CASA Guardian ad-Litem News Through March 2016

These CASA guardian ad-Litem articles have been gathered from around the nation for the month of March.

If you are an aspiring journalist and would like to help Kids At Risk Action increase the quality and quantity of CASA guardian ad-Litem news, send us a request for more info (info@invisiblechildren.org)

All Adults Are the Protectors Of All Children

Guardian ad Litem Presentation for Prospect Volunteers

Details

Trauma Informed States (how to make child protection, education & health care work for children)

April 30, 2014By Elizabeth Prewittin ACE Study,Adverse childhood experiences,Legislation,Washington State6 Comments
Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 8.55.19 AMLawmakers around the country are beginning to take action to reduce the impact of childhood trauma—and the toxic stress it creates—on lifetime outcomes, particularly in education and health. Thelegislation being considered in Vermont to integrate screening for childhood trauma in health care, as reported recently on this site, is still percolating in the legislature. Another bill (H. 3528) being considered in Massachusetts seeks to create “safe and supportive schools” statewide. House Resolution 191 — which declares youth violence a public health epidemic and supports the establishment of trauma-informed education statewide — passed in Pennsylvania last spring and was ratified by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) at its annual meeting in August.

Prior to these efforts, the state of Washington passed a bill (H.R. 1965) in 2011 to identify and promote innovative strategies to prevent or reduce adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and to develop a public-private partnership to support effective strategies. In accordance with H.B. 1965, a group of private and public entities formed the Washington State ACEs Public-Private Initiative that is currently evaluating five communities’ ACEs activities. An APPI announcement about the launch of the project

said that the 2.5-year evaluation (Fall of 2013-Spring of 2016) was undertaken “to contribute to the understanding of what combination of community-based strategies work best for reducing and preventing ACEs and their effects.”

According to APPI co-project manager Christina Hulet, the legislation has provided an important framework for the initiative to convene public and private entities to achieve collectively what individual partners could not do on their own. This is “the gold” of APPI, according to Hulet. While the evaluation design focuses on strategies to achieve better outcomes for children and families, it also seeks to document how costs are avoided or saved by ACEs mitigation. This is not a surprising objective at any time for cost-conscious states, but does reflect the budget-cutting environment of the 2011 legislative session when the bill passed.

Details

Child Protection in Arizona; 12,000 Cases Ignored For 60 Days or More

Since January of 2015 nearly 40 Arizona children have died after the Department of Child Services had been notified (some with multiple reports). Nationally, it appears that Arizona is not alone in being unable to protect its most vulnerable citizens. This report capsulizes child protection news across America for March 2016.

The meanness of our politics now includes abandoning children for way too many of us. Become a CASA volunteer in your state & show up once a year to stand for children’s issues at the State Capital to tell your legislators to vote for child friendly initiatives (if you don’t – who will?)

Details

Improving the Process of Child Protection & Saving LIves

This article by Safe Passage for Children explains how 5 of the the 18 MN children killed by their caregivers in the last 18 months were known to local law enforcement but apparently not to child protection services (and what needs to change to fix that).

In my own experience, a seven year old girl was prostituted for years during which the police had been to the house 49 times and only removed the child on the last call because the little girl tried to kill her sister in the presence of the police.

Details

If You Don’t Do This, Who Will? (children can’t stop child abuse)

Tuesday was Day At the Hill for advocates supporting policies to improve the lives of Minnesota’s abused and neglected children.

Thank you Safe Passage for Children for organizing an effective effort to bring awareness to the people (lawmakers) that can make positive change for at risk children happen.

Without your efforts and the efforts of your volunteers, It is unlikely that lawmakers will come to understand that;

Many of the Governor’s Task Force recommendations may not be implemented or those recommendations will later be abandoned without continued oversite,

Tracking program outcomes is the only way we can know the difference between ineffective and effective and terrific programs,

The level of trauma foster children live with has created a terrible problem in our foster care system as there are fewer and fewer families able to manage the behavioral problems exhibited by this growing population of abused children,

The recent media coverage and added attention to child protection has increased reporting and is overwhelming already overburdened County systems leading to unmanageable caseloads and higher burnout rates among social workers,

A waiting list of 7000 names for subsidized daycare leaves vulnerable children in the care of drunk and drugged uncles,

It is a rewarding experience to advocate for children, I recommend it (at least once a year – it’s only for a few hours – and it can make a real difference in the policies that govern the lives of the most vulnerable among us.

Join Safe Passage For Children Volunteer army and dedicate a few hours a year telling your State Representatives how important children’s issues are to you.

Details

Minnesota Child Protection News For March 2016

March 20, 2016. Princeton, MN.

Michael S. Gunderson sentenced for two counts of felony child neglect after his two sons (aged 2 and 3) were hospitalized for severe malnutrition.

http://www.startribune.com/jail-for-dad-who-left-alone-his-starving-2-and-3-year-old-boys-in-filthy-home/372830791/

March 12, 2016. Red Wing, MN.

Sammy Antonio White sentenced to 13 years in prison for physical and sexual child abuse spanning two years.

http://www.republican-eagle.com/news/crime-and-courts/3985166-red-wing-man-gets-13-years-abuse-case

Details

March Sad Stories (2016 KARA reporting)

MN: Research Shows Washburn Center for Children Treatment has Significant Impact on Children’s Social, Emotional and Behavioral Health (Press release)
Business Wire – March 10, 2016
A new report by the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) at the University of Minnesota shows that social, emotional and behavioral health services provided by Washburn Center for Children have a significant impact on children’s well-being and quality of life. Report: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwj98_Hw-rjLAhXswYMKHUxfB6sQFggjMAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcascw.umn.edu%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2016%2F01%2FWashburnReport.pdf&usg=AFQjCNF1Jg93AdPczwNODix0UEeVhwO1kQ
http://investor.biospace.com/biospace/news/read?GUID=31701794

MN: Helping doctors prevent and detect child abuse: ‘No bruise in an infant is normal’
Star Tribune – March 14, 2016
The Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis has received a $2.5 million grant to detect and prevent child abuse, with a new program to help doctors and nurses in the difficult task of differentiating accidental injuries from abuse.
http://www.startribune.com/helping-doctors-prevent-and-detect-child-abuse/372000041/

Details

April, May & June 2015 Sad Stories

une 30, Austin Texas New law after child dies in hot car will save lives

June 26, Minneapolis Minnesota, Hennepin County screens out child abuse reports to reduce caseloads (multiple high profile child deaths draw attention of the Casey Foundation)

June 27, Columbia South Carolina, Man gets prison sentence for killing 14 month old boy

June 25, Farmington Maine, Franklin County child abuse rate among highest in the state

June 24, South Dakota, Terrible Racial Disparities lock up 3 times more SD youth than other states with longer sentences

June 24, Salina Kansas, 7 year old Jonathan Michael Kelley’s drowning death under investigation

June 29, Battle Creek Michigan, Leo Ackley to have new trial in death of 3 year old’s (Baylee Stenman) felony murder

June 24, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Julie Pittman indicted for felony neglect and the death of 6 month old son (unnamed in article)

June 24, Iowa City Iowa, Jorge Pereze convicted of child endangerment resulting in beating death of 20 month old son Marcus Balderas

June 24, US, Abuse of youth in U.S. juvenile prisons = sexual victimization and widespread abuse Annie E Casey Foundation report

June 22, Pennsylvania, Foster Care kids given psychotropic meds at 3 times the normal rate

June 22, Boone County Kentucky puts child protection on hold for 92 cases of child abuse due to lack of funding, high turnover and rising caseloads.

June 26, Oberlin Louisiana, Bobby Davis Jr guilty of negligent homicide in 2nd degree murder by blunt force trauma of girl friend’s 2 year old daughter (unnamed in article)

June 19, Waterloo Iowa, Police investigate toddler death at daycare

June 16, Minneapolis Minnesota, Stressed child protection system spotlighted by 2 year old Sophia ONeill’s violent death by Cody Samuel Feran-Baum

June 19, New Zealand, Worst child death rate in the nation, Northland

June 16, Sandpoint Idaho, Death of 3 year old boy (not named in article) left in 130 degree car under investigation

June 19, Fulton Georgia, William Gaddy arrested on murder charge in death of beating death of 2 year old girl (unnamed in article)

June 17, Bowling Green, Kentucky, Tiffany Dawn Sampson & Robert Roger Dishman charged with second degree criminal abuse in the death of 19 month old Adrian Louis Maldonado

June 9, Manitoba Canada, Less than 1/3 of foster care youth graduate high school

June 9, US, medical news, Children and teens with Down syndrome and psychotropic medications

June 9, New York Times, Innocent Real Child waits for adoption

June 9, Richmond Virginia, Caseworkers underpaid, overworked and disgusted with dismissive attitude towards abused and neglected children file a lawsuit in Federal Court

June 9, Rhode Island, 45 children missing from child welfare – sex trafficking suspected

June 9, Ohio, Child abuse caseloads explode (double last year)

June 9, Buffalo New York, Record child abuse levels and end of Head Start funding create big problems

June 9, Minnesota, Indian couple sues to allow adoption to white family

June 8, US, Almost 18 million children annually witness or are victims of assaults with weapons (one in four children)

June 8, Connecticut, Transgender girls rights violated when sent to state prison

June 8, Los Angeles California, Relative foster child placements under- supported by the County

June 8, Georgia, High caseloads, gruesome child deaths, stagnant pay and low social worker morale

June 8, Nova Scotia Canada, Troubling pattern of placing First Nation children in government – supervised care

June 8, UK, Disturbing Facebook footage of cruelty to Children draws criticism

June 8, Tennessee, Tennessee children suffer from high Adverse Child Experiences (CDC report)

June 8, Texas, Texas Baptist Home for Children (allegedly)repeatedly ignored Bryan and Austin Cook’s crying for help as they were molested.

June 7, Spartanburg South Carolina, Big increase in child abuse reports

June 7, New Jersey, Statistics and stories confirm child abuse hiding in the shadows – a serious public health epidemic

June 6, Oklahoma, Where will the children go?

Details

Pennsylvania Child Protection News For January & February 2016

PA: Lackawanna County settles foster child abuse case
Scranton Times-Tribune – February 27, 2016
Lackawanna County agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the mother of a 7-year-old boy who was sexually abused his foster parents’ adopted son. The mother filed suit in August 2014, alleging the abuse could have been avoided had the county’s former Children and Youth Services — now called the Office of Youth and Family Services — heeded a written profile that warned the adopted son previously sexually abused others.
http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/lackawanna-county-settles-foster-child-abuse-case-1.2012322

PA: Lawmakers work to close loophole, require doctors to get background checks (Includes video)
WHTM – February 25, 2016
Vulakovich said during the rewrite of child protection laws, doctors and medical professionals were not specifically mentioned as being required to get background checks. DHS interpreted that as an exemption even though health care professionals had always been required to have those checks. Vulakovich and Senator John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) are sponsoring a bill that would put them back in and close the loophole.
http://abc27.com/2016/02/25/lawmakers-work-to-close-loophole-require-doctors-to-get-background-checks/

PA: County supports human services funding outcry
New Castle News – February 25, 2016
The county opposes “rebalancing” initiatives for child welfare services that will force counties to reduce funding by a fourth, reduce payments to providers, shorten contract periods or use county property tax funds to cover the state’s obligation until a future budge makes a true allocation.
http://www.ncnewsonline.com/news/county-supports-human-services-funding-outcry/article_1be71fc0-db41-11e5-9c05-57c548484217.html

Details

Child Protection and Appreciating Social Workers (we really should)

Christopher Sorenson recently wrote a compelling piece in the Star Tribune about animal safety as the foundation underlying our current child protection system and how only extreme cases of child abuse make the news or public awareness.

Speaking of service providers Chris writes; “On a daily basis these folks see what none of us wants to see – children being destroyed by neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and …, Our dirty secret in Minnesota and in this country is the abuse and neglect of children that continues each and every day”.

He points out how hard social work is and how stressed employees in a high-pressure and overburdened system do very difficult work under tight deadlines for modest pay. I would add; and with far too resources to get the results needed for the children they are working with. Turnover is high.
20,000 two-year olds were proscribed psychotropic medications in 2014 and millions of terribly abused 3-10 year old children took those drugs without adequate therapy and suffered greatly because of it. Ddrug companies were fined billions for selling these drugs to pediatricians for use on children. Millions more abused children were ignored after being reported to child protection services in this nation.

Details

CASA guardian ad-Litem News Around The Nation 1.1.16-2.13.16

FIND YOUR CASA here – This page tells the stories of CASA’s around the U.S. If you are not listed, send me your info and we will include it. Thank you Sai Yang and Century College for your research and writing on this page.

See what other CASA volunteers are doing – share your stories and blogs; info@invisiblechildren.org

– See more at: CASA News

An advocate for adolescents
Sierra Vista Herald
For the last 20 years, Hager has volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate — who call themselves CASAs — for Cochise County. A CASA is …
Chamber Spotlight: CASA volunteers work to help abused, neglected children – gulflive.com (blog)
CASA volunteer training set for February – Tahlequah Daily Press
Determined, and a bit overwhelmed, I work through rigorous CASA training – Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
Full Coverage

Flag as irrelevant

DCS workers deny allegations they failed to protect abused child
nwitimes.com
Elizabeth Lozano took the 4-year-old boy to a hearing in Lake County on Oct. 23, 2013, and a court-appointed special advocate noticed he had a …

Flag as irrelevant

Public invited to CASA of McKean County annual meeting
Bradford Era
Bob Esch, board president, will talk about what is special about being a Court-Appointed Special Advocate. CASA volunteer Gary DeVore of Port …

Flag as irrelevant

Letter: Remembering Chief Judge Kaye
Albany Times Union
The Court Appointed Special Advocates Programs of New York state and the New York State CASA Association are deeply saddened by the recent …

Flag as irrelevant

Details

CASA guardian ad-Litem News Around The Nation 10.1.15 Through 12.31.15

FIND YOUR CASA here – This page tells the stories of CASA’s around the U.S. If you are not listed, send me your info and we will include it. Thank you Sai Yang and Century College for your research and writing on this page.

See what other CASA volunteers are doing – share your stories and blogs; info@invisiblechildren.org

Details

New York Child Protection News December 2015- January 2016

Reporting compiled and submitted by KARA volunteer Corey Wasser NY: New York State’s Safe Harbour Project is working to combat human trafficking (Opinion) Buffalo News – January 24, 2016 The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) works to combat human trafficking through efforts that include the Safe Harbour Project, which assists…

Details

Pennsylvania Child Protection News December 2015

Two Bills Aim To Improve Lives Of PA’s Foster Children
90.5 WESA – December 28, 2015
Act 75 of 2015 and House Bill 1603 came about a result of the 2014 federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, which mandated that every state had until Jan. 1, 2016 to pass laws that would help foster youth.
http://wesa.fm/post/two-bills-aim-improve-lives-pas-foster-children This page contributed by Krista Neuner

Details

Pennsylvania Child Protection News November 2015

State Budget Impasse Impacts Columbia County Social Service Agency (Includes video)
WNEP – November 23, 2015
“It’s frustrating that child welfare is not considered an essential service at the state level because that would allow some money to continue to flow to the agencies to help provide services for a very vulnerable population,” April Miller of Columbia County Children & Youth Services said.
http://wnep.com/2015/11/23/state-budget-impasse-impacts-columbia-county-social-service-agency/

State budget impasse: counties may protest by keeping revenue owed state
Lancaster Online – November 22, 2015
Commissioners Dennis Stuckey and Craig Lehman said withholding revenue is worth exploring as Lancaster County sees reserves dwindle to support programs for children, the elderly and the mentally ill the state is supposed to fund.
http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/pennsylvania-state-budget-impasse-counties-may-protest-by-keeping-revenue/article_6871b9ee-8fc0-11e5-be74-f73d2d40362a.html

Details

Child Sex Abuse & The Mormon Church (stopping child abuse requires adults report it)

This article from an abused child about the Mormon Church hiding abuse her was another sad and eye opening look into how hard it is to achieve transparency and accountability in children’s rights issues.  Join KARA’s Facebook Page   ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Details

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…

Details

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.”

Details

Talking About Gun Safety Is Now A Punishable Offense For Doctors & DHS (in some states)

Foster families in Oklahoma are suing the state because they were asked by DHS to store guns according to best safety practices, In Florida actual fines and threats of incarceration face doctors for similar acts. Imagine talking to parents about protecting their children against gun accidents.

265 moms dads, brothers, sisters and selves were shot by very young children this year.

That’s where we live today friends. I wonder what Kansas and Texas are up to?

Details

Florida Child Protection News October 2015

FL: DeWitt: Step up to save Hernando’s visitation center (Opinion)
Tampa Bay Times – October 15, 2015
What this state most certainly does not need is one less safe place for vulnerable children. That, however, is what it will get at the end of this month with the closing of the Family Visitation Center of Hernando County. Actually, the center in Citrus County will also shut down, making two fewer safe places.
http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/dewitt-step-up-to-save-hernandos-visitation-center/2249849

FL: Special-needs families find wait list up to 10 years long (May require free registration)
Orlando Sentinel – October 17, 2015
Theoretically, the state of Florida helps families like the Creeses. In fact, Avery is on the state’s waiting list to get a Medicaid waiver that would provide help, including at-home care to give Greg some relief, because, in Florida, the average wait time is six years.
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-florida-medicaid-waiver-scott-maxwell-20151017-column.html

Details

Pennsylvania Child Protection News Sept – Oct 2015

Number of uninsured Pa. kids declined slightly last year, study finds

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – October 28, 2015

More than 139,000 Pennsylvania children did not have health insurance last year, according to a study released Wednesday.

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/health/2015/10/28/Number-of-uninsured-Pennsylvania-children-declined-slightly-last-year-study-finds/stories/201510280166

Children & Youth Services makes life-saving changes in wake of 9-year-old’s death

FOX43 – September 2, 2015

It’s been just over a year since the horrific death of nine-year-old Jarrod Tutko Jr., who died after a lifetime of neglect. His death revealed dysfunction and disarray within Dauphin County Children and Youth Services. Caseworkers visited the home, and there were repeated calls for help- including from a hospital and a school, on behalf of his siblings. But in the end, the calls were missed, and Jarrod was found dead weighing 16 pounds. The state placed CYS on a provisional license after it was revealed that caseworkers were overworked and “didn’t know how to do their jobs,” sometimes crying at their desks.

http://fox43.com/2015/09/02/children-youth-services-make-life-saving-changes-in-wake-of-9-year-olds-death/

Details

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

5 People / Week Accidentally Shot By Children (thank you Wayne LaPierre)

265 Moms, dads, brothers, sisters and selves were shot by very young children this year.

This is the first time data on people shot by children has been collected in America. I’m guessing it will go up n next year.

There are 28 states that hold gun owners criminally liable if children access their guns. There is at least one state that fines doctors (Florida- the initial bill called for a five million dollar fine and & 5 years in prison for the doctor) for counselling parents to take preventative measures with their guns if children are in the home. It’s the law. A very crazy law enforced to the detriment of children (most children accidentally shoot themselves).

Facts about children & guns;

More Americans are shot by toddlers (265) with guns than terrorists (151) just this year. This has been true for many years.

Every 30 minutes a child is killed or wounded by guns in America
Our nation leads the world in gun death
This Mother Jones Article included weapons manufacturers marketing materials aimed at very young children. It is disturbing. It was just last week a five year old Kentucky boy killed his two year old sister with his “Crickett” “my first” rifle. You can buy them in hot pink for little girls:

“The Crickett rifle is ideally sized for children four to ten years old and comes in a …Arms manufactures the following youth rifles: Crickett .22WMR Youth Rifles“

Americans killed by terrorists in the last decade (175) Americans killed by guns in the last decade (280,024)

Details