Keep Minnesota children safe in Child Protection

Today’s Safe Passage for Children of MN’s action request to keep children safe in Child Protection: A small effort with big dividends. Share this with your State Representative (find them here). On Monday, a group of us gathered at the Capitol to meet with key legislators about Minnesota’s child protection system. We shared the stories…

International Rights of the Child VS. Child Rights In America

Over 25 years ago the rest of the world (194 nations) decided that children have basic human rights and begin signing the International Rights of the Child Treaty. Under this document, children are to have the rights to education, safety and well being including not to be made soldiers, not to be enslaved). America is the only nation that has yet to ratify it.

America is the only nation that has not signed that agreement, largely because we still demand that southern states continue to militarize youth as young as eleven, through military schools.

KARA – CASA Ad Grant Initiative ($120,000 annually)

KARA’s Google Ad Grant Initiative for CASA’s

The U.S. has 950 CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) organizations consisting of community volunteers trained as County Guardian ad Litems advocating for abused and neglected children in Court within Child Protection Services.

Thank you to the Edina Federated Women’s Club!

Mike Tikkanen (Executive Director) and Damon Kocina (Treasurer) smile for the camera as Kids At Risk Action receives the $38,884.00 grant from Edina Federated Women’s Club President Linda Larson on March 14th. We are so impressed with their club’s efforts and commitment to improving the community.   For more information about this amazing group, please visit…

New Linked In Group For Volunteer CASAs & All Guardian ad Litem (interactive)

KARA’s New Linked In Group Guardian ad Litems Exchanging Learning & Ideas  is gathering and sharing information from the 950 CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates) in the U.S. and similar child advocacy models around the world. Please share this with your child advocacy friends wherever they may be: Search for: Guardian ad Litems sharing conditions,…

Don’t Leave It To the Professionals (thank you Naomi Schaefer Riley)

Minnesota’s struggle to keep a strong CASA volunteer force advocating for abused and neglected children in the state has captured the interest of Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of NO WAY TREAT A CHILD and writer with City Journal (a national publication). Read her complete article here. Excerpt from Naomi’s article: “One major problem with child…

Leadership and Child Protection

What should leadership look like in Child Protective Services?  What should leadership look like in Child Protective Services? The CASA guardian ad Litem volunteer program motto is “For the Child”. The heart and soul of the CASA program is to give voice to the child in the institution of Child Protective Services (CPS). Being removed…

Mike Tikkanen’s Public Comments to the Guardian ad Litem Cost Effectiveness Analysis Report

Mike Tikkanen’s Public Comments on the Guardian ad Litem Cost Effectiveness Analysis
for the Minnesota Guardian ad Litem Board Dated September 15, 2023
This report (the actual final report is posted below)

HUGE NEWS: Former Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz Appointed to MN Guardian ad Litem Board

After years of turmoil caused by GAL management’s efforts to end the Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer program, Minnesota’s former Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz has been appointed to the GAL board.

Chief Justice Blatz attended the recent GAL board meeting where the vote was being taken to end the CASA program. She made observations and asked questions that prompted enough board member no votes to stop the elimination process.

What’s It Like For Troubled Teens Where You Live?

What’s it like to be a CASA guardian ad Litem (child protection worker) unable to find safe housing and mental health services for the 14-year-old struggling foster boy in your caseload? This child’s self-harming and violent behaviors could change if there was help to manage behaviors triggered by childhood traumas. These children can go on…

International Rights of the Child Treaty (& why jails are full)

Over 25 years ago the rest of the world (194 nations) decided that children have basic human rights and begin signing the International Rights of the Child Treaty. Under this document, children are to have the rights to education, safety and well being including not to be made soldiers, not to be enslaved).

America is the only nation that has not signed that agreement, largely because we still demand that southern states continue to militarize youth as young as eleven, through military schools.

A Courageous Vote! Thank You Minnesota Guardian ad Litem Board For Saving CASA Volunteer Program

Thank you, Former MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz, for your comments and questions at this board meeting. Your words enlightened board members of the need for an open and objective investigation into the CASA volunteer program in the effort to provide safety and stability to Minnesota’s abused and neglected children.

Saving Minnesota’s Vulnerable Children

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

Were Governor Walz State Board Members Misled About Volunteers (and what it could mean)?

There is a political battle being waged over the elimination of qualified community volunteers in Child Protective Services. There are too many pieces of this puzzle to include in this article, but one piece must be addressed to determine if wrongdoing has happened in the drive to eliminate the Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers. KARA has sent two requests to Governor Walz Guardian ad Litem State Board members over the past few months requesting a conversation about their role in making this critical decision.

Parental Drug Use Killing Children in Pennsylvania at High Rates (investigative report)

KARA follows investigative reporting on child death and near death by caregivers while the children are known to CPS (Child Protective Services). Please send us links to the reports in your state and we will make them available to a larger audience.Parental Drug Use Killing Children in Pennsylvania at High Rates (investigative report)

Highlights on Family Assessment and Child Death from Star Tribune Child Abuse Reporting Part I

These highlights on Family Assessment and Child Death from recent Star Tribune Child Abuse reporting (1, 2, 3) are the tip of the iceberg. Read to the end to get KARA’s historical perspective of how Child Protective Services (CPS) has evolved over the years and its current iteration.

Thank You & Happy Holidays

Dear Reader,    This year, KARA provided over $10,000 in Financial Literacy enrichment grants to program participants, executed three college and community center INVISIBLE CHILDREN CAMPUS CONVERSATIONS, 23 business and community presentations, and almost finished KARA’s new book AMERICA’S CHILDREN IN 100 CHARTS in 2024. As the year comes to a close, we want to…

Have Governor Walz State Board members been mislead?

Dear Reader,Allowing the State board to eliminate 10,000 future volunteers (over the next 40 years) at a time when we are reporting on children murdered by their parents may be an unfixable mistake costing even more children their lives.

Rebuttals to the State MAD report from several top child advocates here;

Child Death, Employee Burnout & Guardian ad Litem Volunteers

The tortured death of 4 year old Eric Dean in 2013 prompted the first in depth reporting on parental child murder I can remember. CASAMN gave the reporter (Brandon Stahl) an award and had him speak at our annual conference.

At that time, several children in my caseload had been almost murdered by their caregivers.

A number of my caseload kids (4,5, and 6 year old children) had suffered years of unspeakable sexual abuse and other violence. Their stories never made the paper.

Why Community Volunteers Are Needed in CHILD PROTECTION SERVICES

Eliminating the volunteer nature also changes the role of Guardian ad litem. Being an “outsider” provides a perspective others don’t have. It allows one to challenge the status quo and identify new opportunities. We can speak out. Eliminating volunteers, to my mind, will mean that everyone in the courtroom has a vested interest in a system that pays them to be there.”

Child Endangerment (IN HARM’S WAY)

It hurts me to hear KARA writings referred to as hyperbolic. Decades of Child Protection work and KARA research consistently prove to me that Minnesota children are dying in big numbers and thousands are suffering repeated unspeakable harms while in the system.

This one year investigative
Star Tribune report (new series)
IN HARM’S WAY

(please read the first 200 words)

makes the case that parental rights
to harm, torture, kill their children
outway the child’s rights to safety.

MN Children, Institutional Regression and Brain Surgery

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…

Rich Gehrman Rebuttal of MAD Volunteer Guardian ad Litem Report

The analysis by MAD is not, in my view, sufficiently compelling in some important respects to support the board in managing this risk.  While I understand from a previous board meeting I attended as well as a legislative hearing on the topic that the board has been guided in this deliberation by staff, this decision is yours alone, and you alone will be accountable for what happens in the future as a result. 

Saving the MN CASA Volunteer Guardian ad Litem Program (1 easy important thing)

To save the CASA volunteer program in MN your comments need to be heard by program management. Please review the report and the rebuttal and share your views in the link above. CASAMINNESOTA’s rebuttal to the MMB report appears below.