Advocating For Minnesota Children Right Now (thank you Safe Passage for Children)

Dear Safe Passage Advocate,

This is the final week of the legislative session and the two bills that will have the most benefit to children are still in play and being negotiated by the Governor and legislative leaders.

Let’s do everything we can to make sure funding for these priorities ends up in the final package.

Please call or email the Governor’s Office, your state Senator, and your state Representative now with the brief message below.

If you prefer to leave a phone message, an easy way to get phone numbers for your legislators is to send a text to #520 – 200 – 2223 with your zip code, you will receive numbers back for your state and federal representatives.

The Governor’s number is #651 – 201 – 3400.

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After Traumatic Event, Early Intervention Reduces Odds of PTSD in Children by 73 Percent

My experience in the CASA guardian ad-Litem program was impacted by the harsh realities that become part of an abused child’s life after experiencing the trauma of extended exposure to violence and deprivation. Their lives are damaged in a manner that makes it hard to make friends, learn in school, or lead a productive life.

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Aging Out of Foster Care (lawmakers ignoring a growing problem)

MN Law Makers are ignoring a growing demographic at great social and economic cost.
Foster care shortcomings are a social problem that is systematically forgotten, specifically for the 23,000 youth that age out of foster care, that is, turn 18 without a permanent family and are no longer eligible for government care, each year according to U.S Newswire.

The lack of government commitment and action to this cause has put our communities at risk for an abundance of overlapping economic and social costs.
The most concerning fault is 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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ALERT For MN Child Protection – Rolling Back Child Protection Reforms (from Safe Passage for Children MN)

This week county social services directors and the Department of Human Services (DHS) presented a plan to legislators that would significantly weaken reforms approved by the Governor’s Child Protection Task Force. Items they recommended dropping include:http://safepassagemn.com/counties-propose-rolling-back-child-protection-reforms/

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All Talk & No Action – Do We Value Children or Just Talk About It?

How we value children shows up directly in the way we treat people helping us raise our children.

It hurts me to see political misunderstanding and an accepted practice of misleading people about something as important as this nation’s children. Reading the paper one would think that our problems lie at the feet of service providers (teachers, social workers and foster parents to name the main scapegoats).

At election time, politicians make political hay blaming teachers for failed schools (with public support).

Institutional failures are not the fault of people doing the hard daily work of foster care, teaching or social work.

These folks work within a system designed by policy makers and administrators (most of whom are very well paid – not a bad thing, but a thing to remember when looking for the responsible party).

Blaming worker bees in child protection is just as wrong as blaming law enforcement officers for allowing terrible crimes. Can law enforcement sue policy makers and counties for making their work impossible? – we may soon see).

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Almost Half The Children Dying From Abuse In Colorado Were In Or Known To Child Protection Workers (72 of 175)

Today’s Denver Post Article reports a just completed state child protection workload study that indicates a need for 574 more child protection workers to keep abused and neglected children safe in the state (a 49% increase). Of the 150 CP workers interviewed, 100 felt that their case load was unmanageable.

Only 25% of these workers had face to face contact with their caseload children on a monthly basis. That’s pretty cold. Monthly contact is not enough to start with. The system can be so cold and removed and the family and child are so at risk.

There is currently a call for a Colorado Child Protection Ombudsman, who would investigate complaints within the child welfare system. That would be a start towards recording and responding to the biggest problems faced by children, families, and the people trying to make the system work.

2 years ago the Post published a series about 175 Colorado children who died of abuse and neglect (72 of them known within the child protection system). The video on this site makes a compelling argument for adequate reporting, more resources, better training for workers, and smaller caseloads – monthly visits are not enough.

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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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America; The Worst Child Abuse Record In The Industrialized World

This BBC report (video link) articulates the sorrowful truths that this guardian ad-Litem has reported on over the years.

It’s frightening and moving proof of the epidemic that is preventable child death in America and the fast growing army of future child abusers.

Why is it that important reporting like this are created by other nations (and not right here in America)?

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America: 20 Times More Gun Homicides Than The Rest Of The Developed World

America at that time had slid far from the top in almost all of the important measurements.

Today’s Institutes of Medicine & National Research Council 378 page study demonstrates that our nation is at the bottom of almost every health indicator, early death, the world’s leader in gun death, and U.S. women are now second to last in life expectancy.

David Strand’s study determined that programs helpful to young families and children used regularly in other nations always lead to safer, healthier, and more educated societies.

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America’s Children, Mental Health, Addiction, Medication

Children traumatized by violence and neglect have serious developmental disabilities that don’t go away with age. 80% of youth aging out of foster care are leading dysfunctional lives.

Adding to the 3 million children reported to child protection in America each year, are the 3.5 million children on stimulant and anti-psychotic medications. Recent studies indicate that almost half of U.S. youth have mental health issues. About 2/3s of the youth in juvenile justice are diagnosed with mental health problems; half of them have multiple, serious diagnosis.

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America’s Definition of Abuse

Child abuse redefines the way a child thinks and sees the world. Abused children have severely limited learning and coping skills. An abused child’s mental development has been arrested by an anxiety and fear that supercede the learning of other personal and social skills. Without personal and social skills, and a lessening of the anxieties and fears, Abused children fail at school, don’t make friends, and keep a terribly low self image.

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America’s Families (From Grief Speaks)

75% of children/adolescents in chemical dependency hospitals are from single-parent families. (Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA)
1 out of 5 children have a learning, emotional, or behavioral problem due to the family system changing. (National Center for Health Statistics)
More than one half of all youths incarcerated for criminal acts lived in one-parent families when they were children. (Children’s Defense Fund)
Nine million American children face risk factors that may hinder their ability to become healthy and productive adults. One in seven children deal with at least four of the risk factors, which include growing up in a single-parent household…The survey also indicated that children confronting several risk factors are more likely to experience problems with concentration, communication, and health. (1999 Kids Count Survey – Annie E. Casey Foundation)

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America’s Science Phobia Ravages Children

The facts of recent demographic studies are mind boggling. In 2008, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shocked the nation with the news that fully a fourth of America’s teen girls now have a sexually transmitted disease, with rates still rising. Earlier the Alan Guttmacher Institute announced results of a study comparing teens in the U.S. with Great Britain, Canada, France and Sweden. By far U.S. teenagers have the highest rates of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs), pregnancy, births and abortions. For example, the teen pregnancy rate of the U.S. is four times the French rate, three times the Swedish rate and twice as high as Great Britain and Canada. America’s policy of turning its back on our youth is nothing short of shocking in its irresponsibility.

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America’s Amazingly False Answers To Mental Health Issues

Criminalizing mental health,…, denied treatment,…Michael Schuler stabbed himself in both eyes after spending 40 days in jail”) identifies the iceberg tip that is the crisis of this nation’s failure to deal with mental health issues. “Hundreds of inmates with dangerous psychiatric problems languish in county jails” is repeated in hundreds of county jails and hundreds of prison facilities throughout America.

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American Crime Costs & Statistics

Louisiana (the World’s Prison Capitol), Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma & several other states have incarceration rates 20 times that of incarceration rates in most other industrialized nations. The best prisons in the world release good neighbors back into the community American prisons release hardened criminals with mental health problems and an 80% change of recidivism within five years.

Federal Prisons are 131% of design capacity – 2015 18 states are over capacity. 800% increase in women in prison since 1980.

These statistics and research calculate crime in America today and its cost…

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American Exceptionalism; Child Daycare

This extensive article from the New Republic clearly defines the nightmare that is child daycare for so many American children and infants. Not only is this unregulated field filled with underpaid, under-trained service providers, but poor people (about half of U.S. families) can’t afford or can barely afford any day care for their children.

A good percentage of America’s 8.2 million children under five spend part of their week in care outside the home.

America’s weakest and most vulnerable citizens are too often left in the care of drunk uncles and worse because low wage parent just don’t earn enough to pay for daycare.

The only time we read about the pain cause by inadequate daycare is when a baby chokes to death on a condom or has its brains dashed out on a wall.

Subsidized day care not only creates a safe place for the child, but a smarter citizen, and a happier and more productive family living in a better community.

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Amy Sherman’s Blog for Florida’s At Risk Children

Postscript… I too have had 4 year old and 7 year old suicides as a Hennepin County guardian ad-Litem and a judge that has shared with me the pages of documented Prozac, Ritalin, and other Psychotropics given to very young children. This conversation needs to take place at a higher level (where something can be done about it).

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