Newborns, Death and Drug Addiction (preventable deaths of drug-dependent babies)

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.

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Adoption, Kinship and Grandparents (a tribute)

The saddest letters KARA receives come from grandparents that have watched their grandchildren horridly abused and then kept out of the loop while a cold and efficient system moves the child into a home and cutting off all further contact for the grandparents.

Almost 8 million children in America live with grandparents and other relatives. Most of them receive little or not help from governmental agencies.

Not all counties and states appreciate that it is easier for a child to restart a painfully disrupted life with someone they are connected to and have memories of than waking up in a home they have never seen before with people they don’t know.

Grandparents often don’t know about the court proceedings that are about to forever alter their relationship with grandchildren as they may live in another city or have become estranged from their badly behaving children.

Even if grandparents know of court proceedings, it can be very hard for them to have standing in the court or navigate the system once they are in it.

The saddest letters KARA receives come from grandparents that have watched their grandchildren horridly abused and then kept out of the loop while a cold and efficient system moves the child into a home and cutting off all further contact for the grandparents.

Everyone needs a lawyer and lawyers are expensive. I know grandparents that have spent tens of thousands of dollars trying desperately to provide a safe and familiar home for their grandchild.

It doesn’t seem right that money should be a biggest part of an adoption equation for grandma and grandpa (or other relatives) to make their argument for custody.

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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?

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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.

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Worthy Reader Questions

Mike,

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?”

A.R.,

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.

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Sad Stories November 2015

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.
http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-1124-banks-troubled-parents-20151124-column.html

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.
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20151124/NEWS/151129803?Title=Mistakes-detailed-in-Janiya-Thomas-death
– See more at: http://www.invisiblechildren.org/2015/11/26/sad-stories-november-2015/#sthash.uuJlOpd4.dpuf

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What Do You Wish For Today?

For Thanksgiving this year, let’s all wish really hard to make life better for at risk children.

As a long-time Volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I wish for; The implementation of the recommendations by the Governor’s Task Force on Child Protection and the additional attention and resources necessary to make children safe in my community (and yours too).

Fewer ten and twelve year old children charged as adults in our judicial system,

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Child Protection Oversight Committee Meeting Nov 23rd

It hurt me to hear it suggested that Brandon Stahl’s reporting on Child Protection in Minnesota is somehow a cause of the troubles within the system today. It is precisely the lack of reporting, accountability, and access to information that has grown our child protection failures to where they are.

The thing missing from last night’s Child Protection Oversight Committee meeting was the voice of someone that experienced child protective services (to put a human face on the conversation) and a fearless front line worker or CASA guardian ad-Litem to describe the depth and scope of the issues on the table.

People speaking in a roomful of professionals find it difficult to use the words or employ a passion that puts urgency and humanity into the facts that rule the fabric of our community and the lives of at risk children.

We also avoid topics that can’t be dealt with in our current institutional paradigm.

When Dee Wilson delivered the report on the Casey Foundation’s investigation of Child Protection to the County Commissioners he referenced the fact that St. Joe’s Home for Children was the primary resource for the most troubled children entering Child Protective Services.

The Foundation reported that the home was not able to deal with the level of trauma and behavioral problems it is forced to manage on a daily basis.

The truth underlying Dee’s statement needs to be recognized as the tip of the iceberg it is (we don’t).

The Foundation reported that the home was not able to deal with the level of trauma and behavioral problems it is forced to manage on a daily basis.

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A New Disease of the Wealthy & Powerful

Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan and new Speaker of the House voted NO to federal childcare subsidies, eliminated 16 billion dollars in Social Services block grants, including all child care funding for low income families, No to parental leave for federal employees (4 weeks for a new mother), No to food stamps, Medicaid and Pell Grants, Yes to de-funding Planned Parenthood and removing contraception from employer based insurance requirements, and yes to deporting undocumented immigrants that grew up in the United States. But he cannot and “will not” give up his family time.

Pro family yes (but just his family).

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New Book Beginnings

mississippi double exposure red wingThis is KARA’s next book about child abuse and child protection in America.  It includes chapters written by professionals as well as children, birth, foster and adoptive parents and families.

I need your stories to add to the growing body of evidence that change in child protection laws, politics and policies are overdue.

For a chance to have your story/perspective/information included, send a short outline to; info@invisiblechildren.org  with the subject line; BOOK SUBMISSION.

If you or someone you know have a meaningful story or powerful information – forward this to them.  Link to KARA’s first book INVISIBLE CHILDREN

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Safe Passage For Children Forum; Early Childhood Development & the Child Welfare System (11/23 6pm)

Safe Passage Forum: Early Childhood Development & the Child Welfare System
Gather in Person 6pm; Via Phone/Webinar: 6:15pm
Program Beings 6:30pm
Webinar/Phone login Details Below.
Join Safe Passage for Children for a presentation and discussion on the relationships between early childhood development and child protection. Option to participate in person or via webinar.
Bob-e Simpson Epps, Master Trainer / Facilitator for Adverse Childhood Experiences Study and 2012 Bush Fellow will lead this forum designed for Volunteers of Safe Passage and friends.
Together we will explore the connections between child abuse / neglect and early childhood development; including the impact of trauma on brain development and what has been learned more broadly from ACES research.
Please invite friends and colleagues.

Login Details:
By Phone: +1 (571) 317-3112; Access Code: 298-987-637
By Video Webinar: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/298987637; For Audio: Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) – a headset is recommended. Or, call in using your telephone: +1 (571) 317-3112, Access Code: 298-987-637

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ALERT For MN Child Protection – Rolling Back Child Protection Reforms (from Safe Passage for Children MN)

This week county social services directors and the Department of Human Services (DHS) presented a plan to legislators that would significantly weaken reforms approved by the Governor’s Child Protection Task Force. Items they recommended dropping include:http://safepassagemn.com/counties-propose-rolling-back-child-protection-reforms/

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Help KARA Spread the Word – 3 Simple Things

Sharing KARA news/videos/articles with your social media and networks – the more people become aware of how serious a problem child abuse is in America & how broken our child protection systems are, the more pressure will be put on legislators to support the people, programs and policies that work.

KARA needs dollars, subscribers (members), volunteers & promotors to make this happen.

Become part of the KARA grassroots army – share our information widely to promote programs, policies & the people striving to improve the lives of abused and neglected children.

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Sad Stories October 2015

mississippi double exposure red wingFind information about child protection, child endangerment & child well-being in your state here.

For past months, click here

AR: Arkansas’s child welfare system discriminates against relatives of neglectful or abusive parents
Arkansas Times – October 29, 2015
When parents fail their children, relatives often want to step up. But Kimberlee Herring and Karisa Hardy say the system shut them out, and instead placed three kids into a home where they were abused.
http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/arkansass-child-welfare-system-discriminates-against-relatives-of-of-neglectful-or-abusive-parents/Content?oid=4144320

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Institutional Argle Bargle – Paperwork vs Meaningful Relationships

As a volunteer guardian ad-Litem, the program forbade me from driving a child to a burger joint for a hamburger or taking a kid horseback riding (insurance reasons). I call it the ten foot pole rule. It makes abused children feel even more unwanted.

Children in child protection come to know that meaningful relationships with this person or that provider are rare and if they happen, they quickly disappear.

As social workers, educators, health workers & other service providers slide in and out of a child’s life and the continued changing of key relationships becomes accepted and predictable, the child learns that they are just a small mechanical piece within a giant unstoppable system*.

Child protection is a State function and state ward circumstances demand “special” treatment that serves a seemingly larger purpose outside of the child.

Through the eyes of that child, the critical parent – adult relationship has been shattered and replaced with 40 new service providers.

Add to that the now accepted overuse of psychotropic medications and often harsh treatment by law enforcement and other authority figures (behavior problems are endemic to traumatized children). Does anyone care if you have suffered rape as a five year old or other horrible traumas or that you are now in your 13th foster home with behaviors that accurately reflect your childhood.

Add to that law enforcement violence against mentally troubled citizens of all ages is on the rise. Expecting law enforcement to manage our societies mental health problems may be an answer – is this reasonable or even possible?

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What’s It Like?

What’s it like to be;

The admitting person in the psychiatric ward of a metro hospital turning away violently troubled children because there is no space? HCMC in Minneapolis averages about 900 emergency psych visits a month, many of them children.

A social worker, grandparent or guardian ad-Litem visiting a traumatized four year old child in the suicide ward of a hospital,

The first grade teacher who called City Counsel member Don Samuels asking what to do about a student trying to kill himself in her classroom,

The parent of a child with tragic mental health problems and turned away from the hospital or a son held in a cinder block cell for six days because of the no “imminent threat” excuse (when really, there’s just a lack of resources)?

Michael Swanson’s mom who lived years of terror for years trying for to find mental health services for her boy prior to his murdering two Iowa store clerks.

Six year old foster child Kendrea Johnson, who hung herself and left a sad note and the terrible reality that yes indeed, children try and occasionally succeed in killing themselves (contrary to the police and medical examiners Star Tribune statements at the time).

The hospital employees at St. John’s Hospital that were brutally attacked by a delirious patient because their facility did not have the safety features designed to protect staff members from the level of violence often seen in mentally troubled people.

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Brandon Stahl’s investigating and Safe Passage’s volunteers are changing lives

 

children down hill having funBrandon Stahl’s reporting (September 2014) on the tortured death of 4 year old Eric Dean and his  powerful Star Tribune articles about tortured children & the “catastrophic failure” of child protection in Minnesota (Governor Dayton’s words), shine light into the invisible world of child abuse that is so hard to talk about and so easy to avoid.

Rich Gehrman & Safe Passage For Children of MN worked with and reported on Governor Dayton’s Task Force On Child Protection, organized 100 volunteers to speak out and call on legislators to raise awareness and bring positive change to the 60,000 Minnesota children reported to Child Protection services each year.

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Dirty Little Secrets

Will Minnesota Sheriff’s sue Counties over failure (Star Tribune Today) to provide services to mentally unhealthy inmates? Is the Hennepin County Commissioner “failing in her public duty and violating a judge’s order”?

Senator Al Franken & and Sheriff Rich Stanek call the failure of leaving mentally unhealthy inmates to rot in jail cells “our dirty little secret”. I applaud Franken and Stanek for their candor.

State law requires that inmates in need of mental health services get those services within 48 hours, but there are not enough beds to make this happen (Hennepin County Medical Center alone sees 800-1000 emergency psych visits each month).

Do six year old state wards (foster children) not deserve the same legal protections as adults in this state?

If so, can social workers and foster parents sue the County for failure to provide mental health services to state ward children that don’t receive the mental health services they need?
When six year old Kendrea Johnson hung herself with her jump rope and left her suicide note, was she receiving the mental health services she needed? Her social worker was not aware that the child was seeing a therapist (she was).

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