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.

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)

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;

We’re Doing It Again – Doubling Childhood Poverty

Child poverty more than doubled between 2021 and 2022. Child poverty and near poverty in America was around 60% when I grow up in 1960’s. Compared to other industrialized nations we have never been a leader – always between 25th and 40th in child poverty rankings among our peers. From the 1960’s through the 1990’s, our childhood poverty rates hovered around 30% (significant multiple of the other advanced nations). 

Inside the Henn Cty Guardian Ad Litem Office Today

The push to diminish/eliminate the CASA Volunteer workforce of Hennepin County’s Guardian ad Litem Program is impacting office morale for both paid and volunteer GALS. We’ve gone from about 250 volunteers to 32 remaining under new leadership in the last five years. CASA’s supporting program, CASAMN has over 200 volunteers waiting to be GALs –…

Why CASA Guardian Ad Litems (in their words)

The following are recent survey responses by CASAs answering the question “What community CASA volunteers bring to abused children and the Child Protection System they serve. Several spelling and grammatical changes have been made for clarity. We advocate for these children without paycheck and without allegiance to anyone or anything other than the child. We…

Hennepin County Child Well-being Advisory Committee Meeting Summary (with KARA notations)

The complete report can be read HERE. This post emphasises the GAL program’s effort to eliminate the CASA community volunteer Guardian ad Litems. The author made notes and corrected several minor spelling errors (notes are in parenthesis and in bold).

Hennepin County participants: Jodi Wentland; Dan Rogan; Lori Whittier; Evangeline Filosi; Patricia Zagaros; Sherry Smith; Lisa Bayley; Kwesi Booker; Michelle Lefebvre; Lori Munsterman; Fintan Moore; Lauren Kewley; Madeline Johnson; Shanese Reed; Rachelle Loewenson Stratton; Meredith Martinez: Lolita Ulloa 

2 year-old Lylah Koob’s Death & Why (from the Safe Passage Report)

This is one of the 88 stories of children dying at the hands of their caregivers reported in the recent Safe Passage For Children investigation of child death in Minnesota. The report suggests why this tragedy is happening in our state and how we can make life safer for at risk children (in the read more at the end of the article). Lylah Koob, Goodhue County

Do Kids Count? (it depends on where you live)

Conditions in Child Protective Services (CPS), foster care or in the lives these children live are unknown to most of us.

When the community doesn’t perceive a serious problem it will ignore it and the problem festers. This is why many city dwellers are afraid to ride the bus, prisons are full, and schools are struggling.

MN Child Fatalities From Safe Passages Reporting

CONTACT:  Rich Gehrman, Executive Director, Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota (651) 303-3209; gehrm001@umn.edu  Report documents multiple systemic failures in cases Of Minnesota children killed due to maltreatment  8 YEAR OLD AUTUMN HALLOW’S MURDER (KSTP video)   Minnesota Child Fatalities from Maltreatment 2014 – 2022 Executive Summary From the report; This study of children who died in…

Florida’s Child Protection System Today (it can’t happen here?)

“I’m not for killing kids and stuff” (officer Omar Bellow). For eight seconds officers fired 66 rounds from Glock service weapons towards the children. You can read the NY Times article details here. There is nothing easy about being in law enforcement in America today (or teaching, or social work, health services or child care). The numbers of seriously troubled youth are off the charts and so many children have serious often violent behavior problems. 

Fosters, Grandparents & Thanksgiving Hunger

This Thanksgiving, about 6 million American children are being raised by their grandparents (double what it was in 1970). Almost half of these grandparents have economic or social service needs for themselves and their grandchildren that are unmet.

It is estimated that for every child in foster care with relatives, there are 20 living outside of care with relatives (usually grandparents).

Is This About Child Protection or Something Else?

It has been stated by program management that CASA volunteer time spent with abused and neglected children is of no value. Ask that question of any child removed from the only home they have ever known now passing through the cold scarey institution of judges, courts, foster and group homes where you don’t know anyone and new adult faces come and go after short periods.

Plenty of data Stories and literature provide proof

Kendrea Johnson, Gabriel Fernandez & Child Suicide

Not far from my home, six year old Kendrea Johnson suicided by hanging while in foster care.   Gabriel Fernandez & Seven year old Gabriel Myer suicides drew national media attention about the same time.

My first visit to a four year old State Ward as a CASA volunteer guardian ad Litem was at the suicide ward of a local Hospital.  That visit to a tiny little girl who failed to kill herself has caused me to rethink child protection.

Self-Destructive Habits & Institutions (Professionalism – Part 5)

Self-Destructive Habits & Institutions (Professionalism – Part 5)

Volunteers lack “professionalism” is a primary argument management is using to eliminate the community CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer guardian ad Litem program in Minnesota.

Self-Destructive Habits & Institutions (Guardian ad litem program in MN Today – Part 2)

Let’s imagine a government that controls (1) automobile safety standards, (2) the state inspection for compliance with automobile safety standards (3) the automobile repair industry, all within the same department, and all done in official secrecy so as to protect the privacy of would-be drivers.

And let’s also suppose that the people who drive automobiles are, 98% of them, poor and very young people, who have no effective political voice.

Child Sex Abuse & The Mormon & Baptist Church (stopping child abuse requires adults report it)

The KARA article below from 2016 about the Mormon & Baptist Church hiding abuse provides insight into how hard it is to achieve transparency and accountability in children’s rights issues. This May 2022 NY Times article captures the fact that not much has changed.

MN Child Daycare, New Moms & Paid Leave

How we value children in MN. 2/3 of new moms take unpaid leave after childbirth. Minnesota is the 4th most expensive state for infant daycare ($16,087/yr). Nationally, single moms and the working poor are often paying over half their income for infant center care and married parents would  pay over 100% of their household income for center based care (but they don’t because it just doesn’t work).

COVID IMPACT ON AT RISK YOUTH

Introduction This report was submitted by Business Analytics Student Michelle Kocins at Cambrian College Support KARA efforts reporting on child abuse & trauma during COVID here. To download this study as a pdf, click here. Analysis of Child Abuse in the U.S and Emerging Trends due to COVID-19 Michelle Kocins KARA at Invisible Children Business…

Making Child Protection Work (it takes a village)

The CASA volunteer guardian ad litem program provides a voice for a frightened child in the child protection system. Children removed from their homes become Wards of the State. Through the eyes of a child being in child protection is like being a cog in the wheel of a big machine.  Delivered from one provider to another, many foster children them have multiple foster homes because of unaddressed (under-addressed) mental health and behavior problems.