The November 8 Star Tribune article gave me hope that I’ve not had in decades for the saving of abused and neglected children from extended traumas and ruined lives.
No longer will a child need to endure maltreatment before they get social services in Minnesota’s most populous county, an unprecedented step in the state.
Thank you Task Force on Child Protection, Safe Passage For Children, Governor Dayton and all the legislators and supporters standing for the weakest and most vulnerable children in our community.
Additional funding for staff, reduced caseloads, responding to child abuse reports at all hours (including weekends) and focusing on the child’s well-being instead of the crisis mode required after traumatic abuse has been endured (usually for years) will make a huge difference in the lives of these kids.
By making services available to struggling families and insuring that very young children reported as abused receive face-to-face assessments and the help they need, we will be interrupting patterns of behavior that can ruin a child’s life forever and making their lives safer and happier.
Under assault from child protection services is the word on the street.
Racial disparity data supports the charge and people in the system on both sides see it every day. My city, Minneapolis most likely leads the nation in overall racial disparity;
– arresting Black adult men (44% of Minneapolis population of adult black men in 2001),
– median incomes of Black families are about half of the white population,
– about 62% of Black students attend high-poverty schools,
– MN has the nation’s largest income gap between whites and people of color (22%),
– The underperforming of high poverty schools appears now to be written in stone.
These painful truths evolved out of decades of leaving poor families to struggle with basic needs and sometimes less than no help with issues of trauma and violence (jail is not help).
Drug use, violence and years of child abuse repeat the terrible behaviors from traumatic scars generation after generation.
Preteen moms are now raising their own families without parenting skills just like their mother did with them and the violent boyfriend with a dangerous drug habit.
Developing coping skills and achieving an education under these circumstances becomes a challenge for everyone involved.
There’s a delicate balance that must be found that protects children and poor troubled families.
Child Protection must work to strike that delicate balance of protecting vulnerable children with mentoring programs for young moms, trauma based mental health services, crisis nurseries and quality daycare.
As a volunteer CASA guardian ad litem I know that once the cycle of abuse and poor parenting are broken, children go on to develop the coping skills they need to make it in school and in life and the terrible cycle of abuse and lifelong state ward status is broken.
Breaking this cycle of abuse delivers the rest of us successful schools, safe streets and taxpaying citizens leading happy lives. We should all want this.
What we do to our children they will do to our society (Pliny the Elder, 2000 years ago).
Indiana Governor and Vice Presidential Candidate Mike Pence’s Religious Freedom signature law RFRA allows beating 7 year olds with a coat hanger leaving bruises and bleeding severe enough to cause the child’s doctor to have mom arrested.
It will be a very sad thing if an Indiana court uses Pence’s law to rule that Bibles can be used to torture and traumatize children.
A few years ago I spoke to adoptive parents in Indiana where the prior Governor, Mitch Daniels redirected the funding promised to families adopting special needs children (after the adoptions were completed) to his appointees in social services who could cut the most from social services programs.
Mitch was also running for President at the time. My conversations with those families were really sad (really, really sad).
For the second time in just 3 election cycles, Indiana Governors have shown children just how little they matter to the State.
Minnesota’s former Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz has stated that 90% of the youth in the Juvenile Justice system have passed through Child Protective Services and that “The difference between that poor child and a felon is about eight years”.
Marion Wright Edelman calls this the pipeline to prison & from this volunteer CASA guardian ad Litems perspective it is absolutely true. No other industrialized nation treats its children and juveniles so harshly.
The simple truths below now define our communities and our nation – share them with your legislators (really – if you don’t share this with them they may never know).
Charging juveniles as adults
Privatized Detention Centers (why judges sometimes go to jail)
Ten Cents An Hour (now that’s a minimum wage)
Never Vote Again (stay away)
King Pin Laws
Women In Prison (shackled while giving birth?)
The Face of 12 Year Olds In Jail
Prozac, Children, Juveniles & the Criminal Justice System
Is This A Racial Issue (Minneapolis arrested 44% of its Adult Black Men in 2001)
The Star Tribune’s exposing violence done (broken bones) to Minnesota’s youngest citizens while in state care reminded me of my own experiences growing up and 40 years later as a CASA volunteer guardian ad Litem.
In my middle class 1977 Minneapolis neighborhood, the family next door’s 15 year old grandson became psychotic and behaved dangerously. Mom and dad tried to find him mental health help to no avail. The only option that provided treatment for their son was the Juvenile Justice system. The boy’s entrance into the system required he be charged with a crime. Their boy killed himself a few years later.
Since then, I’ve witnessed parents failing to find mental health services for their children many times, experienced dozens of children’s mental health tragedies and hundreds of mental health near tragedies. Only extreme cases make the news. Michael Swanson, Kendrea Johnson and Jeff Weis all sought help and were terribly underserved.
Another year of disappointing educators, children and parents (Star Tribune 7.28.16)
Don’t blame the teachers (it’s us). The once a straightforward concept of public schools has morphed into a complex institution unable to respond to the double whammy of a massively changed student body and the unprecedented un-building of support for public education (especially science).
Our student body has changed:
First, immigration and the challenges of language and culture have always turned out well. American education has successfully educated millions of immigrants. Yes, it’s a struggle, but it is what teachers do and they have always succeeded. My grandparents did not speak the language when they arrived – all of their children successfully finished a public school education.
Second and most critical, generally unknown and poorly understood even by those in the trenches of teaching, social work and justice. The rest of us (including legislators) are clueless. …READ MORE