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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Fetal Alcohol Update (from Safe Passage For Children)

If you know one of the 600,000 Fetal Alcohol Syndrome children born each year in America, you know how much harder life is for them.

In both my family and friendships, I have come to know the great challenges faced by both the parents and the children due to the lifetime effects of this devastating destruction of early brain development.

Today’s article from Safe Passage For Children takes issue with the Hennepin County Physicians that have exempted themselves from reporting a pregnant woman’s addiction to cannabis or alcohol based on the theory that good relationships are more effective than reporting this serious form of child abuse.

Safe Passage points out that the Ramsey County Mothers First program is operating at 85% drug-free births. and asks the question if Hennepin physicians can match that.

This seems like an important and fair question to ask considering the consequences.

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Committed To Children’s Issues – Aitkin DFL

Everyone in this group got it. They appreciated just how serious under-serving babies & children can be and what a great investment programs that improve at risk children are.

Why has subsidized daycare remained unobtainable for 95% of Minnesotans that need it?

Why were no mental health services available for Jeff Weiss (Red Lake) or Michael Swanson’s mother (ten years of searching for help).

The sadness that remains decades after the violence committed by children in need of services is never measured, never considered by the media or politicians and never considered outside the cost of jails and prisons that so often become the cornerstone of at risk children’s lives.

I’m hopeful that the Aitkin DFL club will continue our conversation and the battle to speak out for children to give them a voice in a world that today doesn’t hear them.

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Massachusetts Child Abuse Up – 30% Fewer Petitions To Remove Children From Abusive Homes

Budget cuts at the Department of Children and Families has compromised family supports and child protection in Massachusetts. “The state is saving money, but not necessarily protecting children” (Marcia Lowry, Children’s Rights).

I argue that states are not saving money. It costs many times more money to ruin lives and live with dysfunctional children turned adults than it does to provide child friendly programs that help kids make it through school and out into society. It is also the right thing to do.

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Punishing Mental Health Problems With Horrid Juvenile Justice; In Many States, This Is The Rule, Not The Exception

Thank the legal community for shining a light on the abhorrent conditions facing mentally troubled California youth.

There’s good reason the Feds are denying California’s request to extend the time for compliance within their jails and prisons and this is a prime example.

14 years old, bipolar and placed in solitary for 22 1/2 hours daily for one hundred days. Read the whole article below. Mean people in a mean system.

California, your justice systems just stink.

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Child Welfare In The News (find your state – nation here) 100+ articles

Child Welfare in the News is distributed at no charge by Child Welfare Information Gateway (www.childwelfare.gov), a service of the Children’s Bureau/ACF/HHS (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb). It features news stories on topics of interest to child welfare and related professionals. Inclusion does not imply endorsement of any view expressed in an article, and opinions or views do not reflect those of Child Welfare Information Gateway, the Children’s Bureau, or staff. Other free subscriptions from Child Welfare Information Gateway are available at: www.childwelfare.gov/admin/subscribe

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Anoka MN – Saying Yes To Childhood Obesity & Smoking (not great public policy)

Anoka MN has one of the highest smoking rates in the nation, and it need not worry that free federal funding to promote smoking secession, anti obesity, and child safety programs will show up in schools to change overweight smoking youth anytime soon.

Thanks to Rhonda Sivarajah, the County Chair of the Human Services Committee – who perhaps finds childhood obesity and smoking a public good, or at the very least, finds programs promoting the well being of the Counties children not worth supporting.

Rhonda worked hard to vote down the 1+ million dollar federal strings free SHIP grant that would have created low-calorie snack menus, safe walking routes to school programs, and smoking cessation programs for thousands of Anoka elementary and high school children.

The primary complaint against the SHIP Grant, was that the feds wanted some kind of tracking (accountability) to see that the money was being spend wisely.

It’s my observation that accountability goes against everything these people stand for.

This decision demonstrates a very low value the County sees in its children.

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

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More Daycare & Crisis Nurseries = Fewer Tortured & Murdered Babies

A 25-year-old man admitted in court Monday in northwestern Minnesota to inflicting deadly head and neck injuries on the 22-month-old daughter of his girlfriend.

Raul Perez, of Ada, pleaded guilty in Norman County District Court to second-degree murder in the death of Ariel Reyes last August.

Perez lived with the girl and her mother.

A doctor at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo noted many injuries to Ariel, including bruises to her jaw, forehead, thigh, shoulder and the base of her spine. Also diagnosed were numerous severe brain injuries and bleeding at the back wall of an eye.

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Making It Happen – Safe Passage For Children

Visit safepassagemn.org
Safe Passage is a Minnesota nonprofit corporation created to protect and improve the well being of children in child protection, foster care, and public adoption programs.
We recruit and train citizen volunteers to be advocates of effective practices in these programs with elected officials.
We hold public officials accountable for improving the lives of abused and neglected children in measurable ways.

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The Accountability Gap in Child Protection (Thank you Safe Passage For Children)

This article copied from the Safe Passage For Children newsletter clearly articulates the importance of record keeping as it pertains to reports of repeated calls of child abuse.  Unfortunately, the system is overwhelmed, and it is all too easy to simply not keep good records. What we don’t know can’t hurt us.  But it certainly…

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Mental Health & Education (thank you Star Tribune for this honest conversation)

The complex needs of abused and neglected children are a giant, and I argue, the primary challenge facing America’s education system today. Different states handle the problem in different ways, but very states make the public aware of the depth and scope of the mental health issues like Minnesota has.

Teachers being forced to become social workers and mental health providers is a severe and growing problem in all American schools. Educators speaking openly about the dangers and fear of recurring outbursts by deeply troubled students injuring themselves or other children is a rarity in today’s media, but the data, including crime, graduation rates, test scores, and international achievement comparisons, would indicate otherwise.

There is little question that this problem is impacting the quality of education in our communities and needs to be addressed with adequate understanding and resources. The full Star Tribune article appears below, and I encourage you to read it, share your comments, and & make it available to educators you know.

Teachers deserve more support and a better understanding of the issues impacting education in America today.

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Reporting Maltreatment Of Children; How Minnesota Does It (State Statute – 626.556)

The difference between mandated reporters and the rest of the world is this; my friend who knew the 7 year old girl across the hall was being sexually abused was not a mandated reporter, and he did not report it. He feared for his life, as these were gang type neighbors, and while he was miserable about it, he never did speak out. Instead he knew for a long time what was happening next door and did nothing to stop it. It was a confession he made to me long after the events had occurred.

The only real hope this little girl (or any other children) being prostituted, pounded on, or otherwise horrifically treated, are mandated reporters. Hopefully, a teacher, hospital worker, or some other service provider will discover the horrors this little girl’s lived through and make help available so she might be healed and lead a better life. This is the statute that all mandated reporters should understand if they are to execute their jobs according to MN law.

If the resources were made available to enforce this statute, and make available the resources suggested within it, the prisons would empty, schools would perform at a much higher standard, and our communities would become the warm and friendly places we all want them to be. Take a moment and review the statute. It is valuable information for any citizen;

626.556 REPORTING OF MALTREATMENT OF MINORS.

Subdivision 1.Public policy.

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Riverside CA, 6 Investigations – Case Workers Find The Abuse Allegations “Unfounded” (but the 8 year old boy is dead)

Over the last ten years, six investigations involving Pearl Fernandez found no reason to take her son, Gabriel Fernandez, into protective custody.

Gabriel’s suicide note about repeated sexual abuse & his circular face welts were part of a long list of ignored information from mandated reporters.

California Child Protection workers were very familiar with Gabriel’s history.

Today, Pearl and her boyfriend were charged with murder and torture for the gruesome death of their 8 year old boy.

82% of Riverside’s 44,737 cases were investigated (this is impressive) 21 % were substantiated. More than 20 children are murdered each year as open cases within the Riverside CA child protection system. Blaming social workers won’t solve this. Providing them training and resources might.

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Zero Kids Waiting (lifelong nurturing families for children needing permanency)

What a great asset for Minnesota children. Here’s their latest newsletter (note all the great articles and resources;

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.

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Justice For Children In Atlanta Is Suffering Under Judge John Goger

Why would a guardian ad litem make $150,000 suppressing evidence, Why would a custody evaluator make $65,000 on a case where the evidence was overwhelming?

Apparently, to prevent a child from being protected against the man who had twice been arrested for molesting her (five independent assessments supported the girls story of repeated abuse.

Atlanta judge John Goger ordered the girl to live with her pedophile father. When asked by CBS Atlanta News, the judges assistant stated that the judge had “no comment”.

This kind of abuse lasts forever. Someone should comment.

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A Big Step For Mental Health In Minnesota (and hopefully your state next)

A few years ago, Red Lake MN added a 3.5 million dollar mental health facility to insure that the 15 people that died in the terrific homicide / suicide never happens again. 16 year old Jeff Weise had written, blogged, and talked (with many people ) about his violent mental health delusions for months before his horrific acts. His mother had told him that “she wished he had never been born”.

Michael Swanson’s mother on the other hand, had been desperately trying for years to find her son mental health services prior to his pointless and cold blooded murder of the 2 innocent Iowa store clerks.

If you search this blog under health and mental health, you will find a great many suicide and homicide stories of youngsters and their parents desperately seeking help. In New Jersey, for instance, all the mental health services were removed a few years ago, and all those youth were sent to jail.

This year, Minnesota legislators discussed mass shootings and violent unstable youth and decided that it is time to add mental health professionals, training, services and treatment for our children

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Sex With Children Not A Serious Crime In South Carolina

A recent study of South Carolina’s child protective services indicates that sex with children is not a crime here. There is no serious enforcement of child sex abuse laws in the state.

Trials don’t happen for years, church’s stand in the way of helping sexually abused children (South Carolina is the 4th most religious state in the nation). Raped children that are reported to child protection aren’t interviewed for weeks. Justice delayed is justice denied. It is also probably that South Carolina has few mandated reporters and that most people just don’t want to talk about it (there is very little reporting of the crime in SC compared to states that care for their children).

To be fair, the South has come a ways since the 1960’s when the age of consent was between 11 and 13. Rock singer Jerry Lee Lewis married a 13 year old (he was about 40 at the time).

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Mandated Reporting, or Basic Responsibility (it’s absence is killing Wisconsin & Pennsylvania children)

Leilani and Dale Neumann allowed their daughter to die a painful and lengthy death from fully treatable disease on Easter Sunday of 2008. Relatives were aware of the wacky faith healing beliefs that were soon to kill 11 year old Kara Neumann.

Medical experts testified at the trial that Kara would have lived if her parents had brought her to a doctor at any time before she stopped breathing.

Wisconsin (and 12 other states) don’t charge parents who murder their children in this fashion of child abuse.

Last May, Herbert and Catherine Schaible murdered their second child in Philadelphia by faith healing treatable pneumonia, just 3 years after killing their 2 year old son by faith healing his pneumonia until he died.

The most frightening element of these stories is that children that suffer from horrific negligence and terrible abuse only make the paper when they die. 6 million children are reported to child protection agencies in this nation annually. Only a few get the help they need.

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Children Of The Incarcerated; Collateral Damage

About 3 out of 100 Americans are incarcerated, on the way to being incarcerated, or have been released from incarceration. When broken out by race, these numbers are dramatically worse for people of color.

Minneapolis, MN for instance, arrested 44% of its adult Black men in 2001. There were no duplicate arrests and 58% of those men went on to be rearrested for a second crime within 2 years. America now leads the world in incarceration; 5% of the earth’s population and 25% of its prison population.

The children of incarcerated parents have higher rates of pregnancy, dropout and expulsion rates from school, STDs, mental health issues & criminal behavior. In fact, the children of incarcerated parents have more involvement with the criminal justice system than their offending parent did.

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It Can’t Happen Here

This article shines light on a serious social failure not uncommon in America. 6 year Sarah Elizondo has been forced by the court to live with a pedophile parent (Nicholas Elizondo served 6 years for the crimes he committed upon very young girls).

One of my first cases as a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem was a 7 year old boy that had been forced by the court to live with his pedophile father (who had spent 2/3 of his adult life in prison for the crimes he was about to commit on his son – and there was a court order forbidding him to be near young boys).

This boy had spent 4 years tied to a bed, sexually abused, starved, and left alone for days at a time in a small apartment (what do you think it would be like at 4,5,6, or 7 to be tied to a bed and left alone for days at a time without food?)

The boy was covered from head to foot in severe bruises when he entered the child prote

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