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)

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.

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.

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)

(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.

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. 

Child Murder by Caregiver While In CPS

The American Medical community has joined forces to declare a national emergency in children’s mental health, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Today’s declaration is an urgent call to policymakers at all levels of government — we must treat this mental health crisis like the emergency it is,” said AAP President Lee Savio Beers, MD, …

Minnesota Children Killed By Caregivers While Known to CPS (& how to stop it)

 There is a real lack of data and transparency in CPS which makes it hard to know outcomes short of child death.
72% of of the 88 child maltreatment deaths studied (complete study below) were known to CPS. We do know that there were many reports of life changing violence, neglect and abuse but few follow ups. 

Child Suicides, Self Harm & Statistics

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association have joined forces to declare a national emergency in children’s mental health, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Today’s declaration is an urgent call to policymakers at all levels of government — we must treat this mental health crisis like the emergency it is,” said AAP President Lee Savio Beers, MD, in a statement.

Education in 2023 – Teaching At Risk Children (what tomorrow looks like)

This is a synopsis of Education Week’s last 12 months of reporting on conditions in American schools today with attention to educating abused and neglected children. It’s a deep dive into  what it means to be a teacher in America today.

Investing In Children Not Jails

We the people are serious about continued investment in our punishment model.

Expelling kids from daycare and elementary school is common. Charging youth in adult courts is too. The nation’s Supreme Court recently reinstated lifelong (no chance for release) sentencing for crimes committed by juveniles.

Instead of investing in healing broken children we invest our tax dollars into courts that punish kids from traumatizing violent and toxic homes. Are we bad at math or pro growing crime, criminals and broken communities.

America’s CHILDHOOD TRAUMA and ACES Impact

California’s Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris has declared Adverse Childhood Experiences a public health problem and public school crisis in her state.   About 1/3 of all state ward children (nationally) are forced onto psychotropic medications.  Suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death among 10 to 24 year olds. Over 1 million children under 6 are…

American Crime Costs & Statistics

California and Arizona have used failed 3rd grade test scores to assist in forecasting prison capacity growth.  (Corrections Digest, April 12, 2002)

In 2022,  23% of Black and American Indian third graders in Minneapolis MN read at grade level.

6.11.21 NY votes to raise the minimum age of arrest from 7 to 12  and considers prohibiting the shackling of children and youth in family court.

If You Knew (what would you do?)

If you knew that 10,000 Minnesota’s CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers provided civic engagement, first person narratives, reporting, institutional transparency and many thousands of advocacy hours for babies, children & youth over the last 40 years in Minnesota’s Child Protective Services would you;

Arming Teachers/Shooting Students (advocating for less violence and a more civil society)

After the COVID19 lockdowns are lifted, and children and teachers return to the the classroom after months of fear and isolation, wouldn’t it be wonderful if students and teachers do not have to replace the daily fear of a virus with the daily fear of violence? 

What can the community do to make that happen?

How many teachers have combat training or signed up to pack a weapon when they entered the profession?  Turnover in education is already a huge problem.  Packing a gun is what police and soldiers do. Shooting someone takes training – shooting the right person takes extensive training.  For decades now, guns have been more often used for suicide than self-defense in America.  This is true also for domestic violence.


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…

Body Memories – Why Child Sex Abuse Never Ends (letters from survivors and non survivors)

Dear Doctor,

As a medical professional you have taken an oath to do no harm, but there are ways in which you can hurt your patients without even recognizing you are doing so. What seems to you as a simple exam may cause injury to those who have been victimized by someone’s touch. This is a subject that we, survivors of sexual violence, have been meaning to discuss with you for some time now, but your authority can be more intimidating than you may know. I am also unsure if you are aware just how much power you, as a physician, hold and to the extent that you affect the lives of all of your patients. Your interactions with us travel much deeper than the physical core.

The relationship between patient and doctor is also mental, built on trust, understanding, and the security of knowing that your doctor has your well-being at heart. We, as your patients, entrust in you the most intimate parts of our bodies and our lives. But this trust has to be earned, and it is much harder for us patients who have been so severely violated. The intent of this letter is not to in any way criticize your work as a