Kids Deserve Better. Mental Abuse Reform

I am starting a campaign to create a bill to put in front of legislators. I am doing this because our kids are in trouble and have no rights. The current family courts view children as "property" to be doled out like any other part of the list of assets from a marriage to be divided. Unfit and abusive parents are awarded parenting time because it is their "right", but no where is consideration given to the rights or "best interests" of our kids to live in a safe and nurturing environment.  A severe and detrimental belief that kids benefit from having both parents in their lives regardless of whether the parent is abusive or unfit has run rampant through the court system. While it is true that children have the right to love both of their parents regardless of who that parent is or how they behave, it is not fair to our children to throw them to the lions den without protection and supervision. It is the protection and supervision of hostile and detrimental environments that the court system is completely unequipped to handle.

Our first month up and running and we are already off to the races. We have been making great connections and have begun some very stimulating conversations. Already the movement has begun to evolve the scope of the things we seek to accomplish. Not only are we seeking to change laws so they will actually insulate our children from the damaging effects of divorce and abuse, we also seek to create a societal shift in the way we view and approach both divorce and mental health issues. Our monthly newsletters will outline our future plans and strategies as well as provide updates on the progress of the movement.  Currently we need to cover our first years operating expenses to bring on key personnel.

In early February, we have a meeting with our first senator to discuss the current ideas on the table for reform. So far we have identified 28 pages of Custody statutes that are in need of reform. We are continuing to reach out to senate and house representatives to discuss the bill. We are currently continuing the discussion on social media and on our forum around the core reform idea.

Custody Prerequisites
Before any custody order or parenting plan can be officialized by the courts, a therapeutic evaluation must take place. This process will replace all Guardian et Litem, Parenting Time Expediter, Parent Consultant, and Custody Evaluation positions. This process will also replace mediation services. Each parent shall choose a qualified mental health industry professional as their individual therapist for the term of the divorce proceedings and subsequent treatment recommendations. There shall be a minimum number of required sessions, (currently proposing 6 sessions) for the industry professionals to assess the current capacity for the divorcing parents to keep their children out of the middle of the conflict. A wide range of recommended parenting classes to prescribed treatment for diagnosed disorders, to supervised visitation situations will be recommended by the two professionals. Provided after consulting with each other the two professionals agree with diagnosis's and prescribed classes or treatments, their recommendations shall be sent to the courts for inclusion in the custody order. Unless otherwise recommended by the professionals, a 50/50 custody and visitation arrangement is assumed. All treatments will be prescribed with the intent of one day reaching the 50/50 mark. Though we all have experienced the reality that sometimes that is not possible, which is why there is the two individual professionals to make the recommendations for those cases. Treatment plans shall include benchmarks and treatment goals that must be completed in order to progress closer to the 50/50 mark. If in the event the two professionals do not agree, the courts shall appoint a third neutral professional. This professional must carry higher education or significantly more years of experience in evaluating cases then the two individual professionals. The third professional shall then be the one to make the recommendations to the courts. In cases where there are issues with drug and alcohol abuse, the courts shall order the party with the alleged issues to seek an additional qualified drug and alcohol counselor to make an assessment and a recommended treatment plan that will be included in the recommendations provided by the other professionals.

We will continue to put forward more ideas for statue revisions and concept ideas for reform for discussion as we work towards drafting a final version of the bill while working on finding our official sponsors and authors of the bill to bring it in front of our state legislatures. 

We are currently in need of people to join our forum and share their stories of their struggles with the court system to help persuade lawmakers.

Our goals for the next month in community outreach are to meet with community centers, like minded non-profit organizations, and churches to start conversations on beginning to build a robust community of support around broken families. As we work on reforming custody laws we need to prepare for those changes by increasing available access to therapeutic services. Community centers and churches can become valuable resources by bringing on therapeutic staff to be in positions of community outreach. Churches and community centers need to open up space for therapeutic offices and support groups where families can go to participate in recommended classes and therapuetic support. This will lead to easy access to services right in the communities where people live. It will also serve to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and broadcast the message that it is ok and healthy to seek help for our emotional needs. We need to break the stigmas around mental illness and divorce. We will be seeking public speaking engagements to discuss community outreach plans.

In February, we will be attending Prairie Care's fundraising Gala. We are very much looking forward to supporting all that Prairie Care does, as well as meeting more industry professionals at the Gala and continuing the ongoing discussion of reform and community action. 

We will soon be adding campaign signs and T-shirts for sale to help spread exposure for the campaign and raise extra funding for the cause.

We are currently limited in scope as to the amount of time and resources we are able to give to the campaign. At present we are running at a deficit. Our current monthly operational expenses include $12,500 for two executive level positions, $5,000 in base operating expenses for lease and utilities. Our first months expenses total $17,500 with no revenues generated from fundraising efforts.  Our goals for the future are to add $3,000 towards campaign awareness merchandise such as signs and T-shirts, a travel budget for campaign speaking engagements, and we would like to add one full time social media manager at $4,000/month, and one full time fundraising position at $4,000/month. In order to add these positions and be able to set our sites on further campaign growth, we need everyone to help spread the word about the campaign to help get more exposure and to help raise the money the campaign will need to be a true success to help the children.

Everyone for subscribing to our news letter. Please feel free to pass this newsletter along to everyone you know and encourage them to subscribe to future updates.


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Arthur Crowell 
Minnetonka, MN
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