Understanding why children die violent death a the hands of their parents while in Child Protective Services (CPS) can save them (share this):

  1. Lawmakers address issues that people demand action on. Actions that will get them re-elected. This is all about invisible children (kids at risk that don’t have a voice at the State House). Often, their abuse is unspeakable. We don’t like talking about it and we only read about the children that die awful deaths (and even then the language is euphemistic and obfuscation is common). We call It “maltreatment” not “repeated rape of a five year old”. Rape over years  was common among my very young caseload children (as a volunteer CASA guardian ad litem). My first visit to a four-year-old was at a hospital suicide ward because of what happened to her.
  2. Counties (especially rural) have trouble funding the right programs. Because counties only get small dollars from the State or Federal government for child protection, and #1 above, they have a hard time picking programs and policies that would keep their at risk – invisible children safe (or alive).

NOTE* As a people, are response is often blaming social workers, law enforcement, educators when terrible things that happen to children. Stop it. It is counter-productive. They do what they can with the training, resources and policies that are available to them. Rage, hate and blaming solves nothing. Working with traumatized children is painfully hard and trauma sticks to to you. Turnover in these fields is at an all time high because being in the presence of so much suffering is debilitating (and secondary trauma is real – it sticks to you). Be thankful that there are people willing to do this very difficult work.

3) What might be the most damning reason children are suffering and dying at the rates they are in our communities today is our drive to return children to their families at any cost. Family preservation policies could work if and when abuse is interrupted early in a family, caregivers are receptive to change and monitoring the child’s safety is guaranteed.

There is nothing easy about making this happen because of # 1 and # 2 above.

Most families in CPS have histories of abuse. Many have experienced abuse and trauma stretching back multiple generations.

Minnesota’s recent failure to keep children alive is a prime example of a wealthy state that saw at least 200 children die at the hands of their parents while known to CPS.

KARA, invisiblechildren.org and this CASA guardian ad litem believe the report is just the tip of the iceberg. The report was only able to investigate child deaths that had already been reported in the paper and only had funding to study 88 of the 200 deaths. Over the years, other investigations have concluded that about half of all child deaths are at the hands of their caregivers. Many child deaths are not classified accurately. Many more children suffer life changing near death experiences and tortured childhoods that wreck their adult lives. In MN, these numbers are really in the thousands, not the hundreds.

At this moment in MN, there is a movement end the 40-year-old community CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) because GAL program management and the board that oversees it, have decided to eliminate volunteers for questionable reasons.

There are many forces impacting Child Protective Services today

Parental rights, Racial disparities,

lack of tracking and reporting of

 child outcomes-based metrics in CPS

and the dehumanizing trend

of over-institutionalizing

 children in the system

All need more attention!


KARA reports on the issues of invisible children

This article submitted by Former CASA Guardian Ad Litem Mike Tikkanen

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All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children


“What we do to our children, they will do to our society”

(Pliny the Elder, 2000 years ago)

Less is not more in keeping children safe.

Please share this with your State Rep

and let them know you support

at risk children in your community.

Find your State Rep here.