Speaker’s Bio

Long time CASA volunteer guardian ad Litem, Fonder of Kids at Risk Action (KARA)Founding board member of CASA MN & Friends of Children (now CASA Cares), author (1000 articles Star Tribune & the book INVISIBLE CHILDREN, national speaker (including United Nations & Women Prison Warden’s conference), CASA volunteer Hennepin County guardian ad-Litem, founding board member of CASAMN, CASA CARES), and Kids At Risk Action.

Mike advocates for abused and neglected children making the rest of us see the profound impact the crisis of childhood trauma is having on our schools, public health, public safety and neighborhoods.

Poor public perception & misguided policies, lack of institutional transparency, awareness and accountability are compounding serious failures in our child protection systems that directly impact each and every one of us in many ways.

By generating conversation around the issue and exposing facts that have for too long been left unspoken, Tikkanen brings attention to ACES, (adverse childhood experiences) and solutions that reverse trends of generational child abuse to make our communities safer and happier places.

Details

Speaking For The Weakest & Most Vulnerable Among Us – Star Tribune Articles

It hurts me to see people in high positions who are responsible for child protection make claims that there’s nothing to see here, things are just fine, child protection is working as it needs to (“Counties are committed to safety of kids,” April 25).

There is very little fine about it, and by accident or by design, information about it is hard to find and rarely published. By almost any measure and from my perspective over many years as a volunteer guardian ad litem within the system, there are not enough resources, record keeping is poor, child protection cases need to be over the top to get into the system, and children stand only a small chance of getting what they need to recover from the years of abuse and neglect they have suffered.

Things have gotten worse since Minnesota went from screening out one-third of the cases to screening out two-thirds. Screening out 90 percent of cases (as four Minnesota counties do) is a very big deal.

Details

Speaking From The Heart In Reno

Wow & Thank You CASA Reno for the opportunity to give the keynote talk at your CASA volunteer recognition dinner. Cathy & I had the pleasure of getting to know your very fun city & many of your committed & engaged child protection volunteers.

High energy, an elegant atmosphere, combined with a terrific dinner, a very professional video tribute to volunteers, and superbly executed silent auction made the “Speaking From The Heart” event a most memorable experience.

My best wishes and admiration for CASA Reno & all of the dedicated individuals that make your organization a necessary & powerful voice for Nevada’s vulnerable children.

Details

Sports, & Entertainment Vs Children, Education, & Public Safety

The largest public subsidy in Minnesota history was the Northwest Airlines subsidy in the mid 1990s. The NWA subsidy amounted to around $600 million. In 1992, NWA employed around 11,000 people in the state; average salary of $40,000 a year.

The Vikings directly employ fewer than 130 people, only a handful of which work year-round, and 53 of whom are athletes.

The Metrodome employs 19 full-time workers.

Details

Standing In A Soviet Bread Line (thank you James Eli Shiffer)

Trying to get information out of the government can feel like standing in a Soviet bread line” gives the reader a sense that the bread will be there, maybe stale or moldy but there will be bread to take home if you wait long enough (which is not true regarding getting information out of the government about child protection issues).

You can wait all day, all week, all year and never find out about how many five and six year old children were on drugs, were sexually molested, tried to commit suicide or were grievously injured by their parents or caregivers last year (the information exists).

Nor will you have access to the necessary paperwork made available to Brandon Stahl at the Star Tribune in his investigation into the death of Eric Dean without a major newspaper filing a freedom of information act and spending thousands of dollars to placate a County that wants no part of your investigation (8 children have died under similar circumstances since Eric Dean’s death).

Transparency of the data surrounding abused and neglected children (not names – data) would show just how impactful the problems of child protection, mental health, generational child abuse, are as a giant institutional and financial burden that has evolved out of lawmakers not understanding the most important building blocks in making productive citizens (instead of manufacturing state wards like we are doing today).

The reason transparency of this unhappy data is important is that without information there appears to be no problem. If there is no problem, there is no discussion. No discussion = no attention, no solution and the child is abused again (this time by the community). Governor Dayton’s proposals need our support.

Let your Legislator know that All adults are the protectors of all children.

KARA is looking for a few new committed board members to help us expand our reach and function. Please contact mike@invisiblechildren.org

Details

State of MN Falls Behind In Abuse Inquiries

State Falls Behind In Abuse Inquiries (today’s Star Trib headlines)

The sentence seems harmless unless you are a five year old child tied to a bed, left alone for days without food, beaten and sodomized, prostituted as a 7 year old, or left alone in a crib for days without food or contact.

These were my first experience with child abuse as a volunteer Hennepin County guardian ad-Litem.

The backlog of 724 cases (double what it was 18 months ago) means that children will wait for their sexual abuse, beatings, and neglect to be investigated.

Details

State Ward Children As Medical Guinea Pigs (or parents withholding medical treatment for religious reasons?)

Justina Pelletier’s sad case of medical experimentation on state wards in Massachusetts and the religious freedom to deny children with treatable diseases medical care in so many states, proves the awful truth that children have no significant rights in this nation. Almost five hundred children have died in Florida after DHS contact, more than seventy children died in California from 2008 to 2011, and the Governor of Kentucky (Steve Beshear) hid the evidence of dozens of children murdered by their parents.

Consider that

* thousands of five, six, and seven year old children in child protective services in this nation are prescribed psychotropic medications to mask their terrible behavioral problems (generally without any significant therapy), &

* the explosive growth of privatized detention centers and prisons that provide inadequate and poorly supervised services for at risk youth which has lead to the exponential growth of prison populations and preteen moms,

and the picture of how America values its children becomes pretty gloomy.

That America pays day care workers about the same as it pays food service workers really shows the low value of our youngest citizens. Most other industrialized nations demand more training and credentials of their daycare workers and they pay them more (a genuine indication that children have value in those societies).

State ward children used as guinea pigs in medical experimentation needs way more scrutiny than it receives as does the consumption of Prozac like drugs on very young children.

America’s youngest citizens need more rights to safety, health, and well-being (sign our pet

Details

Statistics & Data About America’s Abused Children

This page is for those of you who know the value of data and the importance of tracking information about the issues of child abuse.  KARA will work to update it regularly and we encourage you the reader to send compelling statistical information in this area.  KARA will publish it if it fits – especially…

Details

Stealing Candy From Minnesota Babies (thank you Safe Passage for Children of MN)

If you live with, work with or know at risk children, you know how your community values children. Not much. Since 2004, America had remained 3rd from the bottom on spending for children among the developed nations.

Not long ago, America ranked at the top of quality of life indices and our children had good schools, healthcare and a good chance of becoming productive citizens leading happy lives. American children don’t get healthcare, quality daycare or education and critical prenatal care is very rare.

America’s at risk youth become dysfunctional juveniles, felons and preteen moms living in poverty, jail and prison on their way to becoming the long term problem their parents were to the community.

If you live in Arizona, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, or New Mexico (states treating children the worst) you have known for many years how badly your state treats children and why your schools don’t work, public health and public safety are endangered and communities of poverty outnumber communities of hope and happiness. Share this with your friends and networks (especially your friends in Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas & New Mexico)

Details

Stone Arch Foundation Audio Presentation – 30 minutes + questions (recorded by iDream.tv)

Working with abused and neglected children as a volunteer county guardian ad-litem, Mike speaks directly about the financial and physical disaster happening daily to children, schools, and neighborhoods because of poor public policy and the dysfunction of well- meaning people and institutions.

Visit www.InvisibleChildren.org and www.CasaMN.org

Details

Stop Child Abuse Now Radio Show Interview;

I will be talking about my experiences as a CASA child protection volunteer on an upcoming interview with Bill Murry & his Stop Child Abuse Now / Community Matters Radio Show http://naasca.org/index.html on December 12th Monday Night 730pm Call in phone: 323-552-6150

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bill-murray/2009/10/13/community-matters–9pm-et-6pm-pt

Details

Stop The Rape & Abuse of America’s Children – Get Involved In Invisible Children’s Mission

WOW & amazement for Jason Russell’s Invisible Children Campaign to stop Joseph Kony’s rape & militarization of voiceless Ugandan children.

What a terrific example of what one person (Jason) can do.

It is stunning that in just a few short years www.InvisibleChildren.com (not Invisiblechildren.org )has raised the awareness of millions of Americans to the tragedy taking place in Africa destroying the lives of thousands of Northern Ugandan children.

Jason’s efforts are absolute proof that individuals can create powerful change. KARA would like to accomplish a similar change for America’s abused & neglected children.

Details

Substance Abuse & the Cycle of Family Abuse (from Steps to Recovery)

Substance abuse is a major contributing factor to domestic violence in the United States. The link between the use of alcohol and narcotics, and the use of aggression, physical and mental violence against partners is part of a desperate cycle in our society. It is a cycle that can, and does, affect our children too – one that can make them future abusers.

Studies are showing that a high proportion of adult abusers and victims have some kind of addiction to alcohol or drugs. Here’s some stats:

25-50% of men who commit domestic violence have an addiction issue
90% of these men used a substance on the day they abused/attacked someone
42% of victims have a substance abuse problem
75% of those victims have an abusive partner who also has a substance abuse problem

Details

Summer Is No Vacation For Abused Kids

Thousands of names ahead of them on a list for subsidized day care that won’t provide help for years to come, means that any available family member, friend, or neighbor is considered a better option than leaving a three, five, or seven year old unattended (or is it?)

Leaving your child with that drunken or meth using uncle or aunt, the friend with the mental health issues, the dangerous or abusive teenager. Children need and deserve better choices.

Details

Support KARA Pages & Projects

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children Please donate now and support these pages & 1) Our documentary on the needs of at-risk children and breaking the cycle of abuse 2) Our second book, a collection of micro-bios following at-risk children through their journey Accepting all donations, small and large. Their lives will not…

Details

Support MN CASA Guardian ad-Litem Program (with a year end gift)

support CASA MN with a year end gift here;

“To give a child a volunteer advocate is to give them a voice. To give them a voice is to give them hope, and to give them hope is to give them the world.

I believe that with all my heart.”

Pamela Butler, Former Foster Child

At CASA Minnesota we believe that every child deserves a voice. CASA volunteers provide the voice for children who are experiencing times of great vulnerability due to abuse and neglect. Support from people like you means that we can assist in recruiting committed advocates to be that voice for children involved in juvenile court proceedings. Your tax-deductible investment in our nonprofit program allows us to provide resources to enhance recruitment, training, retention and support for more than 470 CASA Minnesota volunteers every year – caring, knowledgeable people who make sure the best interests of these children are served.

Thanks to support from our community, our volunteers are the dedicated champions that children need while facing the unknown. Consider Janell. She was just over four years old when she entered the court system. Sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend, parental rights were eventually terminated when reunification was not an option. Her volunteer advocate saw a solution. He was vocal in supporting adoption by her foster mother with whom Janell had developed a strong attachment. Now 11 years old, Janell plays acoustic guitar, writes songs, does yoga with her adoptive mom, plays basketball and soccer, and likes math and reading. She is able to see her siblings on a regular basis as well. Without a volunteer advocate taking part in this process, this may not have been a successful outcome for this child.

Our mission at CASA Minnesota is to assist in recruiting, training and supporting the important volunteers who advocate for abused and neglected children like Janell. Will you please consider a year-end gift to help us continue our important work? Your donation will make it possible for us to give a voice of hope to children and support for those who serve them. You can change the life of a child in need. You can give by going to https://givemn.org/organization/Casa-Minnesota .

Details

Support Safe Passage For Children – Children Are Not Burgers

A value proposition is the amount you are willing to pay for a certain level of quality.

Take McDonalds for instance. The value proposition is to pay a low price for acceptable quality. If you get it, that’s a good value. (Except for the French fries, which are a great value!)

The current value proposition in child welfare is similar. We pay staff modest amounts and they meet basic requirements such as investigating reports in 24 hours and getting kids to court every three months.

If that’s all we want, it’s a good value.

But it’s the wrong value proposition.

We want high quality outcomes for children and will have to pay a realistic price to get them. That will cost more, but the results will be worth it.

Details

Support Safe Passage For Children (abuse continues when it is not investigated)

Safe Passage For Children is promoting legislation that will require counties to keep data on abuse reports which will identify when children are repeatedly reported as abused. As a long time CASA guardian-ad-Litem, I can recall plenty of instances where children were re-reported again and again before anyone looked into it. In one case, 49 police calls to the home in which a seven year old was prostituted (over four years). The definition of malfeasance and torture of a child.

Send this Link to your State Representative and anyone else you think might support Rich Gehrman and his Safe Passage for MN children.

Details

Support The Guardian Ad-Litem Program For Abused & Neglected Children

The mission of CASA Minnesota is to broadly support volunteer advocacy on behalf of abused and neglected children in our state. We believe that every abused and neglected child in Minnesota court proceedings should have a volunteer advocate working for their best interests. In pursuit of this goal, we do the following:

Assist in the recruitment and retention of Minnesota volunteer guardians ad litem
Provide initial and continuing education and support to Minnesota volunteer guardians ad litem
Increase public awareness about child welfare and guardians ad litem
Provide a network for communication among Minnesota volunteer guardians ad litem
Advocate for legislative change, public policies and best practices that enhance the quality of advocacy and care for abused and neglected children

Details

Supporting America’s Economy With Bigger Prisons & Longer Sentencing (thank you Jonathan Swift)

he stun gunning, choking, obscene language, and over the top violence by police to kids at the Illinois emergency youth center shows just how deplorable America’s policies for At Risk Children are.
Well meaning, often under trained and under resourced youth center staff call on police to help with uncontrollable youth. Under trained police respond with a level of violence appropriate during a prison riot. Note (below) Sheriff Mulch’s attitude towards dealing with children at the youth center. Perhaps he shouldn’t.
– See more at: http://www.invisiblechildren.org/category/crime-and-courts/#sthash.lLOoRebb.dpuf

Details