Tracking America’s Most At Risk Children (Weekly)

Teen who killed baby sentenced to 90 days

October 18, 2012. Colorado.

Dylan Kuhn had called authorities stating that his 6-month-old daughter was found hanging from her crib by her next and that she wasn’t breathing. Authorities later discovered she had injuries consistent with being “slammed” against a soft and unyielding surface (like a mattress). Kuhn later stated that he did slam his daughter into the bed and she became quiet afterward, that she had never had a blanket around her neck, and that he lied to police initially because he was afraid the mother would hate him for it. Kuhn plead guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 4 years of probation, a parenting class, a mental health evaluation, a drug abuse evaluation, and would not be allowed to be alone with any child under the age of 10.

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KARA’s Minnesota Friends of Children Please Support Bill Number SF 704/HF 1106

KARA board members Sam Ashkar and Mike Tikkanen accompanied Rich Gehrman and his Safe Passage For Children colleagues to support a bill at the state capital on thursday supporting child protection screening practices protecting children throughout MN. This bill SF 704 / HF 1106 gives simple guidelines, clarifies standards, and improves accountability for reporting and screening practices for abused children in terrible circumstances. It is the least we can do.

Please forward this to your friends and make a call to your state representative (and to State Senate Republican leader David Hann who is influential on this committee; 651-296-1749 )

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Over 90% Of New Orleans Elementary School Children Witness Violence (over half have been victims – 40% have seen a dead body)

Much of the violence occurs in the home, and it occurs again and again and again. That has also been my experience as a CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem.

Most of the families experiencing violence in the home also report child abuse. 77% of children in high violence families were abused over their lifetime.

Most children who witness domestic violence suffer from PTSD and go on to lead lives much like their parents taught them (unless they are lucky enough to have good daycare, crisis nursery access, and mentoring – fairly rare in America today).

Full report here; http://www.childwitnesstoviolence.org/facts–myths.html

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A New Standard For Disaster; Tennessee (802 child deaths in 2011)

It’s painful to watch any children and family services system in turmoil, but the goings on in Tennessee right now might be setting a new standard for disaster. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (TDCS) is locked in a high-profile battle with the state’s most prominent newspaper, The Tennessean, which has published a series of articles questioning the department’s performance in analyzing and reporting on child fatalities.

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Bigger Armies & More Wars – Why Americans Hate Children

Just yesterday a tea party fellow I know (RW) was telling me about the wisdom in former MN Governor Tim Pawlenty’s words, “children that are victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem, nor are they the problem of the state of Minnesota”. Solid Christians both of them, so they must be right. Although I’m still having trouble finding the religion that abandons children.

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Total Disaster In Tennessee (NV, TN, CA, & TX in Trouble Too) Disappearing Watchdogs Around the Nation

When detectives interviewed Brewer, she told them the children were punished for stealing food. The case “even shocked some of our most veteran children’s case workers,” Hudson said.

Brewer pleaded not guilty to eight felony counts, including torture, cruelty and assault with a deadly weapon at her arraignment Jan. 18. Her attorney, alternate public defender Hung Phi Du, declined to comment.

After Brewer’s arrest, county investigators uncovered a history of child maltreatment investigations involving Brewer going back to 2001, when callers to a hotline twice reported that she was abusing her two biological children. Both times, social workers concluded that the allegations were unfounded.

In 2006, Brewer was recruited by a private agency called Aspiranet. Based in South San Francisco, the contractor is one of the state’s largest foster care providers, serving 2,000 children a year.

Aspiranet placed 23 children in Brewer’s care over the next five years, among them the half siblings she ended up adopting.

The children’s mother had been found to be suffering from schizophrenia and depression. They came to Brewer in 2009; it was their fourth foster home.

During Brewer’s five years as a foster parent, the county child-abuse hotline received at least seven calls from people alleging that she was maltreating children, including the half siblings.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Domestic Violence Through A Five Year Old’s Eyes

Dr. Phil referenced this video on the reality of how domestic violence impacts a child. In America, a child watching her mother being beaten or raped does not qualify for child protection services.

A few decades ago in Minnesota, a once progressive state, changed child protection statutes to allow children subjected to horrible domestic violence to be reported as abused (and receive some relief).

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A Law Late In Coming, Not Enough, But Glad It’s Here (Thank You Governor Mark Dayton)

In my experience, in the cases above for example, none of the people in the child protection system recommended bringing charges against the perpetrators because the damaged very young children would have had to testify in these trials (and children make terrible witnesses as they are easily confused and their testimonies are almost always useless).

As the guardian ad-Litem on these cases, I was told by the judges & my superiors that my choice was to remove the children from the home (and away from the perpetrator) with good odds of winning the long term safety of the children, or to go to battle with a 5 or 7 year old as my witness against a legal system stacked against the child.

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The Worst State To Be A Child In America

If you live in a state where children are 8 times more likely to be incarcerated (Wyoming), 13 times more likely to die from abuse & neglect (Oklahoma), twice as likely to die in their first year, 3 times more likely to die between 1 and 14 years old, 3 times more likely to die between the ages of 15-19, (Alaska, South Dakota, Louisiana), 3 times more likely to be born to a teenage mom (Texas), 5 times more likely to have received late or no prenatal care (New Mexico),

Would you forward this email to your state representative, Governor, Mayor, Senators, and your friends, neighbors, and relatives?

Maybe one more influential person would vote for child friendly programs that would result in one more child gaining access to programs/people/policies that would put her on the path to coping skills and a productive life instead of preteen motherhood, adolescent felonies, and dysfunctional lifestyles.

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Indiana Update (current child protection news – thanks again Mitch Daniels)

IN: The politics of children and family services
Governing – October 09, 2012
Protecting kids and trying to preserve families isn’t only the hardest job in government, it’s by far the most politically dangerous. In resigning, Payne joins an ever-growing list of first-rate leaders in the human services field who were either fired or driven from office thanks to politics and a brutal and often purposefully ignorant press.
http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/col-politics-children-family-services.html

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Arkansas Politics; Death Penalty For Rebellious Children, Charlie Fuqua & His Bible

The maintenance of civil order in society rests on the foundation of family discipline. Therefore, a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents. The death penalty for rebellioius children is not something to be taken lightly. The guidelines for administering the death penalty to rebellious children are given in Deut 21:18-21:

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Speaking From The Heart In Reno

Wow & Thank You CASA Reno for the opportunity to give the keynote talk at your CASA volunteer recognition dinner. Cathy & I had the pleasure of getting to know your very fun city & many of your committed & engaged child protection volunteers.

High energy, an elegant atmosphere, combined with a terrific dinner, a very professional video tribute to volunteers, and superbly executed silent auction made the “Speaking From The Heart” event a most memorable experience.

My best wishes and admiration for CASA Reno & all of the dedicated individuals that make your organization a necessary & powerful voice for Nevada’s vulnerable children.

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Best Interests Of The Child; ICWA, Politics, & Media

It’s obvious to almost anyone that reads this article that the best interests of the child weren’t even considered when Sierra Goodman was ripped from the Campbell’s adoptive home by ICWA. It was a home she loved and flourished in.

But the best interests of ICWA were not being served, as is again the case with baby Veronica Rose in the same disturbingly anti child court case being held in South Carolina.

Living in 20 foster homes, passing through 13 schools, and leading a tortured life, Sierra Goodman, now 28 is allowing her story to be told in the hopes of bettering the lives of the many children passing through child protection systems that are not allowed to consider the “best interests of the child” when ICWA is involved.

What have we become to use children as a football to advance out political and institutional objectives above and beyond their own precious souls?

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Indiana’s At Risk Children & Governor Mitch Daniels;

efforts of a governor currying political favor at the cost of poor young lives.
Mitch Daniels needs to be identified for his personal policies ruining young lives; these policies are at the same time costing the state more money than useful and promising policies would.
By eliminating funds guaranteed to families adopting special needs children, he put the state in the precarious position of defending lawsuits and made the adopting of special needs children a giant problem in the years to come (who will adopt Indiana’s special needs children next year?)
These are recent Indiana child protection headlines for the State Of Indiana;

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Destroying Child Protection Records In Iowa, A Better Iowa For Children?

On several occasions in my guardian ad-Litem work I was unable to bring charges against very dangerous child abusers and I observed their continued violent and sexual abuse of children over many years (I would venture one of these men is still having sex with very young children 16 years later).

Both the judge & my supervisor explained to me that in these cases, the choice was to remove the child or live through watching a child disintegrate on the witness stand and remain in the home with the perpetrator.

In Iowa’s case in the above article, the counties are out of funding and sending children back home to serious perpetrators of child abuse by simply erasing past histories. Every state does it, some are awful (Kentucky)

If there are no records, no one is accountable when terrible things happen to children.

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