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Best wishes from the team at Kids At Risk Action

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Free College Tuition For Foster Children and other good news for at risk youth

Here are recent positive developments in support of people, policies, and programs for abused and neglected children;

Arizona has granted free tuition for foster children

California; Overwhelming response to request for more foster homes

New Mexico offers free home visits to first-time families (including fathers and adoptive families)

Oregon legislates a Foster Children’s Bill of Rights

Pennsylvania DHS receives U.N. award for improvements

U.S. Senate provides automatic citizenship to all persons born outside the U.S. and were adopted by American Citizens

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Four Year Key’Ontay Miller-Peterson Murdered – Two & Three Year Old’s Starved (2 families reported by the Star Tribune today)

I hope that the task force is working fast and that it’s efforts will lead to a reduction in the number of murdered, tortured, and suicidal very young children in Minnesota.

Today’s Star Tribune indicates the “colossal failure” (Governor Dayton’s words) of child protection in the death of Eric Dean after fifteen reports of child abuse by mandated reporters is still causing torture and death to Minnesota children today.

Just a few months ago, six year old Kendrea Johnson’s social worker was unaware of her suicidal and homicidal talk before she died by hanging herself with jump rope. Today’s Star Tribune has two disturbing accounts of worst case abuse suffered by two, three, and four year old Minnesota children.

Four year old Key’Ontay Miller-Peterson’s mother found guilty in the repeated assaults and eventual murder of her son Key’Ontay Miller-Peterson.

The two year old and three year old children of Michael Gunderson of Princeton were starved to the point of eating feces when discovered by the Sheriff’s Department.

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Founder of ACEsTooHigh and ACEsConnection Jane Stevens

The ACEs scoring is hugely important and with attention to and implementation of the programs and disciplines that reverse or mitigate the terrible impact of childhood trauma our communities will see an improvement in graduation rates, a decline in crime and prison populations, much safer and happier neighborhoods.

The opposite side of this approach are DR. Bruce Perry’s words that if these issues are not addressed, “25% of Americans will be special needs people by the end of this generation”. He spoke that sentence 8 years ago. And he & the medical community have more than adequate research to back up that statement.

Jane Stevens s the most informed and articulate person I’ve listened to in this field. She has a unique perspective as a researcher/reporter who has read and studied the huge volume of information not just from a single aspect of child abuse and neglect, but from the various institutional perspectives as well as how different communities within the states are using or not using and the results the states are seeing with the use or non-use of the ACEs research and recommendations.

If you read nothing else today, introduce yourself to www.ACEsTooHigh and http://www.acesconnection.com/

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Foster Mom Charged With Breaking Bones of 7-Week Old Foster Boy (thank you Brandon Stahl & Star Tribune)

Abused and neglected State Ward children have already suffered enough when they enter foster care.

To be removed from a birth home by a judge means that the child’s life has been in imminent danger of serious harm. Most of the children I’ve worked with as a volunteer CASA guardian ad Litem have stories that still make me shudder (some) from twenty years ago.

Brandon Stahl’s article in today’s Star Tribune is one of those stories.

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Foster Children On Psychotropic Medication – 1/2 of group home children use them

A national foundation focused on child welfare is footing at least $75,000 of the bill to figure out the best way to conduct an independent clinic exam of children taking mind-altering drugs.

Better oversight of antidepressants, mood stabilizers and other psychotropic medications given to foster children is expected to reduce their usage — and their hefty price tag.

“You are going to save money, and you’re going to provide good medical care,” said Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur.

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FORGOTTEN CHILDREN RALLY STATE CAPITAL

On May 4, 2009 a small crowd of about 100 citizens – social workers, politicians, child advocates, and children – gathered on the lawn of the Minnesota State Capitol to bring attention to Minnesota’s “Forgotten Children.” The 187 children placed in foster care each week in Minnesota all have unique circumstances but they all share one thing in common: They need advocacy in the legislature to address not only their current needs but the future issues they will face as they transition into adulthood.

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For The Record (Toni Carter’s Comments on the Death Of Eric Dean + my response)

A central theme in the April 20 article “7 of 10 abuse calls not checked” was that Minnesota counties appear to “screen out” more reported cases of child abuse than other states, and that the percentage of cases that are closed without investigation varies between Minnesota counties. But it’s important to look beyond the data points to the data collection to understand these differences.

Increases in the statewide “screen out” rate from 2000-2010 may reflect changes in data recording practices rather than changes in agencies’ screening decisions. In 1999 a new data reporting system was implemented. As counties became more adept at using the new system the amount of data reporting increased. However, the actual number of reports “screened out” did not.

Despite the resulting higher “screen out” rate, Minnesota did the same number of assessments per year from 1996-2010, with a low of 16,384 in 2001 and a high of 19,846 in 2006, even though our child population is decreasing. While serving the same number of families, counties now document information received in a more consistent manner.

We believe it’s misleading to compare Minnesota screening practices to other states because of the variation in state laws, data collection systems and data retention practices.

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For The Record – Minneapolis Arrests 44% Of Its Black Adult Male Population (2001 was not that long ago)

The central question posed by this report
is, “How can young African American men
and Hennepin County help each other
succeed?” For years, there have been
many mechanisms in place to benefit 18
to 30-year-old African American men; yet
the outcomes for many of these men
continue to be poor. For example:
• Forty-four percent are arrested
each year.
• They are 27 times more likely to go to
jail than young white men.
• Twenty-eight percent of these young
men enrolled in the Minneapolis Public
Schools graduate from high school in
four years.
• They are twice as likely to die
as young white men ages 18 to 30. read the whole report here;

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Following Up On The 7 Year Old Foster Boy That Hung Himself & Left An Anti-Prozac Note

The recent 3 Billion Dollar fine of GlaxoSmithKline for hiding information, bribing doctors, & promoting unapproved (and dangerous) drugs to children, included criminal as well as civil settlements is a snapshot of what’s wrong with mental health services for abused & neglected children. Just a few months ago Abbott Laboratories paid 1.6 billion dollars for off label marketing its antipsychotic drug Risperdal. Glaxo was sued in 2004 by New York State over Paxil’s criminal marketing of psychotropics.

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Focus On Texas, California, & Florida Child Welfare

CA: Programs for transitioning San Diego foster youth
San Diego Entertainer Magazine – November 26, 2012
Just in Time for Foster Youth (JIT) envisions a future in which every youth leaving the foster care system has a community of caring adults waiting for them after 18. We believe consistent, long-term help from the heart is the foundation for the success of our youth so that they can thrive and enjoy productive, satisfying lives.
http://www.sdentertainer.com/lifestyle/just-in-time-for-foster-youth-steve-sexton/

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Florida, The Land Of Oranges & Prosecuting 14 Year Olds As Adults (sentenced to 70 years – for robbery)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In decisions widely hailed as milestones, the United States Supreme Court in 2010 and 2012 acted to curtail the use of mandatory life sentences for juveniles, accepting the argument that children, even those who are convicted of murder, are less culpable than adults and usually deserve a chance at redemption.
But most states have taken half measures, at best, to carry out the rulings, which could affect more than 2,000 current inmates and countless more in years to come, according to many youth advocates and legal experts.

“States are going through the motions of compliance,” said Cara H. Drinan, an associate professor of law at the Catholic University of America, “but in an anemic or hyper-technical way that flouts the spirit of the decisions.”

Lawsuits now before Florida’s highest court are among many across the country that demand more robust changes in juvenile justice. One of the Florida suits accuses the state of skirting the ban on life without parole in nonhomicide cases by meting out sentences so staggering that they amount to the same thing.

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Florida Child Protection News October 2015

FL: DeWitt: Step up to save Hernando’s visitation center (Opinion)
Tampa Bay Times – October 15, 2015
What this state most certainly does not need is one less safe place for vulnerable children. That, however, is what it will get at the end of this month with the closing of the Family Visitation Center of Hernando County. Actually, the center in Citrus County will also shut down, making two fewer safe places.
http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/dewitt-step-up-to-save-hernandos-visitation-center/2249849

FL: Special-needs families find wait list up to 10 years long (May require free registration)
Orlando Sentinel – October 17, 2015
Theoretically, the state of Florida helps families like the Creeses. In fact, Avery is on the state’s waiting list to get a Medicaid waiver that would provide help, including at-home care to give Greg some relief, because, in Florida, the average wait time is six years.
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-florida-medicaid-waiver-scott-maxwell-20151017-column.html

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Florida Child Protection News for March 2017

This news has been gathered by KARA volunteer Dr. Denise R. Womer, Ph.D., a former law enforcement officer for 17 years and former DCF Investigator for the State of Florida. Dr. Womer has taught in higher education for 14 years and currently is a Professor for Kaplan University teaching in the School of Social and Behavior Sciences.

March 1, 2017

Three charged with abusing autistic child at recreation center

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) —

Three adults were arrested Thursday afternoon after an investigation determined they were involved in the physical and mental abuse of an autistic child

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Florida Child Protection News for January 2017

Florida Child Protection News is gathered for KARA by Dr. Denise R. Womer, Ph.D., a former law enforcement officer for 17 years and former DCF Investigator for the State of Florida. Dr. Womer has taught in higher education for 14 years and currently is a Professor for Kaplan University teaching in the School of Social and…

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Florida Child Protection News February 2017

Florida February Child Protection News gathered and presented by Dr. Denise R. Womer, Ph.D., is a former law enforcement officer for 17 years and former DCF Investigator for the State of Florida. Dr. Womer has taught in higher education for 14 years and currently is a Professor for Kaplan University teaching in the School of Social…

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Fixing MN’s Broken Mental Health Systems (thank you Sue Abderholden)

Decades of policy makers not understanding or ignoring mental health issues and failing to see the explosive growth of veterans returning with life destroying PTSD, the huge increase of children in child protection resulting from less help for young families suffering from generational child abuse & trauma is coming down hard on schools, law enforcement and health providers. All our institutions and communities are paying the price.

Sue Abderholden (Sunday Star Tribune) is far too kind to legislators and administrators who make the policies impacting young families and other people needing help in our communities.

Lawmakers saving small dollars by not supporting basic services (crisis nurseries, daycare or mental health services) are costing taxpayers decades of state ward status, crime and preteen pregnancies for people that could have been helped, could have become self-sufficient tax paying community members.

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Fix Texas For Children; Remove Judge William Adams

U.S. states where children are worse off than if they lived in emerging nations. http://boingboing.net/2011/11/02/video-judge-beats-disabled-daughter-for-using-the-internet.html Pass this on & support public advocacy for at risk children (they need your help).     Support KARA’s effort to stop punishing children; sponsor a conversation in your community (invite me to speak at your conference) / Buy our book…

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Fines and Judgements For Child Protection Failures (millions of $ badly spent)

Over the past few years the states of Washington (144 million dollars) and Indiana have been sued successfully for many millions of dollars for failing to protect abused and neglected children.

In Arizona, the over 6600 child abuse reports ignored by social workers prompted a class action lawsuit, Texas and New York have similar lawsuits in play, MN has been fined almost a million dollars for failing to meet federal standards for abused children re-entering child protection (MN has twice the national average) the child protection system was called a “Colossal Failure” by the Governor in the slow tortured death of 4 year-old Eric Dean and a dozen other states are facing embarrassing examples of cruelty to children and juveniles because of bad public policies.

Children in these states have been tortured, starved, murdered and raped while being cared for in overburdened Child Protection systems. The consequences of child abuse are immense and lasting for children and the fact that a community would fail to help their tortured children is barbaric.

These lawsuits are remarkable in that suing a governmental body is almost impossible because Federal, State and Local agencies are almost immune to being sued.

When lawsuits do succeed, you know that the case was overwhelming and represented just the tip of a very big iceberg of the kinds of violence being done to children in our under-appreciated and poorly understood child protection systems.

I say “Poorly understood” as it is my belief that no community, especially my community, would ignore the cries of raped, tortured and murdered children.

I refuse to believe that any community in America willfully continues to avoid fixing the institutional failures that are so painful for the children affected and the people involved in the system.

Politicians especially should understand and address the lifetimes costs in dollars and quality of life that millions of dysfunctional citizens are having on our schools, public safety and prisons.

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