October Sad Stories Part I

Drugging Our Kids: Governor signs bills to curb prescribing of psych drugs to California foster youth
The Mercury News
Joymara Coleman, a 24-year-old Cal State East Bay student, displays two of the psychotropic medications she was prescribed while in foster care.
Flag as irrelevant

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October Sad Stories Part II

WA: Can this tool fix our troubled foster care system?
Crosscut Seattle – October 28, 2015
Anyone who has filed a tax return by hand knows that filling out bureaucratic forms can be a dreary, time-consuming enterprise. For child welfare and youth homeless social service providers, it can be a hindrance to the very outcomes those forms are trying to achieve: providing quality care for the state’s most vulnerable kids. Partners for our Children, a group out of University of Washington’s School of Social Work, is trying to solve that problem.
http://crosscut.com/2016/10/can-this-tool-fix-our-troubled-foster-care-system/

US: Modernizing Foster Care (Opinion)
Chronicle of Social Change – October 28, 2016
The shortage of foster families will continue to increase. Previous blogs have discussed ways to lessen the need for temporary homes by preventing unnecessary removals and by hastening the time to a permanent home through reunification or adoption. In addition, foster parents should be more adequately compensated.
https://chronicleofsocialchange.org/blogger-co-op/modernizing-foster-care/21957

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Official Launch of KARA’s TPT/ Television Expose Fundraiser

Friends of KARA, please help us by donating (any amount) and sharing this link to our official fundraising site for the TPT partnership to create a television expose telling the real-life stories that will bring to life the critical issues facing abused and neglected children and the people, policies, and programs impacting them.

Best of all, long time American news anchor and investigative journalist and winner of Emmy and Peabody awards Don Shelby is advising us on the project. The protection of all children, is to his mind, the responsibility of all adults

To complete this project & make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. We need your help.

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On Handcuffing & Tasing 3rd Graders (and expelling preschoolers)

There is no shortage of disturbing stories about violent children & authorities using violent means to control them. Today, the U.S. expels more children from daycare than any other industrialized nation and the levels of violence in our schools is frightening and harmful to all of us.

There is nothing more disturbing than watching a video of an armed 200 pound police officer twisting the arms of a 50 pound special needs child into a painful behind the back steel handcuffed position as the boy cries uncontrollably in his classroom, unless it is reading about the St. Louis Sheriff’s deputy tasering an 11 year old boy and threatening to sodomize him (Sheriff Mulch “nothing out of the ordinary…, followed protocol)

These stories and recent horrific police shootings of juveniles are a signal of overwhelmed institutions unable to deliver the most basic protection and safety services to the communities that employ them. Don’t blame service providers -it is lawmakers and administrators defending archaic policies that just don’t work anymore. Neither police nor teachers are able to nor should they be required (with the training we give them) to handle the deep and troubling behaviors of very disturbed children). Traumatizing five and six year old children because they have behavioral problems is just awful and it makes things so much worse for the child (and our society).
This story out of Texas, demonstrates how the police might better deal with troubled youth with an approach that recognizes the significance of mental health issues impacting police/child interaction. We need to do a 180 on dealing with mental health issues. Now.

The sooner we the people recognize that this is all about mental health and that schools and police departments are not mental health service providers, the safer our schools and city streets will become.

All adults are the protectors of all children.

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On The Death Of 6 Year Old Kendrea Johnson (another perspective)

Strangled dead tangled in a jump rope is not something that happens to six year old children (Star Tribune today) Thank you Star Tribune for giving voice to the voiceless children of Minnesota.

As a Hennepin County CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem, I watched abused and neglected children, traumatized children, whether they be two, four, or six years old, do terribly destructive things and try to kill themselves. My first visit to a four year old CASA case girl was at the suicide ward of Fairview hospital. She had watched the beatings and rape of her mother and sister (who was three years older than her) for most of her four years on earth. Think of the terror going through a child’s mind watching drug crazed, violent, and sexual abuse of your mom and sister. It changes a person.

I’ve written about the seven year old foster boy who hung himself and left a note about how he hated being forced to take Prozac. Children in foster care are often medicated to keep them from hurting themselves and others. You really don’t get into foster care unless you have been traumatized and behavioral issues are endemic to trauma victims. A very real side effect of psychotropic medications is suicidal ideation (fully formed thoughts of killing yourself, delivered by your brain – like a daytime nightmare).
The article in the Tribune makes Kendrea’s death sound like a pretty normal young child accident (Wow). Her younger brother was born drug addicted (the womb has no barrier to protect an infant from drugs and alcohol). Kendrea had been in a number of foster homes (one of my CASA case boys had been in 29 foster placements when he aged out of child protection). This death was not normal. Traumatized children need our help. Tens of thousands of MN children are victims of the kind of abuse Kendrea lived with all of her young life. Very few of them find the help they need to live a normal life. It would be the right thing to do to deliver these children the help they need to make sure they do not injure themselves or others with dangerous behaviors.

Remember friends, we only read about the children that die.

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Only Evil Governments Torture Other People’s (Immigrant) Children

Losing 1475 migrant children as a political statement was an awful example of what America is becoming know for internationally.

Letting Migrant Kids Rot in shabby poorly run centers for months or years stinks of racism & an administration without a conscious.

Boarder agents threatening children with adoption and Drugging them just adds a vile and criminal element to the equation. If these children die will there be consequences?

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Our Creeping Mental Health Crisis (& statistics)

As a new CASA guardian ad Litem volunteer I was stunned by the Prozac, Ritalin and other psychotropic medications prescribed to my seven, eight and nine year old State Ward children. About 1/3 of all state ward children (nationally) are forced onto psychotropic medications. Suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death among 10 to 24 year olds.

Over 1 million children under 6 are prescribed psychiatric drugs in America today. In 2014, 20,000 one and two year old’s were on Prozac like drugs & *Johnson & Johnson was fined billions of dollars for illegally selling those drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children…

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Our Only Hope For A Safe, Livable America; Talking About Mental Health

Friday’s horrific national tragedy — the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut — has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

While every family’s story of mental illness is different, and we may never know the whole of the Lanza’s story, tales like this one need to be heard — and families who live them deserve our help.

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Outcomes – Not Reorganization – Safe Passages For Children

I have been part of government reorganizations. People have to redesign logos, develop new civil service positions, decide about fonts for the stationery…. It takes years. In the meantime, programs often tread water.

A better plan is to focus all that energy on improving outcomes. Counties should regularly measure and report how their children are doing regarding mental health, level of trauma, cognitive skills, and physical development.

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Over 90% Of New Orleans Elementary School Children Witness Violence (over half have been victims – 40% have seen a dead body)

Much of the violence occurs in the home, and it occurs again and again and again. That has also been my experience as a CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem.

Most of the families experiencing violence in the home also report child abuse. 77% of children in high violence families were abused over their lifetime.

Most children who witness domestic violence suffer from PTSD and go on to lead lives much like their parents taught them (unless they are lucky enough to have good daycare, crisis nursery access, and mentoring – fairly rare in America today).

Full report here; http://www.childwitnesstoviolence.org/facts–myths.html

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Overwhelmed Child Protection Workers (redefining what is manageable)

Quoting Jodi Wentland (Olmsted County’s child and family services director) in Brandon Stahl’s Star Tribune front page article today, turnover is too high, inexperienced social workers are taking cases “before they are fully trained… with excessive case loads…, & they often leave”. To no one’s benefit I might add. It is costly to the state to trained employees that leave the field quickly, disruptive to the children and families that experience multiple and inexperienced child protection workers, and adds to the awful news we are seeing more of in our newspapers and on TV (think Eric Dean and Kendrea Johnson).

Even when Child Protection Agencies reported they could always handle the the workload, that’s not always a sign of stability. One county, for example, reported a 25 percent annual turnover rate was reasonable. This striking comment (again from today’s Brandon Stahl article) from Traci LaLiberte* about child protection providers prompted my title for this article today and is worthy of repetition, “These systems have been so stressed for so long that they’ve redefined what’s manageable”.

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Pandemic Weakening Child Protection Safeguards (thank you Safe Passage for Children of MN)

Do parents have a constitutional right to care for their children without interference from the courts or community? Because the U.S. has never ratified the United Nation’s Rights of the Child Treaty (the only nation in the world not to do so), American children have no voice in their homes, the courts, the media or the legislature.

Today, the Covid19 pandemic is keeping social workers from in person visits and there is no classroom for a child to escape to with a personal connection to a caring adult. This Article from Safe Passage for Children of MN should frighten us all.

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Paranoid Golden Valley Residents Drive Children’s Mental Health Services Out Of Town

Golden Valley residents reached a pinnacle of fear and loathing this week when they showed up at a Council meeting with pitchforks and torches to kill the possibility of developing a center for children with mental health issues (weekday hours only).  The few hysterical GV residents  huffing and puffing and misrepresenting the issues (equating youth…

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Parental Leave In Canada & the Rest of the Industrialized World (be nice to your baby – 18 months)

In Sweden, parents are entitled to 480 days of paidparental leave when a child is born or adopted. … The remaining 90 days are paid at a flat rate. Those who are not in employment are also entitled to paidparental leave. Parental leave can be taken up until a child turns eight.
10 things that make Sweden family-friendly – Sweden.se

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Penn State, Child Abuse, You and Me.

Molesters like Sandusky destroy the lives of hundreds of children over their lifetime. The child remains severely damaged year after year until help comes from somewhere (usually nowhere). I’ve said about several of the sex abuse children in my caseload that this child has never had a nice day in her life.

Anxiety, terror, Prozac & Ritalin are predictable parts of the life of an abused child. They feel dirty and often blame themselves for the crime. Not being able to function normally in school makes life miserable and too often criminal or sexually active & a preteen mother or father. Just how does one un-teach sexual behavior to a nine year old without professional help?

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Penn State, Child Rape, & Suicide— Child Sex Abuse Is Not Just Another Crime

As a long time guardian ad-Litem I’ve encountered too many suicides and suicide attempts that are a direct result of child rape.

I have not read the suicide note written by the seven year old foster child that hung himself in Florida, but I have read the most powerful suicide note ever written by a person raped as a child and it is printed below.

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Pennsylvania Child Protection News December 2015

Two Bills Aim To Improve Lives Of PA’s Foster Children
90.5 WESA – December 28, 2015
Act 75 of 2015 and House Bill 1603 came about a result of the 2014 federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, which mandated that every state had until Jan. 1, 2016 to pass laws that would help foster youth.
http://wesa.fm/post/two-bills-aim-improve-lives-pas-foster-children This page contributed by Krista Neuner

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Pennsylvania Child Protection News December 2016

KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and  attention to our youngest and most vulnerable  citizens.  Please note that what you see here is only a sampling of what should be reported –  the great majority of child trauma & abuse never gets reported. ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN…

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Pennsylvania Child Protection News For January & February 2016

PA: Lackawanna County settles foster child abuse case
Scranton Times-Tribune – February 27, 2016
Lackawanna County agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the mother of a 7-year-old boy who was sexually abused his foster parents’ adopted son. The mother filed suit in August 2014, alleging the abuse could have been avoided had the county’s former Children and Youth Services — now called the Office of Youth and Family Services — heeded a written profile that warned the adopted son previously sexually abused others.
http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/lackawanna-county-settles-foster-child-abuse-case-1.2012322

PA: Lawmakers work to close loophole, require doctors to get background checks (Includes video)
WHTM – February 25, 2016
Vulakovich said during the rewrite of child protection laws, doctors and medical professionals were not specifically mentioned as being required to get background checks. DHS interpreted that as an exemption even though health care professionals had always been required to have those checks. Vulakovich and Senator John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) are sponsoring a bill that would put them back in and close the loophole.
http://abc27.com/2016/02/25/lawmakers-work-to-close-loophole-require-doctors-to-get-background-checks/

PA: County supports human services funding outcry
New Castle News – February 25, 2016
The county opposes “rebalancing” initiatives for child welfare services that will force counties to reduce funding by a fourth, reduce payments to providers, shorten contract periods or use county property tax funds to cover the state’s obligation until a future budge makes a true allocation.
http://www.ncnewsonline.com/news/county-supports-human-services-funding-outcry/article_1be71fc0-db41-11e5-9c05-57c548484217.html

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Pennsylvania Child Protection News For March & April 2016

Legislators say PA adoption law is “archaic” (Includes video)
FOX 43 – March 23, 2016
Under the current state law a parent can claim their child back 20 days after they sign their rights away. Petri wants to change that to 96 hours.
http://fox43.com/2016/03/23/legislators-say-pa-adoption-law-is-archaic/

Innovative program aims to mend broken lives of foster kids (Video)
Public Broadcasting Service – March 22, 2016
For kids growing up in foster care, personal traumas and frequent moves from home-to-home and school-to-school have led to grim educational outcomes. Only about half finish high school, and of that group only 20 percent go on to college. The NewsHour’s April Brown reports from Pittsburgh on one effort to improve lives and opportunities for children in the system.
http://www.pbs.org/video/2365698903/

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Pennsylvania Child Protection News July & August 2016

KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and  attention to our youngest and most vulnerable  citizens.  Please note that what you see here is only a sampling of what should be reported –  the great majority of child trauma & abuse never gets reported. ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN…

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