Struggles for Foster Care Children in Education

America has long failed to understand and address the underlying issues that drive behaviors of traumatized children. Many end up suspended, expelled or in juvenile justice. Teen and preteen pregnancies are significantly more common among them than with their peers also.

We Are A Nation of Child Abusers

Nicholas Christof’s article in the NYTimes today points a finger at “pro-family” people “preserving” child poverty in America.

Lest you believe this a stretch, America stands out as the country with the highest child poverty rate and one of the lowest levels of social expenditure.  This has been true for many years.

This means food insecurity for five year olds, and the statistical probability that homeless ten year olds are three times more likely to be sexually abused than other children.

There is a heartlessness behind the politics of separating immigrant babies from their mother (over 5000) and not returning those children to their birth parents (over 1000 still are separated today).

We the people now have public policies that have led to the sad reality that;

37% of children are reported to child protection agencies in this nation by their 18th birthday.
almost one third of American children will have a criminal record by their 23rd birthay
80% of youth aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives

Child Abuse & Soul Murder (chapter 2)

I’ve come to know 50 beautiful babies and children that have had their souls murdered.

All fifty of my caseload children lived with chronic and serious beatings, rape, starvation and neglect repeatedly over a period of years.

They all died a tragic death of self.

Some watched their mothers being beaten or raped repeatedly, others were beaten, neglected or raped repeatedly.  Some of them were regular drug users by 8 or 9 years old.

COVID & Child Suicide November 2020

KARA (Kids At Risk Action) tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and  attention to our youngest and most vulnerable  citizens.  The COVID pandemic has interrupted most major media reporting of child abuse issues.

KARA’s reporting is only sampling of what should be reported –  the great majority of child trauma & abuse is never known. Major media and institutional reporting on children’s issues are much lower due to the COVID pandemic.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

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Lawsuits and the Death of Two Year Old Arianna Hunziker

Arianna was wrapped in sheets, left alone in a closed room and slowly starved to death. Foster parents Sherrie and Bryce Dirk will go to prison for murdering Arianna. This solves nothing.

There is something terribly disturbing about a State sanctioned foster family starving a 3 year old State Ward child to death that needs to see the light of day.

Arianna must not have had a County social worker (today’s Star Tribune article …

Schools Closed – What We Need to Know

Poor districts are suffering more domestic violence & substance abuse from from front line worker stress, poverty and job loss making online learning that much harder for children.

Many poor families are crowded into small spaces, lacking necessary internet access and hardware for adequate online learning.

This NY Times article barely acknowledges the social and economic costs of abused and neglected children locked into toxic homes during COVID.  Abused children have no teacher or other mandated reporter to recognize and respond to their traumas.  There is no comparison to having a trusted teacher to privately speak to in school and a video chat with the abuser in the room or nearby.

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…

The Death of Arianna Hunziker & Lawsuits

Arianna Hunziker was “starved, dehydrated, bound, immobilized and abandoned in a home littered in trash and smelling of of urine”.  Foster parents Sherrie and Bryce Dirk went to prison for murdering Arianna.  There is something terribly disturbing about a State sanctioned foster family killing a two year old State Ward child that needs to see the light of day.

The lawsuit in today’s paper points out that another MN community is having a hard time with either the resources, training or protocol for keeping at risk children safe.  Being a foster child should not be one more horrific encounter with child abuse.  It’s plenty hard when your birth parents make your suffering so bad that a judge removes you from their home to place you with a family you have never seen before.

Child Suicide Reporting (3 weeks ending 10.17.20)

These articles reflect current trends in child suicide & self-harm in America today. Only a fraction of child/youth suicides are successful. The vast majority of self-inflicted harm remains invisible. Mental health services are badly needed by young people today as the COVID pandemic is locking children into toxic homes with little or no access to the adults that could help them.

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

International Child Well-Being 9.16 – 9.30 2020

The United Nations Secretary General Anonio Guterres warned that we are seeing a horrifying global surge in domestic violence

all over the world and is urging leaders to include protective measures in their pandemic plans.

The depth and scope of violence against children was a terrible problem before the pandemic.

Generational child abuse has grown exponentially for decades overwhelming schools, justice systems and communities.

 ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Abused Children, COVID & Law enforcement

This article addresses the depth and scope of a problem that has been and still is growing at exponential rates, all over America.
The current approach to policing at risk youth is creating exactly what we want to stop. Even partial success in ending the current model will give results to save us from building more jails and prisons and the steady growth in crime and recidivism rates.

America leads the industrialized world in gun deaths, unsafe streets, prison populations, cost of crime and recidivism rates.

The choice we are facing is imminent.  There is a tipping point that we cannot see, and it is too serious to ignore.

Sign KARA’s Petition Demanding Congress Ratify the Children’s Rights Treaty of 1989

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

This reqest for action submitted by long time CASA guardian ad Litem Mike Tikkanen

Sign KARA’s Petition for American Lawmakers to Ratify the UN Rights of the Child Treaty

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.

Kids At Risk Action August Update

It’s been a busy summer for Kids At Risk Action.  A Good morning shout-out and Thank You to KARA’S 30 new volunteers plus 2 new university engagements (thank you Sarah and Alyssa).

We are working with over 40 student interns (Melbourne Australia welcome Trevor, Anh Pham & all), MN, and 180 degrees – Canada welcome Vivian) and KARA’s new full-time administrator (welcome Darcy).

Most college students are engaged in the research and…

COVID Child Abuse Update for July – August 2020

Almost every school building in the country is closed
Fewer than half of students are participating in online learning in some schools,
The reporting of child abuse is dropping by as much as 70% since schools shut their doors.
Between March and April almost 90% of children entering Children’s Hospital in Washington DC had to be hospitalized because of injuries suggesting child abuse (compared to 50% in the same period prior year).
A majority of Americans are not reporting parental child abuse (only 19% say they are “very Likely” to report and only 36% would report if it were a stranger doing the same thing.
It’s time the rest of us gave voice to invisible children.

What We Should Know About Child Suicide & Self-Harm

Only one out a hundred very young children are successful in their suicide attempts.  Most child suicides are not by guns (the primary means of adult suicides), but by hanging and poison.  Kendrea (6) and Gabriel (7) successfully hung themselves a few years ago.  They came from different states but suffered the same afflictions. 

Many child suicides are by children that have

Foster Care Day Rates vs Dog Care Day Rates (it just doesn’t seem right)

For decades it has been true that people engaged in the keeping of pets are perceived to be more valuable than foster families caring for State Ward children.  Doggy day care is (and has been for a very long time) as or more expensive (on average $40/day) than child care (on average $30/day) should make us think a little harder about the hope we have for the future of at risk children.

MN Foster Care During COVID

Fewer children are entering the foster care system during the pandemic.

This is not because there is less child abuse and trauma.

Families are more stressed than before COVID.

Drug and alcohol use, domestic violence and child abuse are up because of this.

The following information is gathered from local MN news sources over the last 60 days.

When Hope Dies (child suicide & self harm – can reading this help us protect at risk children?)

Kendrea (6) and Gabriel (7) successfully hung themselves a few years ago.  They came from different states but suffered the same afflictions.  Kendrea lived not far from me.

As a CASA guardian ad Litem, the commonality of self hate by the children I worked with in child protection – being so different, so unlovable that even your mother abandoned you, is devastating.

Minnesota Child Protection Stories, Statistics & COVID – June 2020

The nightmare of George Floyd’s murder and the burning, street violence and social upheaval continuing as this already too hot summer gets underway is raining down extra hard on children already suffering the traumas of toxic circumstances.

Closed schools locked abused children with their abusive caregivers.

This additional social violence creates more fear, pain and stress that leads to more drug & alcohol use & more domestic violence, more trauma and less escape from it.

A Powerful Resource for Minnesota’s Vulnerable Children (Safe Passage for Children of MN)

For many years Rich Gehrman and Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota have organized and delivered support for Minnesota’s abused and neglected children.  All Minnesotan’s should be aware of this organization’s efforts to improve services, transparency & policy for the states at risk children.

Below are their most recent blog posts.  Join them.

Domestic Violence Statistics, Covid & Child Abuse Trends June 2020

It is not maltreatment, the word maltreatment does not describe traumatic violence to a child – to a child, the trauma of watching your mother being beaten or raped is very much the same as being beaten or raped – being left in a crib alone for days at a time with no touching, no food or love is also a trauma that lasts forever.
Kids At Risk Action writes and reports on child abuse issues
providing a passionate voice for at risk children
All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

Ethan’s Story

Ethan was 17 years old when I met him. Again, what I know of his story is limited, but the ugliest truths of it seemed to jump off the page and into my brain as I read his file to prepare for our interview. At his first foster care placement, he was sexually and physically abused by his foster father who had an alcohol problem. His foster mother was aware of the abuse going on, but because she was a victim of the domestic violence herself, was unable to stand up for the children in her home. Whether Ethan was removed from this placement (I refuse to refer to it as a “home” given the state of things) before or after this information came to light, is unbeknownst to me.

Child Abuse, Covid & What We Know (stress and domestic violence)

Kids At Risk Action writes and reports on child abuse issues & provides a passionate voice for at risk children All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children Support KARA’s Public Service Announcements KARA Signature Video (4 minute) Public Service Announcement( 30 Second) Struggling families in America have never had it easy.  The stresses of…

Being a Voice For an Abused Child – CASA guardian ad Litems speak for the child

In America today, children have no federal rights except under the “doctrine of imminent harm” which allows the child to be taken from the family if the child’s life is endangered by the parent.  For the most part, being responsible for killing your own child, unless it’s for religious reasons it is against the law.

At least 30 states still allow parents to withhold lifesaving medical care to their children for religious reasons and children do die because of it. This may sound hyperbolic, but if you did withhold lifesaving medical care in a state that did not allow it for religious reasons, you’d be charged with killing your child.  Parents have all the rights and children have no voice except for the guardian ad litem that speaks for them.