Good Governance, Betsy DeVos & Education For the Rest of Us

Institutions define us (they keep us safe, educated and healthy)Why anyone with a stake in a safe, functioning community would withhold support or throw rocks at people doing this work is incomprehensible.

Turning our schools, highways, corrections and care of the young, sick and elderly into the hands of greed driven Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli and Trump University folks is not helping build healthy communities. It’s to be expected that institutional outcomes (public health, public safety, public education – don’t forget bridges) are suffering. Performance of any complex institution or endeavor demands support & critical thinking.

A safe, livable community requires support for the worker bees laboring in schools and other social institutions for those institutions to perform well. It’s for your own good.

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Good-By CASA?

Society has an obligation to abused and neglected children. Caring for them is our collective responsibility.
So why does the Administration’s current budget proposal end federal funding of the Victims of Child Abuse Act?
The ratio of expenses to overhead for CASA is among the best in the nonprofit world. A single dollar invested in CASA programs yields $23.40 in savings in the foster care and child welfare system.
So why would anyone allow the $12 million in funding CASA receives through the Victims of Child Abuse Act to just disappear?

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Goodbye Joe McCarthy – Founding KARA Board Member & Best Friend

Yesterday, KARA’s best friend and founding board member Joe McCarthy passed away after a long illness.

We will miss him terribly.  Joe had a big heart and remarkable mind.  He was sharp as a tack with an interest in everything and a stunning memory.

20+ years ago, Joe encouraged and then guided me through the writing of the INVISIBLE CHILDREN book and founding of our nonprofit Kids At Risk Action.

Our small board spent many hours sorting through issues and ideas for making life better for abused and neglected children.  We worked together to create our first board meetings and involve more people in the endeavor we are so passionately engaged in today.

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Goodbye Ron Mahla

Not talking to others about our personal lives and problems can make a person feel alone and helpless. As a society, we don’t like mental health conversations, as individuals we often avoid “too personal” comments. This is a stain on our community. We are complex beings that need others to help us cope during the hard times.

I have written about the suicidal behavior of the children in my child protection cases over the years & just when I think I understand this thing, it becomes evident that I don’t.

Ron is my fourth suicide this year, of which two of them were much loved friends. I will miss you Ron.

Be kind to the people around you. It is impossible to know what they are living through.

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GOP Is Right; We Are Spending Too Much (because we invest too little)

David Strand is a KARA board member, he has lived in Finland, worked on the making of public policies for children and written about how other advanced nations make public policy on children’s issues. He is a frequent contributor to KARA’s web pages. Look up his other articles under “select a category – David Strand” on the right hand side. David’s article today;

Edwin Green (recently deceased and not his real name) was an executive for 3M from the 1960’s into the 80’s. He once gave me a lecture on business philosophy, a lesson that resonates in today’s climate of political impasse. Edwin mentored me and asked why I was bothering to study for an MBA at night school. I replied my engineering education was quite narrow and studying business helped me understand working at 3M. Smiling broadly, Edwin told me he (also an engineer) hadn’t studied business but “he knew how to run a business.” Mostly, he said, all you have to know is when “to spend a nickel to make a dime”, his one-minute lecture.

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Grace’s Story (Thank you ChildrensRights.org)

Grace, a Black 15-year old who was sent to a juvenile detention center for failure to submit schoolwork.

In an email to Grace’s caseworker, her teacher stated that Grace was “not out of alignment with most of my other students.”

Tens of thousands of children have struggled to adjust to the online learning environment the coronavirus created. ProPublica cites 15,000 high schoolers in Los Angeles alone failing to log in or complete schoolwork. Yet, a judge presiding for Oakland County Family Court Division, ruled in May that not completing schoolwork violated Grace’s probation.

It’s impossible to determine the frequency of cases like Grace’s, but one thing is clear. Children’s health and safety must be prioritized. We will continue urging states to stop admissions and to release kids from juvenile facilities. No child should be in juvenile detention for missing homework.

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Grandparents; Counties & States Can’t Live With Them, Children Can’t Live Without Them.

It is not the social worker, the teacher, or other professionals working with children that are responsible for the problems within American child protection service, it is lack of awareness and understanding by policy makers of the core problems and how best to address them through effective operational policies.

Several of my County kids had over 25 foster home placements & experienced dozens of teachers, social workers, and others like me before they were let out of the system. I was the only adult consistently in their lives in a number of cases as many others came and went.

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Great CASA story

The hoped-for goal in all such cases is that parents repair the damage in their lives and get their children back. The hoped-for goal is that the children no longer need a guardian ad litem.

By taking the children on outings, Melchiorre worries that he could give them things that their parents couldn’t match. It also could enforce their perception of Melchiorre as a kind of surrogate grandpa who will be in their lives forever, when their parents may not even want that. He’s not about to hurry them off to Disney World. “It’s a fine line,” he said, “you don’t want to overstep.”

Suzanne Parker, guardian ad litem program director, said she’s gratified to hear that Melchiorre has concerns. “I love it when we have people who really think how their actions affect others,” she said.

She wishes she had more like him. She’s trying to find 400 new volunteers.

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Great Discussion On Privatized Foster Care In Georgia (Linked In)

Fascinating debate occurring in Georgia that has life-altering impacts on children. Have you studied the research on privatization of foster care and/or other child welfare services? If so, please share what you’ve learned? Has your state had experience with partial or full privatization? Any lessons to share with Georgia and the rest of the country from that?

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Great News For Colorado’s At Risk Children (child abuse data is now public – people will become aware)

DENVER (AP) – Colorado has created a website that provides the public with child-protection and child-abuse information for each county, the latest in a series of reforms that follow a number of child deaths in the state.

According to reports, 202 children died of abuse or neglect between 2007 and 2013 in Colorado. Among those, 75 had parents or caregivers who were known to the child-welfare system before the child’s death.

“At the end of the day, the goal is to be transparent with the public and to keep our families safe and healthy,” said Julie Krow, director of the Office of Youth and Families in the Colorado Department of Human Services. “This is something we can’t do alone. We need our community to help us.”

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Growing Up In America (do we value children?)

Dana Liebelson’s recent interview demonstrates what the state of Michigan went through to stop her reporting on the violent treatment of youth in the state’s juvenile prisons is just one more example of a punishment oriented system more prone to further harming of youth and continued institutional failure than supporting or rebuilding them.

The state of Michigan has presented Dana with 2 supoenas for complete and unedited copies of all of her work related to their juvenile prison facilities (most likely because a class action lawsuit for how juveniles are treated in Michigan institutions is a real concern). On a national level, for a graphic review of juvenile’s in juvenile prison Richard Ross photo documentation of kids having their lives ruined is second to none.

MN’s former Supreme Court Chief justice Kathleen Blatz remarkably stated that 90% of the youth in juvenile justice have passed through child protective services. Is it just me or does this not seem like the saddest thing one could say about a community?

39 states track juvenile recidivism but most are unable to track the effectiveness of their system.

In Ramsey County MN, the ACES study demonstrated that the 8% of the youth who commit up to 70% of all serious and violent juvenile crime come from 2 to 4% of families and that most violent adult offenders began their criminal careers before age 12.

Many states without restorative justice initiative draw few distinctions between adult and youthful offenders and experience recidivism between 70 and 80 %. As a nation, we charge 25% of youthful offenders as adults (some as young as 11 years old).

Riker’s Island in New York holds a record for suicides and cruel treatment of youthful offenders.

Many states have a long history of punishment and violence against youth. Pennsylvania recently sent 2 judges to prison (40 years) for sending hundreds of innocent youth to for profit prisons for commissions on each new inmate. California police sold (you raise em, we cage em T shirts)
Texas is proving that smart justice includes mental health services, saves millions of dollars and empties jails (this NPR interview is worth your 7 minutes).
Support programs that help children return to the community. What we are doing to troubled youth today in so many states has filled prisons and kept our communities less safe. There is only sadness and no upside to bad public policy.

Help KARA continue to build support for better public policy for at risk youth
All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

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Growing Up In An Abusive Home (the ACE study) Dr Felitti

We need Congressional Oversight Hearings to review the enormous waste of federal funds that are often used to help dangerous abusers gain custody. We agree the hearings should consider the fraud, corruption and ignorance that waste large sums of money and bankrupt so many litigants. Most important we need oversight about the failure of the courts to protect our most important asset—OUR CHILDREN
We hope everybody will join together in seeking Congressional Oversight Hearings. Sign the Petition and tell your friends about it. Let’s give our children a chance for a safe and healthy life.

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Growing Up In Baltimore (it’s really hard)

From the Washington Post on the Justice Policy Institute study of Freddie Gray’s Baltimore neighborhood;

Unemployment rate of 16-64 year olds; 51.8%

Employed with Travel Time to Work of over 45 Minutes; 31.8%

Families receiving TANF; 25%

Chronically Absent HS students; 49.3%

Percent of Population over 25 Without HS diploma; 60.7%

Narcotics Police Calls per 1000 residents; 464.8

Mortality Rate for 15-24 year olds; 19 per thousand

Children 6 and under with Elevated Blood-Lead levels; 7.4%

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Growing Up Inner City

It is up to communities to understand the nature and scope of these issues and treat children with sufficient care and resources to end the madness as stated by MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz; “The difference between that poor child and a felon is about eight years”.

Let’s all get behind child friendly programs and politics and end the pipeline to prison & preteen pregnancies that America now promotes.

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Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Recognition Event – Could Not Have Been Better

CASAMN’s keynote speaker and honored guest Star Tribune investigative journalist Brandon Stahl, was surprised to come face to face with his biggest fan club.
Brandon has been so busy investigating and reporting on Minnesota’s child abuse, child death and child protection news that he was caught off guard by a room full of people

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Guardian ad Litems Exchanging Stories & Ideas

Share this link with your guardian ad-Litem and social worker friends For current and former guardian ad-Litem/social workers, join our interactive Linked In Group,  and share your experiences and ideas about how to make child protection work better for children.  Change happens when concerned people give their ideas and energy.  Help KARA make it happen…

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