The Ghost Of Christmas Future

TAt a Governor’s Task Force Oversight Meeting (on Child Protection in MN in 2014) the head of Hennepin County Commissioners Jan Callison showed genuine anger and concern when she found out* that Social workers weren’t available on weekends or evenings for abused and neglected children and that she directed the department to “fix it”.

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The Election & Children (from Safe Passages For Children of Minnesota)

This recent piece from Safe Passages for Children of Minnesota paints a more positive picture for Minnesota’s at risk children than can be seen in the rest of the nation.

It’s good to know that MN politicians on both sides of the isle care about the youngest and most vulnerable among us. They recognize that healthy children become healthy adults creating a safe and productive community.

The rest of the nation’s children are at risk as attacks on healthcare and education will dismantle working programs and the well-being of millions of America’s poorest and youngest citizens.

Politicians blaming educators and other service providers replace objective discussions about what it takes to improve safety nets and troubled institutions. It hurts me to see just how quickly children’s services become wasted money that some states have been all too ready to reduce for political benefits.

Thank you Minnesota legislators for doing the right thing. Your critical thinking skills and the ethical standards you have maintained to accomplish so many of the recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on Child Protection Services and Mental Health will benefit this state for decades to come.

As the holiday season approaches, let’s all be grateful for the hard work of these two task forces (and the people that volunteered to staff them) and the results they have accomplished this year.

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The Cost Of Ignoring Reality

I repeat Pliny’s quote often because I believe it clearly articulates how almost every problem our nation has ties directly to his point; “What we do to our children, they will do to society”, Pliny the Elder, 2500 years ago.

The rest of the industrialized world has recognized the value of healthy citizens. Maybe because the second world war left Europe with such horrific death and ruins, those nations rebuilt their societies with the understanding that poverty stricken crazy people are something to avoid, not produce.

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The Administration That Poisoned the Children of Flint Michigan

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.”

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Thank You Safe Passage For Children

As a long time CASA guardian ad-Litem who finds it impossible to believe that the depth and scope of child abuse in my community (both local and national) is largely unspoken until some poor child is found in a dumpster or has his brains bashed out against a wall by a caregiver, I am excited by the efforts to quantify these sad facts by Safe Passages For Children.

It is precisely because we don’t keep track, or if we do, don’t publish the mountain of unhappy things happening to our children. If these things were recorded, reported, and discussed, our institutions could function more effectively and children would be much safer and happier.

What follows is a major effort by Rich Gehrman and Safe Passages For Children to identify the tip of this iceberg (thank you Rich and company)

Please sign our petition for safe and healthy MN children (even if you are not from MN)

Petition to make health, education, and well being available to all MN children

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Thank You Ruben Rosario

In reviewing Minnesota’s past child abuse tragedies to connect the dots between the sadness of four year old Dennis Jurgens murder by his adopted mother of 1965 (Lois Jurgens went on to adopt five other children after that murder) and the Eric Dean murder recently, I discovered the work done by St Paul Pioneer Press reporter Ruben Rosario on the beating death of three year old Desi Irving by her mother in 1997.

Ruben Rosario’s investigation turned up the exact same issues we are facing today and very candid remarks (1998) by then former head of Hennepin County’s Department of Children, Family and Adult Services.

Ruben and David Sanders draw attention to the lack of public transparency, closing cases without investigation, state laws that prohibit discussion of even the most egregious cases of child abuse, deliberately keeping child death cases “off the books” (30 cases in FL recently), and the impossible fact that government data often does not include deaths involving children whose families never came in contact with child protective services.
Ruben’s drew attention to Brown University research demonstrating that 15% of all murders during a 32 year period of investigation were the killing of one or more children by a parent, step-parent, caretaker or other parental figure.

One third of the victims were under one year old, and two-thirds were six or younger.

The need for a database clearing house, keeping data longer and making it more transparent and accessible are necessary if the public is to have any basis for understanding the depth and scope of child abuse in America today.

From someone who has witnessed child abuse tragedies as a volunteer guardian ad-Litem again and again over many years, it is obvious that our community’s big talk about how we value children is just that – talk and nothing more.

Thank you Ruben for your in depth reporting on child abuse & thank you Governor Dayton for remarking candidly on the “Colossal Failure” of child protective services that cost Eric Dean his tortured and painful four year-old life.

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Thank You Indiana

I was impressed with the tenacity and commitment of Indiana’s foster and adoptive parents in the face of this state’s mean spirited children’s politics.

The evening before my talk I listened to story after story of the “fluid” nature of Department of Child Services policy, families not being allowed to question decisions or policy for fear of being blackballed, and what it’s like to watch long established, workable policies disappear to be replaced by whimsy and bullying.

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Thank You Governor Dayton (shining a light on Minnesota’s Child Protection system)

It took real courage for Minnesota’s Governor to use the phrase “Colossal Failure” when describing the role child protective services played in the tortured death of four year old Eric Dean.  The politics of child protection are not favorable to politicians. Plenty of Governors would have let the story die down without making too much…

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Thank You Colorado Springs Gazette For Your Excellent Child Protection Reporting

A three-part series where The Gazette explores how the child protection system works, how El Paso County ranks in terms of child abuse and how child neglect differs from child abuse in the eyes of prosecutors who handle the cases.

• Chidl protection system isn’t flawless

• Not all child abuse referrals become cases

• Child abuse cases likely to land in family court

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Thank You Century College

This weeks KARA presentation for Century College Luncheon Speaker Series prompted good questions and brought a solid discussion to the critical issues facing at risk children.

We are all seeking better and happier endings.

It will take some participation by all of us to shift the culture to where it respects and cares for America’s children, for that to happen.

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Thank You Canada (for your clear speaking about child protection)

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.

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Texas Wins Again (Criminalizing 300,000 students / year)

Cursing, farting, or an honors student spraying perfume on her neck, all valid reasons for being arrested in Texas schools (citations to six year old’s even).

Does the nation need more disadvantaged youth in the criminal justice system? Texas thinks so.

Texas, the state eliminating higher order thinking from it’s schools & teaching that premarital sex has fatal consequences, and that getting plenty of rest and avoiding condoms saves one from sexually transmitted diseases (& leads all states and many third world nations in the incidence of STD’s among youth) now rests comfortably ahead of all states and the rest of the world in criminalizing students.

Texas also leads in Executions (including of the mentally ill – ignoring federal mandates), juvenile incarceration, uninsured children, child poverty (including food insecurity/starvation of children), preteen pregnancies (and the highest rates of repeat births to teen moms).

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Tennessee’s High Infant Death Rate

Of the 23 richest countries, the United States has the highest rate of infant mortality, according to the CIA World Fact Book. And in Shelby County, Tenn., which encompasses Memphis, the state health department says a baby dies every 43 hours — a rate higher than that of any other major city. The babies most at risk come from impoverished parts of town with largely black populations.

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Talking About Gun Safety Is Now A Punishable Offense For Doctors & DHS (in some states)

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?

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Support Safe Passage For Children – Children Are Not Burgers

A value proposition is the amount you are willing to pay for a certain level of quality.

Take McDonalds for instance. The value proposition is to pay a low price for acceptable quality. If you get it, that’s a good value. (Except for the French fries, which are a great value!)

The current value proposition in child welfare is similar. We pay staff modest amounts and they meet basic requirements such as investigating reports in 24 hours and getting kids to court every three months.

If that’s all we want, it’s a good value.

But it’s the wrong value proposition.

We want high quality outcomes for children and will have to pay a realistic price to get them. That will cost more, but the results will be worth it.

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