Adoption, Kinship and Grandparents (a tribute)

The saddest letters KARA receives come from grandparents that have watched their grandchildren horridly abused and then kept out of the loop while a cold and efficient system moves the child into a home and cutting off all further contact for the grandparents.

Almost 8 million children in America live with grandparents and other relatives. Most of them receive little or not help from governmental agencies.

Not all counties and states appreciate that it is easier for a child to restart a painfully disrupted life with someone they are connected to and have memories of than waking up in a home they have never seen before with people they don’t know.

Grandparents often don’t know about the court proceedings that are about to forever alter their relationship with grandchildren as they may live in another city or have become estranged from their badly behaving children.

Even if grandparents know of court proceedings, it can be very hard for them to have standing in the court or navigate the system once they are in it.

The saddest letters KARA receives come from grandparents that have watched their grandchildren horridly abused and then kept out of the loop while a cold and efficient system moves the child into a home and cutting off all further contact for the grandparents.

Everyone needs a lawyer and lawyers are expensive. I know grandparents that have spent tens of thousands of dollars trying desperately to provide a safe and familiar home for their grandchild.

It doesn’t seem right that money should be a biggest part of an adoption equation for grandma and grandpa (or other relatives) to make their argument for custody.

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.

COVID and Foster Care

The COVID crisis is stretching all of our community resources.  Every state is struggling to provide safe homes for foster children.

Fixing the problems this article brings to light will require an informed and involved community and government…

Click here to find out how to begin to make this happen where you live.

COVID & Child Protection, Foster Care & Privatized Group Homes

The State of Minnesota forcibly closed the privatized group home at St Cloud for repeated violations  including head banging that caused concussions & sex in front of staff.  2 St Paul boys group homes have been closed recently and there has long been a shortage of qualified foster homes in outstate Minnesota (as it is all around the nation).

This video demonstrates how terrible privatized group homes can become (Florida forces 48% of their state wards onto Prozac like drugs and now lives with eleven year old’s prostituting themselves out of their foster group homes).

92% of Foster Care Kids Using Psychotropic Meds Get Them For Unaccepted Reasons

From the Washington Post yesterday, most foster care children on antipsychoctic drugs get them for far too long and without medical justification. 2/3 of the nearly 700 claims studied raised high-risk “quality of care” issues. As a long time CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem, many of my case kids were on multiple drugs simultaneously and many of them hated being forced to use them. Some kids threw the drugs away.

In Minneapolis, I would like to know (there should be more transparency) if six year old Kendrea Johnson’s suicide by hanging involved psychotropic medications. She was a very troubled foster child, in therapy and had talked about homicide and suicide. When Jeff Weise killed himself, his grandfather and 14 others he had talked about suicide and homicide and was taking Prozac.

7 year old foster child Gabriel Myers hung himself and left a note about how he hated Prozac. KARA’s video interviews include families, a City Councilman, and other professionals talking about antipsychotic medications, very young children and suicide. This subject needs our attention now. It is cruel punishment for a child suffering from the traumas of abuse and removal from a birth home to be dealt with.

There are 3 children’s hospitals in the metro area and NO children’s mental health hospitals and there are 800 to 1000 emergency psychiatric visits at HCMC every month (many of them children).

This conversation is overdue.

What we don’t know cannot be dealt with and will not be improved. Let’s stop the next awful six year old suicide.

Draft KARA TEDx Talk (14 minute video)

Addressing Generational Child Abuse As A Public Health Issue (14 minute video) & how to heal damaged children to make our communities happy and safe again

Take a moment and share your response to KARA’s short video overview of child abuse & child protection in America as an online comment to this post or by email; info@invisiblechildren.org.

Day of Justice in the Death of 3 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 …

CASA MN Trivia Night & Silent Auction (Oct 17)

CASA MN supports the guardian ad litem child advocacy program gives grants to children in foster care through CASA Cares. This is our annual fundraiser and it’s great fun and a great cause.

Gather a group of friends or co-workers for a team or come and join a team to compete in a fun night of trivia.

Civil Rights of A Three Year Old (and what happens without them)

Zepora Fortenberry will spend 27 months in prison for watching her boyfriend Charles Homich punch 3 year-old Zayden Lawson to death.

Zayden was one of two foster children this mom cared for along with her two biological children.

For weeks (or months) Zayden and his siblings lived in sheer terror of Zepora’s boyfriend.

It must have been torture and traumatizing for the other children to witness the insane and evil violence repeatedly done to Zayden in their home while their mother watched.

Recent Stories, Statistics & Articles About Adoption & Foster Care

After a 9 day trial, foster mom Melissa Sondrol was convicted of of assaulting her infant state ward child, breaking multiple bones and withholding medical information from providers. The court was not allowed to hear her prior histories of abuse. This infant has suffered for years in MN and will live a life very different from other children due to the traumas visited upon him as a foster child – and the things that happened to him prior to entering child protection.

Stories about the shortage of foster care providers, lack of training and resources and transparency within the system are not uncommon – remember, we only read about the very worst cases – the sadness in foster care goes much deeper.

Recent Child Abuse and Child Protection Stories; Arizona/Arkansas

Recent Child Abuse and Child Protection Stories; Arizona/Arkansas
Kids At Risk Action tracks the stories of abused and neglected children and the people, policies and programs that impact them. This is a snapshot of how Arizona and Arkansas value their children.
This is only a small fraction of the stories about the lives of the state’s most vulnerable citizens over the past twelve months.
The vast majority of child abuse and child protection issues are never reported or talked about.
Kids At Risk Action needs an aspiring writer/research to help gather and report on these stories in your state. Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org with REPORTING in the subject line.

How Church & State Bigotry Hurts Abused Children

Not just anyone can manage adoption or fostering of children that have been tortured by their caregivers*.

Years of child protection work have proven to me that gay couples are not only wonderful parent choices for abandoned children, but that they may be the very best choice.

As outcasts themselves, the GLBT community knows what frightened and alone means to a child and can relate to fear and anxiety of being different in a harsh environment.

Abused children carry their traumas with them and have mental health issues and behaviors that are often uncontrollable, violent and dangerous to themselves and others.

It takes special people to raise traumatized children.

So when the Church or the State refuse gay couples the right to adopt it eliminates an already inadequate pool of foster/adoption families and leaves abandoned children even more alone and frightened at a time they most need a loving home and family. This is a special kind of cruelty and deserves to be outed. Share this widely.

Articles, Stories & Statistics About Adoption and Foster Care for June 2018

Group home caters to LGBT foster children
Cronkite News
Redmond said she wanted to provide a real home for LGBT foster children and her group home was immediately at capacity. They usually go on …
Flag as irrelevant

Adopted children ‘barely surviving’ in high-pressure schools
The Guardian
Adopted children who have suffered traumatic early experiences are “barely surviving” in the current high-pressure school environment and need …
Flag as irrelevant

Child Welfare State By State for May 2018 (8)

SC: South Carolina, Under Lawsuit Settlement and Needing 1,500 Foster Homes, Could Become 20th State To Create Ombudsmans’ Office (Commentary)
Chronicle of Social Change – April 30, 2018
South Carolina is set to become the 20th state to establish an autonomous office to hold its child welfare agency accountable.

Child Welfare by State (statistics & news April 2018 (5 – foster child)

American states are struggling to find answers for ending adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and saving at risk children by reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect. Today, many state ward children are the 4th and 5th generation of abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and with serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines

Child Welfare by State (statistics & news April 2018 (4)

KARA’s reporting is only sampling of what should be reported – the great majority of child trauma & abuse is never known.

American states are struggling to find answers for ending adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and saving at risk children by reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect. Today, many state ward children are the 4th and 5th generation of abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and with serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines

Sad Stories Feb 2018 Part IV (child abuse & trauma articles and statistics)

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18.

(American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

January Sad Stories 2018 Part III

KARA (Kids At Risk Action) tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. KARA’s reporting is only sampling of what should be reported – the great majority of child trauma & abuse is never known.

American states are struggling to find answers for ending adverse childhood experiences and saving at risk children by reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect. Today, many state ward children are the 4th and 5th generation of abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and with serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues

January Sad Stories 2018 Part II

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines

January Sad Stories 2018 Part I (find your state here)

American states are struggling to find answers for ending adverse childhood experiences and saving at risk children by reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect. Today, many state ward children are the 4th and 5th generation of abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and with serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines

MN At Risk Children’s News July – September 2017 (V)

Brandon Stahl Reporting

KARA gathers news about Minnesota’s abused children to provide a snapshot of Child Protection and how our state values its children.

Only a fraction of serious child abuse stories, statistics and facts we should be aware of.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

Follow;

Safe Passage For Children MN (Join their legislative volunteer efforts and make child friendly legislation a reality)

MN At Risk Children’s News July – September 2017 (III)

KARA gathers news about Minnesota’s abused children to provide a snapshot of Child Protection and how our state values its children.

Only a fraction of serious child abuse stories, statistics and facts we should be aware of.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

MN At Risk Children’s News July – September 2017 (II)

KARA gathers news about Minnesota’s abused children to provide a snapshot of Child Protection and how our state values its children.

Only a fraction of serious child abuse stories, statistics and facts we should be aware of.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

Follow;

Safe Passage For Children MN (Join their legislative volunteer efforts and make child friendly legislation a reality)

International Child Protection News October thru December 2017

KARA tracks current international news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

Most child trauma & abuse never gets reported

KARA needs news gatherers

Help KARA report on at risk children in your community.

Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org with Research/Writing in the subject line.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Sad Stories December 2017 Part III (child abuse stories & articles from your state)

Today, many state ward children are the 4th and 5th generation of abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and with serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

December 2017 Sad Stories Part I (child abuse stories & articles from your state)

Today, many state ward children are the 4th and 5th generation of abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and with serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

December 2017 Sad Stories Part II (child abuse stories & articles from your state)

KARA (Kids At Risk Action) tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. This is only a sampling of what should be reported. Most child trauma & abuse never gets reported. American states are struggling to find answers for ending adverse childhood experiences and saving at risk children by reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect. Today, many state ward children are the 4th and 5th generation of abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and with serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines

Safe Passage for Children of MN Advocacy (shining a light on at Minnesota’s at risk children)

By the time she was 11 years old, McKenna Ahrenholz of Swift County, Minnesota, and her four younger brothers and sisters had endured years of abuse and neglect by her father.

The abuse was frequently reported to child case workers, but each time, time after time, the Ahrenholz children were returned to their father. Even when they asked not to be returned. Every time – seventeen times.

Today, McKenna and her siblings live safely and happily with their grandparents. But in too many cases, Minnesota’s child welfare system continues to fail our state’s children.

Safe Passage for Children advocates for reforms in the child welfare system. As you make your year-end charitable donations, please help us reach our $8,000 goal with a contribution to Safe Passage – and the future of Minnesota children.

November Sad Stories Part II (1000 stories)

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Foster Mom Charged With Breaking Bones of 7-Week Old Foster Boy (thank you Brandon Stahl & Star Tribune)

Abused and neglected State Ward children have already suffered enough when they enter foster care.

To be removed from a birth home by a judge means that the child’s life has been in imminent danger of serious harm. Most of the children I’ve worked with as a volunteer CASA guardian ad Litem have stories that still make me shudder (some) from twenty years ago.

Brandon Stahl’s article in today’s Star Tribune is one of those stories.

A Note to Brandon Stahl & the Tribune (abused children still need you)

It is only because you found the death of 4 year-old Eric Dean suspicious and dedicated yourself to reporting on the awful circumstances that killed him after 15 ignored reports of child abuse, that this volunteer CASA guardian ad Litem has any hope for the thousands of other terrified and tortured children in need of child protection services today.

Working for decades with traumatized children, I’ve experienced the awful truth about the lasting impact of abuse on children and the lasting impact of abused children on our community.

Brandon, your efforts and insights into the inadequacies and failures of a system in need of transparency, accountability and media attention is why Governor Dayton called out the colossal failure of the system & created the task force that has brought significant change to an institution not given to criticism or outside influence.

Minnesota’s At Risk Children’s News (first 6 months of 2017)

What’s it like to be an abused child in Minnesota? The stories and articles below shine a light on the sadness and traumas faced by five year-olds, infants and other helpless children in our state. These stories are only a tiny percentage of the pain suffered by at risk children in our state. The vast majority of violence against children is unknown outside the family. Share this widely and consider supporting a child friendly legislator or service providing organization with your time or dollars. Be a voice for abused and neglected children (they can’t call their state representative to ask for help – they need us to do it for them).

June Sad Stories 2017 Part I

KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. Please note that what you see here is only a sampling of what should be reported – the great majority of child trauma & abuse never gets reported.

American states are struggling to find answers for saving at risk children and reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect. Today, many state ward children are the 4th and 5th generation of abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and with serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Compilation of information and writing on this page is the hard work of David Vang, Mike Toronto, Jamar Weston, Adolf Nchanj and Blaz Zlate, Callie Benscoter, (student volunteers at Century College) Katie Frake, Boston College, Julie O, and KARA.

Please donate now and support these pages &

1) KARA’s FREE Traveling College/University/Museum Exhibits

A Brief History of Four Year Olds and Prozac

Medicating very young children with psychotropic drugs is accepted protocol in foster homes and child protective services throughout America.

States vary, but 33% of state ward children appears to be the lowest percentage of children being medicated. Florida is at 50% Texas has had 67’% of its state ward children between the ages of 13 & 17 medicated).

High Hopes For Hennepin County’s New Child Protection Model (keeping up with reports of abuse)

Today’s heartening Star Tribune article gave me hope that I’ve not had in decades for the saving of abused and neglected children from extended traumas and ruined lives.

“No longer will a child need to endure maltreatment before they get social services in Minnesota’s most populous county, an unprecedented step in the state”.

Thank you Task Force on Child Protection, Safe Passage For Children, Governor Dayton and all the legislators and supporters standing for the weakest and most vulnerable children in our community.

Additional funding for staff, reduced caseloads, responding to child abuse reports at all hours (including weekends) and focusing on the child’s well-being instead of the crisis mode required after traumatic abuse has been endured (usually for years) will make a huge difference in the lives of these kids.

By making services available to struggling families and insuring that very young children reported as abused receive face-to-face assessments and the help they need, we will be interrupting patterns of behavior that can ruin a child’s life forever and making their lives safer and happier.

The ACE’s (Adverse Child Experience) medical studies have proven the negative mental health outcomes of childhood trauma.