Children & The Supreme Court (from the Children’s Defense Fund)

The impact of the Supreme Court’s decisions in the coming year are huge.  If the Court overturns the ACA, Millions of children will be uninsured or lose affordable coverage that does not meet their pediatric-specific needs.

Children aging out of the foster cares system will lose affordable health coverage, mental health and substance abuse coverage and access to preventative services because of pre-existing conditions and there will lifetime limits on care for the seriously ill.

Foster care children will see the pool of highly qualified foster and adoptive parents shrink if

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1 In 3 Children Investigated For Child Abuse by 18 (Washington University Study)

As a long time volunteer County CASA guardian ad Litem it has been hard to comprehend the explosive growth of child abuse in my lifetime. This study (lead author Hyunil Kim PhD Student at the Brown School at Washington University St Louis) published in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health is troubling on several levels.

First, to reach numbers this high by only including reports of child abuse that met County standards for a case to be investigated, indicates that this already high number (37% overall & 53% for Black Children) is possibly even higher

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Policing, COVID & Abused Children (share with your law enforcement contacts & save a child)

Conflicts between officer training and the children they are policing.

Policing youth with mental health problems is a growing problem.  This article sheds light on solutions to this intractable core community problem.

From a law enforcement perspective, police officers are at significant risk for injury and even

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Grace’s Story (Thank you ChildrensRights.org)

Grace, a Black 15-year old who was sent to a juvenile detention center for failure to submit schoolwork.

In an email to Grace’s caseworker, her teacher stated that Grace was “not out of alignment with most of my other students.”

Tens of thousands of children have struggled to adjust to the online learning environment the coronavirus created. ProPublica cites 15,000 high schoolers in Los Angeles alone failing to log in or complete schoolwork. Yet, a judge presiding for Oakland County Family Court Division, ruled in May that not completing schoolwork violated Grace’s probation.

It’s impossible to determine the frequency of cases like Grace’s, but one thing is clear. Children’s health and safety must be prioritized. We will continue urging states to stop admissions and to release kids from juvenile facilities. No child should be in juvenile detention for missing homework.

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Child Suicide Reporting (3 weeks ending 10.17.20)

These articles reflect current trends in child suicide & self-harm in America today. Only a fraction of child/youth suicides are successful. The vast majority of self-inflicted harm remains invisible. Mental health services are badly needed by young people today as the COVID pandemic is locking children into toxic homes with little or no access to the adults that could help them.

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The Death of Arianna Hunziker & Lawsuits

Arianna Hunziker was “starved, dehydrated, bound, immobilized and abandoned in a home littered in trash and smelling of of urine”.  Foster parents Sherrie and Bryce Dirk went to prison for murdering Arianna.  There is something terribly disturbing about a State sanctioned foster family killing a two year old State Ward child that needs to see the light of day.

The lawsuit in today’s paper points out that another MN community is having a hard time with either the resources, training or protocol for keeping at risk children safe.  Being a foster child should not be one more horrific encounter with child abuse.  It’s plenty hard when your birth parents make your suffering so bad that a judge removes you from their home to place you with a family you have never seen before.

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Restorative Justice – Veterans & Children (saves money and lives)

Woo Hoo – MN passed a restorative justice act for veterans – diverting at-risk veterans toward probation and social service programs instead of jail time when they commit certain crimes.

Why wouldn’t we?

The World Health Organization defines torture as extended exposure to violence and deprivation. Living in a war zone, bombs going off nearby or a buddy shot dead in front of you changes the brain.

Most of us want soldiers that have experienced traumas in the service of this nation to be treated for their mental health issues and have a path to rebuild their lives as productive citizens.

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Children, Politics & Voting On Tuesday

Americans have always talked big about supporting equality, keeping children safe, supporting schools & better conditions for young families.

Today, our pro-child, pro-family discourse has become so vicious that many Americans rationalize our government taking immigrant babies and children from their mothers and then losing them so that these mothers may never see their children again.  Children have become political footballs in immigration, education, health care and law enforcement and this should disturb us.

A great deal of money and political will has gone into denigrating immigrants, public schools, teachers and the front-line workers trying to keep children healthy and safe.

Tuesday’s election is about this.

Which candidates support more access and more resources for education, health and mental health and an end to racial injustice?

“What we do to our children, they will do to society” (Greek philosopher Pliny the Elder 79 AD)

Please vote – the next generation needs you to speak for them.

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Foster Care, Adoption & the Catholic Church

It hurts me to see the Catholic Church fighting tooth and nail to forbid gay couples from adopting State Ward children (Washington Post 8.31.18). Life is hard enough for abused children in state systems short of foster care and adoptive homes without enforcing mean spirited church dogma on couples well suited for the task of raising traumatized children with many deep and painful troubles. In fact, maybe better suited than most. Think about it. Growing up gay is a trauma for most to start with. Especially for those old enough to be married and able to adopt who came into this community when it was absolutely uncomfortable to come out and declare a gay lifestyle.

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Child Care – Brutal Truths & Best Practices

Michele Norris Star Tribune article on MN child care is just the tip of this iceberg. Did you know that the U.S. used to have the best and most affordable daycare in the world?

Today, the COVID pandemic has forced many daycare centers to close and others to raise prices significantly due to social distancing and sanitation requirements.

in many states, single Parents pay over 50% of their income for infant center care and married parents with 2 children pay over 100% of their household income for center based care (or they would if they could make it work).  Minnesotans pay over 15 thousand dollars for infant care (when public college tuition is 11 thousand dollars.  20 years ago, there were 34 names on the waiting list for MN’s subsidized daycare.  That ended when the new governor took those state funds away and the list grew to over 7000 families.  Some states have never provided meaningful help for families struggling to afford daycare.

For a nation claiming to value children – one could argue it’s for the dollars they bring in and not their future role as citizens.  Drunk uncle/boyfriend daycare is a growing sadness the media…

For a nation claiming to value children – one could argue it’s for the dollars they bring in and not their future role as citizens. Drunk uncle/boyfriend daycare is an awful thing the media…

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Winning the War Against At Risk Children (& saving our city)

and 63 recent car-jackings (over the last 39 days) many include vicious assaults & mostly committed by teens – kids as young as 12, puts the lie to that belief.

For decades, the vast majority of serious and violent crime has been committed by youth and young adults.  In these 63 recent car-jackings, women are beaten, one man was shot dead and another dragged as he tried to stop them from stealing his car with his wife and child inside.

During this time of pandemic and civil unrest, it’s apparent that our city is much more dangerous than it was a year ago.

What is less apparent, are the key drivers that have needed our attention for a very long time that (if addressed) could dramatically reduce the anxiety, violence and unrest in our communities.

Before, when schools, health care and public safety seemed to work, we have had little concern with how or why things work and the luxury of not paying attention to the people, programs and policies involved.

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Schools Closed – What We Need to Know

Poor districts are suffering more domestic violence & substance abuse from from front line worker stress, poverty and job loss making online learning that much harder for children.

Many poor families are crowded into small spaces, lacking necessary internet access and hardware for adequate online learning.

This NY Times article barely acknowledges the social and economic costs of abused and neglected children locked into toxic homes during COVID.  Abused children have no teacher or other mandated reporter to recognize and respond to their traumas.  There is no comparison to having a trusted teacher to privately speak to in school and a video chat with the abuser in the room or nearby.

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Lawsuits and the Death of Two Year Old Arianna Hunziker

Arianna was wrapped in sheets, left alone in a closed room and slowly starved to death. Foster parents Sherrie and Bryce Dirk will go to prison for murdering Arianna. This solves nothing.

There is something terribly disturbing about a State sanctioned foster family starving a 3 year old State Ward child to death that needs to see the light of day.

Arianna must not have had a County social worker (today’s Star Tribune article …

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Good Bye David Strand – Founding KARA Board Member and Best Friend

KARA’s Founding Board member and best friend David Strand has passed away after a long illness.

He brought a wealth of experience, passion and commitment to the cause of America’s abused and neglected children.

David came to know a great deal about how children are treated in other advanced nations because he helped to craft public policies on children’s issues while living and working in Northern Europe.

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COVID Burnout; Health Care, Teachers, Law enforcement, Social workers & what we could do

Our communities are only as safe and healthy as the institutions that create the environment we live in.

A brief search of front line workers in education, health care, law enforcement or social work shows a growing exodus by retirement, medical leave or just walking away as COVID is making the work they do an even more extreme sacrifice than it was pre pandemic.

For those of us that live with, know or love a person engaged in keeping our children educated or the rest of us safe and healthy,we know the stresses facing these people and the fear and danger of bringing a secondary trauma or risk of COVID home at the end of the shift.

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The Calculus of Community (+COVID)

What is the equation for a healthy human being or a healthy community?

If there is an equation, the wrath of COVID is becoming a huge negative central to the calculation.

We will need to find an equal positive to offset the negative if we are to manage the stress and trauma this pandemic is visiting upon millions of at risk children and their families today.

Caring for others when times are stressful and fearful becomes harder for all of us and the institutions created to do so.

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Avoiding the Mental Health Conversation (nothing to be proud of)

Thank you Chris Serres for reporting on the troubling development at St Joseph’s Hospital in Brainerd.

This is one of our community’s (nation’s) most serious health problems.

St Joe’s failure to admit mental health crisis patients reflects the growing nightmare of how medical institutions are dealing with mental health at a management level.

Refusing help to our most troubled citizens (people in crisis) means more sad & awful things happen to the rest of us.

People in crisis…

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2021 – A More Responsive New Year For At Risk Children

If there is a silver lining in this time of worldwide pain and anxiety, it will be a recognition that rebuilding families is necessary for a healthy community.

Amid the chaos of our pandemic, the trauma and misery of children locked in toxic homes is hard to see. The media, politics and confusion on a worldwide basis are focused on vaccines, reporting and management of this frightening virus.

Struggling families facing poverty, job loss, combative politics, distrust of institutions and the steady increase of COVIDs scary reality need help to survive.

Many moms and dads do not have coping skills for managing the pressure and fear of this moment. Stressed out families drink and drug more, experience more tension, conflict and domestic violence – inflicting severe collateral damage on their children.

If we can grasp the simple reality that “What we do to our children, they will do to our society” (Greek Philosopher Pliny 2000 years ago) America can rebuild communities and a nation that once led the world in quality of life.

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Impossible Questions & Painful Statistics

Are children property of their parents even if those parents

re violent, addicted, severely mentally ill or dangerously criminal?

Harder question.

Do teen and preteen mothers own their fetuses & babies

even if they abuse their children,

are addicted and out of control with little understanding of how

or ability to raise a child safely?…

Is this child’s child doomed prior to birth?

Children have no voice at the legislature, the media or in the home they are born into.  They have no choice in who raises them or what is done to them.

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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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Aging Out of Foster Care In the Time of COVID

COVID is coming down hard on foster children.
Pre-COVID, 80% of aged out foster children went on to lead dysfunctional lives.  Foster care shortcomings are a social problem that is systematically forgotten, specifically for the 23,000 youth that age out of foster care… the rate of homelessness for these youth, with one third of aged out youth spending their first night on the streets. Furthermore, 14 to 26 percent of homeless adults in Minneapolis were former foster care participants according to research conducted by the Hennepin County Community Services Department.

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