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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Pennsylvania Child Protection News May & June 2016

Lawsuit: Youth mental health facility in Butler County didn’t stop sex abuse

WTAE Pittsburgh – May 12, 2016

A Pennsylvania facility that treats youths diagnosed with mental health conditions has been accused in a lawsuit of not stopping or reporting sexual assaults, and instead ridiculing a teen boy for reporting them. The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Allegheny County states the boy was among a group of patients who reported assaults by fellow patients last year at the Glade Run Lutheran Services facility, about 25 miles north of Pittsburgh in Zelienople.

http://www.wtae.com/news/lawsuit-youth-mental-health-facility-in-butler-county-didnt-stop-sex-abuse/39511308

Expanding Family-Based Foster Care in PA

Public News Service – May 5, 2016

Children in family-based foster care do much better than those placed in group settings, according to a new report. The report, “Congregate Foster Care in PA,” from the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, said kids in family care do better in school, face fewer problems with drugs and alcohol, and maintain better relationships with siblings. Joan Benso, president of the group, said the commonwealth has made a lot of progress, but still places children in group homes or institutions more often than 40 other states.

http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2016-05-05/childrens-issues/expanding-family-based-foster-care-in-pa/a51757-1

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Pennsylvania Child Protection News November 2015

State Budget Impasse Impacts Columbia County Social Service Agency (Includes video)
WNEP – November 23, 2015
“It’s frustrating that child welfare is not considered an essential service at the state level because that would allow some money to continue to flow to the agencies to help provide services for a very vulnerable population,” April Miller of Columbia County Children & Youth Services said.
http://wnep.com/2015/11/23/state-budget-impasse-impacts-columbia-county-social-service-agency/

State budget impasse: counties may protest by keeping revenue owed state
Lancaster Online – November 22, 2015
Commissioners Dennis Stuckey and Craig Lehman said withholding revenue is worth exploring as Lancaster County sees reserves dwindle to support programs for children, the elderly and the mentally ill the state is supposed to fund.
http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/pennsylvania-state-budget-impasse-counties-may-protest-by-keeping-revenue/article_6871b9ee-8fc0-11e5-be74-f73d2d40362a.html

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Pennsylvania Child Protection News Sept – November 2016

Pennsylvania officials reveal improved service to child abuse hotline
Philly Voice – September 15, 2016
In 2015, the department reported a 14-percent increase in phone calls from 164,911 to 188,357, a 39-percent increase in cases of suspected child abuse and a 162-percent increase in requests for child-abuse history clearances. DHS admitted that 43 percent of calls were abandoned or deflected and 48 percent of clearances were processed within 14 days as required by law.
http://www.phillyvoice.com/pennsylvania-officials-reveal-improved-service-child-abuse-hotline/

Pennsylvania couple waives arraignment in child-giving case
ABC 27 News – September 2, 2016
A Pennsylvania couple and a Philadelphia-area man to whom they allegedly gave their 14-year-old daughter in exchange for money have waived their arraignments.
http://abc27.com/2016/09/02/pennsylvania-couple-waives-arraignment-in-child-giving-case/

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Pennsylvania Child Protection News Sept – Oct 2015

Number of uninsured Pa. kids declined slightly last year, study finds

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – October 28, 2015

More than 139,000 Pennsylvania children did not have health insurance last year, according to a study released Wednesday.

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/health/2015/10/28/Number-of-uninsured-Pennsylvania-children-declined-slightly-last-year-study-finds/stories/201510280166

Children & Youth Services makes life-saving changes in wake of 9-year-old’s death

FOX43 – September 2, 2015

It’s been just over a year since the horrific death of nine-year-old Jarrod Tutko Jr., who died after a lifetime of neglect. His death revealed dysfunction and disarray within Dauphin County Children and Youth Services. Caseworkers visited the home, and there were repeated calls for help- including from a hospital and a school, on behalf of his siblings. But in the end, the calls were missed, and Jarrod was found dead weighing 16 pounds. The state placed CYS on a provisional license after it was revealed that caseworkers were overworked and “didn’t know how to do their jobs,” sometimes crying at their desks.

http://fox43.com/2015/09/02/children-youth-services-make-life-saving-changes-in-wake-of-9-year-olds-death/

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People That Know Child Abuse

Know how traumatized children respond to more punishment

We know how valuable the ACES, Adverse Childhood Experience healing methods are in mending children and ending the growing public health problem generational child abuse has become.

We are familiar with, 3 strikes you’re out, Lock’em up, and throw away the key

As references to the litany of punishment practices our nation is built on –

and the damage more punishment does to millions of damaged children that are living in abusive homes.

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Peter Hutchinson’s School Fix Is Easy and Overdue (share this)

Former Minneapolis School Superintendent Peter Hutchinson’s classroom fix for remote learning COVID problems is a terrific and necessary solution that can be implemented economically and quickly.  It’s a simple and will be popular in every community.

We should not wait – this is truly an expanding crisis for school children in many communities.

Here’s why; Pre-COVID, Minnesota schools have for years maintained an over the top student achievement gap with some of the lowest reading, math and history scores in the nation.

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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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