Child Protection in Arizona; 12,000 Cases Ignored For 60 Days or More

Since January of 2015 nearly 40 Arizona children have died after the Department of Child Services had been notified (some with multiple reports). Nationally, it appears that Arizona is not alone in being unable to protect its most vulnerable citizens. This report capsulizes child protection news across America for March 2016.

The meanness of our politics now includes abandoning children for way too many of us. Become a CASA volunteer in your state & show up once a year to stand for children’s issues at the State Capital to tell your legislators to vote for child friendly initiatives (if you don’t – who will?)

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Improving the Process of Child Protection & Saving LIves

This article by Safe Passage for Children explains how 5 of the the 18 MN children killed by their caregivers in the last 18 months were known to local law enforcement but apparently not to child protection services (and what needs to change to fix that).

In my own experience, a seven year old girl was prostituted for years during which the police had been to the house 49 times and only removed the child on the last call because the little girl tried to kill her sister in the presence of the police.

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If You Don’t Do This, Who Will? (children can’t stop child abuse)

Tuesday was Day At the Hill for advocates supporting policies to improve the lives of Minnesota’s abused and neglected children.

Thank you Safe Passage for Children for organizing an effective effort to bring awareness to the people (lawmakers) that can make positive change for at risk children happen.

Without your efforts and the efforts of your volunteers, It is unlikely that lawmakers will come to understand that;

Many of the Governor’s Task Force recommendations may not be implemented or those recommendations will later be abandoned without continued oversite,

Tracking program outcomes is the only way we can know the difference between ineffective and effective and terrific programs,

The level of trauma foster children live with has created a terrible problem in our foster care system as there are fewer and fewer families able to manage the behavioral problems exhibited by this growing population of abused children,

The recent media coverage and added attention to child protection has increased reporting and is overwhelming already overburdened County systems leading to unmanageable caseloads and higher burnout rates among social workers,

A waiting list of 7000 names for subsidized daycare leaves vulnerable children in the care of drunk and drugged uncles,

It is a rewarding experience to advocate for children, I recommend it (at least once a year – it’s only for a few hours – and it can make a real difference in the policies that govern the lives of the most vulnerable among us.

Join Safe Passage For Children Volunteer army and dedicate a few hours a year telling your State Representatives how important children’s issues are to you.

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Minnesota Child Protection News For March 2016

March 20, 2016. Princeton, MN.

Michael S. Gunderson sentenced for two counts of felony child neglect after his two sons (aged 2 and 3) were hospitalized for severe malnutrition.

http://www.startribune.com/jail-for-dad-who-left-alone-his-starving-2-and-3-year-old-boys-in-filthy-home/372830791/

March 12, 2016. Red Wing, MN.

Sammy Antonio White sentenced to 13 years in prison for physical and sexual child abuse spanning two years.

http://www.republican-eagle.com/news/crime-and-courts/3985166-red-wing-man-gets-13-years-abuse-case

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March Sad Stories (2016 KARA reporting)

MN: Research Shows Washburn Center for Children Treatment has Significant Impact on Children’s Social, Emotional and Behavioral Health (Press release)
Business Wire – March 10, 2016
A new report by the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) at the University of Minnesota shows that social, emotional and behavioral health services provided by Washburn Center for Children have a significant impact on children’s well-being and quality of life. Report: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwj98_Hw-rjLAhXswYMKHUxfB6sQFggjMAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcascw.umn.edu%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2016%2F01%2FWashburnReport.pdf&usg=AFQjCNF1Jg93AdPczwNODix0UEeVhwO1kQ
http://investor.biospace.com/biospace/news/read?GUID=31701794

MN: Helping doctors prevent and detect child abuse: ‘No bruise in an infant is normal’
Star Tribune – March 14, 2016
The Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis has received a $2.5 million grant to detect and prevent child abuse, with a new program to help doctors and nurses in the difficult task of differentiating accidental injuries from abuse.
http://www.startribune.com/helping-doctors-prevent-and-detect-child-abuse/372000041/

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April, May & June 2015 Sad Stories

une 30, Austin Texas New law after child dies in hot car will save lives

June 26, Minneapolis Minnesota, Hennepin County screens out child abuse reports to reduce caseloads (multiple high profile child deaths draw attention of the Casey Foundation)

June 27, Columbia South Carolina, Man gets prison sentence for killing 14 month old boy

June 25, Farmington Maine, Franklin County child abuse rate among highest in the state

June 24, South Dakota, Terrible Racial Disparities lock up 3 times more SD youth than other states with longer sentences

June 24, Salina Kansas, 7 year old Jonathan Michael Kelley’s drowning death under investigation

June 29, Battle Creek Michigan, Leo Ackley to have new trial in death of 3 year old’s (Baylee Stenman) felony murder

June 24, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Julie Pittman indicted for felony neglect and the death of 6 month old son (unnamed in article)

June 24, Iowa City Iowa, Jorge Pereze convicted of child endangerment resulting in beating death of 20 month old son Marcus Balderas

June 24, US, Abuse of youth in U.S. juvenile prisons = sexual victimization and widespread abuse Annie E Casey Foundation report

June 22, Pennsylvania, Foster Care kids given psychotropic meds at 3 times the normal rate

June 22, Boone County Kentucky puts child protection on hold for 92 cases of child abuse due to lack of funding, high turnover and rising caseloads.

June 26, Oberlin Louisiana, Bobby Davis Jr guilty of negligent homicide in 2nd degree murder by blunt force trauma of girl friend’s 2 year old daughter (unnamed in article)

June 19, Waterloo Iowa, Police investigate toddler death at daycare

June 16, Minneapolis Minnesota, Stressed child protection system spotlighted by 2 year old Sophia ONeill’s violent death by Cody Samuel Feran-Baum

June 19, New Zealand, Worst child death rate in the nation, Northland

June 16, Sandpoint Idaho, Death of 3 year old boy (not named in article) left in 130 degree car under investigation

June 19, Fulton Georgia, William Gaddy arrested on murder charge in death of beating death of 2 year old girl (unnamed in article)

June 17, Bowling Green, Kentucky, Tiffany Dawn Sampson & Robert Roger Dishman charged with second degree criminal abuse in the death of 19 month old Adrian Louis Maldonado

June 9, Manitoba Canada, Less than 1/3 of foster care youth graduate high school

June 9, US, medical news, Children and teens with Down syndrome and psychotropic medications

June 9, New York Times, Innocent Real Child waits for adoption

June 9, Richmond Virginia, Caseworkers underpaid, overworked and disgusted with dismissive attitude towards abused and neglected children file a lawsuit in Federal Court

June 9, Rhode Island, 45 children missing from child welfare – sex trafficking suspected

June 9, Ohio, Child abuse caseloads explode (double last year)

June 9, Buffalo New York, Record child abuse levels and end of Head Start funding create big problems

June 9, Minnesota, Indian couple sues to allow adoption to white family

June 8, US, Almost 18 million children annually witness or are victims of assaults with weapons (one in four children)

June 8, Connecticut, Transgender girls rights violated when sent to state prison

June 8, Los Angeles California, Relative foster child placements under- supported by the County

June 8, Georgia, High caseloads, gruesome child deaths, stagnant pay and low social worker morale

June 8, Nova Scotia Canada, Troubling pattern of placing First Nation children in government – supervised care

June 8, UK, Disturbing Facebook footage of cruelty to Children draws criticism

June 8, Tennessee, Tennessee children suffer from high Adverse Child Experiences (CDC report)

June 8, Texas, Texas Baptist Home for Children (allegedly)repeatedly ignored Bryan and Austin Cook’s crying for help as they were molested.

June 7, Spartanburg South Carolina, Big increase in child abuse reports

June 7, New Jersey, Statistics and stories confirm child abuse hiding in the shadows – a serious public health epidemic

June 6, Oklahoma, Where will the children go?

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Child Protection – What Needs To Change

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It is not foster parents, social workers, judges or court workers making life miserable and creating a lifetime of failure for abused and neglected children in the Child Protection system.

These people don’t enter this painful and unhappy field without firm convictions and big hearts.

I’ve known hundreds of committed teachers, health workers, and other service providers who have dedicated years of their lives and made a terrific commitment to State Ward children.

Our system today confounds their efforts and makes meaningful adult relationships for too many at risk children impossible.

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Pennsylvania Child Protection News For January & February 2016

PA: Lackawanna County settles foster child abuse case
Scranton Times-Tribune – February 27, 2016
Lackawanna County agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the mother of a 7-year-old boy who was sexually abused his foster parents’ adopted son. The mother filed suit in August 2014, alleging the abuse could have been avoided had the county’s former Children and Youth Services — now called the Office of Youth and Family Services — heeded a written profile that warned the adopted son previously sexually abused others.
http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/lackawanna-county-settles-foster-child-abuse-case-1.2012322

PA: Lawmakers work to close loophole, require doctors to get background checks (Includes video)
WHTM – February 25, 2016
Vulakovich said during the rewrite of child protection laws, doctors and medical professionals were not specifically mentioned as being required to get background checks. DHS interpreted that as an exemption even though health care professionals had always been required to have those checks. Vulakovich and Senator John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) are sponsoring a bill that would put them back in and close the loophole.
http://abc27.com/2016/02/25/lawmakers-work-to-close-loophole-require-doctors-to-get-background-checks/

PA: County supports human services funding outcry
New Castle News – February 25, 2016
The county opposes “rebalancing” initiatives for child welfare services that will force counties to reduce funding by a fourth, reduce payments to providers, shorten contract periods or use county property tax funds to cover the state’s obligation until a future budge makes a true allocation.
http://www.ncnewsonline.com/news/county-supports-human-services-funding-outcry/article_1be71fc0-db41-11e5-9c05-57c548484217.html

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Recent MN Child Abuse In The News (would daycare or crisis nurseries have prevented these sad stories?)

1.16.16 Minneapolis, Reggie Delaine Harper pleads guilty to intentional murder of 23 month old infant son because the baby was crying (Reggie had been reported at least 3 times for prior child abuse).

1.8.16 Minneapolis Father arrested in assault of 21 month old Rae’Ana Hall

1.6.16 Ramsey County, Austiin Gustafson pleads guilty to killing 3 month old

1.5.16 Minneapolis, 22 month old Rae’Ana Hall in critical condition with life threatening injuries (broken ribs, fractured pelvis and head injuries apparentlyh the cause of a strong force) while in the care of her father.

1.5.16 MN Vikings Adrian Peterson reflects on violent death of his 2 year old son, beating his boy and violence in his own life. USA Today

1.4.16 St Cloud 22 month old Billy Rebel Chapman Died of multiple blunt-force injuries & being investigated as a homicide. Star Tribune

12.30.15 Blooming Prairie MN Cory Stucky Charged in alcohol related manslaughter death of 8 week old son Myles Stucky.

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Child Protection and Appreciating Social Workers (we really should)

Christopher Sorenson recently wrote a compelling piece in the Star Tribune about animal safety as the foundation underlying our current child protection system and how only extreme cases of child abuse make the news or public awareness.

Speaking of service providers Chris writes; “On a daily basis these folks see what none of us wants to see – children being destroyed by neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and …, Our dirty secret in Minnesota and in this country is the abuse and neglect of children that continues each and every day”.

He points out how hard social work is and how stressed employees in a high-pressure and overburdened system do very difficult work under tight deadlines for modest pay. I would add; and with far too resources to get the results needed for the children they are working with. Turnover is high.
20,000 two-year olds were proscribed psychotropic medications in 2014 and millions of terribly abused 3-10 year old children took those drugs without adequate therapy and suffered greatly because of it. Ddrug companies were fined billions for selling these drugs to pediatricians for use on children. Millions more abused children were ignored after being reported to child protection services in this nation.

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CASA guardian ad-Litem News Around The Nation 1.1.16-2.13.16

FIND YOUR CASA here – This page tells the stories of CASA’s around the U.S. If you are not listed, send me your info and we will include it. Thank you Sai Yang and Century College for your research and writing on this page.

See what other CASA volunteers are doing – share your stories and blogs; info@invisiblechildren.org

– See more at: CASA News

An advocate for adolescents
Sierra Vista Herald
For the last 20 years, Hager has volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate — who call themselves CASAs — for Cochise County. A CASA is …
Chamber Spotlight: CASA volunteers work to help abused, neglected children – gulflive.com (blog)
CASA volunteer training set for February – Tahlequah Daily Press
Determined, and a bit overwhelmed, I work through rigorous CASA training – Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
Full Coverage

Flag as irrelevant

DCS workers deny allegations they failed to protect abused child
nwitimes.com
Elizabeth Lozano took the 4-year-old boy to a hearing in Lake County on Oct. 23, 2013, and a court-appointed special advocate noticed he had a …

Flag as irrelevant

Public invited to CASA of McKean County annual meeting
Bradford Era
Bob Esch, board president, will talk about what is special about being a Court-Appointed Special Advocate. CASA volunteer Gary DeVore of Port …

Flag as irrelevant

Letter: Remembering Chief Judge Kaye
Albany Times Union
The Court Appointed Special Advocates Programs of New York state and the New York State CASA Association are deeply saddened by the recent …

Flag as irrelevant

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CASA guardian ad-Litem News Around The Nation 10.1.15 Through 12.31.15

FIND YOUR CASA here – This page tells the stories of CASA’s around the U.S. If you are not listed, send me your info and we will include it. Thank you Sai Yang and Century College for your research and writing on this page.

See what other CASA volunteers are doing – share your stories and blogs; info@invisiblechildren.org

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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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New York Child Protection News December 2015- January 2016

2016-05-12 12.29.31Reporting compiled and submitted by KARA volunteer Corey Wasser

NY: New York State’s Safe Harbour Project is working to combat human trafficking (Opinion)
Buffalo News – January 24, 2016
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) works to combat human trafficking through efforts that include the Safe Harbour Project, which assists local social services and volunteer agencies in developing and providing services such as safe housing or emergency housing, mental health counseling, medical care, substance abuse counseling and education and employment skills for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation.
http://www.buffalonews.com/opinion/viewpoints/new-york-states-safe-harbour-project-is-working-to-combat-human-trafficking-20160124

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Pennsylvania Child Protection News December 2015

Two Bills Aim To Improve Lives Of PA’s Foster Children
90.5 WESA – December 28, 2015
Act 75 of 2015 and House Bill 1603 came about a result of the 2014 federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, which mandated that every state had until Jan. 1, 2016 to pass laws that would help foster youth.
http://wesa.fm/post/two-bills-aim-improve-lives-pas-foster-children This page contributed by Krista Neuner

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Think Again MN Feb 16 (includes KARA presentation)

THE IMPACT OF DOMESTIC ABUSE ON CHILDREN
Tuesday, February 16
6 p.m. Light Supper and Social 6:30 P.M. Program
Cafeteria, Hennepin Technical College, 9000 Brooklyn Blvd, Brooklyn Park, Map
RSVP on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1kWpPiG or to CarolWoehrer@usfamily.net

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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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Pennsylvania Child Protection News November 2015

State Budget Impasse Impacts Columbia County Social Service Agency (Includes video)
WNEP – November 23, 2015
“It’s frustrating that child welfare is not considered an essential service at the state level because that would allow some money to continue to flow to the agencies to help provide services for a very vulnerable population,” April Miller of Columbia County Children & Youth Services said.
http://wnep.com/2015/11/23/state-budget-impasse-impacts-columbia-county-social-service-agency/

State budget impasse: counties may protest by keeping revenue owed state
Lancaster Online – November 22, 2015
Commissioners Dennis Stuckey and Craig Lehman said withholding revenue is worth exploring as Lancaster County sees reserves dwindle to support programs for children, the elderly and the mentally ill the state is supposed to fund.
http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/pennsylvania-state-budget-impasse-counties-may-protest-by-keeping-revenue/article_6871b9ee-8fc0-11e5-be74-f73d2d40362a.html

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Child Sex Abuse & The Mormon Church (stopping child abuse requires adults report it)

KoalaThis article from an abused child about the Mormon Church hiding abuse her was another sad and eye opening look into how hard it is to achieve transparency and accountability in children’s rights issues.

 Join KARA’s Facebook Page   ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

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January Sad Stories (2016 KARA reporting)

children down hill having funEvery 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 we will do more if we know more.  Join KARA’s Facebook Page

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Mental Health Shortages, Sheriffs & Children

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 CHILDREN

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Violence Against Children & Policing

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 Children

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