Police Shootings & You and Me

People smarter than me have clearly explained the underlying institutional dysfunctions that ensure the next police shootings.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown accurately stated that law enforcement has become the safety system in schools, a primary community mental health service provider, and of course the armed responder to a growing number of society’s violent problems.

Recently, Minnesota sheriffs from Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington Counties wrote a half page Star Tribunearticle threatening to sue the State for failing to provide timely mental health services to people locked up in their jail cells. This failure has turned law enforcement into a provider of mental health services to a large and growing population of often dangerous people.

MN Law enforcement officers killed 12 people in 2015 and each year are dealing with more unstable people and potentially dangerous encounters with the wrong training needed to slow this racially unbalanced social dysfunction.

CASAMN October 26th Fundraiser (save the date & help us find sponsors)

We need your help! Your sponsorship of this event will be essential to the fundraiser’s success and will enable CASA Minnesota to continue providing volunteer Guardian Ad Litem’s to abused and neglected children involved in Juvenile Court proceedings in our communities & to help fund CASA Cares for kids! We would be most grateful for your sponsorship at any level (including live and silent auction items). Join us for a celebration and a great cause.

CASA volunteers – also known as Guardians ad Litem in the State of Minnesota—are everyday citizens whom judges appoint to advocate for the safety and well-being of children who are in the court system as a result of abuse and/or neglect. They stand up for these children and change their lives.

CASA Cares is a grant program, formerly known as Friends of Children that benefits children in foster care by providing bikes, helmets, camps, school supplies, and other items that allow them to enjoy a positive childhood experience and further help them to overcome adversity by seeing that we as a community can help meet their needs!

CASA Minnesota is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that supports Minnesota CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) programs and the volunteers who have helped more than two million children find safe, permanent homes. Your contributions are tax-deductible! Share this with your friends and networks (All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children)

CASA Guardian ad Litem News From Around the Nation July 2016

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 KARA volunteers for your research and writing on this page.

All Adults Are the Protectors Of All Children

Join the Conversation at Linked In & receive weekly updates from around the nation

Guardian ad Litem Presentation for Prospective Volunteers

We Are All Nuts (the costs and dangers of undertreating and ignoring mental health – thank you Star Tribune)

If you have children, grandchildren or just like other people’s children, you should read this to the end. You could help keep them safe from terrible things by understanding the connection between this mental health discussion and those terrible things.

Today’s Star Tribune article by Chris Serres should wake us up as to the cost and danger we all face by ignoring, undertreating and maltreating mentally at risk people. Last week Chris wrote about the broken bones and violence done to children in the justice system because of their mental health struggles. Thank you Chris Serres and the Star Tribune for bringing this long avoided topic to the front page.

Chris’s article concentrates on the logjam and wait periods patients and providers face in this state and the human suffering that that accompanies it.

Not mentioned are the 900-1000 emergency psych visits to HCMC every month and some psych patients are waiting three months to be admitted (and that’s just one MN hospital). Allina Health DR Paul Goering states that “it’s been so paralyzing for the community to say ‘it looks like things are broken,’ and then to say it again next year”.

I agree with Dr Rahul Koranne (Chief Medical Officer for the MN Hospital Association) quote that

MN Child Protection News July 2016

Hundreds of Minnesota teens confined, abused for no … – Star Tribune

www.startribune.com/confined…teenager…minnesota…/389387061/

Star Tribune

4 days ago – Confined without charges, a teenager’s ordeal reveals strains within … Hundreds of Minnesota teens with mental health problems are winding …

Moms emerge as force for change at Minn. state mental … – Star Tribune

www.startribune.com/mothers…as-a…minnesota…mental…/388084502/

Star Tribune

Jul 24, 2016 – Mothers emerge as a force for change at Minnesota state mental hospital … to advocate for their sons who are psychiatric patients at the hospital Tuesday, July …. Delta cancels hundredsmore flights in wake of Monday outage · Lynx head off … A black teenager encounters racism in the Twin Cities suburbs.

I’ll Be There Next Year Too (CASA Cares Golf Tournament for Foster Children)

Thank You Steve Betchwars for your seventh fun and most terrific year supporting the needs of foster children with your Birdies, Bogies & Bratwurst event.

Everyone had fun, almost everyone won something and everyone did just fine on the course (far as I could tell).

Savory food, great weather and wonderful people (see you again next year).

July 2016 Sad Stories (part 1)

default-headerThis page is a compilation of child protection news from around the nation (with some international reporting) for the month of June (through June 25)   If you would like to help KARA gather and report news from your community for this page please send an email to info@invisiblechildren.org with NEWs in the subject line.  All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

Sign Up Here For KARA’s Free Friday Morning Real Story  

June 2016 Sad Stories (part 2)

default-headerThis page is a compilation of child protection news from around the nation (with some international reporting) for the month of June (through June 25)   If you would like to help KARA gather and report news from your community for this page please send an email to info@invisiblechildren.org with NEWs in the subject line.

Sign Up Here For KARA’s Free Friday Morning Real Story

CASA guardian ad-Litem News Around the Nation for June 2016

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.

These CASA guardian ad-Litem articles have been gathered from around the nation.

This is where you can find out what the other 975 CASA’s from around the nation are up to.

Volunteer to help KARA maintain this page; info@invisiblechildren.org (do you know an active or retired GAL that might have time to gather guardian ad-Litem news?)

All Adults Are the Protectors Of All Children

Join the Conversation at Linked In & receive weekly updates from around the nation

Pennsylvania Child Protection News May & June 2016

Lawsuit: Youth mental health facility in Butler County didn’t stop sex abuse

WTAE Pittsburgh – May 12, 2016

A Pennsylvania facility that treats youths diagnosed with mental health conditions has been accused in a lawsuit of not stopping or reporting sexual assaults, and instead ridiculing a teen boy for reporting them. The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Allegheny County states the boy was among a group of patients who reported assaults by fellow patients last year at the Glade Run Lutheran Services facility, about 25 miles north of Pittsburgh in Zelienople.

http://www.wtae.com/news/lawsuit-youth-mental-health-facility-in-butler-county-didnt-stop-sex-abuse/39511308

Expanding Family-Based Foster Care in PA

Public News Service – May 5, 2016

Children in family-based foster care do much better than those placed in group settings, according to a new report. The report, “Congregate Foster Care in PA,” from the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, said kids in family care do better in school, face fewer problems with drugs and alcohol, and maintain better relationships with siblings. Joan Benso, president of the group, said the commonwealth has made a lot of progress, but still places children in group homes or institutions more often than 40 other states.

http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2016-05-05/childrens-issues/expanding-family-based-foster-care-in-pa/a51757-1

New York Child Protection News April – May 2016

NY: Editorial: Answering foster care, adoption need brings rewards
Amherst Bee – April 27, 2016
Becoming a foster parent or adoptive parent means an person can change the course of a child’s life, and while it can be difficult, the rewards are great, and there is no shortage of children in the United States who are in need of a temporary or permanent home.
http://www.amherstbee.com/news/2016-04-27/Editorial/Answering_foster_care_adoption_need_brings_rewards.html

NY: Connections: Fragile Lives Series Looks At The State Of Foster Care (Audio)
WXXI – April 13, 2016
In honor of Child Abuse Awareness month, WXXI News –in participation with Side Effects Public Media– is presenting Fragile Lives, a series about the health outcomes of children in foster care.
http://wxxinews.org/post/connections-fragile-lives-series-looks-state-foster-care

Quality Foster Care (from Safe Passage for Children)

Last week print and electronic media covered a lawsuit by the grandmother of six year old Kendrea Johnson, who committed suicide while in foster care. A past finding of child abuse only disqualified the foster mother from becoming a licensed provider for a maximum of 10 years.

People change. Some who committed past crimes may become good foster parents. But we believe certain crimes such as malicious punishment of a child and child endangerment should be added to the list of offenses that permanently disqualify individuals from providing foster care.

However this would affect only a few children. A quality assurance program that ensures uniformly excellent foster care would have more impact.

Minnesota has many skilled foster parents. We need a system that supports them while weeding out problem homes.

April 2016 Sad Stories

CA: Vacaville commissioner advocates for preventing child abuse
The Reporter – March 31, 2016
She’s a mom, an advocate, a businesswoman and a Vacaville Community Services commissioner, and in honor of April being a double whammy–it’s both Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month–Christina Baird is offering her expertise to help keep kids safe.
http://www.thereporter.com/general-news/20160330/vacaville-commissioner-advocates-for-preventing-child-abuse

FL: 2 sheriff’s office employees disciplined for mishandling allegations in Bradenton child abuse case
Bradenton Herald – March 31, 2016
Two Manatee County Sheriff’s Office employees were disciplined for their mishandling of allegations that 15-month-old Knowellan Kelly and his three siblings were being abused, by failing to complete or signing off on an incomplete investigation, according to internal affairs reports.
http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/crime/article69299067.html

FL: State leads nation with more than 10,000 Guardian ad Litem Volunteers
Chipley Bugle – March 31, 2016
The Guardian ad Litem Program has exceeded its goal of more than 10,000 volunteers. In Holmes and Washington Counties, 37 trained and dedicated volunteers spoke on behalf of 127 abused and neglected children from our community who are currently or previously going through court proceedings within the last year.
http://chipleybugle.com/2016/03/31/florida-leads-nation-with-more-than-10000-guardian-ad-litem-volunteers/

FL: Trauma can produce PTSD in our own neighborhoods (Opinion)
Times-Union – March 31, 2016
For too long, post-traumatic stress disorder was a mental illness associated solely with the stress of battle. Today physicians and researchers realize that this debilitating illness strikes in our own neighborhoods.
http://jacksonville.com/opinion/editorials/2016-03-31/story/trauma-can-produce-ptsd-our-own-neighborhoods

IN: April is Prevent Child Abuse Awareness Month
Brazil Times – March 31, 2016
“Each day our agency must respond to reports of tragic abuse and neglect,” said Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) Director Mary Beth Bonaventura. “This month gives us an opportunity to highlight community resources to help at-risk parents and ultimately keep children safe.”
http://www.thebraziltimes.com/story/2291363.html

IN: Officials aim to educate about child abuse
Lafayette Journal & Courier – March 31, 2016
Connor, also executive director of Tippecanoe County Court Appointed Special Advocates, said a heroin epidemic nationwide and locally is driving mental health and domestic violence problems in the community. As a result, Tippecanoe County CASA currently has more than 80 children on its waiting list. “Children become victims because of those issues,” Connor said.
http://www.jconline.com/story/news/crime/2016/03/31/officials-aim-educate-child-abuse/82212520/

KY: Home of the Innocents to open E-town foster site
Courier-Journal – March 31, 2016
The Home of the Innocents is opening a new foster care office in Elizabethtown. The Louisville-based charity, that tends to abused and abandoned children, is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the new Hardin County outlet on Friday at noon. The open house is at 11 a.m. The office is at 2608 Ring Road in the Hardin County seat.
http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2016/03/31/home-innocents-open-e-town-foster-site/82463696/

KY: Republican Senate continues bipartisan accomplishments for Kentuckians (Opinion: Senator Mitch McConnell)
Franklin Favorite – March 31, 2016
The recently passed Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) would help address the opioid epidemic by providing additional tools for enhanced prevention, education, treatment and recovery programs that are already underway across Kentucky. The bill calls for the expansion of naloxone, a drug which can counter the effects of an opioid overdose. The bill would strengthen and enhance prescription drug monitoring programs, to crack down on “doctor shopping,” a practice used to obtain multiple prescriptions for drugs that can be abused.
http://www.franklinfavorite.com/opinion/editorials/article_f7b586f3-17bf-5814-88d5-bac07f8dd10e.html

MO: Audit questions Missouri’s eligibility checks for subsidized child care
Associated Press – March 31, 2016
A state audit of how Missouri spends federal funding has raised concerns about how the Department of Social Services verifies people’s eligibility to receive subsidized child care.
http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/missouri/2016/03/31/audit-questions-missouris-eligibility-checks-subsidized-child-care/82496958/

MS: & US: Judge Strikes Down Mississippi Ban on Same-Sex Adoptions (Includes video)
NBC News – March 31, 2016
A federal judge struck down Mississippi’s ban on adoption by same-sex couples Thursday–making the practice legal nationwide. Also: Federal Judge Halts Enforcement of Mississippi Ban on Adoptions by Same-Sex Couples: http://www.hrc.org/blog/federal-judge-halts-enforcement-of-mississippi-ban-on-adoptions-by-same-sex?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss-feed
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/judge-strikes-down-mississippi-s-ban-same-sex-adoptions-n548856

NY: Attorneys for foster kids claiming abuse fighting to obtain ACS case files needed for lawsuit
New York Daily News – March 31, 2016
Lawyers for 10 children alleging abuse while in foster care are fighting for access to the kids’ ACS case files, part of an ongoing federal lawsuit seeking reforms to the child welfare system.
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/lawyers-foster-kids-fighting-obtain-acs-case-files-article-1.2584724

PA: Pennsylvania one of lowest reported child abuse rates in country (Includes video)
WHAG – March 31, 2016
Advocacy groups allege Pennsylvania has developed a culture of cover-ups. High-profiles cases like in Altoona-Johnstown, where a grand jury found Diocese members abused hundreds of children, and a similar scenario involving Penn State’s football coach Jerry Sandusky highlight the issue.
http://www.your4state.com/news/4state-in-focus/4sif-child-abuse/pennsylvania-one-of-lowest-reported-child-abuse-rates-in-country

PA: York County CASA: Child Abuse/Neglect Advocacy (Includes video)
ABC27 – March 31, 2016
In recognition of the collaboration needed to help prevent child abuse and neglect, the York County CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, program will be holding a public film screening of the documentaries Removed parts I and II on Friday April 1, 2016. These films were created with the intent of bringing to light the often unknown subjects of foster care and child abuse/neglect.
http://abc27.com/2016/03/31/york-county-casa-child-abuseneglect-advocacy/

TN: Training to help adults notice, prevent child abuse
Knoxville News Sentinel – March 31, 2016
The National Children’s Alliance has called it “the most effective tool to stop child abuse.” So the Community Coalition to Protect Children is hoping as many people as possible–parents, church leaders, teachers, foster parents, child-care workers and community members–can take advantage of the chance to get the training for free.
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/local/training-to-help-adults-notice-prevent-child-abuse-2f4ad4d6-8d56-479c-e053-0100007f8f8c-374179661.html

TX: No excuse: ChildSafe sets lofty goal to combat child abuse, neglect (Includes video)
KSAT – March 31, 2016
ChildSafe served more than 4,300 children last year, and CEO Kim Abernethy said at the end of February this year, the organization has already seen a 32 percent increase in the number of children that depend on ChildSafe for counseling.
http://www.ksat.com/features/childsafe-chooses-lofty-april-goal-1-million

UT: Sponsor of vetoed grandparents rights bill to work with Gov. Herbert to refine legislation
Deseret News – March 31, 2016
The sponsor of a grandparents’ rights bill vetoed by Gov. Gary Herbert over concerns it could jeopardize adoptive parents’ rights said Thursday he is willing to work with the governor to refine the legislation.
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865651296/Sponsor-of-vetoed-grandparents-rights-bill-to-work-with-Gov-Herbert-to-refine-legislation.html?pg=all

VA: Majority of local Social Service calls deal with child neglect
The News Virginian – March 31, 2016
Nearly two thirds of the calls received last year by the local Social Services office dealt with the physical neglect of a child. That was the report delivered by the staff of the Shenandoah Valley Social Services office Wednesday, sharing information on child abuse and neglect, legal definitions and caseloads in the service area of Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta County.
http://www.dailyprogress.com/newsvirginian/news/majority-of-local-social-service-calls-deal-with-child-neglect/article_2f1e459c-f6e3-11e5-88e5-3789aa9e8e8e.html

VA: Navigating identities
Fairfax County Times – March 31, 2016
Rosen didn’t have a project in mind when she first learned about ConnectGens. This idea of conflicting identities for adoptive children had always been in the back of her mind, but it was not something she ever put into words. She also noted that when she was going through the adoptions process and when her son was younger there wasn’t a ton of information available on adoption.
http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/articles/navigating-identities/article_117846b6-f777-11e5-99c3-7bc51331246e.html

WV: Official: Child abuse cases on the rise in West Virginia (Includes video)
WHAG – March 31, 2016
Most parents would never intentionally hurt their children, but some do and others could use some help defining what abuse is to make sure they do not cross a line harming their child.
http://www.your4state.com/news/4state-in-focus/4sif-child-abuse/official-child-abuse-cases-on-the-rise-in-west-virginia

US: A crisis with little data: States begin to count drug-dependent babies
Kaiser Health News – March 31, 2016
Many states — including some that have been hardest hit by the opioid crisis — don’t know how many of their youngest residents each year are born physically dependent on those drugs.
http://khn.org/news/a-crisis-with-little-data-states-begin-to-count-drug-dependent-babies/

US: Foster Caretaker Must Be Ready to Be Thoroughly Supportive of LGBT Youth (Opinion)
Youth Today – March 31, 2016
For many youth, foster care can be a safe place for care and support when the biological family does not provide appropriate care. However, foster care experiences can be impacted by many factors, such as sexual and identity orientation.
http://youthtoday.org/2016/03/foster-caretaker-must-be-ready-to-be-thoroughly-supportive-of-lgbt-youth/

US: Know Someone Who Grew up in Foster Care? Three Things They Need From Us (Opinion)
The Huffington Post – March 31, 2016
As National Social Work Month winds down, I’ve been thinking about what older foster youth and those aging out of state care need from their social worker, counselor or other supportive people in their lives. What do they want and need to help them make the leap from dependence on the system to successful independent adulthood? The best way, the only way, to find out what these young people need is to listen.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-lee/know-someone-who-grew-up_b_9584598.html

US: My adopted daughter is part Native American — and I was terrified she’d be taken away (Opinion)
She Knows – March 31, 2016
“She’s legally free,” I said. “Her birth father has relinquished his rights”. “It doesn’t matter” he said, his voice tense. “Being legally free is a state law. The Indian Child Welfare Act is federal law; it supersedes everything else.”
http://www.sheknows.com/living/articles/1117475/adopted-daughter-is-part-native-american

US: National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Honoring Our Most Innocent Victims (Opinion)
The Huffington Post – March 31, 2016
This April marks the 33rd anniversary of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. It is a time dedicated to child abuse education, awareness and prevention. The issue, which is in the media every day causes one to shiver at the thought of what happens to our children, yet it is the most ignored issue because it’s so ugly. Also: April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-heroux/april-is-child-abuse-prev_b_9586460.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ross-ellis/national-child-abuse-prev_1_b_9577188.html?utm_hp_ref=impact&ir=Impact

US: Presidential Proclamation–National Child Abuse Prevention Month, 2016 (Press release)
The White House – March 31, 2016
During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we recommit to giving every child a chance to succeed and to ensuring that every child grows up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment that is free from abuse and neglect. Information Gateway resource: National Child Abuse Prevention Month 2016 Community Involvement Resource Guide: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/03/31/presidential-proclamation-national-child-abuse-prevention-month-2016

US: Relapse rates fall with use of long-acting medication to treat opioid addiction among criminal justice-involved adults
Medical News Today – March 31, 2016
Opioid addiction is a rapidly escalating public health crisis in the United States. Now, new research findings could shed important light in addressing this epidemic. “We believe our study is the first of its kind to look at the real-world effectiveness of extended-release naltrexone in community settings,” says lead author Joshua D. Lee, MD, MSc, associate professor in the Departments of Population Health and Medicine at NYU Langone. “It may be particularly effective with populations, such as recently released prisoners, who typically don’t have access to other evidence-based daily medications for opiate disorders, like methadone or buprenorphine.” Study: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1505409
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/308523.php

US: Same-Sex Couples Can Now Adopt Children In All 50 States
The Huffington Post – March 31, 2016
A federal judge ruled Thursday that Mississippi?s ban on same-sex couples adopting children is unconstitutional, making gay adoption legal in all 50 states.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mississippi-same-sex-adoption_us_56fdb1a3e4b083f5c607567f

US: Why the Lexi Page case may go to the US Supreme Court
The Christian Science Monitor – March 31, 2016
The case echoes several other cases pitting the foster care system against the ICWA. In 2013, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, a case involving Veronica, a young Cherokee girl, reached the US Supreme Court.
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2016/0331/Why-the-Lexi-Page-case-may-go-to-the-US-Supreme-Court

INTERNATIONAL

Canada: Child welfare in Manitoba election spotlight
The Canadian Press – March 31, 2016
Manitoba’s beleaguered child-welfare system came under the provincial election spotlight Wednesday with promises from all parties to cut a record number of kids in care.
http://globalnews.ca/news/2608630/child-welfare-in-manitoba-election-spotlight/

International: Longer maternity leave linked to better infant health (Press release)
Medical News Today – March 31, 2016
For each additional month of paid maternity leave offered in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), infant mortality is reduced by 13%, according to a new study by researchers from McGill University and UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. The finding, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, marks the first time that research has examined the impact of paid maternity leave on infant mortality in LMICs. Previous work has shown that paid time off is consistently associated with lower mortality of babies under one year old in high-income countries. Report: http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001985
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/308504.php

Mali: & Senegal: Transforming the lives of child beggars (Press release)
SOS Childrens’ Villages – March 31, 2016
A new programme is transforming the lives of 1,500 street children in Mali and Senegal by restoring their basic human rights. In collaboration with SOS Children and the European Union, child beggars are being reunited with their families and given access to quality education.
http://www.soschildrensvillages.org.uk/news/transforming-the-lives-of-child-beggars

Child Abuse & Child Protection Around the World (April 2016)

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Help KARA grow awareness and resources for at risk children around the world; Donate a small monthly amountbuy KARA’s INVISIBLE CHILDREN book and share these articles with your friends and networks.   If you like to write and research, submit your nation’s child abuse and child protection stories/articles – please use the format you see here and include a link to verifying data or the news source of record.  You may listen to or read the book on this site for FREE (but make a donation if you can).

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/

Child Protection – What Needs To Change

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It is not foster parents, social workers, judges or court workers making life miserable and creating a lifetime of failure for abused and neglected children in the Child Protection system.

These people don’t enter this painful and unhappy field without firm convictions and big hearts.

I’ve known hundreds of committed teachers, health workers, and other service providers who have dedicated years of their lives and made a terrific commitment to State Ward children.

Our system today confounds their efforts and makes meaningful adult relationships for too many at risk children impossible.

Progress & Next Steps in County Child Protection (thank you SafePassageForChildren)

This week the Hennepin County Oversight Committee reviewed efforts by child protection managers to implement recommendations in the Casey Report, which was critical of the program.

Progress was reported for example in rolling out a 24/7 child protection response, and adding screening and investigation staff.

In another part of this hearing, Casey staff presented a draft child protection ‘Practice Model’. While it identified child safety as the paramount responsibility of the program, much of the language – as Commissioner Mike Opat and others pointed out – echoed the old Family Assessment philosophy, which is weighted towards the needs and preferences of parents.

The final version of this practice model should reflect more clearly the priority that recent changes in state law and recommended practices gave to child safety and well-being.

Aging Out of Foster Care (lawmakers ignoring a growing problem)

MN Law Makers are ignoring a growing demographic at great social and economic cost.
Foster care shortcomings are a social problem that is systematically forgotten, specifically for the 23,000 youth that age out of foster care, that is, turn 18 without a permanent family and are no longer eligible for government care, each year according to U.S Newswire.

The lack of government commitment and action to this cause has put our communities at risk for an abundance of overlapping economic and social costs.
The most concerning fault is 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.

Children, Trauma & School (what’s it like to teach tortured children?)

Today’s Star Tribune article nails it. Thank you Annie Mogush Mason for your clear explanation of how child abuse impacts schools. Coping skills (learning skills) are not brought by the stork. Add to that, the terrible things done to at risk children in the home, children bring fear & high anxiety into the classroom instead of the ability to sit still, play well with others or learn.

Teaching *traumatized children is different than teaching other students. Way different.

The sadness that is child abuse triggers unpredictable and often violent behaviors in the classroom. Many a teacher has talked to me about the larger percentage of their daily efforts being directed toward the one, two or three disruptive students in their classroom. I know educators that have quit their jobs in tears and with genuine fear of going to work every day because of this.

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/

Babies, 2 year old’s & Antipsychotic Medicines

New York Times article has identified that over 100,000 prescriptions for antipsychotic medicines were written in 2014 – children 2 and younger (many still in cribs). A shortage of child psychiatrists is partially blamed.

These drugs are powerful mind altering chemicals just one generation removed from Thorazine. To use them like candy for babies and 3 year old children is dangerous.

This Mercury News video series on foster care children provides a stunning insight into the growing use of unproven and dangerous medicines given to state ward children.

MN DHS in June of 2014 ended physchiatric consultations for high-dose ADHD and SGA drugs for children over 3 years old.

Big pharma has been fined billions of dollars for criminally promoting these drugs for use by children. Johnson & Johnson paid 3 billion for the “illicit promotion of Rispererdal” and is still defending thousands of cases in court today. This is just one example of the depth and scope of big pharma’s continued willingness to make money at the expense of vulnerable children. This CASA guardian ad-Litem has too many stories of very young state ward children forced to take these drugs and the side effects they cause. 92% of foster children using psychotropic medicines get them for unaccepted reasons)

No one questioned whether foster child Kendrea Johnson was on psychotropics when she hung herself and left a note. Her social worker did not know that she was suicidal and seeing a therapist at the time.

There was no question why 7 year old foster child Gabriel Myers hung himself – his suicide note clearly articulated that he killed himself because he hated being forced to take Prozac.

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

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.

ALERT For MN Child Protection – Rolling Back Child Protection Reforms (from Safe Passage for Children MN)

This week county social services directors and the Department of Human Services (DHS) presented a plan to legislators that would significantly weaken reforms approved by the Governor’s Child Protection Task Force. Items they recommended dropping include:http://safepassagemn.com/counties-propose-rolling-back-child-protection-reforms/

Sad Stories October 2015

mississippi double exposure red wingFind information about child protection, child endangerment & child well-being in your state here.

For past months, click here

AR: Arkansas’s child welfare system discriminates against relatives of neglectful or abusive parents
Arkansas Times – October 29, 2015
When parents fail their children, relatives often want to step up. But Kimberlee Herring and Karisa Hardy say the system shut them out, and instead placed three kids into a home where they were abused.
http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/arkansass-child-welfare-system-discriminates-against-relatives-of-of-neglectful-or-abusive-parents/Content?oid=4144320

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.

Dirty Little Secrets

Will Minnesota Sheriff’s sue Counties over failure (Star Tribune Today) to provide services to mentally unhealthy inmates? Is the Hennepin County Commissioner “failing in her public duty and violating a judge’s order”?

Senator Al Franken & and Sheriff Rich Stanek call the failure of leaving mentally unhealthy inmates to rot in jail cells “our dirty little secret”. I applaud Franken and Stanek for their candor.

State law requires that inmates in need of mental health services get those services within 48 hours, but there are not enough beds to make this happen (Hennepin County Medical Center alone sees 800-1000 emergency psych visits each month).

Do six year old state wards (foster children) not deserve the same legal protections as adults in this state?

If so, can social workers and foster parents sue the County for failure to provide mental health services to state ward children that don’t receive the mental health services they need?
When six year old Kendrea Johnson hung herself with her jump rope and left her suicide note, was she receiving the mental health services she needed? Her social worker was not aware that the child was seeing a therapist (she was).

Fines and Judgements For Child Protection Failures (millions of $ badly spent)

Over the past few years the states of Washington (144 million dollars) and Indiana have been sued successfully for many millions of dollars for failing to protect abused and neglected children.

In Arizona, the over 6600 child abuse reports ignored by social workers prompted a class action lawsuit, Texas and New York have similar lawsuits in play, MN has been fined almost a million dollars for failing to meet federal standards for abused children re-entering child protection (MN has twice the national average) the child protection system was called a “Colossal Failure” by the Governor in the slow tortured death of 4 year-old Eric Dean and a dozen other states are facing embarrassing examples of cruelty to children and juveniles because of bad public policies.

Children in these states have been tortured, starved, murdered and raped while being cared for in overburdened Child Protection systems. The consequences of child abuse are immense and lasting for children and the fact that a community would fail to help their tortured children is barbaric.

These lawsuits are remarkable in that suing a governmental body is almost impossible because Federal, State and Local agencies are almost immune to being sued.

When lawsuits do succeed, you know that the case was overwhelming and represented just the tip of a very big iceberg of the kinds of violence being done to children in our under-appreciated and poorly understood child protection systems.

I say “Poorly understood” as it is my belief that no community, especially my community, would ignore the cries of raped, tortured and murdered children.

I refuse to believe that any community in America willfully continues to avoid fixing the institutional failures that are so painful for the children affected and the people involved in the system.

Politicians especially should understand and address the lifetimes costs in dollars and quality of life that millions of dysfunctional citizens are having on our schools, public safety and prisons.

CASA guardian ad-Litem News (find your state here) August 2015

A baby is born addicted to opiates, a young child wakes up to find their parent unresponsive with a needle in their arm, siblings sit in the back seat of a car parked on a country road as their parents are shooting up heroin. LaPorte County and Indiana are experiencing an epidemic. It is drug abuse. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, epidemic is listed as affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community or region at the same time. Certainly we can describe the current rapid spread of opiate use an epidemic.
Last year, there were 17 deaths from heroin overdoses in LaPorte County and Indiana is increasing its needle-exchange program beyond Scott County. The Indiana Department of Child Services is reporting a record-breaking year for child abuse cases. It’s only June and in LaPorte County alone, 50 children have been placed out of their homes due to abuse or neglect.

Child Death and Child Abuse Articles (for July 2015 – find your state/country here)

magnificent double exposure lacrosse mississippi river lampshadeKARA tracks child abuse and death articles from around the nation (and some international cases).  Most non death child abuse cases never make it into the media.  This page is KARA’s discovery of information through July 26 2015 and is only a fraction of this child welfare news around the nation.  For a look farther back in time for child abuse and child death news click here.  ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Foster Care Standards Are Important (Minnesota fined for failures)

Thank you Brandon Stahl for drawing attention to the sadness I witnessed again and again as a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem; children re-abused and children re-entering the child protection system at double the national rates. Some counties did much worse.

New Federal fines are today’s punishment for Minnesota’s failure to meet federal standards (since 2007) of social workers not visiting children while they are in foster care and for abused children re-entering the Child Protection System within a year.

One of my guardian ad-Litem boys had 29 different foster and shelter placements before he aged out of foster care.

To know the child walking around starving and without shoes during the winter is different than reading about her.

Watching our policy makers support billions of dollars for stadiums, giant new transit systems, and the unnecessary billion dollar cost of the failed 35W bridge (because anti tax people saw to it that the 5 million dollars in bridge maintenance money was a tax too high for them) while traumatized children can’t find governmental support for safe homes or mental health services seems to me like poor governance.

Art Rolnick’s work at the Federal Reserve bank in 2003 proved that early childhood investments were the best money a government could spend. My experience within the child protection system proved repeatedly that Art Rolnick’s early childhood research was conservative. I worked with multiple cases that cost the County in excess of one million dollars apiece and know that the pain and dysfunction continued with that child long after leaving the system (and as a continuing burden to taxpayers).

The Worst State for Foster Kids In America (how we value our children)

Florida lost 500 foster care children a few years ago and caseworkers lied about their work in 2001. Richard Wexler (Head of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform) claimed that “There is no place in the country where it is worse to be a foster child than in Florida” in 2002.

Florida is where 7 year-old foster boy Gabriel Meyers hung himself and left a note about how he hated Prozac (foster kids don’t have a say about being legally drugged.

Way too many foster kids are kept drugged into a stupor in a system that finds them troublesome.

Follow KARA’s Sad Stories page and track your state’s news about child protection.

Child Protection News Gathered Nationally (find your state here)

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ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Most of our news for this page (300 + articles) is gathered from;

Child Welfare in the News is distributed at no charge by Child Welfare Information Gateway (www.childwelfare.gov), a service of the Children’s Bureau/ACF/HHS (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb). It features news stories on topics of interest to child welfare and related professionals. Inclusion does not imply endorsement of any view expressed in an article, and opinions or views do not reflect those of Child Welfare Information Gateway, the Children’s Bureau, or staff. Other free subscriptions from Child Welfare Information Gateway are available at: https://www.childwelfare.gov/subscribe

Send KARA child protection news from your state.  Support KARA 

CA: Overmedicating Children in Foster Care
Los Angeles Sentinel – May 28, 2015
On any given day, nearly one in four children in foster care is taking at least one psychotropic medication — more than four times the rate for all children.
http://www.lasentinel.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=15298&catid=85&Itemid=175

CO: Hickenlooper gives strong defense of CDHS chief
Colorado Statesman – May 28, 2015
Gov. John Hickenlooper this week lauded Colorado Department of Human Services Director Reggie Bicha and his staff as being “among the best in the United States” after an overwhelming majority of lawmakers recently blasted Bicha’s job performance.
http://www.coloradostatesman.com/content/995720-hickenlooper-gives-strong-defense-cdhs-chief

CO: Guest Commentary: Retool administration of Colorado’s social programs
Burlington Record – May 25, 2015
A letter signed by more than 80 lawmakers and sent to Gov. John Hickenlooper earlier this month calling for leadership change in the department at first glance appears understandable given the performance issues of programs housed in CDHS.
http://www.burlington-record.com/guest-columns/ci_28200513/retool-administration-colorados-social-programs

The Unspoken Truth (from Kristin Rode)

My name is Robert Hamelin and when I was 4 years old I entered the Foster Care System. My stepmother began to physically and mentally abuse me. I was taken out of the home I lived in, with her and my father and moved into the first foster home. When I was 9 years old my father was killed. He was the only good memory I had left. His loss had such a deep impact on me. I knew now that I was completely alone. By the time I reached the 6th grade I began acting out for attention. My behaviors became worse. The abuse had continued worse than ever, as now, I was being sexually abused. By the time I was 18 years old I joined the Marine Corps. I needed stability but even more important, I needed to find out if I could overcome my past and succeed, despite 14 years of violent child abuse.

The system failed me but it did not beat me!

Today I am a successful Regional Vice President for Transamerica. I have raised 5 beautiful daughters, 4 of which have already graduated from college. What is disheartening is 32 years after I got out of the Child Protection System, it continues to fail children and the abuse, still all too common. We need to come together to fix a broken system.

Each year, about six hundred thousand abused and neglected American children are removed from their homes, placed into group homes, foster homes, and adoptive homes with minimal mental health counseling and often not much history or training provided to the new care giver. These children are expected to adjust well into society, succeed in school and with their peers

Children in child protective services are only removed from their homes if their lives are in imminent harm. These children are often returned to their homes by Child Protective Services if changes are made. Many children are returned to abusive homes, with little to no follow-up.

92% of Foster Care Kids Using Psychotropic Meds Get Them For Unaccepted Reasons (this is drug fraud)

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.

Child Suicide, Prozac, Child Protection, and Foster Care (and how are they related?)

More American children (especially low-income and foster care kids) are on antipsychotics than in any other country (Governing magazine March issue).

Brandon Stahl’s March 27th Star Tribune article graphically explains how child protection was unable to deal with mental health, medications, and child safety be in the suicidal hanging

Help KARA Do Something About Drugging Foster Kids (invitation to action)

Invisible Children readers know that psychotropic medications, especially “antipsychotics,” often are used to sedate and restrain problematic people, children especially—and not just any children, but foster children particularly, and most of all, foster children in so-called “group homes.”

Agreement is widespread that foster kids are over-medicated: too many, too young, too many drugs per child, on dosages that are too high and are maintained too long, often for years on end.

The PsychDrugs Action Campaign of the National Center for Youth Law invites you to help make positive changes now. Our contact information is at the bottom of this message.

Why Foster Children?

Foster children are a lucrative market for psychotropic drug sales. Unlike adults, they can’t say “no, I won’t take any more.” Their parents are in no position to object. Responsibility for prescribing is diffused confusingly among foster parents, caseworkers, child welfare supervisors, group home administrators, and prescribers. All are involved, but their roles in medication decisions are overlapping and ill-defined. It is easy for each to say, “it wasn’t my decision.”

One of the consequences is that in some states about half of children in group homes are medicated with psychotropic drugs. Many foster children are dozing through their childhoods and teenage years in a semi-sedated fog, a fog that is profitable for the drug industry and convenient for those administrators, staff, and foster parents who prefer to minimize demands on their time and attention.

The losers are the kids. A dozen years in a chemical straitjacket is no preparation for adult independence.

Psych Drugs Action Campaign (from the National Center for Youth Law)

On April 14th four bills will be heard before the Health and Human Services Committee of the California State Legislature that improve oversight and monitoring of psychotropic medication treatment for children in foster care. We are writing to request your support. Will you or your organization help? Please send your support letters by end of…

Hiding Child Suicide Hurts Everyone (until it exists – nothing will change)

Six weeks ago, Brandon Stahl’s Star Tribune article about the death of six year old Kendrea Johnson by apparent suicide, pointed out just how misinformed (or misdirected) our community is when it comes to the impact of trauma on children.

An unnamed Hennepin County Medical examiner was quoted in the article, “the decision to carry out such an act (suicide) is outside what a normal six year old could think about”.

This statement should have been, that all children in foster homes have been traumatized and normal does not exist for most of the six million children reported to child protection in this nation every year and that suicidal thoughts are not uncommon to traumatized children.

Awful things happened to these children or they would not have been taken from their home and placed in foster care.

Being removed from your birth home is traumatizing in and of itself. What happened before changes the way a child reacts to life – literally, it changes the way the brain responds to “normal” events for a child. Then, we add psychotropic medications that trigger thoughts of suicide (just read the package). Judge Heidi Schellhas shared her list of very young children taking Prozac, Ritalin, and other mind altering medications with me. Six year olds were on the list.

My first visit to a four year old girl in my CASA guardian ad-Litem work was at the suicide ward of Fairview Hospital.

I’ve written about seven year old Gabriel Meyers who hung himself and left a note about how he hated Prozac.

KARA’s interviewing for our child protection television expose includes past volunteer guardian ad-Litem and former mayoral candidate Don Samuels telling his story of a teacher calling him and asking for help with a five year old suicidal boy.

I’ve been on an airplane delivering a twelve year old suicidal boy to an out-state suicide prevention group home because all the metro suicide beds were taken – there are 800 to 1000 emergency psychiatric visits to HCMC every month (and many of them are children). Remember, this is just a single metro hospital. There are 3 children’s hospitals in the metro and zero children’s mental health hospitals.

While it is true that most five and six year old children fail in their suicidal attempts, their lives often remain self destructive and lead to early death. It hurts me that if not for the reporting of Brandon Stahl at the Star Tribune, no one would know that Kendrea killed herself, except her therapist and other service providers that knew she was having daily thoughts of suicide.

It is an awful condemnation of our values and community that abused and neglected children suffer this much with so little meaningful help from the rest of us. This speaks volumes about how we value children.

She is out of the news cycle now and probably not going to get much more attention. We should all feel some sorrow and empathy for the six year old girl that had to think about how she was going to end her life and then doing it. It should be much bigger news.

Important Points By Brandon Stahl (Star Tribune) Today On Pope County

Pensive ParakeetThe following quotes from Brandon Stahl’s reporting today in the Star Tribune indicate the depth and scope of child protection troubles in MN.  That Governor Dayton used “Colossal Failure” language and created a task force to investigate the sad tortured death of 4 year old Eric Dean is to be commended.  Awful things happening to 4 year old children are not always addressed in helpful ways by politicians in other states (see other states in “read more” below).

1% of U.S. Family Courts Are Safe Baby Courts

This article from the ACEsTooHigh website is a comprehensive article about the difference between traditional family courts and emerging early childhood courts is striking and worth reading in its entirety. In safe baby courts, kids don’t suffer more abuse (and that is very different than the data coming from traditional family courts. The compelling build-up of evidence isn’t just in the data. It’s also stories like this: One mother in Mississippi whose baby was born with crack cocaine in his system went into rehab, was allowed only supervised visitation while the baby remained with his grandparents, complied with the service agreement and achieved unsupervised visitation within four months and custody within six months. She went back to school and eventually received a master’s in social work, married and has a second child.

Dear State Representative Lohmer

Dear Representative Lohmer,

Responding to your note to me below (decrying the cost of early childhood programs being recommended by Governor Mark Dayton), I’ve been a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem for almost 20 years and watched what short changing MN children does to our schools, city streets, and state budget.

One of (I have 50 stories)my case load boys cost the county between 2 and 3 million dollars and that does not include the people he has stabbed, teacher he beat up, or hundreds of others he has caused great suffering to in his young life.

He’s in his early 20’s today and recently aged out of foster care (I met him in 1996 when he was 7) today, he has AIDS, is on the most expensive medicines in the nation, has always been a state ward, and I expect will always be a state ward.

To not support programs that could have helped him lead a normal life is fiscally irresponsible and morally reprehensible.

If I were to describe to you the costs some of the other fifty children I have worked with (as a volunteer) in child protection, you would make better decisions concerning early childhood programs.

We launch a new generation of abused and neglected children with or without coping skills every five years (by five a child is able to cope with his or her environment, go on to school and succeed or Not). It hurts me to meet people that don’t understand this. Quit thinking of a generation as 20 years. It is not. It is five years for the children we are talking about.

The State Of Child Protection in Texas (655 under-reported deaths of abused children)

With one of the nation’s largest child abuse agencies, 2.5 billion dollar budget, & 8000 employee, Texas struggles to keep up with the increase in child protection cases, not enough quality foster and adoption families, and cases that stay in the system far too long (federal lawsuit).

For a long time now, Texas has ranked last or near last among the states for prenatal care (50th), low birth weight babies, health care expenditure (48th), spending on mental health (49th) graduation rates (45th), SAT scores, child abuse deaths, uninsured children, births to teen moms, WIC benefits per person (50th), 4th highest in women living in poverty, and 6th highest in child poverty (2013 Texas Legislative Study Group/83rd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature).

Texas is also first in executions, 2nd in larceny, theft, and property crime rate, 4th in rate of incarceration, and personal bankruptcy filings, (March 2013).

Nearly half of the 655 under-reported child deaths occurred to children on CPS radar. That’s what happens with extraordinarily high caseloads, too few resources for existing cases, lack of transparency & reporting.

Each year, over 100,000 Texas children between the ages of 7 & 17 go missing, many of them while in child protective services.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that 60% of children likely to be victims of sex trafficking have fun away from foster care or group homes.

The high turnover in child protection workers and broken foster care and daycare system are just the tip of the iceberg of at risk children in the state.

Child protection workers and children did not make the mess and they can do little to fix it. Lawmakers, voters, and concerned citizens need to look to other states and nations to find solutions.

26% of Texas population (1.7 million Texas children) live below the federal poverty level & Of the 804 Child fatalities reported in 2013, 156 were related to child abuse or neglect according to Child Protective Services.

Child Abuse – Society Is Paying For This (Hank Marotske today’s Star Tribune)

Truer words were never spoken.

I am encouraged by Abby Simmons Star Trib reporting today on the MN Child Abuse Task Force 11 point plan to make child protection a priority in Minnesota. That a bipartisan group of lawmakers are able to agree that keeping children out of harms way is the least we can do for them gives hope to the possibility of crisis nurseries, day care, and mental health services*.

If adopted, counties can no longer screen out 90% of child abuse reports, reported cases will be shared with police, assessments will be used only when safety of the child is not an issue, and the use of prior child abuse reports will become part of the investigation instead of off limits. Well done MN Task Force On Child Abuse.

The task force needs to stay on the job for another year to keep these critical issues in front of the public (right where it needs to be). Children removed from toxic homes can be helped to deal with the traumas of abuse and neglect and go on to do well in school and life. As CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem dealing with many children over many years I’ve come to know the high cost of abused children falling through the cracks going on to lead dysfunctional lives and their own families of dysfunctional children.

Healing from trauma and abuse, parenting and coping skills do not come from the stork. We can save children as well as our society with sound child protection in Minnesota (and show the nation how it ought to be done**.

Keeping children out of harm’s way is the least we can do for them. Let’s show the nation that Minnesota values children.

*It was pointed out to me recently by Steve Lepinske at the Washburn Center for Children that while there are 3 children’s hospitals in the metro, there are no children’s mental health hospitals. The treatment of traumatized children is a public health/mental health issue.

Child Protection, Kendrea Johnson & The Information War

Kendrea Johnson’s social worker was unaware that Kendrea’s mental health provider knew this six year old girl was severely mentally ill and having daily thoughts of suicide and homicide.

Tannise Nawaqavou, Kendrea’s foster mother didn’t know either. No one told anyone that this six year old girl wanted to kill herself (and others – she had twice threatened to kill her foster mother with a screwdriver).

As a long time Hennepin County CASA guardian ad-Litem, it hurts me to see policies in place that insure not the best interests of the child, but the best chance that people will never know about the terrible things going on in the lives of abused and neglected children. We do this to foster and adoptive parents all the time and it has to stop (it is dishonest). The intensive therapy needed by traumatized children is simply beyond the ability of average people (most foster/adoptive parents – note the privacy laws referred to by child protection in Brandon’s article above).

People (like the psychologist from Pennsylvania (below in read more) quoted in today’s article*) that don’t believe suicide happens to six year old’s just don’t have a clue.

Minneapolis 6 Year (Kendrea Johnson) Old Hangs Herself? (police left to ponder – I don’t) Star Tribune Today

Thank you Brandon Stahl (& David Chanen) at the Star Tribune for writing an article giving voice to the elephant in the room that is the dangerous and suicidal behavior of children in child protection. No one wants to hear it and no one wants to address this, but it is a very real problem of great consequence to our communities.

As painful as this conversation is, without it, dangerous and suicidal behaviors will continue to be an issue for abused and neglected children in need of protection (in & out of the system).

As a CASA guardian ad-Litem, I see this awful suicide as the tip of the iceberg that is the under-treatment (resources/response/coordination/services) provided to the poor young souls unlucky enough to be born into a dangerous and dysfunctional family.

Children traumatized severely enough to be removed from their birth home don’t have coping skills to mend themselves or manage the behavioral problems that follow from what has been done to them.

Powerful Video Expose On Drugging 5 & 10 Year Old State Ward Children

parasailingThis video from Mercury News is the most comprehensive and powerful discussion I have seen on the topic of forcing abused and neglected children to take psychotropic medications.  Remember, state ward children have no voice in this discussion.  These decisions are made for them by a closed system that rarely shares information and by and large fears discussion on the topic of mental health.

These children’s stories mirror my experience as a volunteer guardian ad-Litem in child protection services and make me wonder how it is possible that this topic still remains under the radar.

Drugging decisions are made often because of fear and cost*, not effectiveness.  The traumas of child abuse can be dealt with if met head on and early but spiral into dysfunctional lifestyles if left untreated.  80% of youth aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives.