Brandon Stahl Sets A Precedent For Excellence In Reporting (share this with your local newspaper – it could be repeatable & help children)

The issues of child abuse and child protection services are complicated and not well understood by the general public, state legislators, or even the people delivering the services. In the almost twenty years I’ve spent as a volunteer in the system (CASA guardian ad-Litem), I’ve not witnessed a reporter going as deep into the heart of a child protection story until reading Brandon Stahl’s series in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

When a baby is found in a dumpster or some other horrific suffering of a four year old makes the paper, an article of outrage leaves the reader hating and blaming a person or institutional failure. Because it takes a sustained and painful effort to take a deeper look into the depth and scope of the nightmarish conditions that preceded the great sadness of a child’s suffering and death at the hands of a caregiver, the reporting almost always stops right here.

Thirty years ago in White Bear Lake MN (near my home), Lois Jergens went on to adopt five more children after murdering 4 year old Dennis Jergens. None of the approximately fifty children I lobbied to be removed from their homes because of torture, sex abuse, or neglect were ever known to anyone outside the child protection system. The absence of information about abused and neglected children is directly related to our high crime rates, full prisons, troubled schools, and unsafe neighborhoods. We would all benefit by knowing the trauma of ground truth – then we could face it and deal with it. It would be better for us and better for children.

Today, Brandon Stahl is peeling back the layers of this complicated institution of child protection. So few people know anything substantive about it and even the people running it can be so wrong so often (as in passing laws about not using past history of abuse in current investigations or family assessments instead of child protection in high risk cases).

In our interview with Brandon Stahl, he was clear about just how hard it is to pry information out of institutions that either have done a very bad job of gathering and keeping it, or simply don’t want it known. He spoke of the substantial financial investment his newspaper had to make in order to get the basic information about the murder of four year old Eric Dean by his step-mother after fifteen reports of child abuse by mandated reporters.

Details

Brandon Stahl’s investigating and Safe Passage’s volunteers are changing lives

 

children down hill having funBrandon Stahl’s reporting (September 2014) on the tortured death of 4 year old Eric Dean and his  powerful Star Tribune articles about tortured children & the “catastrophic failure” of child protection in Minnesota (Governor Dayton’s words), shine light into the invisible world of child abuse that is so hard to talk about and so easy to avoid.

Rich Gehrman & Safe Passage For Children of MN worked with and reported on Governor Dayton’s Task Force On Child Protection, organized 100 volunteers to speak out and call on legislators to raise awareness and bring positive change to the 60,000 Minnesota children reported to Child Protection services each year.

Details

Bringing Attention to Child Abuse Deaths

As part of a campaign to stop child abuse and neglect deaths, The Every Child Matters Education Fund and its partners—the National Association of Social Workers, the National Children’s Alliance, and the National District Attorneys Association—are running ads that urge Congress to address the fatalities that claim the lives of innocent children every day. Specifically, the ads ask Congress to hold hearings and provide emergency funds to stop state cuts in child protective services.

Details

Bringing Transparency to Child Trauma & Abuse Ending Child Abuse Where You Live

Unseen and unknown, America’s abused & traumatized children lead painful lives that without help do not improve much as they age.

Do at risk children in your community need more support to lead normal lives? Would more information and community involvement make their lives better?

Check out Kids At Risk Action traveling exhibit provided free to colleges where you live and build support for the better answers these children need.

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

Details

Brutal Truths and Best Practices Forum

Our Child Protection System
Brutal Truths and Best Practices Forum at Century College

Join our focused and energetic conversation about children in need of protection and the people, programs, and policies that impact them. Have your views and questions heard.

After the panel discussion, attendees will form small working groups and helped to identify and investigate their own issues, discovering better answers, and ultimately creating an action plan, which they will share with the larger group.

Details

Brutal Truths and Worst Practices (America’s injustice System)

One out of 28 American children has a parent in jail or prison – 60 percent of inmates are people of color (only 30% of America’s population are people of color). There are twelve time more drug offenders in state prisons than there were in 1980.

25% of American youth are charged in adult courts & many ten or twelve years old children are tried as adults. About ten thousand juveniles are housed in adult prisons and jails every day. 2/3 of those youth suffer from mental health issues and half that number have multiple and serious diagnosis.

Seven of ten of these youth have seen someone killed or severely injured and three of ten have attempted suicide. My first visit to a CASA guardian ad-Litem four year old was at the suicide ward of Fairview hospital in Minneapolis. The thoughts of killing yourself start young in at risk youth. Jeff Weise had been talking and writing about it before he killed his grandfather and fourteen others before killing himself.

And we wonder where the violence on our streets and in our schools comes from.

Black men born in 2001 have a 33% chance of incarceration and black youth are five times more likely to be arrested than white youth.

2/3 of America’s prisoners recycle within 3 years of being released Our recidivism rates are soon to exceed 70%.

Details

By Definition

A recent study indicates that up to 80% of children aging out of foster care are leading dysfunctional lives. A Minnesota judge has provided me the Prozac, Ritalin, and other psychotropic medication prescriptions taken by children in her courtroom (most of them under ten years old) and it points at one of the key issues thay might explain why so many youth leaving the foster care program find it hard to cope with life.

Details

California Child Protection Updates thru May 2017

KARA gathers news about abused abused children in America and around the world to provide a snapshot of Child Protection and how states and nations value their children.

Kids At Risk Action needs an aspiring writer/research to help gather and report on these stories.

If you are an aspiring writer/researcher with an urge to speak for your communities abused and neglected children,

Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org with REPORTING in the subject line.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

Details

California Dreaming

Last week the State of California achieved perfect synchronicity in its public policy making when it announced that criminals would be released early because the state could no longer afford to keep them incarcerated.
This news reminded me that when I began my work as a guardian ad Litem there were states predicting the need for prison expansion based on the number of failed third grade reading scores within its schools.
Instead of investing in reading for third graders (and early childhood education), California began investing in a third strike punishment model and building tens of thousands of prison beds.

Details

California Police Hate Kids T Shirt Campaign; You Raise Em, We Cage Em

I’ve written on the police tasering ten and twelve year olds, the growing movement to try very young children as adults, and the chronic over representation of African Americans in jails & prisons everywhere.

In my experience as a guardian ad-Litem, all children want to be “normal” and lead nice lives, but too many of them are born into toxic homes and their communities are quick to punish and incarcerate instead of nurture & enhance their lives.

How can America’s youth ever hope to lead normal lives when so many of them have serious criminal records & drug problems (legal and illegal) by the time they are eighteen?

Details

Call For Minnesota Children (pick up the phone – write something) PreK, school readiness, early learning, things kids need

The legislature is back in session after their break. That means we are back to work on advocacy. And thank you for all the contacts you have already made. Time for more.

You may have heard that the conference committee was formed and the conferees were named. Here is what that means. The house education committee has passed their bill. The senate education committee has passed their bill. Some elements in the bills are similar. Some are not. Five senators, and five representatives (the conferees) have been chosen to meet and work out the differences. Then, it will be re-passed in the House and Senate and ready to go to the governor.

The conferees of the E-12 Education Committee are:

Details

Call To Justice Forum June 28th

Only ten percent of the citations issued in Hennepin County to people of color are prosecuted (90% are dismissed). 44% of African American men living in Hennepin county were arrested in 2001 (without any duplicate arrests). At least six major cities in America have Black male unemployment rates of between 40% and 50% and ex felon rates of between 50% and 60%. There are over 600,000 felons leaving prison each year in America. Minnesota ranks behind only Milwaukee in racial disparity within our courts and prisons (Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas have better records than Minnesota).

Details

Camp Out For Essex County CASA

Hats off to Essex County high school students bringing a voice to abused and neglected children through a coordinated effort for CASA advocacy & community awareness.

In support of all the children living without a safe and permanent home, Essex County schools pitched tens and slept outdoors Friday night (May 3rd). The County family court Judge Thomas Zampino visited them and gave them an overview of the life of a a child in foster care.

CASA volunteers created the Camp Out For CASA concept to promote child welfare and a more active community.

If your CASA organization has done great and interesting things, send them to me that we can show the rest of the country (we also have readers all over the world).

Details

Canada Child Protection & U.S.

Reviewing the Child Abuse and Protection report on Canada written by KARA’s volunteer Macalaster College student (Lelde), I am struck by a few key facts:

* Close to one third of Canadian teen agers reported some kind of abuse or neglect,

* Children know their abusers in eight out of ten cases,

* Canada experiences 2200/100,000 investigations of child abuse (about half the U.S. statistic 4500/100,000),

Details

Canada’s Foster Children (Alberta)

145 Alberta Canada children have died in foster care since 1999.

Disease, 50

SIDS 14

Premature 14

Hanging 14

Cranial Trauma 11

Collision 6

Drowning 4

Asphyxiation 3

Pneumonia 3

Sleep arrangement 3

Overdose 3

Hypothermia 3

Fire 2

Stabbing, Blunt force trauma, Alcohol poisoning, Massive trauma, Anoxic brain injury, Fall, Malnutrition, CO poisoning, Intestinal obstruction – each category 1, & 6 unknown

Details

Canada’s Injustice to Indigenous Children (statistics & solutions)

Almost half of Canada’s youth correctional services is made up of Indigenous youth, but they represent less than 10% of the general population. Self-harming behaviors and suicide rates among Indigenous youth are 11 times the national average and are the highest in the world.

Details

Cancellation of a Successful Education Program

The need for strong education programs should be a primary concern for state and local governments. In addition to improving students’ chances for success in college and their subsequent careers, effective education programs can help keep juveniles from engaging in delinquent activities. This, in turn reduces costs to taxpayers for funding court proceedings and, if necessary, housing juvenile offenders.

Details

Cars With 3 Wheels (From Our Friends At Safe Passage For Children Of Minnesota)

A car with three wheels is not 75% as good as one with four. There is a minimum set of features without which a car won’t move at all.

This principle applies to child welfare because elected officials have frequently given this program much less than managers request, and assumed they somehow will make things work. But if the system has, for example, adequate staffing but poor training, or lacks a quality assurance program, it is like a 3-wheeled car. It simply won’t run.

Minnesota has an historic opportunity to rebuild its child welfare program. To accomplish this the legislature must step up to approve the $50 million that the Governor has put in his budget, so state and county managers have the tools they need to do the job.

Details