Help KARA Accomplish Its Mission (volunteer & support our documentary project)

Support KARA’s MN Public TV documentary project  Your donation will help KARA bring this powerful story to a statewide and national audience through television and social media. We are also seeking help us with reporting, writing, and building a greater social media presence. Do you have the skills to help us accomplish our goals of…

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Healing Through Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy (or, things I stole from the Surviving Spirit Website)

Our Story

The ideas, thoughts and dreams for The Surviving Spirit

The Surviving Spirit had its origins a long time ago in the mid-nineties. As a musician I had many unique opportunities to perform in different venues that would have a fair amount of folks in attendance who were dealing with the concerns of trauma, abuse, or mental health [mental illness]. These performances took place in peer support centers, psychiatric hospitals, day treatment centers, conferences, workshops, outdoor events, festivals, fairs, rallies, fundraising events and so much more. I was always blown away by the amount of people who not only shared parts of their difficult lives with me, but who also had these incredible gifts and creative talents — whether as an artist, musician, author, crafts person, photographer, author, writer, sculptor, poet, etc. Their listing of talents covers all styles and genres. Many others would also contact me through my website and send me information on their respective creative abilities.

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Havoc In Texas Child Protection Services (Dallas News)

According to Dallas News, on March third 2016, almost 6000 children needing immediate contact were not visited by CPS within the mandatory deadline for priority extreme cases (sexual abuse, infants neglected by drug-addled parents and other life threatening circumstances). The federal government has warned Texas for more than a decade that it isn’t meeting standards for timely visits in abuse investigations.

Caseworker turnover (57% per year) is on the rise because increased caseloads leave workers feeling overwhelmed and ineffective.

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Hard to Watch; Immigration & Children as Political Footballs

Dropping napalm on children and families in Vietnam (PBS video) was an unforgivable evil. Thousands of small children died by napalm.

Burned alive is the most painful death anyone can suffer. Survivors live with scars and trauma that never end.

Today, my government takes helpless babies & children from parents and places them in the custody of money driven defense contractors who warehouse them in cages at vacant shopping centers by the thousands.

The American Psychological Association condemns this act as needlessly cruel threatening “the mental and physical health of both the children and their caregivers”.

*Torturing immigrant children for political reasons is a vile act and it needs to be called out. *The World Health Organization defines torture as “extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.

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Happy GrandParent’s Day (volunteering, kinship & raising a grandchild)

Leaving the courtroom after the adoption of her four grandchildren, Charlotte, stated that when the youngest of these children turned 18, that she would be 88.

I’d noticed a limp in her walking and that she was on medications in the months before the adoption but never thought through the commitment, physical exhaustion and financial stress grandparents take on when adopting their child’s child.

It’s a much greater effort for a 65 year old person to manage the wild and unpredictable behaviors of a 3 year old than it is for a 25 year old birth parent We seniors wear out faster, break easier and heal slower.

Happy Grandparents Day and may those of you …

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Hana’s Story

Still, the Williams verdict has renewed calls for adoption reform in Washington—which to date seems to be the only state studying adoptee abuse. There is also talk of a federal bill to enhance post-adoption services for families and require better data collection on failed adoptions, and some adoption agencies, including the country’s largest, Bethany Christian Services, have called for action against rehoming. And a new website, Betaseb, is attempting to provide a place for older Ethiopian adoptees to talk with each other privately and learn about their rights.

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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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Gun Violence & Children In Your State (8369) kids were killed or injured by gunfire in 2015)

This website tracks gun violence daily in the U.S.

It demonstrates a rising number of people shot each year with almost four thousand children and youth shot last year. As far as I know it is the first nonprofit / non political reporting venue on gun violence.

These past KARA articles cover children & guns in our neighborhoods

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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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guardian conference

Most women drew longer sentences (under federal mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines) than the perpetrator, they lost custody of their children, and in almost all cases, they had not profited from the criminal’s activity. See Incarcerated Mothers and Their Children.

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Guardian ad-Litem Training

My second guardian ad-Litem case was a 7 year old boy (Andy) taken from his crack using mom at birth (she had spent 90% of her life institutionalized). He was raised by a loving foster family to the age of four & then the judge returned him to his father – even though the father had a court order to stay away from young boys because of what he did to them.

Andy was covered in bruises when he became my guardian ad-Litem case in 1996. He had been tied to a bed, sexually abused, beaten, and starved for four years.

What’s it like to be four years old, beat up, left alone in an apartment for days at a time, no food, & no place to turn for help . My young friend developed many troublesome behaviors, received no consistent mental health therapy and way too many psychotropic meds.

He once asked me as we play miniature golf, “when will I be normal”?

A few years later he asked me to support him in his request of the County for a sex change operation. Guardian ad-Litem training did not prepare me for these questions. We still talk, 16 years later; he has AIDS now & has not lived a happy life.

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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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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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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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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 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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