Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Speak Out

Attendees at Safe Passage for Children’s fundraiser this week saw this powerful video featuring Niema Broadnax and Alisha Jacobs, two adult survivors of child abuse.  As children, they looked to authorities for help in vain.  Alisha said that child protection was “always trying to do what was best for the family, but that wasn’t what was best for me.”  And Niema wanted children to know that they have rights too.

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Could You Have Saved Zayden Lawson?

Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario describes how three-year old Zayden Lawson was used as a “punching bag” by his foster mother, her boyfriend, and their childcare provider.  Mr. Rosario’s portrayal – which the County disputes – contrasts officials’ tight regulation of the message on Zayden’s gravestone with their carelessness about his safety. The foster care connection…


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The Lost Children in the Middle

In Minnesota the MinneMinds collaborative is increasing child abuse prevention resources for young children.  Once child maltreatment victims age off the prenatal-to-five policy agenda however, they nearly disappear as a public priority – until they emerge as youth needing deep-end services…

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Focused Approach to Reducing Racial Bias

In this TED talk Dr. Jessica Pryce describes using “blind removal committees” in Nassau County, NY to eliminate racial bias in child placement decisions.  These committees get background on child protection history and safety concerns, while information that could reveal race is hidden.  Consequently, African American children now…


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Reality Based Training for New Child Protection Workers

The Zero Abuse Project at St. Paul’s Hamline University is the home of CAST, (Child Advocacy Studies), a national training program for child protection workers and other first responders. A key part of CAST is “sim” (simulation) labs, which take place in mock houses and courtrooms.  There trainees develop skills by interviewing and interacting with professional actors, who…

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Governor Walz’ Promises

Last year we surveyed gubernatorial candidates on child protection issues.  One watchful reader asked whether Governor Tim Walz had followed up on his commitments. In the next two blogs we will review the Governor’s responses, and how they will inform our 2020 legislative agenda. Governor Walz said he would “support dramatic, across-the-board increases in funding” for child protection, but his…


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Distinguish between Neglect and Poverty

Pressures to divert the 70% of child maltreatment reports that are “just neglect” into less safe child protection responses reflect concerns about systemic racism, specifically that workers screen in too many African and Native American families because they can’t distinguish poverty from neglect. But discounting neglect reports is risky.  As the…


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Political Activism and Children

Most parents in child protection have themselves suffered from childhood trauma, compounded by societal injustices such as poor housing and jobs that don’t pay enough to live on. Some activists believe that many parents screened into child protection aren’t maltreating their children, and bringing them into the system simply compounds past wrongs.  Accordingly, they…

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Keep the Good Parts of Family Assessment

Minnesota’s Family Assessment (FA) program is based the unsubstantiated claim that traditional child protection practices are disrespectful of parents, and the assumption - proven false by research – that parents will engage in services voluntarily. Some FA practices also endanger children, for example…


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Is Kinship Care Always Better?

This state Dashboard Report shows that kinship foster care increased from 35.8% of days in care to 58.5% since 2014.  The federal goal is 37.5%. When metrics stray this far from expectations we look deeper.  In this case we have heard concerns about workers being pressured to move children to questionable kinship settings, including by disrupting…

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