FEATURED GUARDIAN AD LITEM PROGRAM WASHTENAW COUNTY

Local CASA Volunteer’s Success Story
Contributed by: Fran G.

I was given my first case in February of this year a family of three children: A 13-year-old boy with mild autism, a 9-year-old girl, and a 4-year-old, all living with a Great Grandmother (74 years old).

The children have lived with their great grandmother for 4 years. There were so many questions that needed to be answered and I found that I had the time to find those answers. The lawyers, and social workers all cared for the family but lacked the time to get to know the family as well as I could.

I found, for example, that the 13-year-old boy had missed 54 days of school and had been late for his first hour class 34 times. There were several reasons, and all were easy to fix.

He needed an alarm clock, needed to stop spending the night at his favorite Aunt’s house, and needed to take responsibility. I told him he was not allowed to be late or miss school anymore. I was able to check daily via a computer how his grades were and his attendance, and so was he.

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Falling Through the Cracks (NYTimes) 786 Children Die While in Child Protective Services

This article in yesterday’s NY Times, (from AP) shows how at least 786 children died awful deaths while in full view of child protection authorities. The numbers are most likely much higher (read KARA’S Sad Stories page here).

TAKE ACTION & join KARA in our awareness building campaign to save lives and support abused and neglected children in our communities.

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Faith Healing Child Death (more common than you think)

Two members of an Oregon Sect that believes in faith healing were charged with murder in the death of their premature infant daughter. What would Jesus do? this is not a difficult spiritual question.

8 month old Brandon Schaible died of treatable pneumonia as did two year old Ella Foster because their parents didn’t believe in medicine, Two of Herbert and Catherine Schaible’s children died years apart from each other for the same reason.

Children in Idaho have been dying by the dozens for years at the hands of their parents. By 2014 144 children lay in the Peaceful Valley Cemetery because their parents denied them available medical care – it is likely that the number is above 200 today.

This U.S.is the only nation on the planet to not sign the International Rights of the Child Treaty, most likely because the treaty bans training children as soldiers which our Southern States do regularly (military schools).

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Faith Healing & Another Child Death In Philadelphia

8 month old Brandon Schaible died of treatable pneumonia because his parents don’t believe in medicine.

This is not as rare as one would hope. In Idaho, 144 children have died in the Followers of Christ Church due to lack of medical care. Religious shield laws are everywhere (does your state have them?

Idaho makes it legal to deny children medical care (including to death). In Oregon 15-month-old Ava Worthington. 16-year-old Neil Beagley. 8-month-old Alayna May Wyland. 9-hour-old David Hickman died that way. Below are articles related to child death due to religious practice and the legal underpinnings (further down) that make withholding medical treatments from children legal.

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Expression (the suffering is immense – anonymous)

Every day, Every thought, Every act

Tainted by prior trauma

That part of the mind effortlessly calculating numbers, finding words and laughing at funny things

Is absent in a tortured child*

Instead

The darkness from before

Spits out bad words, regrettable behaviors and violent reactions to unexplainable triggers

And small brain space left for math, trust or coping

For other children

Sitting in the chair at the desk in the classroom

Is a peaceable journey of learning and friend-making

Not so for me

PTSD is a foul meaningless nonword

Raped and traumatized by a monster many times my size deserves a more meaningful definition

And maybe

A bit more understanding from the rest of you

*The World Health Organizations definition of torture is “extended exposure to violence & deprivation”

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Expanding KARA Board (seeking committed & talented people to accomplish our mission)

Help KARA find smart committed people that understand and want to improve the lives of at risk children.

KARA needs people with some combination of the following;

Experience with abused and neglected children and the institutions that work for them,

Grant writing, resources, and familiarity with fund raising for nonprofits,

Legal and CFO backgrounds in the nonprofit area,

A passion for protecting and improving the lives of at risk children

If you are looking to make a difference, send me a cover letter describing your background and level of interest.

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Executing Nine Year Olds (the best TED talk ever – or why I like lawyers)

photo compliments of Richard Ross David R Dow (voluntarily) represents the poor on death row – no one else cares. Two people a month are executed in Texas. Lawyer Dow points out that it is children in need of protection that have no way of avoiding the juvenile justice system that end up in the criminal justice system. The very worst cases end up on death row. How can we intervene? This is not rocket science. Points of intervention

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Everything Seems To Be Wrong With Them; The Other America

It is a very rare child that can walk from traumatic abuse into a classroom and just “be normal”. The biology of trauma means physiological change happens. Before a human being can proceed to the next level of growth, like sitting for 8 hours a day in a classroom & passively soaking in lesson after lesson while interacting normally with other children, adults, and figures of authority, real healing needs to happen.

I have seen very competent extremely committed foster and adoptive parents come unglued when faced with the insanity shown by 5, 7, and 9 year olds who have been tortured. The World Health Organization defines torture as “extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.

All of the 50 children I worked with as a CASA volunteer had “extended exposure to violence and deprivation” (about half of them had been sexually abused, some as young as 2).

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Euthanizing Children (the right to die)

Brussels — Belgium faced fresh protests Wednesday as its parliament debated whether to extend a ground-breaking euthanasia law to terminally-ill children, making it only the second nation to allow minors the right to die.

“To see a sick child die is revolting, it is not just,” said Socialist parliamentarian Karine Lalieux as MP crossed swords on the ethically tough question that will be put to the vote on Thursday.

“But euthanasia doesn’t consist in killing a person but in freeing them from suffering,” she said. “Every child, every family must be allowed the choice to deliver a child from pain.”

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Eric Dean Is One Of Many (child protection is failing children in most states)

The language in today’s Star Tribune describing the bloody whipping of Viking’s star Adrian Peterson’s four year old boy *(Tyrese Robert Ruffin) demonstrates the lengths my community will go to to protect the rights of 250 pound men to brutalize their 45 pound four year old children. MN Vikings Adrian Peterson beat his son repeatedly with a stick and had used belts to beat him on numerous other occasions (the child’s words in the Houston police report).

Beaten savagely by a 240 pound professional athlete, this very young child had leaves stuffed into his mouth and suffered open wounds on his back and buttocks, and a bruised penis. He still had welts a week after the beating.

The Star Tribune today ran two articles about this poor traumatized boy with “not reasonable” and “reactions dwell on line between discipline & abuse” in the titles. Nowhere in the articles is child protection mentioned. It is mostly a discussion about football.

Adrian’s defense was that his father beat him the same way. For the religious among us, “visiting the iniquity (horrors) of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

or the much easier to remember, “like father, like son”.

None of this will help Tyrese become a normal, coping child and there is reason to believe that the he suffers from some behavioral problems already (I would argue a result of the traumas inflicted upon him by his monster of a father).

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Ensuring Children Will Die Lawsuit in Indiana (the other way of getting better public policy)

I visited Indiana a few years ago after the governor redirected funding from parents adopting special needs children after the adoptions had been completed (AFTER). Then governor mitch daniels directed those dollars to people most successful in dismantling services to abandoned children.
The complaint (new lawsuit) alleges that Indiana removes children from their homes to be placed into foster care at a “staggering rate — more than double the national rate” and then fails to keep them safe while in DCS custody “often placing them in inappropriate, unstable or overly restrictive placements; fails to provide necessary support services and medical and mental health care; and fails to provide meaningful case management.”

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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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Elephant In The Room (Mitch Pearlstein PAST Star Tribune)

As a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem lobbying for the removal of children from toxic homes, I saw many examples of children left in the care of drunk/drugged uncles and boyfriends while a poverty or near poverty parental caregiver went to work each day. These children are many times more likely to be abused, traumatized (and killed) than other children.

Life is better for children in “higher income two person households” and that to ”investigate and punish” moms and dads that molest and torture their children doesn’t fix the issue. The fact that many families can’t afford quality daycare, have not access to crisis nurseries or mental health services rarely gets attention – things that would have far greater impact making health families than money spent on a punishment model.

If we value children as a community, let’s become like the majority of the other industrialized nations and make crisis nurseries, adequate mental health services and quality daycare a part of our culture.

It is mean and counterproductive for an advanced nation to build a child care system that leaves 3 and 4 year old’s in the care of unstable or dangerous people because there are no other alternatives (and on top of that, blame them for the very circumstances that are hurting them).

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