Protect Our Kids Act Passed By Congress (with tiny funding; 2M)

For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know I am critical of the lack of protection (concern) this nation has for its most vulnerable citizens. Other than the “Imminent Harm Doctrine” which allows the court to take children from life threatening circumstances, there is no federal protection for children in this nation. This is a step in the right direction. Thank you Texas Rep Lloyd Doggett for introducing this bill.

From the Alliance for Children & Families website;

The law creates a national commission to examine child fatalities, which the findings state are both preventable and significantly underreported, while the states lack a national standard for reporting. In previous hearings, members of Congress heard testimony about the significant gaps in reporting that prevent effective policies and practices from being implemented.

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Planned Evacuation Routes, Teachers Packing Heat (what’s next, Uzi’s?)

It hurts me to see the NRA making public policy & politicians blaming teachers for failed schools while they (those same policy making people) are ignoring the screaming need for early childhood programs that could stem the poverty and mental health tsunami that has attacked our inner cities (Detroit, Flint, Houston, Compton, Baltimore…giant swaths of a new and dangerous America )

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Better Record Keeping & Higher Standards For Tracking Child Maltreatment & Protection

Our series on child welfare has called attention to a report by the state’s Office of the Legislative Auditor, which found that standards for child maltreatment vary widely across the state and that counties do not keep data about reports consistently.
We also explored issues with Family Assessment, the child protection option in which families are required to participate in an assessment of risk to their children but do not have to accept services. The limited data available indicates that 70% of families are now diverted to this track and very few of these actually receive any services.

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Healing Through Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy (or, things I stole from the Surviving Spirit Website)

Our Story

The ideas, thoughts and dreams for The Surviving Spirit

The Surviving Spirit had its origins a long time ago in the mid-nineties. As a musician I had many unique opportunities to perform in different venues that would have a fair amount of folks in attendance who were dealing with the concerns of trauma, abuse, or mental health [mental illness]. These performances took place in peer support centers, psychiatric hospitals, day treatment centers, conferences, workshops, outdoor events, festivals, fairs, rallies, fundraising events and so much more. I was always blown away by the amount of people who not only shared parts of their difficult lives with me, but who also had these incredible gifts and creative talents — whether as an artist, musician, author, crafts person, photographer, author, writer, sculptor, poet, etc. Their listing of talents covers all styles and genres. Many others would also contact me through my website and send me information on their respective creative abilities.

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Child Welfare Policies That U.S. Shun; A Note From David Strand (share this with your state rep)

Other policies protecting children include prohibitions on trying children as adults in court, and targeting of children up to 12 in advertising. Also drug abuse is treated as a disease and not a crime.
The result of all these social investments is that criminal behavior is minimized. Denmark has 8 prisons. If they had the incarceration rate of the US they would need 80. Think about the tremendous savings in correcting anti-social behavior. By the way, they refuse the concept of for-profit prisons as it is considered a dangerous idea. And people in prison do not lose their right to vote. The election participation is about the same as the general population.
Another aspect of the child friendly society is to elevate teaching to the highest regarded profession. Teachers generally outrank even judges in respect. An important benefit to teachers with children is that they do not have to concern themselves with saving for college and university costs. All children who qualify academically are awarded taxpayer paid college education. As a result teachers generally teach for life.

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Join Me For A Grand Time & A Great Cause At the CASA MInnesota Auction & Wine Tasting Fundraiser (January 10th)

Join me on Thursday, January 10, 2013 from 6 – 9:30 pm to celebrate, and help continue, the good work of CASA Minnesota! Featuring wine tasting, cheese and desserts, and a fabulous silent auction. More details about the event can be found here: Uncorked Invitation Please contact me if you have items for our silent auction, mike@invisiblechildren.org

RSVP by December 31st by printing the Uncorked RSVP card and mailing it to: CASA Minnesota, P.O. Box 17358, Minneapolis MN 55417. Or register online via Paypal using the links below:

ticket individual

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Reducing Violence Against Children; Protect Our Kids Act (contact your senator today)

The bill would address violence against children in their homes by creating a national commission to address child abuse and neglect fatalities—upwards of 2,000 per year. Eighty percent of the victims are 3 years old and younger. The bill has the backing of hundreds of organizations, including the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, which has spent the last three years working to advance legislation.

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Focus On Texas, California, & Florida Child Welfare

CA: Programs for transitioning San Diego foster youth
San Diego Entertainer Magazine – November 26, 2012
Just in Time for Foster Youth (JIT) envisions a future in which every youth leaving the foster care system has a community of caring adults waiting for them after 18. We believe consistent, long-term help from the heart is the foundation for the success of our youth so that they can thrive and enjoy productive, satisfying lives.
http://www.sdentertainer.com/lifestyle/just-in-time-for-foster-youth-steve-sexton/

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Pounding On Children (the beatings continue)

Because Americans demand that almost every kind of pistol & deadly assault weapon be made available with almost no family or background check, in any quantity, and thousands of rounds of unaccountable ammunition, pretty much guarantees that children will kill themselves and be killed by others as a statistical absolute of the growing carnage that defines our nation.

At the same time, Americans turn their back on more and more poor children every year (we now have the highest child poverty rate in the industrialized world) with inadequate housing, day care, crisis nurseries, nutrition, health care, and especially, mental health care.

Three trillion dollars in the projected next 3 year base cost of war & military in this nation (59 cents out of every tax dollar) should make America the safest nation in the world. It does not.

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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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CASA Minnesota Wine Tasting & Silent Auction For a Great Cause (Stop By & Say Hi – January 10th, Buy Your Ticket Today)

Join us on Thursday, January 10, 2013 from 6 – 9:30 pm to celebrate, and help continue, the good work of CASA Minnesota! Featuring wine tasting courtesy of the experts at South Lyndale Liquors, cheese and desserts, and a fabulous silent auction. More details about the event can be found here: Uncorked Invitation

RSVP by December 31st by printing the Uncorked RSVP card and mailing it to: CASA Minnesota, P.O. Box 17358, Minneapolis MN 55417. Or register online via Paypal using the link below:

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Children Living Under Bridges

Because of the media’s coverage of dog food eating seniors living under bridges, Bud and Margaret were able to live a clean, modest lifestyle and not die in the pain and disgrace of poverty, living in tents or under bridges.

Today, America has children living under bridges (lots of them).

The number of homeless students attending Duluth public schools jumped 21% this year (a statewide trend and worse in many parts of the nation).

Among the *industrialized nations, (the 24 nations with long established infrastructures and democracies) the U.S. ranks number 1 in child poverty with 23% of our children living in poverty.

Homeless children are 3 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than those living at home. Homeless children find it much harder to succeed in school or in life and their delinquency & crimes rates are far higher than the general population.

There is not a religion on the planet that abandons children & those people claiming there is do not have real religion (point that out to them).

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Foster Care & Prostitution, A Terrible Relationship

The following LA Times article establishes the fact that most of the prostitutes in Los Angeles have been foster children. This rings true to me for two reasons;

1) About half the kids in my volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem cases had been sexually abused (and that lasts forever),

&

2) The most recent national data shows that 80% of of children aging out of foster care are leading dysfunctional lives. Los Angeles is now transferring the the responsibility for juvenile prostitutes from the criminal justice system to the foster care system.

Another sad statistic is that 25% of America’s juveniles are tried in adult courts, & as former MN Supreme Court Chief Justice has stated, “90% of the youth in the juvenile justice system have passed through child protection service”.

What more proof do we need to establish that American institutions are producing exactly that which they were designed to stop?

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Bastards; How Yesterday’s Rejection Of The Disabilities Treaty Damages America’s Children

Even after a wheelchair delivered heartfelt plea from 89 year old, handicapped, former Senator Bob Dole, our U.S. senate rejected the UN treat to ban discrimination against people with disabilities.

The reason given was that acceptance would “infringe on American sovereignity”.

The real reason is that we would have to agree to the International Rights of the Children Treaty and quit training American 12 year old’s as soldiers like the rest of the world has.

America is the ONLY nation to not sign the Rights of The Children Treaty (Somalia doesn’t count because it does not have a functioning government).

The rest of the world (200 + nations) agrees that it is wrong to train children as young as 12 as soldiers.

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Thank You Houston Texan Receiver Andre Johnson

Wow, what a swell guy and great example for the rest of us; Andre bought $19,521 worth of Toys R Us gifts for children in Child Protective Services today. Here’s the link (you can see the very long receipt).

I like his message too;

“A lot of these kids get discouraged because of where they grew up and things like that. I grew up in a single-parent home and I was fortunate to achieve my goals. So, whatever goals you have, just keep them out in front of you, don’t let anybody distract you away from them, because there will be distractions that try to detour you away from your goals. That’s the biggest thing.”

Pass it on to your friends (it may give them ideas)

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Another Asset For Protecting Children; The Law

Perhaps one of the best things that ever happened to foster care in Mississippi was a class-action lawsuit initiated by an advocacy group some 1,200 miles away.

Since its 2004 filing, Olivia Y. v. Barbour has shaken the state’s system to its core, not only revamping procedures and policies aimed at bolstering children’s safety and the reunification of families but also restructuring the environment of those working to make those goals happen.

“It’s not what it used to be,” said Hollye Alvarado, a family protection worker with the Division of Family and Children’s Services of the Mississippi Department of Human Services Region VI. “I definitely wouldn’t have been here without the lawsuit because there’s so many positive changes from it.

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Promoting Prisons As Public Policy

I recently toured Richard Ross Juvenile In Justice museum display in Reno NV. Heart rending photos of ten and twelve year old children in America’s justice system. So powerfully does his photographers eye catch the meaning of former MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz statement that “The difference between that poor child & a felon is about 8 years”.

Chief Justice Blatz other quote hangs with me also, “90 % of the youth in juvenile justice have come through child protection services”, reminds me of just how much trauma has been suffered by abused and neglected children & how by not helping them we pretty much guarantee a pipeline to prison for them and the dangerous streets & failing schools that they leave along the way.

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A Response To Harsh & Unfair Comments Made By Unhappy Readers

Just to be clear, I am gender neutral and beyond that, blaming any sex, any religion, nationality or economic class solves nothing (it’s just a different flavor of hate speech). To accuse me of this based on one recent article (out of 400) is really unfair. Read fifty or sixty of these articles and see if you get a different perspective.

I believe that as bad as things are in child protection services (for everybody involved ), the men and women doing the work are decent fair minded people (even to have chosen this un-glorious, low paying profession) overworked, under-trained, and under – resourced. The hours are long & the results are painful. It ain’t the worker bees wrecking the children.

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Domestic Violence Through A Five Year Old’s Eyes

Dr. Phil referenced this video on the reality of how domestic violence impacts a child. In America, a child watching her mother being beaten or raped does not qualify for child protection services.

A few decades ago in Minnesota, a once progressive state, changed child protection statutes to allow children subjected to horrible domestic violence to be reported as abused (and receive some relief).

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Following Up On The 7 Year Old Foster Boy That Hung Himself & Left An Anti-Prozac Note

The recent 3 Billion Dollar fine of GlaxoSmithKline for hiding information, bribing doctors, & promoting unapproved (and dangerous) drugs to children, included criminal as well as civil settlements is a snapshot of what’s wrong with mental health services for abused & neglected children. Just a few months ago Abbott Laboratories paid 1.6 billion dollars for off label marketing its antipsychotic drug Risperdal. Glaxo was sued in 2004 by New York State over Paxil’s criminal marketing of psychotropics.

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According To The Numbers, Child Abuse In MN; Safe Passage For Children

The OLA report did confirm that Minnesota screens in only about 32% of reports of maltreatment compared to 62% for other states. We have a correspondingly lower rate for determining whether abuse or neglect did in fact occur. Does Minnesota simply do a better job of screening and investigating, or are we leaving too many abused children in harm’s way?

At the next step in the process, 70% of families screened in statewide are now diverted to a voluntary program called Family Assessment. In Hennepin County a Citizen’s Review Panel found that 75% of these families are not even offered services, and only 17% end up receiving them. So even when children finally get the attention of a child protection worker, they seldom get services. Is this how it works in all counties? We don’t know, because local agencies do not capture consistent information on what happens in Family Assessment cases.

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America The Beautiful (unless you’re born an at risk child)

Based on the study’s data, more than 80 percent of juveniles who enter the criminal justice system early in life have at some point belonged to a gang. Seventy percent of men and 40 percent of women have used a firearm. The average age of first gun use is 14. At any given time, 20 percent are incarcerated.

Unemployment is rampant: 71 percent of the men and 59 percent of the women are without jobs as adults. Of the 1,829 youths originally enrolled in the study, 119 have died, most of them violently — a death rate three to five times as high as the one for Cook County men in the same age group over all and four times as high as the one for women. In all, 130 have been shot, shot at, stabbed or otherwise violently attacked. As a group, they show high rates of post-traumatic stress, depression and other psychiatric disorders.

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