an even larger problem.
In 2005, 598,000 emergency drug related admissions included legal pharmaceutical overdoses. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, teens who abuse prescription drugs are twelve to twenty times more likely to use illegal street drugs than those that don’t abuse prescription drugs.
In 2010 2.4 million Americans used prescription drugs non medically for the first time.Details
Minnesota Still Screening Out Twice the National Average of Child Abuse Reports (thank you Safe Passage for Children)
Even after Governor Dayton’s “Colossal Failure” remarks about ignored reports of child abuse that lead to 4 year old Eric Dean’s tortured murder, a Casey Foundation report outlining the importance of changing DHS intake protocol for child abuse cases & the agreed upon recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on child protection – Minnesota is still screening out twice the number of child abuse cases seen in the rest of the county.
It is also unconscionable that today 100 current child protection case children are without guardian ad-Litems in the courts (check out the guardian ad-Litem program) we need volunteers – know anyone?
The CASA program received no consideration in the reports or recommendations. It’s hard enough for a child to go through child protection with a guardian ad-Litem speaking for them. To not have that volunteer voice makes the experience more isolating is doubly painful and just wrong.
Brandon Stahl’s dogged reporting at the Star Tribune brought our attention to the painful and dangerous lives abused children lead and how badly they need our help.
If Minnesota Governor Dayton’s, the Casey Foundation’s (MN Child Endangerment Model) & the Task Force changes do not come now with this attention, in a few years the changes will be largely forgotten.
Will the four MN counties that were screening out 90% of child abuse cases when Eric Dean died be screening out 92% and the over use of the assessment tool (where the child’s well being is most often not referred to) revert to being as common as it was?Details
Gun Safety – 18,270 Children Killed or Injured By Gunfire in 2010 – at least 200 have died by accidental gunfire since NewTown
Children’s Defense Fund research from 2010 shows that guns kill more infants, toddlers and preschoolers than they do police officers in the line of duty.
American youth are 17 times more likely to be shot dead than the young of the other industrialized nations.
A gun in the home increases the risk of suicide by 3 to 5 times, homicide by 3 times, and accidental death by 400 percent.
Since 1963, three times as many American children and teens have been shot dead than soldiers killed abroad – in 2010, five times more children and teens were shot dead than soldiers killed in Iraq and Afgghanistan.
Gun violence kills more black youth (from one to nineteen years old) every year except for car accidents.Details
Your anguish at the pain and suffering of children is laudable and this site great. And these hearings only show the safety net is torn and clearly failing children, isn’t time to broach the subject of parenting while asserting the “rights of the Child?”
Thank you for the kind words and very good question – it gets to the heart of what KARA is.
KARA is the voice of abused and neglected children removed from their homes* & this editor tries hard to tell their stories and report on the people, policies and programs that impact their lives.
Time and resources in a small nonprofit require outside volunteer effort to accomplish this goal with any regularity or depth. Thank you Century College for continuing to include Kids At Risk Action in your volunteer program.
To your point A.R., I will work at putting more attention to the subject of parenting. We know that parenting skills don’t come from the stork & our community needs to better appreciate the value of healthy children.
Unfortunately, our communities are more willing to put resources and attention to dealing with unhealthy children than building healthy children.
we are very grateful to and supportive of organizations that concentrate on improving the lives of at risk children through better parenting, more attention to improving the lives of young families and helping adoptive and foster parents.
The sadness and pain children and families experience due to generational child abuse can’t end until the voice of abused and neglected children is heard by a larger public and our message to legislators loud enough to force them to listen and do the right thing through better policies and programs.Details
CA: Six children are dead. Could these needless deaths have been prevented?
Los Angeles Times – November 24, 2015
There are community-based services he could have tapped, but they’re fragmented and hard to navigate without professional help, said USC child welfare professor Jacquelyn McCroskey.
FL: Mistakes detailed in Janiya Thomas death
Southwest Florida Herald Tribune – November 24, 2015
Child protection investigators closed probes prematurely, turned in crucial paperwork late and failed to adequately identify safety concerns when they investigated incidents involving the mother of an 11-year-old found dead in a freezer this past October, a Department of Children and Families report released Tuesday found.
– See more at: https://www.invisiblechildren.org/2015/11/26/sad-stories-november-2015/#sthash.uuJlOpd4.dpuf