Minnesota Child Protection News For March 2016

March 20, 2016. Princeton, MN.

Michael S. Gunderson sentenced for two counts of felony child neglect after his two sons (aged 2 and 3) were hospitalized for severe malnutrition.

http://www.startribune.com/jail-for-dad-who-left-alone-his-starving-2-and-3-year-old-boys-in-filthy-home/372830791/

March 12, 2016. Red Wing, MN.

Sammy Antonio White sentenced to 13 years in prison for physical and sexual child abuse spanning two years.

http://www.republican-eagle.com/news/crime-and-courts/3985166-red-wing-man-gets-13-years-abuse-case

Details

Minnesota Child Protection News January & February 2017

Man In Custody Following Death Of Eagan Woman, Unborn Child
CBS Local
“We are devastated at the tragic death of my daughter Senicha and her unborn son. She was a loving, kind, smart and beautiful young woman who …
Woman killed in Eagan home ID’d; her 32-week fetus also died – Minneapolis Star Tribune
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

Pregnant woman found dead in Eagan townhome was ‘excited to be a mother’
TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press
Pregnant woman found dead in Eagan townhome was ‘excited to be a mother’ … Lane, a neighborhood east of Minnesota 13 and south of Lone Oak Road. … “We are devastated at the tragic death of my daughter Senicha and her …
Flag as irrelevant

Details

Minnesota Child Protection News March 2017

MN Child Protection News March 2017
KARA gathers news about abused Minnesota’s abused children every month and provides a snapshot of Child Protection and how our state values its children.
If you are an aspiring writer/reporter, KARA needs you to help gather and report on these stories.
Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org with REPORTING in the subject line.
All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children
Follow;
Safe Passage For Children MN (Join them and make child friendly legislation a reality)

CASAMN (become a guardian ad Litem and speak for abused children)
KARA Star Tribune Articles; Child Protection Who Will Speak For Children?

KARA Star Tribune Articles; Child Protection Who Will Speak For Children?

Details

Minnesota Child Protection Stories September 2016

Protesters call for boycott of Varsity Theater, Loring Pasta Bar
Minnesota Daily
The protest was meant to educate the campus community of sexual abuse … The lawsuits were filed under the Child Victims Act, which extended the … any of it,” said first-year University of Minnesota neuroscience student Mary Ellen …
Flag as irrelevant

Mother and boyfriend charged in MN toddler’s death
KFGO
ANOKA, Minn. (AP) – Authorities have filed charges against the mother of a Blaine toddler who died and her boyfriend. Anoka County Attorney Tony …
Couple charged in child death – Valley News Live
Two adults charged in connection with toddler’s death – White Bear Press
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

Charges filed in murder of Blaine, Minnesota toddler
KMSP-TV
A man wanted in the murder of a toddler and kidnapping of a 5-year-old girl in Blaine, Minnesota was arrested Wednesday morning by the Missouri …
Flag as irrelevant

Around the state: Mother, boyfriend charged in toddler’s death
Post-Bulletin
MINNEAPOLIS — A trial in Minnesota district court will test whether suburban … The toddler died at the scene from injuries that authorities say were …
Flag as irrelevant

Details

Minnesota Foster / Adoption Children Articles, Events & Statistics 2019

Stories about the shortage of foster care providers, lack of training and resources and transparency within the system are not uncommon – remember, we only read about the very worst cases – the sadness in foster care goes much deeper.

On any given day in Minnesota, there are more than 10,500 kids in foster care.

Details

Minnesota Still Screening Out Twice the National Average of Child Abuse Reports (thank you Safe Passage for Children)

Even after Governor Dayton’s “Colossal Failure” remarks about ignored reports of child abuse that lead to 4 year old Eric Dean’s tortured murder, a Casey Foundation report outlining the importance of changing DHS intake protocol for child abuse cases & the agreed upon recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on child protection – Minnesota is still screening out twice the number of child abuse cases seen in the rest of the county.

It is also unconscionable that today 100 current child protection case children are without guardian ad-Litems in the courts (check out the guardian ad-Litem program) we need volunteers – know anyone?

The CASA program received no consideration in the reports or recommendations. It’s hard enough for a child to go through child protection with a guardian ad-Litem speaking for them. To not have that volunteer voice makes the experience more isolating is doubly painful and just wrong.

Brandon Stahl’s dogged reporting at the Star Tribune brought our attention to the painful and dangerous lives abused children lead and how badly they need our help.

If Minnesota Governor Dayton’s, the Casey Foundation’s (MN Child Endangerment Model) & the Task Force changes do not come now with this attention, in a few years the changes will be largely forgotten.

Will the four MN counties that were screening out 90% of child abuse cases when Eric Dean died be screening out 92% and the over use of the assessment tool (where the child’s well being is most often not referred to) revert to being as common as it was?

Details

Minnesota’s At Risk Children’s News (first 6 months of 2017)

What’s it like to be an abused child in Minnesota? The stories and articles below shine a light on the sadness and traumas faced by five year-olds, infants and other helpless children in our state. These stories are only a tiny percentage of the pain suffered by at risk children in our state. The vast majority of violence against children is unknown outside the family. Share this widely and consider supporting a child friendly legislator or service providing organization with your time or dollars. Be a voice for abused and neglected children (they can’t call their state representative to ask for help – they need us to do it for them).

Details

Minnesota’s Chance To Invest In Children & Families (from Governor Mark Dayton’s office)

Free, Full-Day PreK for Every Four-Year-Old – The Governor’s budget would invest $343 million to provide every four-year-old (47,000 kids) access to free, full-day pre-kindergarten learning opportunities statewide.
More Funding for Every School – The Governor’s budget would invest in K-12 schools statewide, increasing the per-pupil funding formula to $5,948 by 2017, and putting additional funding into the special education formula. These new resources would give local school districts the flexibility to meet the needs of their students and classrooms – from lowering class sizes, hiring new counselors, investing in technology, or providing other need programs and services.
Tackling the Achievement Gap – The Governor’s proposal would invest in a multi-layered approach to narrow the state’s achievement gap. It would eliminate the current Head Start waiting list, provide support to help all students read well, target educational support to parents of at-risk children ages 0-8, and more.
Healthy Students – The Governor’s budget would provide free breakfasts for pre-K-3 students, fund in-school programs to improve student behavior, and support parents of at-risk children.
Investing in Higher Education – The Governor’s budget would invest $288 million to freeze tuition at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), expand the State Grant Program, return the University of Minnesota Medical School to national prominence, and make other needed improvements to higher education.

Details

Minnesota’s Child Endangerment Model (from the Casey Report briefing for Hennepin County commissioners today)

I was moved today when Steve Olson (from Knowledge Management) delivered the Casey Foundations 8 month report and recommendations for Hennepin County child protection at the County Commissioners briefing at the courthouse (listen to it here)

Steve made multiple references to Hennepin County’s “child endangerment” model and how it differs from a “child protection” model. He presented data demonstrating our negative outcome across a broad range of criteria and strikingly, how the County ignores child neglect (unlike the rest of the nation).

I understand the commissioners frustration over how much money (120 million dollars was stated) is spent on CP and how bad the results are. This is a complex set of issues that need thinking at a higher level.

With little measurability, less collaboration, almost no transparency there is only a vague idea of where to put resources and what’s really not working.

Bad results are about all that can happen the way things are today.

Mr Olson spoke of a perceived fear and lack of trust (distrust of peers and staff) within child protection reminding me of the high turnover in this industry in general and just how bad morale and turnover are on both the east and west coasts are.

Defining success and how we measure child safety and killing the current County child endangerment model was a top recommendation.

More community based solutions, involving community stakeholders and redefining what we want for outcomes all make perfect sense to me.

I also resonated with how social workers are also traumatized by their work and by the system and how this undermines the well trained, experienced and committed workers that we need so badly. It’s hard work and we should be striving to make things work better.
It was good to hear it spoken of that allot of the problem is that people don’t talk about the issues due to fear of litigation (and that much of this is overblown). The heart of the matter is that we don’t talk about it and very few people have a clear perspective of the issues.

Now, if policy makers would just get their brain around how important crisis nurseries, quality daycare and other early childhood programs are, we might just begin to break the cycle of abused children becoming problem youth with no parenting skills, trauma based behavioral problems often made worse with drug and alcohol addictions and three or four of their own very young children that will soon be allot like them in so many ways.

Details

Minnesota’s Child Protection Problem (“the deeper you get into it, the worse it is” Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat)

Thank you Hennepin County Board for unanimously approving the Governor’s Task Force recommendations for improving Child Protection Services in MN.

Thank you Governor Dayton for your “Colossal Failure” statement about the death of Eric Dean (it launched the important changes we see today), kudos to the Governor’s Task Force for the hard work you have done in bringing more transparency, accountability, and sanity to a system that has been responsible for its own share of child abuse.

Brandon Stahl and the Star Tribune deserve huge credit for a full year of prying open a closed system to get to the sad facts that lead to the repeated abuse and tragic deaths of so many poor and defenseless children in (or should have been in) County Child Protection.

KARA’s hour long video interview of Brandon Stahl gives a pretty good picture of just how insular and uncooperative the system can be to prying eyes (and how much worse it was for Eric Dean than his newspaper articles indicated).

Blaming juvenile justice employees & social workers, educators, health workers, adoptive & foster parents or other worker bees connected to child protection is counter productive and wrong.

Living with and working with abused children with serious behavior issues that are often unpredictable and violent requires more help and training than this community is providing. Psychotropic medications have become a go to answer for a very high percentage of very young children in Child Protection. A Hennepin County Judge shared a very extensive list of children that passed through her courtroom that were required to take these drugs over a year’s time – some as young as 6.

Details

Minnesota’s Gaps & Mitch Pearlstein’s Room Full Of Elephants

About a third of the children in child protection use psychotropic medications (when tracked – most often not published). Judge Heidi Schellhas provided me with a list of children in her courtroom that were forced on to psychotropics, it was long and children as young at six and seven years old were prescribed Prozac type drugs.

If your sister is born into is drug addicted, abusive, or otherwise toxic family, without community assistance, she will herself raise babies that are soon to be drug addicted, abusive, or toxic to their own children (and so on and so on and so on).

The male side of that statement was made much more eloquently by former MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz “the difference between that poor child and a felon is about 8 years”.

The beatings will continue until the morale improves (anonymous)

“What we do to our children, they will do to society” Pliny the Elder 2500 years ago

Details

Minnesota’s Mental Health Crisis (spot on reporting by our Star Tribune – Many Thanks)

Today’s service providers are rarely capable of adequately dealing with the level of dysfunction encountered by a large and growing number of people.

They will fail to achieve the results they strive for until we the voters demand the core changes that will reverse these painful trends. These failures drive up burnout and good workers leaving the field for lack of success and very high stress (and lack of understanding appreciation from the rest of us).

Reflect on this;

The “colossal failure” of Child Protective Services” Governor Dayton’s words upon the death of 4 year old Eric Dean after 15 largely ignored reports of child abuse

MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz’ statement s that “90% of the youth in Juvenile Justice have come through Child Protection” and“ the difference between that poor child and a felon is about 8 years” are as true today as they were a few years ago when she said them. My spin on the Chief Justice’ words are that, the difference between that poor child and a preteen mother with no parenting skills, a drug problem and a violent boyfriend, is about 8 years.

2/3 of the youth in the Juvenile Justice System have diagnosable mental health issues & half of them have multiple, chronic and serious problems.

1/3 of the children in Child Protective Services are proscribed Prozac or other psychotropic medications.

20,000 one and two year olds were proscribed psychotropic medications in this nation in 2014 (Johnson & Johnson paid 4 billion dollars in fines for illegally selling these drugs to pediatricians for use on children and there are 5000 cases awaiting trial).

MN Sheriff’s had to threaten a law suit to get the state to move on providing timely mental health services for the people in their jail cells.

Details

Minnesota’s Back Story; Treating Children’s Mental Health

Today’s Star Tribune article (thank you Chris Serres) exposing the violence done to Minnesota’s youngest citizens while in state care reminded me of my own experiences growing up.

In my middle class 1977 neighborhood, the family next door’s 15 year old grandson became psychotic and behaved dangerously.

Mom and dad tried to find him mental health help to no avail.

The only option that provided treatment for their son was the Juvenile Justice system. The boy’s entrance into the system required he be charged with a crime. Their son killed himself a few years later.

Details

Mistaking Childhood Trauma for ADHD

6.4 million American youth are diagnosed with ADHD. This article from ACEs Too High by Rebecca Ruiz makes clear the overdiagnosis of ADHD and underreporting of childhood trauma. This goes a long way in explaining the overdosing of youth in foster care with psychotropic medications and giant fines paid by big pharma for illegally selling these drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children.

Details