2020 Year in Review

Dear friends,

It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since we started Care in Action Minnesota. A lot has changed in that time and yet much has remained the same. Our developing organizational identity continues to be fueled by the tenacity of our supporters. Without your dedicated support over the past year, our work would not be possible. In the middle of the pandemic, you stepped forward more than ever to touch lives and help people in need.

We are continually inspired by your commitment. Whether you are a donor, a volunteer, or a caring person concerned about the plight of children and families impacted by child maltreatment, we are very grateful for your generosity of time, funds, and spirit.

What Has Changed

We have experienced tremendous growth since Care in Action Minnesota’s early days, in geographic area served and the numbers of foster youth, children & families we have been able to support. You have helped us grow our impact, from what began with a small church in one county to now serving six counties across Minnesota with several local business partners, compassionate individuals, community, volunteer and faith-based groups investing in the lives of the most vulnerable in our community.

What Has Stayed the Same

Our commitment to offering programming impacting children who have experienced abuse or neglect, strengthen families, connect communities, and prevent childhood maltreatment. Our commitment to collaborating with county and community partners. Our role to partner with families to assess child safety and family needs, encourage families to develop their own solutions to their challenges, and identify supportive resources to help care for and protect their children.

The impact thus far has been tremendous. We have kept families together. We have made reunification possible. We have helped complete the final steps for adoption. We have helped families fleeing abuse. We have helped families secure permanent housing after years of experiencing chronic homelessness. We have helped children and families heal. We have raised awareness. We have prevented child abuse.

Unfortunately, families still need our help, and the systems designed to help them still struggle with disparities. We remain committed to addressing these disparities. And above all, we remain committed to our vision of a world with no family violence, where all children, youth, and families can operate at their full potential and have the resources and skills they need to live with hope and dignity.

Announcement: CIAM’s Executive Director Transition

Dear Friends and Supporters or Care in Action Minnesota:

I am writing to share some exciting news about my future and the future of Care in Action Minnesota. After a decade and a half of tireless service to further CIAM’s mission and values, it fills me with sadness and gratitude to announce that at the end of January 2021, I will be stepping down as the Executive Director of CIAM, to start in a new position as the Executive Director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE). GRACE works nationally and internationally to help Christian faith communities better recognize, prevent, and respond to child maltreatment by providing training, policy/procedure review and assessment, and consultation. 

I want to express my deepest gratitude to all who have been so supportive of the organization and of me personally over the years: board members, nonprofit partners, funders, and, of course, our Change Makers and Community Partners. Without you, the organization would not be as strong and vibrant as it is. I am so honored to have been the leader of this incredible organization and will watch with much excitement and anticipation as it continues to fulfill its mission. 

As I considered this change, I reflected on the 15 years since we started CIAM. Several of you have been with us since those early days! We have grown so much from one small church partner in one county to now working in 6 counties in Minnesota with several faith and business partners. I have loved working together with all of you to make a difference for children and families impacted by child maltreatment. We have kept families together. We have made reunification possible. We have helped complete the final steps for adoption. We have helped families fleeing abuse. We have helped families secure permanent housing after being homeless. We have helped children and families heal. We have raised awareness. We have prevented child abuse. Thank you!

In 2021, CIAM is well positioned and will continue to build upon its amazing work. The past few years have seen much growth, and we need a passionate Executive Director to help us move forward. I am excited to announce that Katherine Sims has been chosen by the Board of Directors as only the second Executive Director in CIAM’s history. Katherine brings an intense passion for children and families who have been impacted by abuse, and she has put that passion into action in many ways. She has been with us for the past year as our Community Programs Coordinator, so she knows our mission well. We will give a more formal introduction in the coming weeks so you get to know her more. If you would like a chance to connect with her by phone or video in the coming months, please feel free to email her at katherine@careinactionmn.org to schedule a time. 

Though I will no longer be Executive Director of CIAM, I will still be around. I am joining the Board of Directors, and I will still volunteer and train for CIAM. Being a part of CIAM and being able to partner with you in this work has taught me so many things! It has changed my life. Thank you for walking alongside me in this work and for continuing to support Care in Action Minnesota as we help children and families impacted by maltreatment.

In humble gratefulness,

Pete Singer

Founder, Care in Action Minnesota

Combating COVID-19 Summer Learning Loss

COVID-19 may not be killing children in the same numbers as adults, but the virus that has locked down the world for nearly 5 months now, is having a grave and long-lasting impact on kids. In addition to the existing challenges faced by children and families in the midst of the pandemic, the Summer months ahead pose additional unique challenges. The thought of the effect this 6-month school break will have on masses of children is frightening, especially its impact on kids from low-income families who already tend to lag behind.

Summer has always been a time when gaps get wider. The seminal Coleman Report published in 1966 showed that student outcomes inside the classroom are predicated on their circumstances outside the classroom. More recent studies show that summer is a pivotal period for student learning. Nationally, children enjoy summer breaks of 8–10 weeks, summer learning loss has been estimated at between 10–25 percent of yearly learning, with children from poorer households disproportionately affected. Studies in low-income settings show that gaps in schooling lead to drop outs at critical transitions between educational levels, and can lower the progression of the most disadvantaged children through the school system.

Summer slides are especially pernicious because their effects are cumulative. By the time a student gets to middle school, they’ve lost an average of two years to summer slide. At higher grade levels, the effect grows even stronger. The consequences of a six-month summer vacation are almost impossible to imagine.

Moreover, the effects of summer slide extend far beyond testing outcomes. For example, low-income students who experience the greatest summer learning loss are more likely to drop out of high school. That’s because lapses in school not only produce losses in learning, but, as Alexander and his colleagues wrote, also “losses in health and well-being, college and career opportunity, and support needed to break cycles of inter-generational poverty and move young people and their families forward.”

Learning opportunities and life outcomes are multifaceted and interrelated. Students from households with greater levels of connectivity, higher levels of parental education, greater availability of parental time for engagement, and in-home availability of books and materials have much better ability to access and benefit from distance learning. These advantages are further reinforced by the reliance of these responses on the use of technology, as the absence of connectivity and technology gap has slowed down the shift to distance learning during COVID-19 and continues to be a major challenge. Experts warn that technologically mediated distance learning is likely to increase inequality in learning continuity.

What we’re doing about it

Care in Action Minnesota is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, providing essential support to foster youth, children and families impacted by abuse or neglect in Washington, Ramsey, Dakota, Winona, Fillmore, and Hennepin Counties, since 2005. Through a variety of programs and initiatives, we work to promote the social, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of children, strengthen families, connect communities and prevent childhood maltreatment. We thrive to foster equity, trauma-informed healing, family stability, and self-sufficiency.

CIAM’s resource activation networks have been able to support thousands of children and families, across Minnesota. At CIAM, in addition to assuring access to basic needs, we focus on strengthening learning opportunities and the personal development and enrichment of the children and youth we serve. We look to the summer months ahead as an opportunity to combat coronavirus learning loss, by providing children and youth, among other things: laptops for online learning, covering online courses and summer camp costs, Summer monthly STEM kits that allow for personalized enrichment through increasingly complex activities, and book club subscriptions where books, tailoring to child’s age, reading level and interests, are also delivered monthly to their homes.

The impact that learning materials can have on learning continuity during periods of school closure are well researched. For example, a US-based intervention that mailed 10 books to students over the summer matched to students reading interests, accompanied by email or text messages to parents, promoted more than one month of gains in reading skills. Additionally, when children gain a sense of mastery of their environments, they are more likely to develop feelings of self-worth, confidence and independence.

Ultimately, we hope our efforts respond to immediate needs, support equitable recovery, and strengthen our ongoing efforts to support child well-being, strengthen families, connect communities and prevent childhood maltreatment.

You can join us

While COVID-19 has been tough on everyone, it has been particularly disastrous for families that were already struggling to make ends meet. We need $5,000 to support the development and combat learning loss among our most vulnerable. We operate by a committed group of volunteers and core supporters and all donations are tax deductible and 100% OF YOUR DONATION WILL GO DIRECTLY TOWARDS PROVIDING ENGAGING LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES TO AT-RISK CHILDREN AND YOUTH.