Outcomes – Not Reorganization – Safe Passages For Children

I have been part of government reorganizations. People have to redesign logos, develop new civil service positions, decide about fonts for the stationery…. It takes years. In the meantime, programs often tread water.

A better plan is to focus all that energy on improving outcomes. Counties should regularly measure and report how their children are doing regarding mental health, level of trauma, cognitive skills, and physical development.

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Eliminating Child Protection Services In Arizona (will its replacement save the children?)

Governor Brewer has eliminated the states Child Protective Services Department and replaced it with a new division. Is this the silver bullet that will provide some safety to the thousands of AZ children living in horrid circumstances that have been ignored for years now? (6000 cases ignored) (10,000 cases beyond the 60 day investigation limit)

Currently, 1000 caseworkers already have caseloads that are 77 percent above the standard. It does not appear that the general public is mostly unconcerned, and not many legislators seem to be pulling for more child friendly programs. For years now Arizona has largely ignored child protection. It will surprise me if this effort makes much difference.

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Land Of The Free?

Even if you know that African Americans are arrested at a greater rate than their white counterparts, it’s still a shock to see the scale of the disparity. To wit, according to a new study published in the Journal of Crime & Delinquency, nearly 50 percent of all black males have been arrested by the age of 23. Overall, 30 percent of black men, 26 percent of Latino men, and 22 percent of white men have been arrested by age 18, and those numbers jump—respectively—to 49 percent, 44 percent, and 38 percent after five years.

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Safe Passage For Children Of MN

The 2014 state legislative session is almost here! It will start on Tuesday February 25th.

Safe Passage for Children is proposing a bill with two provisions. See a summary here.

The legislature plans to get all the bills through the committees and onto the floor of the House and Senate in 3 ½ weeks, so we need to be ready to communicate our support for the bill.

The key events for volunteers will be:

1. Training sessions to prep you for the session (see options below)

2. Visits with your state Representative and Senator.

3. Day on the Hill on Wednesday, March 5th.

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Register For Beyond Consequences Training & Support MN Adopt

Join Brenda Benning, MSW, LGSW, for Part II of the popular Beyond Consequences Training and Support developed by Heather T. Forbes, the founder of the Beyond Consequences model. This second session is for parents who have previously attended the full 10 session Beyond Consequences Training & Support series, because it builds on the skills and techniques taught from Part I. This special series explores Volume 2 of Heather Forbes’ book and offers parents a “love-based” approach to helping children with severe behavior and trauma/attachment histories. Part II presents new scenarios and behaviors seen in the home and encourages parent’s participation. The price of the training includes the book, Volume II, “Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control” by Heather T. Forbes. Books are available at the door to walk ins. Class is only open to adoptive, kinship, and foster parents.

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A Fantastic TED Talk (learn a whole new perspective on healing)

Jane McGonigal’s TED talk takes an approach to life and trauma that is very different, uplifitng, and perhaps the most remarkable insights I have experienced on this topic in years.    When game designer Jane McGonigal found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she had a fascinating idea for how to get better.…

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What We Can Learn From Kentucky (kinship rules)

JEFFERSONTOWN, Ky. – In Kentucky, a lot of children are being raised by extended family members: at 6 percent of all kids, it’s one of the highest kinship-care rates in the nation. A new report from Kentucky Youth Advocates outlines what the group says needs to be done to increase support for grandparents and others raising kids who cannot safely live with their parents.

According to Jeanne Miller-Jacobs, who with her husband is raising their three grandkids, more assistance is badly needed.

“The biggest hurdle that we’ve had is misinformation,” she said. When we first got the kids, the financial part of kinship care never came up.”

She said her grandchildren, ages five, three and one, came to live with them because their parents struggle with drug addiction.

Kinship care has doubled in Kentucky in the last decade, and earlier this year, the state stopped taking new applications for its Kinship Care Program, which provides caregivers $10 a day to help meet a child’s basic needs.

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Best & Worst States For America’s Children

Where does your state rank in protecting children & what can you do to make improvements. These stories tell the best and worst of what’s happening around the nation (and in Japan)

Worst states;Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina

Best states; Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Connecticut

States News;

Arizona is one of the most dangerous states in the nation to be an abused or neglected child. For years they have not paid attention to beaten, starved, or sexually abused children.

Let’s hope that this new trend sticks; AZ: CPS Crisis: Latest report shows 3298 cases assigned
KPHO Phoenix – December 26, 2013- The head of a newly-appointed team tasked with investigating more than 6,500 ignored child abuse and neglect cases says they’ve now assigned nearly 3,298 of those cases to investigators.
http://www.kpho.com/story/24228667/cps-crisis-latest-report-shows-3298-cases-assigned

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Improving State Child Protection Systems In 2014 (whatever it takes)

Class action lawsuits get results where legislators don’t (Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia, D.C., New Jersey, Mississippi) Proving that it’s not who is your senator, but who is your attorney. Whatever it Takes.

From Oklahoma News on 6 12,27.13,

Oklahoma is one of 14 states sued by child advocacy group Children’s Rights. The federal class action lawsuit was filed back in 2008, claiming children in state custody were in danger, because the system wasn’t doing enough to protect them.

The state has spent millions fighting it. With the trial just two months away and a judge denying the state’s last two efforts to get the case thrown out, DHS is now considering settling the suit.

According to Children’s Right’s website, their lawsuits have led to $2 billion in additional funding for child welfare systems.

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Recruiting Child Soldiers (yes, we do)

The United States is one of two nations that has not signed the International Rights Of the Child Treaty.  The other is Somalia (and it doesn’t have a functioning government).  It is KARA’s position that the primary reason we refuse to sign the treaty is that it includes a prohibition against recruiting child soldiers (and the Pentagon refuses to stop).

This article from TomDispatch.com about the book AMERICA’S CHILD SOLDIERS by Ann Jones points out that America has developed the most sophisticated and effective system for recruiting child soldiers in the world and it is spread through hundreds of high schools throughout the nation.  From her book;

“The scheme is much more sophisticated — so much more “civilized” — than any ever devised in Liberia or Sierra Leone, and it works.  The result is the same, however: kids get swept into soldiering, a job they will not be free to leave, and in the course of which they may be forced to commit spirit-breaking atrocities. When they start to complain or crack under pressure, in the U.S. as in West Africa, out come the drugs.

The JROTC program, still spreading in high schools across the country, costs U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.  It has cost some unknown number of taxpayers their children”

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Punishing The Mentally Ill (Minnesota is not alone)

Today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune article supports a position I’ve held for years. By ignoring or under-serving people with mental health problems we are manufacturing state wards, preteen moms, and felons and this is making our cities dangerous and unsafe.

Our current policies of dumping the mentally ill in detention, jail, and prison places a huge burden on educators & juvenile, criminal justice workers, and especially the families (often grandparents, and foster and adoptive parents) that live with them.

Not much teaching gets done in a classroom populated with disturbed youth on Prozac. Safety and behavior management becomes the teachers primary concern at the expense of educating all the other youth. Our nations miserable graduation and drop out rates, STD rates (we lead the world), and crime rates (we also lead the world) are all tied to how we ignore and under-serve people with mental health issues.

Forcing foster/adoptive parents and service providers (educators, social workers, juvenile & criminal justice workers) to be the front line in managing mental health issues of the children and youth in their charge is an overwhelming task that rarely ends well for the children and youth. These children need professional guidance to overcome the serious issues that have triggered dangerous behaviors and the explosive increase in psychotropic medicating of five and ten year old children in our society.

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What Makes Us So Mean? (just wait til you’re in diapers)

Tennessee Congressman Stephen Fincher (who receives 3.5 million in federal crop subsidies) told the New York Times that his bible states “he who is unwilling to work shall not eat”. Not my kind of religion.

Walmart pays its employees so little that they need food stamps and have been living without health care. So the government gets to support Walmart employees and add to Walmart profits.

New Jersey eliminated mental health workers in its schools a few years ago sending all misbehaving youth to jail. New Jersey school counselor Thomas Kersting told Fox News that denying lunch to low-income children whose parents had not filled out eligibility forms would be a “teaching moment” (ie, a great idea).

No diapers, no mental health services, no food stamps, and no lunch. What makes us so mean?

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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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Pope Blasts Capitalism

In a new Evangelii Gadium, Pope Francis has condemned doctrinaire capitalism, “deified markets,” trickle-down economics, and the finance industry. He decried the growing gap between the rich and the poor, tax evasion by the wealthy, and characterized ruthless free-market economics as a killer that was inherently sinful.

“I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centered mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth,” the pope wrote.

He also launched a broadside against former President Ronald Reagan’s signature economic theory, which continues to serve as conservative Republican dogma.

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” Pope Francis wrote. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

The pope lamented that people had “calmly accepted (the) dominion” of money over themselves and society, which he said was expressed in the recent financial crisis and the continuing promotion of consumer-based economies.

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6000 Child Abuse Cases Not Examined In Arizona (putting AZ in 48th place for child well being)

Clarence Carter the Director of AZ Department of Economic Security told the oversight committee that child protection was suffering from lack of funding and resources and has been only investigating the worst of the worst cases.

Skyrocketing case loads and very late (too late in many cases) review of unexamined reports of child abuse make it extremely hard to keep children safe in Arizona, a state that ranks 48th in child well being.

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Canada’s Foster Children (Alberta)

145 Alberta Canada children have died in foster care since 1999.

Disease, 50

SIDS 14

Premature 14

Hanging 14

Cranial Trauma 11

Collision 6

Drowning 4

Asphyxiation 3

Pneumonia 3

Sleep arrangement 3

Overdose 3

Hypothermia 3

Fire 2

Stabbing, Blunt force trauma, Alcohol poisoning, Massive trauma, Anoxic brain injury, Fall, Malnutrition, CO poisoning, Intestinal obstruction – each category 1, & 6 unknown

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Thank You Critical Thinking Club Of Minnetonka

superior shipTiffini and I enjoyed your groups all out participation in our Saturday KARA presentation immensely.

More questions were asked than answered (always a good sign) and there was a powerful feeling that better answers were important to this group.  We covered a great many of the thorniest questions facing at risk youth and our communities attempts to improve the programs and policies that impact their lives.

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Big Pharma – Who Do We Blame?

The root of the problem is that each and every (almost) abused and neglected child in the system has severe mental health issues and there are almost no useful alternative medical systems in place to address this – instead we use drugs.

The World Health Organization defines torture as “Extended exposure to violence and deprivation”. Every child I worked with as a CASA guardian ad-Litem (about 50) experienced extended exposure to violence and deprivation.

Only the worst of the worst cases make it into the system. When I started in 1996, 2/3’s of the reports were investigated. Today because of budget cuts, 1/3 are being investigated.

Half the kids in my case load had been sexually abused. That is a trauma that no five or ten year old gets over without professional help. When they come of age, they get into trouble because they can’t cope. They did not learn how to read, play well with others, or learn to sit quietly in a room – they have been traumatized.

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How We Treat Children

From the annals of Rikers Island comes a document titled, “Three Adolescents With Mental Illness in Punitive Segregation in Rikers Island.” Punitive segregation means solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. Schoolwork, if it comes, is passed through a slot in the cell door. Toothpaste is available once a day.

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