Guardian ad-Litem Training

My second guardian ad-Litem case was a 7 year old boy (Andy) taken from his crack using mom at birth (she had spent 90% of her life institutionalized). He was raised by a loving foster family to the age of four & then the judge returned him to his father – even though the father had a court order to stay away from young boys because of what he did to them.

Andy was covered in bruises when he became my guardian ad-Litem case in 1996. He had been tied to a bed, sexually abused, beaten, and starved for four years.

What’s it like to be four years old, beat up, left alone in an apartment for days at a time, no food, & no place to turn for help . My young friend developed many troublesome behaviors, received no consistent mental health therapy and way too many psychotropic meds.

He once asked me as we play miniature golf, “when will I be normal”?

A few years later he asked me to support him in his request of the County for a sex change operation. Guardian ad-Litem training did not prepare me for these questions. We still talk, 16 years later; he has AIDS now & has not lived a happy life.

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Thank You Judge Kevin Burke

Judge Keven Burke shares a letter from an 8 year old outlining his plans to escape with his toddler brother should the parents reunite (the swearing & fighting are violent & unbearable).

I’ve written about the 7 year old that hung himself and left a note & the 4 year old I visited at the suicide ward in Fairview hospital (as a volunteer guardian ad-Litem).

Judge Burke quotes children that are not in the child protection system & draws our attention to the needs (and I would offer “civil rights”) of the large numbers of children that suffer because their communities don’t offer effective child protection services.

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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

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Abuse That Lasts Forever, Erin’s Law

Since then, I have witnessed very young children (under 7) try to kill themselves and seen others exhibit terrifying behaviors (starting fires, stabbing, etc) that I know to be a direct result of the abuse they have suffered.

A few of these children I have been in contact with for over ten years and I know that not a day goes by without them reliving the unspeakable acts that have made them who they are.

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Counterpoint To Yesterday’s Post

As a result of ASFA, when the federal government gave money to states for the purpose of increasing adoptions, large numbers of kids did get good homes. Thirteen years later, hoards of those kids are re-entering the system because they came to parents with severe mental and emotional scars as a result of infant and child trauma, neglect, and abuse.

States refuse to help in any way with the astronomical mental health fees, such as $150,000 per year for residential care. Health insurance, Medicaid, and adopt subsidies pay nothing towards this care, not $1. Adoptive families are being forced to relinquish them back to the states to access astronomically expensive mental health care.

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AARP and CASA

MN day care

It is a bigger step to convince people that healthy children become healthy citizens, but it is true.

Support at risk children! Become a CASA volunteer or start a KARA group in your community.
Have something to add? Attach a comment to this blog post or Contact Us to tell us your point of view or story.

Join the public debate for children (they have no senator, lobby, or voice)

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FEATURED GUARDIAN AD LITEM PROGRAM WASHTENAW COUNTY

Local CASA Volunteer’s Success Story
Contributed by: Fran G.

I was given my first case in February of this year a family of three children: A 13-year-old boy with mild autism, a 9-year-old girl, and a 4-year-old, all living with a Great Grandmother (74 years old).

The children have lived with their great grandmother for 4 years. There were so many questions that needed to be answered and I found that I had the time to find those answers. The lawyers, and social workers all cared for the family but lacked the time to get to know the family as well as I could.

I found, for example, that the 13-year-old boy had missed 54 days of school and had been late for his first hour class 34 times. There were several reasons, and all were easy to fix.

He needed an alarm clock, needed to stop spending the night at his favorite Aunt’s house, and needed to take responsibility. I told him he was not allowed to be late or miss school anymore. I was able to check daily via a computer how his grades were and his attendance, and so was he.

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14 police calls to foster home led up to near-death

On the 49th call to the home, police removed the children into protective custody (only because the 7 year old was observed trying to kill the 5 year old). As I became involved in the case, the sex abuse of the older girl became apparent. The police were aware of the prostitution taking place on the premises, and it was very likely that the older child had been prostituted.

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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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FORGOTTEN CHILDREN RALLY STATE CAPITAL

On May 4, 2009 a small crowd of about 100 citizens – social workers, politicians, child advocates, and children – gathered on the lawn of the Minnesota State Capitol to bring attention to Minnesota’s “Forgotten Children.” The 187 children placed in foster care each week in Minnesota all have unique circumstances but they all share one thing in common: They need advocacy in the legislature to address not only their current needs but the future issues they will face as they transition into adulthood.

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Kids At Risk Action’s YouTube Video Channel

Kids At Risk Action (KARA) has posted videos on our YouTube Channel of the 2008 KARA Forum held at Century College. To view more videos of our events, visit our page at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/kidsatriskaction.

Here is a sample of the 2008 Kids At Risk Action (KARA) Forum:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jCTBZmy40Y

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Another CASA volunteer voice

Even considering four decades of exhilarating professional life, my most powerful lesson followed retirement in 1996. This happened when I volunteered as a guardian ad-litem for Hennepin County from 1998 to 2000.

Guardians are court-appointed advocates assigned to help Juvenile Court judges decide the fate of children removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. It is part of the Child Protection System in our state.

The hardest was to look into the eyes of these unlucky kids and realize that they had no chance for a normal life. I could only take that for two years. It was a “kick in the pants” that opened my eyes.

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