Darkness to Light has aspired to reach a tipping point with adults in their home state of South Carolina to make sure that they are “actively preventing child sexual abuse by training 5% of the adult population to prevent, recognize and react to child sexual abuse!”  This idea comes from The Tipping Point, a book by Malcolm Gladwell that says social change can occur if 5% of any given population is influenced to think and act a certain way.

D2Lblog_May2016So what does that mean in Northern Virginia?  Our tipping point would be 115,000.  Can we do that?  At SCAN, we would certainly like to think that is attainable.  We alone have trained 1,129 adults and have a network of facilitators across the region who are training even more. Other local organizations – including the Center for Alexandria’s Children, Arlington CAC and Quantico Marine Base Family Advocacy Program – also provide trainings in the area.

We realize at SCAN that we cannot do this alone.  I am now a certified instructor with Darkness to Light, meaning I can train other facilitators to continue to build capacity in Northern Virginia to train even more adults in Stewards of Children. As of May 12th, there are now 7 more authorized facilitators who can help that number grow.

With 23 facilitators now in our network, it would take each of us training 5,000 adults in a year to reach our region’s tipping point.  That might not be within our grasp this year, but we can certainly begin to make a dent and start tipping the scale.  Will you help us?  Have you been trained in Stewards of ChildrenDo you know of an organization, school, faith community or group of parents that should have this training? 

Child welfare professionals like you can help us tip the scales! Not only to ensure change in the way adults prevent, recognize and react to child sexual abuse, but to help us reduce the instances of mental illness, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, delinquency, and school dropouts associated with child sexual abuse.

Please contact me to learn more.

– Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager
tleonard@scanva.org

 

We talk a lot about families and technology – how to deal with things like sexting, creating family tech rules and unplugging together to make time to connect with each other. But the reality today is that the average person spends about 8-10 hours a day consuming digital media and between 4-5 hours a day using their smartphone. Our goal is to meet parents where they are – and we KNOW they are on their phones!

Thanks to support from AT&T, SCAN recently launched its new Parent Resource Center App. The FREE app gives full access to the information, fact sheets and audio files from our online Parent Resource Center, with more than 75 parenting topics available for browsing.

Have you downloaded SCAN’s new app yet? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

SCANapp_emailad

 

 

hand-palm-babyParenting a new baby is not a perfect science, but we do know that parents who have positive support around them are better equipped to manage the stress, exhaustion and fear that often accompanies that first year with a new child.

Just in time for Mother’s Day, we’ve been gathering stories from our partners across the region working with moms and dads who have benefited from SCAN’s recently launched Operation Safe Babies Program:

One of the cribs went to a woman who had another baby pass away from SIDS at two months of age. When I met her she was on her own, supporting two children while on maternity leave from work. She thought having the baby sleep with her was a safer option, and shared that she needed to use what little money she had on food, not a crib. I spent time explaining safe sleep practices, showing her how to put the baby to sleep without blankets, and her baby now has a safe place to sleep beside her. – Service Provider, Fairfax County Health Department

We provided a crib and resources for a family in need—the father was out of work, and the mother was unable to work due to medical complications towards the end of her pregnancy. Their basic necessities were their priority and purchasing baby items was not an option. This family was overjoyed that we were able to provide a safe place for their newborn to sleep. – Service Provider, Arlington Department of Human Services

One of our playgroup moms, who had her fourth child in December, told us this was the first time she would have a (dedicated) place for her baby to sleep. She was so excited to receive the crib! – Service Provider, Center for Alexandria’s Children

We gave a crib to a woman who had left her husband because of domestic violence. She began her care at the Health Department with bruises and scars from past trauma. She was working 60 hours a week to save money for baby supplies, and lived in a converted sunroom of a very drafty house. I provided a crib for her when the baby came home from the hospital. The next week the mother fell ill with the flu, and when I visited, the baby slept soundly beside her in the crib. She was so thankful for a safe place to put her baby so she could rest and recuperate. – Service Provider, Fairfax County

p.s. Mother’s Day is this weekend, and many have asked us about making donations to SCAN in honor of someone they love. Today we suggest making a donation of $80, enough to provide a pack and play with bassinet as well as educational materials for new parents in economic need through our Operation Safe Babies Program.

 

 

 

On April 5, 2016, SCAN presented the 2016 Allies in Prevention Awards. As National Child Abuse Prevention Month draws to a close, we know we’ll continue to be inspired by these heroes all year long, and we hope you will too!

IMG_2683Meet Tabitha Kelly, a mother and child welfare professional who passionately works to build resilience in children and families: “When I am met with a tough decision, I consider how I would act if this were my child; I want nothing less for them than I would want for my own.”

Meet Carlos Castro, who immigrated from El Salvador and then became a father and business owner in the U.S. He now makes the children in his community his responsibility, speaking up and connecting with children and young adults at risk for everything from gang involvement to the basic need for positive adult connections.

Meet Ellen Grunewald, a 25-year veteran of the child welfare profession. Today she looks back on a career spent building connections that have led to the creation of her community’s first child advocacy center and unprecedented cooperation among agencies that will change the lives of children in her community for generations to come.

Meet Burnette Scarboro, a child advocate committed to taking every opportunity to connect with parents in ways that will build up knowledge, confidence and capacity for nurturing connections in their families. Her personal commitment to her own children’s schools blossomed into remarkable child and parent advocacy in Northern Virginia, the greater Commonwealth and beyond.

Meet The Giving Circle, a remarkable group of women in Alexandria who turned an idea to make special donations to child-focused projects in their neighborhood into a half million-dollar, unprecedented investment in the future of their community.

Read more about the 2016 Allies in Prevention Award winners here.

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[This Letter to the Editor was first published 4/20/16 in LoudounNow.]

Last week, I spent time with Loudoun County Public School staff providing a Stewards of Children training on how to recognize, react and respond to child sexual abuse. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, so the timing couldn’t have been better.

But we’ve actually been providing trainings in Loudoun and across Northern Virginia through our partnership with Darkness to Light for three years, and hit the 1,000-people-trained milestone in late 2015. We’ve trained camp counselors and parents, teachers and child care providers, faith groups and rec center staff.

This year, SCAN also is working in this region as part of the new Loudoun County Partnership for Resilient Children and Families. Our partners include an incredible list of influencers: HealthWorks for Northern Virginia, INMED, Inova, LAWS (Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter), Loudoun Child Advocacy Center, Loudoun County CPS, Loudoun County Mental Health, Substance Abuse & Developmental Services, Loudoun County Public Schools and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

When people—and organizations—come together like this to make children a priority, it is the only way change really happens in a community. Every time we can talk about the reality of child abuse (yes, it occurs in our community), every time we can empower an adult to take action, we have an opportunity to protect more children, prevent more abuse, and strengthen more families.

On April 26, our partnership will host an exciting opportunity in Ashburn. We’ll be screening the TLC documentary “Breaking the Silence” (See Facebook Event here), and facilitating a panel discussion following the film from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Briar Woods High School. We hope community members will join us to be a part of the discussion; child sexual abuse should not be a taboo subject and it is time we all became part of the solution. Now is your chance.

Tracy Leonard, SCAN of Northern Virginia

[This Letter to the Editor first appeared on 4/20 in LoudounNow. Learn more about the event on SCAN’s website here.]

It’s Child Abuse Prevention Month – the busiest time of year for us at SCAN, and for good reason. April provides extra opportunities to grab the public’s attention. So what do we plan to do with all of that extra “face time” with both child welfare professionals and the greater community? From hosting movie screenings to child sexual abuse prevention trainings, from running parenting classes to swearing in a new class of CASA volunteers, we plan to take full advantage of the month ahead.

Perhaps a calendar is the best way to share our April plans – and an even better way to invite professionals and community members like YOU to take action this month along with us:

TakeActionCalendar_April2016

 

wood-light-fashion-peopleSCAN’s volunteers have varied backgrounds in both experience and culture but are brought together because of a shared commitment to our mission.  One such volunteer is Emma Pazos.  She is a part of our newest CASA volunteer group going through training right now.  And although she has not yet been assigned a CASA case (this new class will be sworn-in next month), she has already made an impact that I am not sure she even realizes. Which is why we wanted to take time to learn more about her story…

Emma was driven to find a volunteer opportunity that helped children who were abused, which is how she found SCAN. She wanted to do something meaningful – “to help children in the healing process, and help them to change their lives – a better future without pain, and a chance to have a normal childhood.”

Once she was accepted into the training program for CASA volunteers, Emma wanted more!  She asked about bringing a Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training to a small group at her place of work.  Emma “wanted to create consciousness in other people. It is a team effort. Children can’t do it alone. People need to be aware of this societal problem.”  So she decided to begin with the adults closest to her, her co-workers. I asked Emma how her co-workers felt about the training.

“They liked it a lot and they felt great to learn about this,” she said. “In fact, a co-worker told me that she has shared some tips with her brother in Germany who has a seven-year-old kid, and other co-workers are using the techniques learned in the training to talk with their children.”

I also asked Emma how CASA training is going:

“It is going great. It is really enriching to hear the different speakers and topics associated with this problem. It opens your mind and makes you understand the mission we all have to protect children and all the parties that participate in this process…

I am so thankful for CASA because they are giving me this wonderful opportunity to help children. I strongly believe that it is going to change my life, as well.” 

Emma knows she will have an impact on children as a CASA volunteer.  She says “I will contribute to change a child’s present life for a better future, for a permanent home. It is a great responsibility because our reports will make a great impact in the judge’s decision, as well. Hopefully, step-by-step, we can make a difference for them forever. I can’t wait to pass the final interview, and be ready for the fieldwork!”

– Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager
tleonard@scanva.org

 

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A number of state legislators participated in SCAN’s Advocacy Day, discussing many of the issues where progress was made in 2016. 

This year’s General Assembly came to a close on March 11th, and it is important to give thanks to our elected officials who have worked diligently on behalf of Virginia’s children and youth. Back in January at the start of the legislative session, SCAN focused on three issues: early childhood education, kinship care, and foster care and youth. It is very exciting to be able to say that Fostering Futures has been included in the 2016 budget and the General Assembly made a significant expansion of home visiting programs & additional investments in the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI).

Voices for Virginia’s Children recently blogged about the progress and gave an excellent overview here. Here is an excerpt:

Even if there were not a lot of headlines, or committee hearings, on early childhood this session we are pleased to see that the groundswell of support from champions cultivated by the early childhood community over the last few years has translated into support for comprehensive investments in early childhood. We also know that we will keep early childhood policy on the radar in the coming weeks and months because of the various groups that will be asked to weigh in on policy recommendations in the future.

Below is the progress we made during the 2016 General Assembly Session:

Budget Items:

  • Significant expansion of home visiting parent and health education services- The final budget includes additional TANF funding- an additional $9.5 M for Healthy Families, $2 M for CHIP and $2 M for Resource Mothers over the biennium. This funding more than doubles the current Healthy Families funding.
  • Increase to early intervention (Part C) services to keep pace with referrals– The legislature accepted the Governor’s proposal to increase state funds for early intervention by $1.7 M in FY17 and $2.5 M in FY18.
  • Increase to VPI per pupil amount- Along with repurposing lottery funds to have more flexibility in the K-12 funding formula, the legislature recognized that the VPI per pupil amount had not increased since 2008 and recommended a 2% increase. The rate will change from $6,000 per pupil to $6,125. This equates to an additional $2.8 M over the biennium.
  • Statewide eligibility criteria for VPI with local flexibility– The legislature accepted the Governor’s proposal to establish a statewide income eligibility below 200% of poverty while allowing states to enroll up to 15% of their VPI students above the income cut-off if they met locally established risk factors.
  • New mixed-delivery preschool grant pilots– The legislature accepted the Governor’s proposal and approved a companion piece of legislation (HB47- Greason) to establish a two-year pilot of $1.5 M each year for testing new approaches for public-private preschool partnerships. We hope to see more of the successes we highlighted in our Preschool Partnership Stories from Alexandria and Fairfax.
  • Child Care Workforce Scholarships- The legislature recommended $600,000 the first year and $1.3 M the second for the creation of scholarships and a competency-based credentialing system through VECF.

A total of $25.4 M in new investments in early childhood education over the biennium…

[Read the full blog post from Voices for Virginia’s Children here.]

We hope you’ll take the time to thank your elected official for the progress made! Here is an example of what you can say:

The Honorable [Elected Official’s Name]

Address City, State, Zip

Dear [Elected Official],

I am writing to thank you for your support of Virginia’s children, youth, and families. Because of your support Virginia’s children and youth have a greater opportunity to grow up with the supports they need to contribute to stronger communities today and as adults tomorrow.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

— Sydna Cooper, MSW Intern with SCAN

SCAN’s work with immigrant families in our Parent Education Program often involves the issue of reunification — when children and parents are reunited after long periods of time living apart in different countries.

Jessica Gutierrez Foster, one of SCAN’s Parent Education facilitators,  was recently interviewed for a special report on Univision covering unaccompanied immigrant youth and the challenges they face when they reunite with their parents who immigrated years before. Jessica discusses the Families Reunite workshops she has conducted to help parents gain perspective on their youth’s experiences and perspectives, while another facilitator works with the youth on coping with those challenges. The workshops conclude bringing parents and youth together to facilitate communication and understanding, all with the goal of building family cohesion that protects against the youths’ attraction to gangs, which often serve as an alternative “family” structure when they don’t feel accepted and supported within their reunified family.

Watch the first Univision segment (en Español) here:

 

 

Watch the second Univision segment (en Español) here:

 

 

For more information (in English + en Español), we invite you to visit our Parent Resource Center page on Reunification here.

Being the wealthiest county in the United States might sound like a great thing, but for the vulnerable children and families living in Loudoun County, it simply isn’t.

During 2016, SCAN will be helping agencies who serve children and families in Loudoun County to determine where gaps in services exist, explore what obstacles children and families are facing, and sift through data to paint a more accurate of picture of “wealth” in Loudoun County.

Through a grant from the Northern Virginia Health Foundation, SCAN has been conducting focus groups in Loudoun County with INMED, LAWS, the Loudoun Child Advocacy Center, Health Works, CPS, Ayuda, Loudoun County Public Schools, VOA, and the Loudoun Community Foundation (just to name a few!)  At these focus groups, we are taking the time to talk about what is going right in Loudoun County, what community supports exist, and what unmet needs and obstacles are facing children and families every day.  We are proud to be a part of this new Loudoun County Partnership for Resilient Children and Families in its very first stages.

The focus groups have been an informative way for SCAN to get to know the community better as well as an exciting new way for organizations to talk to one another.  At the end of our grant, we will produce a report for agencies in Loudoun County to use when seeking funding for their programs and when having open conversations with the decision makers of Loudoun County.  Funding, government supports and individual contributions will be able to be more efficiently used to fill in gaps and further develop the “wealth” of Loudoun County. Because wealth means many things, including a more connected community that protects children from abuse, helps foster positive parenting skills and ultimately builds stronger families.

– Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager
tleonard@scanva.org

p.s. You can download an infographic about our work in Loudoun here.

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SCAN works to build hope for children and families in Northern Virginia. This blog brings child welfare professionals the current trends and valuable resources that will support their work to prevent child abuse and strengthen families in Northern Virginia and beyond.

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