Adoption, Kinship and Grandparents (a tribute)

The saddest letters KARA receives come from grandparents that have watched their grandchildren horridly abused and then kept out of the loop while a cold and efficient system moves the child into a home and cutting off all further contact for the grandparents.

Almost 8 million children in America live with grandparents and other relatives. Most of them receive little or not help from governmental agencies.

Not all counties and states appreciate that it is easier for a child to restart a painfully disrupted life with someone they are connected to and have memories of than waking up in a home they have never seen before with people they don’t know.

Grandparents often don’t know about the court proceedings that are about to forever alter their relationship with grandchildren as they may live in another city or have become estranged from their badly behaving children.

Even if grandparents know of court proceedings, it can be very hard for them to have standing in the court or navigate the system once they are in it.

The saddest letters KARA receives come from grandparents that have watched their grandchildren horridly abused and then kept out of the loop while a cold and efficient system moves the child into a home and cutting off all further contact for the grandparents.

Everyone needs a lawyer and lawyers are expensive. I know grandparents that have spent tens of thousands of dollars trying desperately to provide a safe and familiar home for their grandchild.

It doesn’t seem right that money should be a biggest part of an adoption equation for grandma and grandpa (or other relatives) to make their argument for custody.

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Adoptees Have Answers New Website Launch

http://aha.mn is an exciting new program to promote connections among adopted individuals of all ages, ethnicities and adoption types while maximizing their lifelong welfare and self-fulfillment

AHA believes…

…being adopted has lifelong consequences for those who were adopted at any age
…adoptees benefit from connecting with other adoptees in a variety of ways
…adoptees are the experts on adoption
…non-adoptees benefit from the knowledge and life wisdom of adopted individuals.

Congratulations on making a great idea come to life.

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Adoptees Have Answers – Best Org Ever

HA recently launched an online support group open to Minnesota adoptees and fosterees over age 18. Registered members are able to interact with one another 24/7 using the discussion board. Adoptees Julie Hart and Amy Fjellman facilitate the group, ‘live’, the first Tuesday of every month from 6 to 7 p.m. CST and check in with the discussion postings periodically. This is a secure environment that generates anonymous usernames to protect the privacy of its members. If you would like the join the conversation, visit this link to fill out four simple questions: We look forward to meeting you!

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Admitting I Have Problem Is The Hardest Part (thank you Brandon Stahl for identifying the problem)

Brandon Stahl’s reporting has been the best thing to happen for Minnesota’s abused and neglected children in my lifetime.

As a longtime volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I have seen an underfunded and not too healthy child protection system become sclerotic, insular, and unresponsive to the needs of our most vulnerable children.

The slow tortured death of Eric Dean was only reported in a newspaper because he died. Had he lived, we would not know about it. I have children in my CASA guardian ad-Litem caseload that suffered just like Eric, and no one knows about their suffering but me (and people that read my words).

Over the past twenty years, I have watched underfunded, under-trained, under-resourced child protection workers (including judges, educators, day care and health providers, foster and adoptive families, try to work with cold and unresponsive systems that are now creating exactly what they were designed to stop.

I have seen lives of very young children destroyed forever because easily available information was ignored. Plenty of children in Minnesota have had Eric Dean type torture that no one knows about (because our systems are overwhelmed and unresponsive).

Governor Dayton’s proposed investigation should uncover the sad truth that no child protection information gets public attention unless a child has died violently.

The fact that most counties don’t keep past reports of screened out cases and are prohibited from considering past reports when evaluating new charges of child abuse should be seen for the awful impact it is having on children living in toxic homes (it leaves children in homes where they are molested, neglected, tortured, and murdered).

That Minnesota Counties don’t report death and near death of children as required by Federal Law is misfeasance, nonfeasance, or malfeasance and should be viewed as a crime worth punishment.

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Acting Like A Responsible Adult Part II

In the 1950’s I remember the public outrage when TV and newspapers uncovered senior citizens eating dog food out of cans and living under bridges. It was a a warm hearted, hot blooded citizen outcry that supported more social security for the aged, more health care, and more safety. Because of that outcry, politicians saw to it that support at many levels was increased to seniors.

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Across Ages, Youth Substance Abuse & Programs That Work

* a mentoring program; pairing an adult over 55 years of age with each youth between ages 9 and 13. The mentor spends at least two hours per week with the child doing recreational activities, providing tutoring, counseling, and assistance with community service (Across Ages, 2010).

* each youth spends one to two hours every week performing community service.

* social competence training; 26 weekly lessons that teach cognitive and behavioral approaches to dealing with problems and decisions. In particular, these skills are applied to the prevention of substance abuse and high-risk sexual behavior.

* involvement in family activities; Across Ages hosts monthly events that engage the youth, their families, and their mentors to strengthen the relationships between the children and the adults in their lives (Across Ages, 2010).

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ACES Connection (articles from April)

MARC Advisor: Brenda Jones Harden, PhD, ACEsConnection.com
Dr. Brenda Jones Harden is Associate Professor in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology at the University of Maryland College Park. Her research examines the developmental and mental health needs of children at environmental risk, especially those who have suffered maltreatment or trauma.

Colleges Need to Do More to Support Poor Students, PSMag.com
A new report from the Department of Education calls on schools to improve the graduation gap.

Mental Illness Mostly Caused by Life Events Not Genetics, Argue Psychologists, Telegraph.co.uk
While there has been some success in uncovering genes which make people more susceptible to various disorders, specialists say that the true causes of depression and anxiety are from life events and environment, and research should be directed towards understanding the everyday triggers.

The Growth of Concentrated Poverty Since the Recession, in 3 Infographics, CityLab.com
A new analysis by the Brookings Institution shows increases in two-thirds of the largest U.S. metros.

Don’t Let Defensiveness Stand in the Way of Personal Growth, PsychCentral.com
Defensive walls go up quickly when we feel unappreciated or disrespected. The walls are meant to keep out unfairness and negative evaluations of our choices and behaviors. But what it often shuts out is self improvement.

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ACE Study, Crime & Ramsey County (reprinted from 2006)

ACE research shows a strong historical pattern of criminality in families of child delinquents. Using Cohen’s estimates, we calculate the multi-generational “multiplier effect” to be between $3.4 and $11.5 million. In these families, criminality is likely to grow exponentially.

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ACE Study Highlights

The ACE study over 8 years & 440,000 people proves beyond doubt, that social workers, teachers, psychologists, judges, & pediatricians can not fix the millions and millions of American children suffering from adverse childhood experience.
These youngsters will continue to fail in school & life until we as a society agree to provide resources that will end the inter-generational transmission of child abuse.

Failure to care for children has cost America its leading nation status in most quality of life indices and certainly, safety and trust within our communities has made living in many American cities painful and dangerous for adults as well as children.

For a real learning experience, visit the people who created the ACE study, www.avahealth.org but by all means,

Watch the short version (at the end you can view other segments).

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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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Abused To Death While Child Protective Services Observed – 1000+ American Children in six years (AP report)

Brandon Stahl, the intrepid Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter spoke to KARA on camera about how difficult he found it to gather information on abused and murdered children in MN. Not making public information relevant to how a child died serves no good purpose. Who are we protecting by this secrecy?

When there is transparency, issues can be identified, addressed, and resolved. Until then, America’s child protection issues will remain under-reported, under-discussed, under-addressed, misunderstood, and never resolved.

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Abused Children In MN

Help prevent child abuse and neglect

Although not every Minnesotan is by law a mandated reporter, Minnesotans are greatly encouraged to report suspected child abuse and neglect to their county social service agency or law enforcement agency, and help in the following ways:

• Host neighborhood/community conversations and small get-togethers about how to strengthen and support families

• Reach out and connect parents to local resources, including parenting education programs, mental health/chemical health counseling, childcare, or financial assistance

• Provide support to your stressed, overworked, tired neighborhood parents by baby-sitting, inviting their children over to play, helping the youth with homework or volunteer to help out at school functions

• Join, or start, a local child abuse prevention council

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Abused and Neglected Children’s News (thank you Child Welfare In The News)

MA: Patrick To Address Controversy Surrounding Child Welfare Agency
Associated Press – January 27, 2014
The failure of the Department of Children and Families to keep track of a missing 5-year-old boy whose family had been under its supervision is inexcusable but has given the state an opportunity to re-examine the agency and make changes, Gov. Deval Patrick said Monday. Also: Gov. Patrick: DCF review to be completed by the spring: http://www.myfoxboston.com/story/24554144/2014/01/27/gov-patrick-to-discuss-dcf-probe#ixzz2rh7CVuAs
http://www.wbur.org/2014/01/27/patrick-speak-dcf-controversy

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Abused & Neglected Children Impacting Schools, Courts & Communities; What Works — What doesn’t

The cost to my community of each child failing to procure the tools to learn & become a productive citizen is far greater than just the drain on schools, crime & institutionalization. Consider the generational impact of their children having families just like the one that brought them into the world. The average number of children born to mothers incarcerated in Cook County Illinois jails has grown from 2 to 4 over the last ten years.

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