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Aging Out of Foster Care In the Time of COVID

COVID is coming down hard on foster children.
Pre-COVID, 80% of aged out foster children went on to lead dysfunctional lives.  Foster care shortcomings are a social problem that is systematically forgotten, specifically for the 23,000 youth that age out of foster care… the rate of homelessness for these youth, with one third of aged out youth spending their first night on the streets. Furthermore, 14 to 26 percent of homeless adults in Minneapolis were former foster care participants according to research conducted by the Hennepin County Community Services Department.

Our Creeping Mental Health Crisis (& statistics)

As a new CASA guardian ad Litem volunteer I was stunned by the Prozac, Ritalin and other psychotropic medications prescribed to my seven, eight and nine year old State Ward children. About 1/3 of all state ward children (nationally) are forced onto psychotropic medications. Suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death among 10 to 24 year olds.

Over 1 million children under 6 are prescribed psychiatric drugs in America today. In 2014, 20,000 one and two year old’s were on Prozac like drugs & *Johnson & Johnson was fined billions of dollars for illegally selling those drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children…

Impossible Questions & Painful Statistics

Are children property of their parents even if those parents

re violent, addicted, severely mentally ill or dangerously criminal?

Harder question.

Do teen and preteen mothers own their fetuses & babies

even if they abuse their children,

are addicted and out of control with little understanding of how

or ability to raise a child safely?…

Is this child’s child doomed prior to birth?

Children have no voice at the legislature, the media or in the home they are born into.  They have no choice in who raises them or what is done to them.

The Calculus of Community (+COVID)

What is the equation for a healthy human being or a healthy community?

If there is an equation, the wrath of COVID is becoming a huge negative central to the calculation.

We will need to find an equal positive to offset the negative if we are to manage the stress and trauma this pandemic is visiting upon millions of at risk children and their families today.

Caring for others when times are stressful and fearful becomes harder for all of us and the institutions created to do so.

Child Care – Brutal Truths & Best Practices

Michele Norris Star Tribune article on MN child care is just the tip of this iceberg. Did you know that the U.S. used to have the best and most affordable daycare in the world?

Today, the COVID pandemic has forced many daycare centers to close and others to raise prices significantly due to social distancing and sanitation requirements.

in many states, single Parents pay over 50% of their income for infant center care and married parents with 2 children pay over 100% of their household income for center based care (or they would if they could make it work).  Minnesotans pay over 15 thousand dollars for infant care (when public college tuition is 11 thousand dollars.  20 years ago, there were 34 names on the waiting list for MN’s subsidized daycare.  That ended when the new governor took those state funds away and the list grew to over 7000 families.  Some states have never provided meaningful help for families struggling to afford daycare.

For a nation claiming to value children – one could argue it’s for the dollars they bring in and not their future role as citizens.  Drunk uncle/boyfriend daycare is a growing sadness the media…

For a nation claiming to value children – one could argue it’s for the dollars they bring in and not their future role as citizens. Drunk uncle/boyfriend daycare is an awful thing the media…

Policing, COVID & Abused Children (share with your law enforcement contacts & save a child)

Conflicts between officer training and the children they are policing.

Policing youth with mental health problems is a growing problem.  This article sheds light on solutions to this intractable core community problem.

From a law enforcement perspective, police officers are at significant risk for injury and even

1 In 3 Children Investigated For Child Abuse by 18 (Washington University Study)

As a long time volunteer County CASA guardian ad Litem it has been hard to comprehend the explosive growth of child abuse in my lifetime. This study (lead author Hyunil Kim PhD Student at the Brown School at Washington University St Louis) published in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health is troubling on several levels.

First, to reach numbers this high by only including reports of child abuse that met County standards for a case to be investigated, indicates that this already high number (37% overall & 53% for Black Children) is possibly even higher

A Beginners Guide to Child Abuse

Historically, my community only allows the most extreme cases of extensive, repeated abuse and trauma into the system.  Bruised, raped and bleeding was how one of my administrators termed it.

My family, friends and business associates hated me talking about child abuse.  They would rather not know about this uncomfortable subject. To this day it’s true.

I began speaking to Rotaries and other business, religious and political groups about statistics and my experiences as a volunteer CASA guardian ad litem.

For the first few years, almost no one understood my talk.

You’re Hurting Me – Children Living In Toxic Homes During The Covid Lockdown (domestic violence statistics)

TThe absence of reports of violence against children in the media does not reflect the amount of trauma and suffering of children in toxic homes in our communities today.

The COVID lockdown has almost ended domestic violence abuse reporting in the media and for children, there are no classrooms to escape to.  Social workers can’t get into the homes to talk to or look at children to hear their stories and see their bruises. 

30.2 % of America’s Youth Arrested Before Their 23rd Birthday (25% of us are state wards & special needs people)

Add this to the fact that American youth (as young as 11) are routinely charged as adults (25% nationally) and that cities around the nation arrest extremely high percentages of their minority populations (in 2001 Hennepin County – Minneapolis MN) arrested 44% of it’s adult Black Men – no duplicate arrests/58% of those men were rearrested for a second crime within two years making Minneapolis the Jail & Prison capital of the world.

Many states have funded their prison and jail systems at far greater rates of increase than their schools, daycare, or health systems, either of which could reduce the stresses driving the extreme growth in crime and courts.

Making Minnesota A Trauma Informed State (trauma informed resources during covid 19 quarantine)

Be It Resolved That;

Minnesota has conducted the ACEs Survey and confirmed the results of the original ACEs survey.
Nadine Burke Harris, Surgeon General of California has declared childhood trauma a public health epidemic and public schools crisis.
Minnesota should proclaim itself to be a Trauma Informed Care State and action its largest agencies to determine what this means for their areas of responsibility.
Nine other states have done so, multiple MN communities are working towards becoming trauma informed communities
Our state should appoint an ACEs Czar to pull together these diverse activities.

A Christmas Gift From KARA

Get the crash course on child abuse in America

& Advocate for At Risk Children

Until January 15th,

KARA is offering;

The INVISIBLE CHILDREN book

(hardcover, pdf, CD, online or e-book) 

plus either the Give Kids A Voice

Ladies Tee Shirt, or Boy/Mens T shirt

or the

3 Ply Mask, or an Activity Mask,

For a $10/month online donation to support KARA’s mental health initiative for youth.

Child Sex Abuse & The Most Powerful Suicide Note Ever (Bill Zeller from 2011)

This is the longest and most powerful and articulate suicide note I’ve ever read and it has great meaning to me for its power to relate these two incomprehensible sorrows (abuse & suicide).

I could not read Bill Zeller’s last letter without feeling the terror, physical and mental impediments, and daily reminders of his childhood nightmares and adult confusion and suicide.

Arming Teachers/Shooting Students (advocating for less violence and a more civil society)

After the COVID19 lockdowns are lifted, and children and teachers return to the the classroom after months of fear and isolation, wouldn’t it be wonderful if students and teachers do not have to replace the daily fear of a virus with the daily fear of violence? 

What can the community do to make that happen?

How many teachers have combat training or signed up to pack a weapon when they entered the profession?  Turnover in education is already a huge problem.  Packing a gun is what police and soldiers do. Shooting someone takes training – shooting the right person takes extensive training.  For decades now, guns have been more often used for suicide than self-defense in America.  This is true also for domestic violence.

American Crime Costs & Statistics

Louisiana (the World’s Prison Capitol), Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma & several other states have incarceration rates 20 times that of incarceration rates in most other industrialized nations. The best prisons in the world release good neighbors back into the community American prisons release hardened criminals with mental health problems and an 80% change of recidivism within five years.

Federal Prisons are 131% of design capacity – 2015 18 states are over capacity. 800% increase in women in prison since 1980.

These statistics and research calculate crime in America today and its cost…

Give Children the Rights Every Other Nation Gives Them

America is the only nation on earth that is not a party to the international rights of the child treaty of 1989.

Children have no voice in the media, courts, homes and they can’t vote for legislation to keep them safe from harm.

Child rights in America today are the rights of women in 1917 (a personal possession – a slave or pet).

Only a fraction of parental violence and abuse against children is ever reported, a tiny percentage of that number is ever prosecuted and parents can legally withhold life saving medical care from their children in 27 states with some states putting only token resources into child protective systems leaving children trapped in a lifetime of violence, trauma and abuse.

Most child abuse cases in state courts meet the World Health Organization’s definition of torture “Extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.

Child Abuse Statistics (& the best resources)

The following information is gathered from Kids Count, Children’s Defense Fund,& American SPCC

Nationally over 7 million U.S. children come to the attention of Child Protective Services each year according to a Children’s Bureau 2015 report.

37% of American children are reported to Child Protective Services by their 18th birthday (African American children are reported at 54%)
1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.13 3
34% of people who sexually abuse a child are family members. 4

Body Memories – Why Child Sex Abuse Never Ends (letters from survivors and non survivors)

Dear Doctor,

As a medical professional you have taken an oath to do no harm, but there are ways in which you can hurt your patients without even recognizing you are doing so. What seems to you as a simple exam may cause injury to those who have been victimized by someone’s touch. This is a subject that we, survivors of sexual violence, have been meaning to discuss with you for some time now, but your authority can be more intimidating than you may know. I am also unsure if you are aware just how much power you, as a physician, hold and to the extent that you affect the lives of all of your patients. Your interactions with us travel much deeper than the physical core.

The relationship between patient and doctor is also mental, built on trust, understanding, and the security of knowing that your doctor has your well-being at heart. We, as your patients, entrust in you the most intimate parts of our bodies and our lives. But this trust has to be earned, and it is much harder for us patients who have been so severely violated. The intent of this letter is not to in any way criticize your work as a