LGBTQ Adoptions & Religion (what would Jesus do?)

20% of same-sex couples with children have an adopted a child compared with 3% of straight couples (this will become important at the end of the article).

For decades, Evangelical Christians and the Catholic Church have lead the charge disenfranchising Gay couples from adopting or fostering America’s most vulnerable children.

At times, the Catholic Church has ended all services in communities allowing same-sex couples from foster care or adoption (after the Supreme Court threw out their case to end Gay adoption).

Bethany Christian Services announced today that it will begin providing services to same-sex couples nationwide.

Child Protection & Unassigned CASA Guardian ad Litem Cases (from 3 years ago)

Success Stories & Failure (unassigned child abuse cases)

We all like a happy ending. Especially when kids are involved. Read the Guardian ad Litem Sucess Stories below. You’ll love’em

It’s harder to read about children are starved, raped or beaten and the child protection system is just too overwhelmed to assign a Guardian ad Litem to speak for the child – but read them too. These children should be heard, especially since they did not have a guardian ad Litem voice in the system.

Governor Dayton is recommending an increase in funding for the Guardian ad Litem program to provide Guardian ad Litems for the over 500 children that don’t have one, but it’s questionable if legislators know enough about the facts you are about to read to make the right decision.

Share these stories with your legislators – it could make all the difference to the children in these stories

If It Wasn’t For The Lawyers (and no, I’m not)

The State of Arizona just lost seven million dollars in legal fees fighting a lawsuit demanding better care for foster children. The good news is the State lost.

It’s a tiny victory though.  Arizona, like Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana and a few other states, have long sat at the bottom of child well-being statistics in the U.S. 

Abused children don’t have any power in America today. At a Federal level, they don’t have many rights either as America is the only nation in the world to not have ratified the United Nation’s Rights of the Child Treaty of the 1980’s.

They have no voice in their homes, the media, courts that rule their lives or the State House.

It hurts me to think that some states would rather spend seven million dollars fighting against making life more bearable for their most troubled and vulnerable young citizens than using those wasted dollars to provide resources and healing for them.

It’s worse yet to think that in some states, lawyers or the threat of lawsuits, accomplish more for the well-being of at risk children than the people in charge of making public policy to safeguard our children.

A Marshall Plan For Children Post COVID

Post-COVID, children having lived with increased and more severe abuse will need help healing and learning the skills they will need to succeed with their peers in school.  Young families need help and our teachers need more resources, help and training to be successful teaching larger numbers of children damaged by trauma and abuse.

Our small efforts can save these children.

Communities need a Marshall Plan for investing in children and young families &

if we support the people doing the work of

social work, education, public health and public safety we can make this happen.

It will just take a few minutes for you to copy this note and send it to your

State Representative or other government official. 

Become a voice for children.

Leaving the Field (teachers disappearing & we don’t know why?)

Today’s Star Tribune article by Erin Golden should put the shivers into all of us for several reasons.

Only half of our State’s licensed teachers are teaching,
Some rural school districts are receiving as few as six applications for open teaching positions where they used to find 100,
More than a third of districts were unable to fill teaching positions in the 2019-2020 school year,
About a third of teachers quit teaching within the first five years on the job (a long term trend),
This data is pre-COVID (projections for the 2021 year will likely be worse as the politics & realities of the pandemic become known)
It appears there is little available data as to why so many teachers are not in the classroom or sending in applications to fill vacant teaching positions.  We  don’t know why and more troubling, it could be that there may be a question about the State Legislature’s willingness to spend 25-50 thousand dollars to find out why…

Collateral Damage – ACEs – Education – COVID

This pre-COVID Star Tribune article, Teachers Turning to Other Careers shines a light on the punishing effects  of ACES on education in our state (thank you Rochelle Olson).

The violence & chaos brought to school by increasing numbers of abused children (ACEs) creates classroom chaos, puts students and teachers in danger and makes teaching. The COVID pandemic is making this a bigger problem.

We Are A Nation of Child Abusers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Child Abuse & Soul Murder (chapter 2)

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

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

They all died a tragic death of self.

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

Pilgrims, Punishment and ACEs (why we have what we have)

America’s pilgrims brought with them a punishment model that remains the heart of our civic and group think today.

Puritans stoned, burned and drowned witches and shunned and hung people for being different and for what were often minor infractions.

Over the years, our violent punishment model has come down hard on American Indians, African Americans and other people of color.

We fought a civil war over the right to enslave and abuse people and sell their children & spouses for profit….

Our Creeping Mental Health Crisis (& statistics)

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

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

Impossible Questions & Painful Statistics

Are children property of their parents even if those parents

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

Harder question.

Do teen and preteen mothers own their fetuses & babies

even if they abuse their children,

are addicted and out of control with little understanding of how

or ability to raise a child safely?…

Is this child’s child doomed prior to birth?

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

2021 – A More Responsive New Year For At Risk Children

If there is a silver lining in this time of worldwide pain and anxiety, it will be a recognition that rebuilding families is necessary for a healthy community.

Amid the chaos of our pandemic, the trauma and misery of children locked in toxic homes is hard to see. The media, politics and confusion on a worldwide basis are focused on vaccines, reporting and management of this frightening virus.

Struggling families facing poverty, job loss, combative politics, distrust of institutions and the steady increase of COVIDs scary reality need help to survive.

Many moms and dads do not have coping skills for managing the pressure and fear of this moment. Stressed out families drink and drug more, experience more tension, conflict and domestic violence – inflicting severe collateral damage on their children.

If we can grasp the simple reality that “What we do to our children, they will do to our society” (Greek Philosopher Pliny 2000 years ago) America can rebuild communities and a nation that once led the world in quality of life.

Thank You & Happy Holidays

For the New Year, KARA is asking everyone to support the people, policies and programs that make life better for struggling families and children.

Call and write policy makers where you live and let them know about conditions for and needs of at risk children where you live.

Let’s all strive to make this a better, safer year for at risk children everywhere.

Stay on top of the issues by signing up and sharing KARA’s Free weekly email updates with people that can make a difference for the children that need it the most.

SPEAK FOR A CHILD (be a voice for a child)

Learn about the CASA guardian ad-Litem program and how your can make life better for abused and neglected children – Today, there are 500 abused and neglected children in Ramsey & Hennepin County child protective services without a guardian ad-Litem. Being a State Ward child is painful. Being a voice for that child is rewarding and makes a difference in the life of that child.

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children; learn more here;

CASA MINNESOTA

CASA NATIONAL

Can You Imagine?

What’s it like for the social worker or guardian ad Litem knowing that the child they are talking to online is living in a toxic home of violence, neglect and drugs and it’s not possible to visit or confirm or remove that child to safety because of the COVID restrictions?

What’s it like knowing that a caregiver is watching the child answering the social workers questions leaving little chance for that child’s honest answers to the hard questions a social worker will ask?

What is occurring in too many homes to too many children at this time of crisis will be with us forever as a growing number of traumatized children are stamped with the mental health and behavioral problems that follow beatings, sexual abuse and neglect in the home.

Yes, these things were happening prior to this pandemic, but at least there was some escape to school with a chance for shelter, normalcy and a caring adult that would listen.

Today, the abuse and trauma continue uninterrupted.

These short public service announcements are hard to watch, but they could save lives by provoking support for at risk children and their families.

Please support KARA’s INVISIBLE CHILDREN local public Service Announcement program

Kids At Risk Action advocates for abused and neglected children – this website has over one thousand articles about trauma and the issues of child abuse.  Please share these stories widely,  contribute your questions and insights through our onsite comments and send us your suggestions for future topics.

Avoiding the Mental Health Conversation (nothing to be proud of)

Thank you Chris Serres for reporting on the troubling development at St Joseph’s Hospital in Brainerd.

This is one of our community’s (nation’s) most serious health problems.

St Joe’s failure to admit mental health crisis patients reflects the growing nightmare of how medical institutions are dealing with mental health at a management level.

Refusing help to our most troubled citizens (people in crisis) means more sad & awful things happen to the rest of us.

People in crisis…

COVID Burnout; Health Care, Teachers, Law enforcement, Social workers & what we could do

Our communities are only as safe and healthy as the institutions that create the environment we live in.

A brief search of front line workers in education, health care, law enforcement or social work shows a growing exodus by retirement, medical leave or just walking away as COVID is making the work they do an even more extreme sacrifice than it was pre pandemic.

For those of us that live with, know or love a person engaged in keeping our children educated or the rest of us safe and healthy,we know the stresses facing these people and the fear and danger of bringing a secondary trauma or risk of COVID home at the end of the shift.

Good Bye David Strand – Founding KARA Board Member and Best Friend

KARA’s Founding Board member and best friend David Strand has passed away after a long illness.

He brought a wealth of experience, passion and commitment to the cause of America’s abused and neglected children.

David came to know a great deal about how children are treated in other advanced nations because he helped to craft public policies on children’s issues while living and working in Northern Europe.

Schools Closed – What We Need to Know

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

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

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

LGBTQ Foster Care & Ground Truths

Recent surveys by the Casey Foundation and the NY Administration of Children’s Services show that about a third of kids in NY’s foster care identify as LGBTQ and nationally, about 24% do.  40% of homeless kids in NY City identify as LGBTQ and 42% of them had been in foster care.

This NY Times article focuses on how hard life is for them.  Many of these youth and children are in foster care because their parents rejected them.

Many are homeless, depressed and leading dysfunctional lives.

Every year about 12,000 children aged 5-14 years old are admitted to psychiatric hospital units for suicidal behavior. This and all the information following are PRE COVID.

Young children who have attempted suicide are up to 6 times more likely to attempt suicide again in adolescence

Goodbye Joe McCarthy – Founding KARA Board Member & Best Friend

Yesterday, KARA’s best friend and founding board member Joe McCarthy passed away after a long illness.

We will miss him terribly.  Joe had a big heart and remarkable mind.  He was sharp as a tack with an interest in everything and a stunning memory.

20+ years ago, Joe encouraged and then guided me through the writing of the INVISIBLE CHILDREN book and founding of our nonprofit Kids At Risk Action.

Our small board spent many hours sorting through issues and ideas for making life better for abused and neglected children.  We worked together to create our first board meetings and involve more people in the endeavor we are so passionately engaged in today.

Winning the War Against At Risk Children (& saving our city)

and 63 recent car-jackings (over the last 39 days) many include vicious assaults & mostly committed by teens – kids as young as 12, puts the lie to that belief.

For decades, the vast majority of serious and violent crime has been committed by youth and young adults.  In these 63 recent car-jackings, women are beaten, one man was shot dead and another dragged as he tried to stop them from stealing his car with his wife and child inside.

During this time of pandemic and civil unrest, it’s apparent that our city is much more dangerous than it was a year ago.

What is less apparent, are the key drivers that have needed our attention for a very long time that (if addressed) could dramatically reduce the anxiety, violence and unrest in our communities.

Before, when schools, health care and public safety seemed to work, we have had little concern with how or why things work and the luxury of not paying attention to the people, programs and policies involved.

Child Care – Brutal Truths & Best Practices

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

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

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

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

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

Children, Politics & Voting On Tuesday

Americans have always talked big about supporting equality, keeping children safe, supporting schools & better conditions for young families.

Today, our pro-child, pro-family discourse has become so vicious that many Americans rationalize our government taking immigrant babies and children from their mothers and then losing them so that these mothers may never see their children again.  Children have become political footballs in immigration, education, health care and law enforcement and this should disturb us.

A great deal of money and political will has gone into denigrating immigrants, public schools, teachers and the front-line workers trying to keep children healthy and safe.

Tuesday’s election is about this.

Which candidates support more access and more resources for education, health and mental health and an end to racial injustice?

“What we do to our children, they will do to society” (Greek philosopher Pliny the Elder 79 AD)

Please vote – the next generation needs you to speak for them.

Restorative Justice – Veterans & Children (saves money and lives)

Woo Hoo – MN passed a restorative justice act for veterans – diverting at-risk veterans toward probation and social service programs instead of jail time when they commit certain crimes.

Why wouldn’t we?

The World Health Organization defines torture as extended exposure to violence and deprivation. Living in a war zone, bombs going off nearby or a buddy shot dead in front of you changes the brain.

Most of us want soldiers that have experienced traumas in the service of this nation to be treated for their mental health issues and have a path to rebuild their lives as productive citizens.

New CDC Youth Data – STD’s, Mental Health, Drug Use & Suicide

This 2020 report examines 24 variables and includes three new health behaviors—recent prescription opioid misuse, STD testing, and HIV testing. It also provides data on the health behaviors and experiences of sexual minority youth from the 2015, 2017, and 2019 cycles of the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), allowing trends to be reported for this population for the first time.

The Death of Arianna Hunziker & Lawsuits

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

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

Child Suicide Reporting (3 weeks ending 10.17.20)

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

Grace’s Story (Thank you ChildrensRights.org)

Grace, a Black 15-year old who was sent to a juvenile detention center for failure to submit schoolwork.

In an email to Grace’s caseworker, her teacher stated that Grace was “not out of alignment with most of my other students.”

Tens of thousands of children have struggled to adjust to the online learning environment the coronavirus created. ProPublica cites 15,000 high schoolers in Los Angeles alone failing to log in or complete schoolwork. Yet, a judge presiding for Oakland County Family Court Division, ruled in May that not completing schoolwork violated Grace’s probation.

It’s impossible to determine the frequency of cases like Grace’s, but one thing is clear. Children’s health and safety must be prioritized. We will continue urging states to stop admissions and to release kids from juvenile facilities. No child should be in juvenile detention for missing homework.

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

Conflicts between officer training and the children they are policing.

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

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

International Child Well-Being 9.16 – 9.30 2020

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

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

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

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

 ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Abused Children, COVID & Law enforcement

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

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

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

What Child Abuse Looked Like in America Last Week (a snapshot)

Those of us that know about the traumas abused children suffer need to say more if we are ever to reverse the trend of generational child abuse in America. These articles were compiled over the last week. The COVID pandemic has reduced reporting and increased domestic violence & child abuse. Read these short articles and help KARA spread the word about the problems facing at risk children.

Police vs Social Worker and what happened to an autistic child when the wrong one showed up

Police encounters with mentally ill people can have deadly consequences: according to the nonprofit Treatment Advocacy Center, people suffering from untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed in interactions with law enforcement. Earlier this month in Utah, a 13-year-old boy with autism was shot several times by police after his mother dialed 911 to request help as her son was experiencing a mental breakdown.

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

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

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

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

This Saturday (9.19.20) KARA’s Twin Cities NonViolent Event (2pm)

Friends of KARA, This Saturday at 2pm Central Time, KARA presenting at the TWIN CITIES NON VIOLENT event.

Link to participate (free)

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0sdOitpjIoE91gdtyUTY82STHThprRe7xc

Link to Mike and Damon’s time and presentation

https://twincitiesnonviolent.org/virtual-10-days-free-from-violence/virtual-10-days-detailed-schedule/

Signs That You Are a Mental Health Worker

Andy Steiner’s social workers as backbone of the mental health workforce Minnpost article belies a much deeper truth about the depth and scope of mental health in our communities at this time.

Generational child abuse has been growing exponentially for years creating millions of traumatized children treated with Prozac like drugs with minimal or no effective mental health therapies to heal their traumas.

In 2014, America put 20,000 one and two-year old’s on Prozac like drugs and big pharma paid billions of dollars for illegally selling those drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children.

Kids At Risk Action August Update

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

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

Most college students are engaged in the research and…

Adoption & Foster Care In America – (their stories, your state)

Foster Care; Every state is struggling to make life safe for traumatized state ward children. Here are their stories from October & November 2017;

KS: Nowhere Else to Go: Why Kids Are Sleeping in Child Welfare Offices (Commentary)

Governing – October 11, 2017

Every month, there are kids in Kansas forced to sleep on cots or couches in a foster care contractor’s office because they don’t have anywhere else to stay that night.

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

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

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

MN Foster Care During COVID

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

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

Families are more stressed than before COVID.

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

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

Peter Hutchinson’s School Fix Is Easy and Overdue (share this)

Former Minneapolis School Superintendent Peter Hutchinson’s classroom fix for remote learning COVID problems is a terrific and necessary solution that can be implemented economically and quickly.  It’s a simple and will be popular in every community.

We should not wait – this is truly an expanding crisis for school children in many communities.

Here’s why; Pre-COVID, Minnesota schools have for years maintained an over the top student achievement gap with some of the lowest reading, math and history scores in the nation.

Facebook Replacing Mandated Reporters for Child Abuse?

40-day old Aiden Braden’s mother Kristina reported Aiden’s death on Facebook 38 days after social workers had responded to a child abuse hotline in Tollhouse California.  Only after Aiden died did the County workers visit the home and remove Aiden’s twin brother.

Kristina Braden had already lost custody of her 3 oldest children because of her drug addiction and a long history of child neglect.

Blaming social workers for not physically intervening when they were in lockdown solves nothing.