Vote For Minnesota’s At Risk Youth Here (today)

Please contact Senator Terri Bonoff and request her support of SF 2411. Sample language is provided below. Please personalize it, if you wish, and email it to Senator Bonoff at sen.terri.bonoff@senate.mn or call her at 651-296-4314. As the bill is being heard on Tuesday, please send your email or call as soon as possible.

Also, please let us know if you were able to call or email your Senator. Thank you!

Sincerely,

Johnna K O’Neill
Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota
(507) 993-2925
johnna@safepassagemn.org
www.safepassagemn.org

Dear Senator Bonoff –

On Tuesday, April 5, the Senate Finance Committee, K-12 Budget Division will consider SF 2411 which will increase the number of early learning scholarships and give priority to children in foster care or the child protection system. Quality early learning experiences have been proven to reduce child abuse and neglect. More funding directed at the prevention of child maltreatment is essential. In addition to better outcomes for individual children and their families, society benefits from stronger families, less crime, and decreased social service costs.

Please support SF 2411 to ensure there is adequate funding for the proven benefits of quality childcare.

Thank you for your efforts on behalf of abused, neglected, and at-risk children in Minnesota.

NAME
ADDRESS
CITY, ST ZIP

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Want To Know More About the CASA guardian ad-Litem Program?

Nearly 9000 children are reported abused or neglected every day in this country – over 3000 a year in Minnesota alone. You might not be in a position to take one of these children into your home. But you CAN be their voice. As a Volunteer Guardian ad Litem (a court appointed special advocate), you have the power to stand up for an abused or neglected child. You can restore their voice – and their hope. Giving just 5-10 hours a month of your time can make all the difference in the outcome of our children. Attend one of our information sessions, get free training and become a volunteer Guardian ad Litem!
Learn about being a CASA guardian ad-Litem; www.casamn.org

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Wanting To Know (caring enough to know)

Does Minnesota (your state here) want to know how its thousands of foster children are doing in school? Is there information available for people that care and want to see abused and neglected children at least get a chance to graduate from high school and lead a normal life?

The lack of transparency surrounding child abuse, child protection, foster care, drugging of very young children (Prozac, Ritalin, Zoloft…) indicates that while we talk big about valuing children in our community, we don’t care enough to want to know what their needs are.

If we knew that 80% of youth aging out of foster care were leading dysfunctional lives (last study of ten years ago), that 48% of state ward children are being forced to take psychotropic medications (true in Florida today) or that 4 MN counties screened out 90% of child abuse calls (true at the time of 4 year old Eric Dean’s murder by his step mother), then some concerned citizen, politician or administrator somewhere might be outraged enough to lobby for change.

Until information by our institutions becomes public, the problem simply does not exist and no one appears to care enough to see these awful things change.

Cudos to Minnesota for turning the child endangerment model into a genuine child protection model. It’s a great first step.

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Washoe County Nevada CASA Recognition Dinner Weds Sept 19th Keynote Speaker Mike Tikkanen

The Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (CASA), a national organization that recruits, trains and supports volunteers to represent abused and neglected children in the courtroom and other settings, is honoring Washoe County volunteers at 6 p.m. Sept. 19 at the 2012 Speaking From The Heart recognition dinner.
The event, held at Silver Legacy Resort Casino, recognizes the hours volunteers devote to children in need in the legal and social services system. The nonprofit says volunteers often remain the one constant in kids lives until placed in a safe, permanent home.

There will be a no-host cocktails and a silent auction. Dinner begins at 7:15 p.m. with keynote speaker Mike Tikkanen to follow. Cost: $80 per person. Details: Washoe County CASA Foundation, 775-233-5849.

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WCCO / KARA Radio Interview (Jordana Green Show)

Our most recent radio interview; (ten minutes) September 9th live WCCO radio interview with Jordana Green (ten minutes) A lively discussion of the critical issues facing abused and neglected children and what we can make life better for them. Support KARA’s MN Public Television documentary project on this topic

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We Are All Nuts (the costs and dangers of undertreating and ignoring mental health – thank you Star Tribune)

If you have children, grandchildren or just like other people’s children, you should read this to the end. You could help keep them safe from terrible things by understanding the connection between this mental health discussion and those terrible things.

Today’s Star Tribune article by Chris Serres should wake us up as to the cost and danger we all face by ignoring, undertreating and maltreating mentally at risk people. Last week Chris wrote about the broken bones and violence done to children in the justice system because of their mental health struggles. Thank you Chris Serres and the Star Tribune for bringing this long avoided topic to the front page.

Chris’s article concentrates on the logjam and wait periods patients and providers face in this state and the human suffering that that accompanies it.

Not mentioned are the 900-1000 emergency psych visits to HCMC every month and some psych patients are waiting three months to be admitted (and that’s just one MN hospital). Allina Health DR Paul Goering states that “it’s been so paralyzing for the community to say ‘it looks like things are broken,’ and then to say it again next year”.

I agree with Dr Rahul Koranne (Chief Medical Officer for the MN Hospital Association) quote that

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We Could Do Better (lowest of the 38 states offering 4 year olds ECE)

While the CASEY Foundation ranks MN 5th in the nation for child well-being, there are serious flaws in our racial disparity and early childhood numbers.

Almost half of MN’s African American children live in poverty. In 2001, half of the adult African American adult men were arrested (no duplicate arrests and 58% of those men went on to be rearrested for a second crime within 2 years).

Our educational performance racial disparity is among the worst in the nation.

From the CURA reporter

MN ranks at the very bottom of states that provide early childhood education to four year old’s (2% vs the national average of 25%). We now have 8000 families on a backlog for subsidized child-care.

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We’re Number 1, & that’s not good…

Bishop Gene Robinson draws attention to youth suicide & particularly that seven students in one Minnesota school district have taken their own lives, including three teens.

GLBT issues underly most of the suicide the Bishop writes about. The idea that life can be made so unbearable for children so young is incomprehensible unless you have been near someone living the nightmare.

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We’re Number One (America leads the world in the wrong things)

We are now number one in child homelessness; one in thirty kids – 2.5 million American children, experienced homelessness last year.

Many states don’t offer children insurance, daycare, prenatal care, or healthcare and parental leave for new babies is off the table in half the states.

The U.S is well known for having the highest child poverty rate among advanced nations.

States that don’t offer prenatal care, daycare, insurance, or housing for 2 year olds cost themselves in the long run in crime, prisons, and dysfunctional adults (the opposite of taxpaying, productive citizens). I maintain that those states are filled with legislators that can’t add. If they could, they would see the terrific long term costs unhealthy children without coping skills cost their communities in crime, prisons, health care and extreme costs to schools and social services in their communities (and they make for really unhappy/unsafe communities).

Unhealthy and unprepared children explain our why our schools repeatedly rank at the bottom with reading, math, science, history test scores and our graduation rates remain among the lowest of the industrialized nations.

Today’s Star Tribune article by Daniel Heimpel on creating an Office Of Child Protection is a great idea but long term probabilities for its success are not very good.

Children can’t vote and adults are mostly given to fist shaking and blaming if reminded of institutional failures when a child is found in a dumpster or dead after fifteen reports of child abuse. States will fight for their rights to not provide insurance, prenatal care, or child protection and make it sound like they are “saving families” in the process. A child protection Czar would be busy 24 / 7 fighting state by state with Louisiana, Mexico, South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and a handful of others that are really committed to policies of ignoring poor families, child death, child mortality, child poverty, and uninsured children.

I like the idea of protecting children and creating a child protection Czar, but Hercules died a very long time ago and I don’t know who else could fight that fight.

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Wellness and Child Abuse

The following is my synopsis of the Minnesota Medical Associations March 2006 article on Child Maltreatment by Dr. David McCollum. It’s meant for medical professionals, but I found it very well written and understandable; (the article) http://www.mmaonline.net/publications/MNMed2006/March/clinical-mccollum.htm Dr. McCollum clearly articulates the relationship between childhood abuse and a lifetime of physical and mental health issues.…

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What David Brooks Didn’t Say

FYI, the World Health Organization defines torture as “extended exposure to violence & deprivation”. Every child in my CASA guardian ad-Litem caseload suffered from being tortured (half of them had been sexually abused). This explains why children in child protection suffer from PTSD at twice the rate soldiers returning from Iraq & Afghanistan do, why 2/3 of the youth in juvenile justice have mental health diagnosis (and why fully half of them have multiple, serious, & chronic diagnosis) & why 80% of youth aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives.

Mr. Brooks, please continue your research & writing on this issue because no other big time news people are & this is why our prisons are full, schools are troubled, & so many communities are becoming unlivable (Flint Michigan no longer has a police presence after 5pm – and they really need one).

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What Do You Wish For Today?

For Thanksgiving this year, let’s all wish really hard to make life better for at risk children.

As a long-time Volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I wish for; The implementation of the recommendations by the Governor’s Task Force on Child Protection and the additional attention and resources necessary to make children safe in my community (and yours too).

Fewer ten and twelve year old children charged as adults in our judicial system,

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What Does America Have In Common With Oman & Papua New Guinea?

We are the only three nations in the world lacking paid maternity leave for working moms. Most developed nations offer 15 to 52 weeks of leave for a new baby to be with mom.

Another stunning statistic was the cost of childcare as a percent of net family income; the majority of the industrialized nations fall between five and ten percent – Americans pay 23.1 percent of their income for childcare.

The majority of advanced nations offer paid paternity leave for dads. We are at zero.

For a nation that talks big about family values, this is embarrassing. If you don’t call your State Representative (and other politicians) to support these policies, there is a good chance that nothing will change.

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What It’s Like Outstate For At Risk Children – Ogema Today

The Red Lake massacre 13 years ago happened when 16 year old Jeff Weise was ignored and unable to find help after repeatedly talking about homicide and suicide and even posting these thoughts on social media. Within a year after the tragedy, a 3.5 million dollar mental health center was opened on the reservation.

A few years later, I interviewed a police chief from a town of 10,000 people. He spoke of the inability of his officers to provide anywhere near appropriate services or the level of service necessary for health and safety of children and young families in his community.

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What Makes Us So Mean? (just wait til you’re in diapers)

Tennessee Congressman Stephen Fincher (who receives 3.5 million in federal crop subsidies) told the New York Times that his bible states “he who is unwilling to work shall not eat”. Not my kind of religion.

Walmart pays its employees so little that they need food stamps and have been living without health care. So the government gets to support Walmart employees and add to Walmart profits.

New Jersey eliminated mental health workers in its schools a few years ago sending all misbehaving youth to jail. New Jersey school counselor Thomas Kersting told Fox News that denying lunch to low-income children whose parents had not filled out eligibility forms would be a “teaching moment” (ie, a great idea).

No diapers, no mental health services, no food stamps, and no lunch. What makes us so mean?

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What Oklahoma Will Show The Nation

The original plaintiffs were nine children who are alleged to have suffered in DHS placements. The case has since become a class-action lawsuit with thousands of children in DHS custody as plaintiff

How many states have caseloads that are just too high to provide a realistic safety net for the children they support? How many states need more training and education for the agency employees, foster parents, and adoptive parents?

I would add that without educating judges, court workers, and criminal justice people, this nation is still on the path to maintaining excessive prison populations and disastrous school performance among the population of abused and neglected children.

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What We Can Learn From Kentucky (kinship rules)

JEFFERSONTOWN, Ky. – In Kentucky, a lot of children are being raised by extended family members: at 6 percent of all kids, it’s one of the highest kinship-care rates in the nation. A new report from Kentucky Youth Advocates outlines what the group says needs to be done to increase support for grandparents and others raising kids who cannot safely live with their parents.

According to Jeanne Miller-Jacobs, who with her husband is raising their three grandkids, more assistance is badly needed.

“The biggest hurdle that we’ve had is misinformation,” she said. When we first got the kids, the financial part of kinship care never came up.”

She said her grandchildren, ages five, three and one, came to live with them because their parents struggle with drug addiction.

Kinship care has doubled in Kentucky in the last decade, and earlier this year, the state stopped taking new applications for its Kinship Care Program, which provides caregivers $10 a day to help meet a child’s basic needs.

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What We Do To Our Children, They will Do To Us

Our precious America, we are taught, is the exception to the world. No other nation can even come close. Tragically, a great many children suffer from a denial of the reality in our country.

The evidence is confirmed by new studies reported in the mainstream media. In March the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released the results of a study of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) among teenage girls. It was a shock. One in five white teens and half of African-American young women are infected with a STD. Across all groups the incidence was one of every four teens, and climbing!

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What We Think Of Children In America

In one poor school district in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, students take classes in a bus garage, using plastic sheeting to keep the diesel fumes at bay. In another, there is no more money to tutor young immigrants struggling to read. And just south of Denver, a district where one in four kindergartners is homeless has cut 10 staff positions and is bracing for another cull.

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