When we say it’s not brain surgery it’s because a task is easy – it doesn’t demand much training or experience.

There are times the phrase is meaningful and times it is painfully inappropriate. This article in the Star Tribune explains that corrections officers, human services technicians and staff in state veterans homes will not need four year college degrees under Governor Walz executive order.

The order came because of the severe shortage of teachers, social workers, law enforcement officers and so many other public facing jobs in this economy.

Today, this action does not apply to teachers, social workers, guardians ad Litem or police officers. But it may in the future.

There are simply not enough qualified people to fill these critical positions. Projections in five years look worse. Today we have budget surplus and program dollars for hiring. What happens when budget shortfalls return and caseloads / workloads climb to fill the gaps as they always do?

Today, GAL program management has used every means necessary to eliminate 10,000 qualified community Court Appointed Special Advocates that speak for  abused and neglected children caught up in the Child Protection System. Management has chosen efficiency over effectiveness in the lives of abused and neglected children that truly need more help than they are getting. This study (read at least pages 10-15) clearly articulates how 200 children died at the hands of their parents while in Child Protection (over a recent eight year period). Many of these children were two and three years old. They are helpless beings without community involvement.

CPS can’t currently keep Minnesota’s abused children safe or even alive.

Dismantling the forty year old CASA volunteer Guardian ad Litem program removes retired teachers, doctors, social workers and tons of qualified, committed people with passion and time to spend with our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. Managements arguments have been disingenuous. They have picked the absolute worst time to eliminate qualified workers. New hires take years to acclimate to the difficult work of child protection. Their skill levels are low and their turnover rates are high. 200 volunteer CASAs have been waiting for two years to go to work but not allowed to.

If management successfully end the program Minnesota will be one of 2 states to NOT have a CASA organization (950 total in the nation).

Please share this with your friends and state rep – add a note about why you think it important.


Mike Tikkanen speaks about child abuse/trauma/healing and community

at schools, colleges, workplaces, events, etc.; To learn more:

send an email to info@invisiblechildren.org with SPEAKING in the subject line. 

Mike’s INVISIBLE CHILDREN book can be read and listened to (for free)here.

  • Sign up for KARA’s Free Friday morning E-Newsletter
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  • Mike is A KARA founder/Executive Director and founding board member at CASAMN.

Contact your State Rep and share your views

Find Your MN State Rep Here

Get the backstory in this ongoing and not so public discourse here.

Read the State Program Audit and related documents below;

If the State is forced to broaden the executive order due to a shrinking labor pool and future budget shortage, this troubled Child Protection System will be shaken to its core. Today, there are no outcomes based measurements for the children we serve. No one knows key performance indicators of mental health, school performance or child well being. There has never been anything like transparency in CPS. HIPPA laws were never meant to keep data hidden from the public.

Working with abused children that have been beaten, starved and raped to the extent that a judge removes them from the home, is closer to brain surgery than most people understand.

People dealing with traumatized children that have been removed by the court need to comprehend the biological and behavior elements that their caseload children are living with. This is closer to brain surgery than our Child Protection Service (CPS) Institutions understand.

The mental health needs of badly damaged children have been underserved for decades. People working with traumatized children need more life experience and classroom training than 30 hours annually to comprehend the multitude of issues each child and family are dealing with.

Social Services personnel are chartered not only to keep these children safe from early tortured death but heal them to give them at least a chance to lead a productive life.

This requires an understanding of what mental health is and what impacts it.

To pick people off the street and commission them to oversee the most mentally damaged and vulnerable children in our community will be a huge mistake that will cost our community for decades to come.

Prior to the States eliminating four year degrees for human services providers (which will include Guardians ad litem personnel) will drive more abused and neglected children into early death, preteen pregnancy and prisons than are happening now. What’s happening now is terrifying for the children and for the institution.

Institutions make remarkably bad decisions when under unmanageable pressure.

Recently, CPS failed to keep alive 200 MN children that were killed by their parents while in the system. This at a time where budgets are fat and one would think we could be improving outcomes for children in CPS. The sad fact that there is little transparency and almost zero child outcome metrics in the system can keep hiding our poor performance until the rest of us wake up to this colossal failure. “Colossal Failure” are Governor Mark Dayton’s words describing the two year tortured murder of four-year-old Eric Dean after fifteen almost completely ignored abuse reports made by mandated reporters.

To add to the dysfunction, replacing effectiveness with efficiency, Hennepin County GAL program management is eliminating 10,000 community volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate Guardians ad Litem. It’s true that managing one staff person with a caseload of 20 to 30 families (60-120 children) is easier than managing multiple volunteers with two or three cases and 5-13 children.

New staff being hired are mostly young people without the skills brought by volunteers. Most of them are just starting their careers and will soon find out that this working with traumatized children in an overwhelmed Child Protection Systems is difficult and very stressful. Their turnover rates will be higher than they were even before the COVID lockdown




READ THE STATE GAL Cost Effectiveness Analysis