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.

“Authority” & Child Abuse (why teachers quit & children go to jail)

Growing up in a home beaten, raped or starved by the most important authority in your life, means that for you, authority is not to be respected – it is to be hated and feared. Real life stories about this  here.

Uncooperative often violent response to authority figures is normal for traumatized children. It’s driven by repeated pain and terror visited upon a child that has been unable to escape repeated trauma and abuse.

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.

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.

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)

(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.

Closing Group Homes, Child Sex Abuse, Suicide & Costs (where you live)

KARA reports on the issues of child abuse and child protection This article submitted by Baypath University Student Lauren Begin KARA Public Service Announcement (30 seconds) KARA Signature Video (4 minute) INVISIBLE CHILDREN campus programs here Mount Pleasant officials want state regulators to close Westchester County child treatment center Officials in Mount Pleasant, New York…

Saying Goodbye to the CASA Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Program

SAYING GOODBYE TO 1000’S OF VOLUNTEER CHILD ADVOCATES & Community Involvement & Trust In One More Community Institution. Since 1981, thousands of community volunteers have spent thousands of hours working to better the lives of Minnesota’s at-risk children.  End this program, they will disappear and no more will follow.

This will result in weakened community awareness, less community involvement and an incalculable loss of…

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). 

Child Abuse & Trauma Post COVID Statistics (guest post Lauren Begin Baypath U)

The COVID lockdown has kept at risk children in toxic homes for long periods without access to mandated reporters or the safety they provide. The traumas suffered and behavior issues that follow severe abuse need to be addressed for these young citizens to lead normal lives.

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 –…

Saying Goodbye to the CASA Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Program

SAYING GOODBYE TO 1000’S OF VOLUNTEER CHILD ADVOCATES & Community Involvement & Trust In One More Community Institution. Since 1981, thousands of community volunteers have spent thousands of hours working to better the lives of Minnesota’s at-risk children.  End this program, they will disappear and no more will follow.

This will result in weakened community awareness, less community involvement and an incalculable loss of…

Child Protection Stories Wanted

KARA is working to make lawmakers and policy makers see the value of community volunteer CASA guardian ad litems in Child Protective Services.

To do this, we are seeking stories from 18 & up folks that have come through child protection with the help of a volunteer CASA guardian ad litem.

You may remain anonymous.

Please contact me directly – mike@invisiblechildren.org with STORY in the subject line.

Children Are Dying On Your Watch (said the judge to CPS)

children are dying on your watch” and calling them “callous”, saying “they do more to protect their bureaucracy than the children in their care”.  Safe Passage for MN’s Children recent investigative reporting on Minnesota children murdered by their caregivers while in Child Protective Services might prompt a similar judicial response…

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 

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, …