The Unspoken Truth (from Kristin Rode)

My name is Robert Hamelin and when I was 4 years old I entered the Foster Care System. My stepmother began to physically and mentally abuse me. I was taken out of the home I lived in, with her and my father and moved into the first foster home. When I was 9 years old my father was killed. He was the only good memory I had left. His loss had such a deep impact on me. I knew now that I was completely alone. By the time I reached the 6th grade I began acting out for attention. My behaviors became worse. The abuse had continued worse than ever, as now, I was being sexually abused. By the time I was 18 years old I joined the Marine Corps. I needed stability but even more important, I needed to find out if I could overcome my past and succeed, despite 14 years of violent child abuse.

The system failed me but it did not beat me!

Today I am a successful Regional Vice President for Transamerica. I have raised 5 beautiful daughters, 4 of which have already graduated from college. What is disheartening is 32 years after I got out of the Child Protection System, it continues to fail children and the abuse, still all too common. We need to come together to fix a broken system.

Each year, about six hundred thousand abused and neglected American children are removed from their homes, placed into group homes, foster homes, and adoptive homes with minimal mental health counseling and often not much history or training provided to the new care giver. These children are expected to adjust well into society, succeed in school and with their peers

Children in child protective services are only removed from their homes if their lives are in imminent harm. These children are often returned to their homes by Child Protective Services if changes are made. Many children are returned to abusive homes, with little to no follow-up.

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To KARA Followers – KARA does not offer services

KARA is unable to help our readers with personal counselling.

Regularly, we receive your mail and email requesting assistance in dealing with child protection, police and juvenile justice. We just do not have the resources to say yes.

Use KARA’s links link to start your search for help. The “resources’ heading provides contact information to identify people that can talk to you about your specific issues.

Thank you for understanding,

The KARA team

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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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Are You An Out of State KARA Follower?

Kids At Risk Action is looking for writers from other state’s to report on child protection/child abuse conditions around the country.

Report each week about how your state treats at risk youth and help KARA bring more attention to what needs to happen for children to be safe and happy where you live.

Contact me directly for more information, mike@invisiblechildren.org

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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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Indiana Sued For Making Child Protection Almost Impossible

A few years ago, Vice Presidential candidate and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels eliminated funding across the board for Indiana families adopting special needs children (after 500 adoptions by families promised these dollars for transportation, healthcare & education of their adopted children, were completed).

Indiana then became the only state in the nation to place families adopting special needs children on a wait list rather than paying subsidies.

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Fines and Judgements For Child Protection Failures (millions of $ badly spent)

Over the past few years the states of Washington (144 million dollars) and Indiana have been sued successfully for many millions of dollars for failing to protect abused and neglected children.

In Arizona, the over 6600 child abuse reports ignored by social workers prompted a class action lawsuit, Texas and New York have similar lawsuits in play, MN has been fined almost a million dollars for failing to meet federal standards for abused children re-entering child protection (MN has twice the national average) the child protection system was called a “Colossal Failure” by the Governor in the slow tortured death of 4 year-old Eric Dean and a dozen other states are facing embarrassing examples of cruelty to children and juveniles because of bad public policies.

Children in these states have been tortured, starved, murdered and raped while being cared for in overburdened Child Protection systems. The consequences of child abuse are immense and lasting for children and the fact that a community would fail to help their tortured children is barbaric.

These lawsuits are remarkable in that suing a governmental body is almost impossible because Federal, State and Local agencies are almost immune to being sued.

When lawsuits do succeed, you know that the case was overwhelming and represented just the tip of a very big iceberg of the kinds of violence being done to children in our under-appreciated and poorly understood child protection systems.

I say “Poorly understood” as it is my belief that no community, especially my community, would ignore the cries of raped, tortured and murdered children.

I refuse to believe that any community in America willfully continues to avoid fixing the institutional failures that are so painful for the children affected and the people involved in the system.

Politicians especially should understand and address the lifetimes costs in dollars and quality of life that millions of dysfunctional citizens are having on our schools, public safety and prisons.

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Child Death and Child Abuse Articles (for September 2015 – find your state/country here)

Every month KARA publishes articles that go unnoticed outside of the community they occur. These stories are gathered from different sources all around the nation and some international stories. Please share this page with people in your networks, especially reporters, educators, social workers and law enforcement. Spread the word; when more people know about how troubled our child protection systems are, we will do more to make life better for abused and neglected children.

Sign up for our weekly children’s issues updates (free)

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

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Help KARA Spread the Word – 3 Simple Things

Sharing KARA news/videos/articles with your social media and networks – the more people become aware of how serious a problem child abuse is in America & how broken our child protection systems are, the more pressure will be put on legislators to support the people, programs and policies that work.

KARA needs dollars, subscribers (members), volunteers & promotors to make this happen.

Become part of the KARA grassroots army – share our information widely to promote programs, policies & the people striving to improve the lives of abused and neglected children.

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Child Protection Oversight Committee Meeting Nov 23rd

It hurt me to hear it suggested that Brandon Stahl’s reporting on Child Protection in Minnesota is somehow a cause of the troubles within the system today. It is precisely the lack of reporting, accountability, and access to information that has grown our child protection failures to where they are.

The thing missing from last night’s Child Protection Oversight Committee meeting was the voice of someone that experienced child protective services (to put a human face on the conversation) and a fearless front line worker or CASA guardian ad-Litem to describe the depth and scope of the issues on the table.

People speaking in a roomful of professionals find it difficult to use the words or employ a passion that puts urgency and humanity into the facts that rule the fabric of our community and the lives of at risk children.

We also avoid topics that can’t be dealt with in our current institutional paradigm.

When Dee Wilson delivered the report on the Casey Foundation’s investigation of Child Protection to the County Commissioners he referenced the fact that St. Joe’s Home for Children was the primary resource for the most troubled children entering Child Protective Services.

The Foundation reported that the home was not able to deal with the level of trauma and behavioral problems it is forced to manage on a daily basis.

The truth underlying Dee’s statement needs to be recognized as the tip of the iceberg it is (we don’t).

The Foundation reported that the home was not able to deal with the level of trauma and behavioral problems it is forced to manage on a daily basis.

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Sad Stories November 2015

CA: Six children are dead. Could these needless deaths have been prevented?
Los Angeles Times – November 24, 2015
There are community-based services he could have tapped, but they’re fragmented and hard to navigate without professional help, said USC child welfare professor Jacquelyn McCroskey.
http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-1124-banks-troubled-parents-20151124-column.html

FL: Mistakes detailed in Janiya Thomas death
Southwest Florida Herald Tribune – November 24, 2015
Child protection investigators closed probes prematurely, turned in crucial paperwork late and failed to adequately identify safety concerns when they investigated incidents involving the mother of an 11-year-old found dead in a freezer this past October, a Department of Children and Families report released Tuesday found.
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20151124/NEWS/151129803?Title=Mistakes-detailed-in-Janiya-Thomas-death
– See more at: https://www.invisiblechildren.org/2015/11/26/sad-stories-november-2015/#sthash.uuJlOpd4.dpuf

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Worthy Reader Questions

Mike,

Your anguish at the pain and suffering of children is laudable and this site great. And these hearings only show the safety net is torn and clearly failing children, isn’t time to broach the subject of parenting while asserting the “rights of the Child?”

A.R.,

Thank you for the kind words and very good question – it gets to the heart of what KARA is.

KARA is the voice of abused and neglected children removed from their homes* & this editor tries hard to tell their stories and report on the people, policies and programs that impact their lives.

Time and resources in a small nonprofit require outside volunteer effort to accomplish this goal with any regularity or depth. Thank you Century College for continuing to include Kids At Risk Action in your volunteer program.

To your point A.R., I will work at putting more attention to the subject of parenting. We know that parenting skills don’t come from the stork & our community needs to better appreciate the value of healthy children.

Unfortunately, our communities are more willing to put resources and attention to dealing with unhealthy children than building healthy children.

we are very grateful to and supportive of organizations that concentrate on improving the lives of at risk children through better parenting, more attention to improving the lives of young families and helping adoptive and foster parents.

The sadness and pain children and families experience due to generational child abuse can’t end until the voice of abused and neglected children is heard by a larger public and our message to legislators loud enough to force them to listen and do the right thing through better policies and programs.

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Gun Safety – 18,270 Children Killed or Injured By Gunfire in 2010 – at least 200 have died by accidental gunfire since NewTown

Children’s Defense Fund research from 2010 shows that guns kill more infants, toddlers and preschoolers than they do police officers in the line of duty.

American youth are 17 times more likely to be shot dead than the young of the other industrialized nations.

A gun in the home increases the risk of suicide by 3 to 5 times, homicide by 3 times, and accidental death by 400 percent.

Since 1963, three times as many American children and teens have been shot dead than soldiers killed abroad – in 2010, five times more children and teens were shot dead than soldiers killed in Iraq and Afgghanistan.

Gun violence kills more black youth (from one to nineteen years old) every year except for car accidents.

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San Francisco Chronicle Article Rob Waters (it’s been 10 years and not much has changed)

reprinted from Sunday, February 12, 2006 (SF Chronicle)

One Child, One Therapist/An innovative program partners foster children with therapists for as long as they’re needed, providing a stability otherwise missing
Rob Waters

When child psychologist Norman Zukowsky first met him, 6 1/2-year-old “William” had already lived through more hardship and trauma than many people experience in a lifetime.

He was born exposed to drugs and alcohol,one of three children of a drug-addicted mother who lived in an unheated garage with no cooking or bathroom facilities.

Child welfare reports suggest that the children were physically abused, exposed to sexual behavior and often went without food or clothing. Eventually, William was
removed from his mother’s care only to be placed with a relative who scarred his chest beating him with a belt.

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Children, Trauma & School (what’s it like to teach tortured children?)

Today’s Star Tribune article nails it. Thank you Annie Mogush Mason for your clear explanation of how child abuse impacts schools. Coping skills (learning skills) are not brought by the stork. Add to that, the terrible things done to at risk children in the home, children bring fear & high anxiety into the classroom instead of the ability to sit still, play well with others or learn.

Teaching *traumatized children is different than teaching other students. Way different.

The sadness that is child abuse triggers unpredictable and often violent behaviors in the classroom. Many a teacher has talked to me about the larger percentage of their daily efforts being directed toward the one, two or three disruptive students in their classroom. I know educators that have quit their jobs in tears and with genuine fear of going to work every day because of this.

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The Administration That Poisoned the Children of Flint Michigan

It’s hard to believe that a political administration could go so far in negating the value of a city’s children as just happened in Flint Michigan.

For 2 years Flint children have been poisoned with lead and other toxins in the face of scientific evidence, political backlash and community outrage with nothing but misfeasance, malfeasance and non-feasance from the Governor’s office (all 8000 of Flints children).

Flint needs disaster relief from the EPA, CDC and Army Corps of Engineers to stop the State sponsored child abuse that poisoned the children of Flint Michigan.

Elected officials need to be made aware that what happened in Flint was wrong and the people in charge made public, made to resign and be punished. Sign Michael Moore’s petition on Facebook to let Michigan’s Governor know that what he has done to Flint’s children is a crime (if the Michigan State found you knowingly poisoning your children over an extended period of time you would be guilty of second degree felony child abuse)*

Michigan Penal Code, section 750.136b:

“A person is guilty of child abuse in the second degree if…the person knowingly or intentionally commits an act likely to cause serious physical or mental harm to a child,” Michigan Penal Code, section 750.136b states. “[This] is a felony punishable by imprisonment for a first offense of not more than 10 years…[and] for a second or subsequent offense not more than 20 years.”

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Important Information About Child Protection in MN (from Safe Passage For Children)

Although counties disagree, the Department wants an outside expert to review screening practices. This is because, contrary to new guidelines, counties are still responding to half as many maltreatment reports as an average state, and the percentage of cases getting an investigation rather than a less rigorous assessment has barely changed

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Mental Health Shortages, Sheriffs & Children

I attended Syl Jone’s play BECAUSE at the Mixed Blood Theatre last week. It’s a moving piece that explores living with mental health issues from multiple perspectives leaving the audience with a personal sense of what it’s like to be this person, live with this person and understand this person. Syl is now the Resident Fellow for Narrative Health at HCMC (I think every hospital should have such a position – how else can these stories be told?)

I asked Syl at the play if he would consider writing about the mental health issues of children in child protective services, he seemed interested. If you know Syl Jones, please let him know how important this topic is.

Back to Sheriffs and Children (the title).

At the end of the play, Syl Jones & a panel (moderated by Eduardo Colon, the new Psychiatry Chief at HCMC) of professionals & one very articulate person living with serious mental health issues further explored the realities of mental health and mental health services in our community.

Today’s Star Tribune continues Dr Colon’s discussion about the shortage of beds for psychiatric emergencies and draws attention to how the problem is being compounded by the law that inmates take priority over everyone else for emergency psych beds (the 48 hour rule).

This newly enforced rule is a result of the sheriff’s (Washington, Ramsey and Hennepin Counties) threat to sue because their departments had become mental health service providers as a result of the state’s failing to honor the 48 hour rule.

While I’m all for providing services to inmates in need of psychiatric beds, I am appalled that the children in need of protection are suffering because of the shortage of beds and the use of psychotropic medications in place of therapy. I have attended multiple children on hours long trips outside of the metro because services were not available for them here.

The depth and scope of children’s mental health in this community is profound. As a long time CASA guardian ad-Litem I have accompanied many children on long trips for mental health services because there were no services here & I know that much of what is provided here is inadequate (this was referred to by Dee Wilson from the Casey Foundation).

Thank You Dr Colon, HCMC and Syl Jones for starting this conversation – it may be the only way our community can begin to understand the profound depth and scope of mental health issues and their impact on our quality of life.

Please share this post with policy makers and contacts in foster/adoption, education, health, policing and social workers.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

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January Sad Stories (2016 KARA reporting)

Every month Kids At Risk Action draws attention to the plight of abused and neglected children by gathering the stories of at risk children from around the nation.  You will find your community on this page.  Please share this page with your friends and networks to make this conversation come alive with the hope that…

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Think Again MN Feb 16 (includes KARA presentation)

THE IMPACT OF DOMESTIC ABUSE ON CHILDREN
Tuesday, February 16
6 p.m. Light Supper and Social 6:30 P.M. Program
Cafeteria, Hennepin Technical College, 9000 Brooklyn Blvd, Brooklyn Park, Map
RSVP on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1kWpPiG or to CarolWoehrer@usfamily.net

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