What We Think Of Children In America

In one poor school district in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, students take classes in a bus garage, using plastic sheeting to keep the diesel fumes at bay. In another, there is no more money to tutor young immigrants struggling to read. And just south of Denver, a district where one in four kindergartners is homeless has cut 10 staff positions and is bracing for another cull.

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Crisis Nurseries & Colleges

From the book, How Children Succeed, Paul Tough, I learned that 68% of wealthy high school graduates with at least one parent that had graduated from college went on to achieve their own BA degree, while students in the lowest economic quartile without college graduate parents achieve a BA degree at less than 10%. Gotta admit that is a big spread.

From the Consortium on Chicago Schools Research, one in thirty African American Boys that graduate from Chicago schools will go on to achieve 4 year college degree before they are 25.

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Important News From Safe Passage For Children

What if everyone agreed to get behind some of the same best practices for children? It would improve chances of state funding, be easier to track outcomes, and create economies of scale.

This may be possible. Safe Passage research indicates common interest in some of the same programs across child welfare, early childhood development, and children’s mental health. These approaches have a solid track record and strong research base, including Triple P (Positive Parenting Program), Parent Child Interaction Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

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Other Losses Foster Children Face

As a guardian ad-Litem for an 11 year old girl, I was appalled when the care agency threw away all of her possessions because she was messy.

Think about it. Removed from her birth family (where she was sexually abused and terribly beaten), forced to live away from her siblings, among many other severely damaged children in a chaotic environment, no love, no freedom, and with about three things in her room tying her to her past. One of which was a photo that she cherished deeply.

Everything this poor child owned was thrown away because nothing in her life mattered to the person (a low skilled and low paid helper) ruling her life and making those decisions.

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Let’s Start The Conversation

Because we don’t like to talk about it, there is little understanding of the core problems that are driving the terrible statistics of public safety, crime, school performance, and public health (diabetes, obesity, psychotropic medication).

At risk children & their stories are being overwritten by the loud public noise of war, economic distress, and the extremely high volume of mean spirited political rhetoric of today’s media. Kids are really suffering today.

For years, the data reflecting children’s abuse, poverty, sexually transmitted diseases, public safety, health and mental health, child protection, and juvenile justice indicate a significant trend in the wrong direction.

The correlation between juvenile justice and criminal justice has long been established (almost all felons came through the juvenile justice system).

The correlation between child protection services and juvenile justice is less well known, but equally significant.

In the words of MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz, “The difference between that poor child and a felon is about eight years” and, “90% of the youth in Juvenile Justice have come through Child Protection Services”.

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Mental Health Public Policy – Seeking Your Input

A giant change in mental health public policy will soon be felt by all of us from the effects of the Affordable Health Care Act.

We hope it is all positive, but we know better and must be vigilant to avoid painful mistakes.

In KARA’s pursuit of better answers and a more public discourse on the topic, we invite your insights, experiences, and articles to clear the air. Thank you Consulthardesty.com for this correspondence. KARA might take a different view, but Hardesty’s commentary applies directly to the mental health conversation;

The City of Portland, Oregon, has been found by the DOJ to be using police to violate the constitutional rights of those perceived to be in mental health crisis. This blog post explores a new force that may begin targeting this vulnerable population. The public does not yet know the power about to accrue to care providers, as mandatory insurance provides an incentive to fill hospitals.

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Target Practice On The Mentally Ill

America owns the market of mistreating people with mental health problems. Whether Tasering 12 year olds or shooting disturbed people, we just don’t care enough to make health services available to stop the carnage.

16 year old Jeff Weise’s father committed suicide a few years before Jeff started writing about his homicidal and suicidal thoughts and listening to his mother’s wishes that he had never been born.

A few months later he shot dead his grandfather and 14 other people before killing himself. Talk about warning signs.

The year after the carnage, Red Lake found 3 million dollars to fund a mental health facility for the community.

Michael Swanson’s mom (an educated and very capable person) worked for years to find mental health services for her tragically disturbed boy before he drove to an adjacent state and murder 2 convenience store clerks for shits and giggles.

My friend Patti adopted 4 children from a county that assured her they came from fairly normal backgrounds. If being sexually abused at very young ages is normal, then the county did not lie.

20 years later, the mental health issues this family still endures make me hate our institutional habits of obfuscating and lying.

When it is your family or friend that is visited by violence or other forms of insanity the sensation is unbelievably painful. Until then, let’s just not care about affordable health care.

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Tracking America’s Most At Risk Children (through the media, the states & CASA)

Follow these pages to keep up with the most current stories about the people policies & programs working with and reporting on abused and neglected children;

Connect to the most recent media stories
Connect to CASAs (around the nation)

Connect to the states (stories of at risk children in your state)

Children Are Not Burgers (send this to your friends)

4 minute Video on being an abused child in America
Richard Ross photographs juvenile in justice (remarkable)

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Worst State For Moms (and their children) Louisiana Again

My 2012 report about the last place in the nation to raise a child was reaffirmed today (Huffington Post) with another study ranking the state dead last for women. One in five Louisiana women live in poverty & they earn 67% of what men earn (a little more than half of a man’s wage).

One OB-GYN for every 13,136 women & nearly 20% of non-elderly women are uninsured. Waiting periods and counseling are required for women seeking an abortion. Louisiana has the highest rates of poverty, infant mortality, child death, teen births, and no health insurance in the nation.

Other states that earned an “F” overall in these categories are Utah, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, South Dakota, Indiana and Georgia.

Louisiana is also the Prison Capital of The World, where for profit prisons are making a fortune for their investors. They have found that by offering almost no rehabilitation, crowded conditions and easy incarceration statutes (one in eighty six adult Louisiana residents are in the prison system), profits are extraordinary and recidivism is through the roof.

Please share this with your contacts that it might find its way to Louisiana (change only comes from awareness).

Follow KARA on Twitter http://twitter.com/KidsAtRisk

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Reading Test Scores & Prison Populations

Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.BegintoRead.com
Urging young people to read more when there is little available to read makes as much sense as urging starving people to eat, when no food is available. Krashen, 2007
In middle-income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children. Neuman, Susan B. and David K. Dickinson, ed. Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Volume 2. New York, NY: 2006, p. 31.
80% of preschool and after-school programs serving low-income populations have no age-appropriate books for their children

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Pope Francis Has Joined Our Cause (yea for the Catholic Church)

Yesterday, the Pope came out against the Catholic Church’s unfriendly & unproductive public policy of repeatedly attacking the poor, the gay, and women’s rights.

By association, the Republican Party is being incriminated by the Holy Father’s words also for its own similar negative focus.

While it may appear to be muddy water at the moment, it is logical that as LBJ lost the Southern Democrats with his very unpopular civil rights push of the sixties – ruining the Democrats chances of a presidency for many years to come – the Republican Party could very well come out of this current fanatical attack on healthcare and the poor losing not the South or even the nation, but the World.

There is a growing visceral reaction across this nation and I would suggest the planet (at least anywhere people can read and think) against this mean and unfriendly tail wagging what used to be a rather friendly non-biting dog.

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I Wish You’d Never Been Born & Other Adverse Childhood Experiences (Videos)

These are the most powerful videos from the Academy on Violence and Abuse www.avahealth.org They go a long way in explaining our nations consistently low graduation rates, terrifically high murder rates, prison populations, chronic illnesses and leading the world in sexually transmitted diseases.

All of these videos are powerful and worth your time.

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Zero Kids Waiting September Newsletter

Zero Kids Waiting is the monthly eNewsletter of Minnesota Adoption Resource Network, a 33-year old organization that creates and supports lifelong nurturing families for children needing permanency.

As an email subscriber to Zero Kids Waiting, you will receive a monthly update about what our organization and others are doing to promote adoption of Minnesota children and teens.

To opt out of receiving Zero Kids Waiting and other announcements from Minnesota Adoption Resource Network including MN ADOPT training emails for parents and professionals, please click SafeUnsubscribe at the bottom of this newsletter.

Your email is solely used for the distribution of MARN newsletters, trainings and other news and will not be shared or broadcast.

To learn more about Minnesota’s waiting children and our goal to reach Zero Kids Waiting visit State Adoption Exchange

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Child Sexual Abuse, Alcohol, & Help

Sexual abuse is likely the most horrific crime a young child can endure.

Almost 10% of children today are exposed to sexual abuse; from rape, incest, pornography, touching, fondling or sodomy.

According to the Childhelp organization, the most common ages that child sexual abuse acts are committed are ages 7 to 13.

Within child protection systems, these percentages are much higher and the children’s ages are lower when the abuse begins.

As a CASA guardian ad-Litem in Hennepin County, about half of the fifty children in my caseload were sexually abused. After almost 20 years as a County volunteer in child protection, I think it is the most under-reported crime in our nation.

Six million children are reported to child protection agencies in the U.S. each year. About 10% of them receive services. The other 90% are left to fend for themselves.

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Schools Criminalizing American Children

East coast schools are experiencing the mass incarceration and expulsion of student populations.

Using police instead of counselors has lead to a giant leap in overcrowded courts, incarcerated youth, & privatized juvenile justice facilities.

New Jersey eliminated all mental health services from schools and uses the justice system to deal with adolescent problems.

New York students with disabilities are 4 times more likely to be suspended than the non-disabled (New York Times/Molly Knefel) with 69,000 expulsions and 2,500 arrests last year, mostly for infractions that would have dealt with by counselors in years past.
Pennsylvania recently sent 2 judges to prison for 40 years for receiving kickbacks for sending thousands of mostly innocent youth into the privatized youth prison system.

The data is clear that children of color and poverty are grossly over-represented in this newly criminalized society that is sweeping the nation.

In a nation that pays day care workers less than food service workers (the least paid profession in the nation) and has refused to adequately fund crisis nurseries, or subsidized day care, we should not be surprised that our youth are unprepared to learn in school and a source of non-criminal behaviors that trouble school officials.

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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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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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America’s Amazingly False Answers To Mental Health Issues

Criminalizing mental health,…, denied treatment,…Michael Schuler stabbed himself in both eyes after spending 40 days in jail”) identifies the iceberg tip that is the crisis of this nation’s failure to deal with mental health issues. “Hundreds of inmates with dangerous psychiatric problems languish in county jails” is repeated in hundreds of county jails and hundreds of prison facilities throughout America.

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CASA & GUARDIAN AD – LITEM NEWS (for August)

Local children in desperate need of CASAs — Court Appointed Special Advocates
Arizona Silver Belt
A CASA is a Court Appointed Special Advocate, who is there to represent a neglected or abused child’s best interests and needs. Neglected children often have trouble trusting adults. For the complete article see the 06-26-2013 issue. Click here to …
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CASA director: ‘Meth use more prevalent’
York News-Times
YORK – “We are seeing substance abuse issues rising in York County,” said Carl Knieriem, director of the local Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). “Methamphetamine use is more prevalent again. It had been dramatically reduced, but now it’s once …
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Big screen classic meets a good cause: Casablanca screening will benefit …
Cherokee Tribune
Canton Theatre manager Bob Seguin stands outside of the theater where the CASAblanca Downtown Dinner & A Movie event benefiting Cherokee County Court Appointed Special Advocates will be presented on Saturday. Starring Humphrey Bogart and …
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CASA to host Bridges Out of Poverty Sept. 5
Rockford Register Star
ROCKFORD — Winnebago County Court Appointed Special Advocates will present Bridges Out of Poverty from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 5 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, 200 S. Bell School Road, Rockford. Guest speaker Jodi Pfarr will discuss …
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10 Roanoke Valley volunteers complete training to become child advocates
Roanoke Times
Ten Roanoke Valley volunteers completed 30 hours of training this spring to become Court Appointed Special Advocates, representing children’s interests in court proceedings when they become displaced because child abuse and neglect charges have …
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CASA needs volunteers before August classes
Cleburne Times-Review
Nationally, CASA is a network of 946 programs that are recruiting, training and supporting volunteers to be court-appointed special advocates to represent the best interests of children in the courtroom and other settings, according to the CASA website.
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You are here
Fort Smith Times Record
Renee Day, vice president of finance for Baylor Research Institute in Dallas and assistant treasurer, investments, for Baylor Health Care System, was recently elected to the Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates Board of Directors. The board governs …
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Yellowstone CASA hires four
Billings Gazette
Yellowstone Yellowstone CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) has hired four new staffers. Drew MacLeod, Ryan Cremer and Tracie Rabinowitz are volunteer coordinators, and Tricia Hergett is the new executive assistant. MacLeod will supervise …
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CASA creates ‘Chili’ connection
Mineral Wells Index
The current Court Appointed Special Advocate fundraising campaign is getting some local help from Chili’s in Mineral Wells. Though “A Dollar for CASA” challenges locals to support the organization a buck at a time, the area restaurant is not stopping …
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CASA inducts 8 new volunteers
Edmond Sun
CITY — Court Appointed Special Advocates recently swore in eight new advocates. Jessica Gavura, Dearra Godinez, Jane Greene, Susan Griffin, Nancy Hamilton, Rhonda Kerbo, Julie Krywicki and Equilla Samuel were sworn in during the June 11 ceremony …

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CHILD WELFARE NEWS STATE BY STATE (for August)

NBC 4 – August 28, 2013
Records obtained by NBC4 show 63 children died in Los Angeles County as a result of abuse and neglect since January 2012, including some with a lengthy history of allegations leading up to the death.
http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Documents-Detail-Child-Abuse-Deaths-in-Los-Angeles-County-221587601.html

CA: LA County facing fines for operating unlicensed foster care shelter, missing deadlines
Southern California Public Radio – August 28, 2013
Her job was to sort out who was biologically related to whom, and find the kids a place to stay – all within a window of 23 hours and 59 minutes. It’s the deadline at which, legally, the kids would need to be in a place that’s certified to care for them, like a foster home or shelter. Too often in the past eight months, L.A. County has missed this deadline, according to state regulators. And as soon as Wednesday, California’s Department of Social Services said the county could be subject to fines of $200 a day for operating an “unlicensed emergency shelter.” As of Wednesday morning, state officials had not taken action. Also: DCFS warned to place kids in foster care sooner: http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=9223065&rss=rss-kabc-article-9223065
http://www.scpr.org/news/2013/08/28/38906/county-to-weigh-options-for-avoiding-state-fines-f/

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