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Wondering what you can do this month to be a part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month? We’ve got you covered! SCAN and its Allies in Prevention Coalition are going to be busy across Northern Virginia, and we hope you will join us. Plant a Pinwheel Garden, make a donation during Spring2ACTion, and join us for one (or more!) of the events in our April calendar:

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(p.s. Will you forward this April Calendar (pdf) to 10 people you know? That would be a great start this month!)

SCAN is often fortunate to have the energy and support of MSW interns on staff. This year, we are thrilled to welcome Chamone Marshall. Wonder what she’s been up to at SCAN so far? We chatted with her this week on the blog:

SCAN: Where are you attending school/for what degree?

CHAMONE: I am currently in my fifth semester at the University of Southern California, working towards a Master of Social Work degree in Community Organization, Planning and Administration (COPA) an elaborate title for macro-level social work. The University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work program guides students through three semesters of field placement, designed to enhance students’ understanding of vulnerable populations, social and economic injustice and pressing societal problems. I am pleased to spend all three semesters as a Master of Social Work intern at SCAN.

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MSW Intern Chamone Marshall (right) with SCAN Development Coordinator Sam Hagenow.

SCAN: What at SCAN resonates with you?

CHAMONE: SCAN’s model of engaging the individual, family and community through their child advocacy, parent-education and public education programs is an ideal medium for academic and professional growth. The diverse structure of SCAN has allotted me the opportunity to work on grant applications, revise volunteer outreach media, and attend relevant community events fostering a more thorough understanding of social service agencies.

SCAN: What is your favorite experience at SCAN so far?

CHAMONE: While each task, meeting and event provides unique opportunities, witnessing SCAN’s collaboration with iHeartRadio demonstrated an innovative manner for social service organizations to connect with the communities they serve. The opportunity to hear the career paths of some of Virginia’s leaders in social services, and their expertise on issues ranging from discussing race with children in the midst of a racial charged climate to the continuing impact of adverse childhood experiences, through monthly radio sessions shows how vast non-profits outreach can be, and the many ways that agencies can connect with those in need. The medium of communication, radio, highlighted that serving one’s community extends beyond the identified client, and that when broadcast correctly messaging can reach and benefit individuals who may never come in direct contact with a social service agency.

SCAN: What kinds of projects are you working on? What else do you hope to accomplish/work on during your time at SCAN?

CHAMONE: I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a portion of each of SCAN’s programs, and I hope to continue to contribute as needs arise. To date, I have worked on projects that I’ve had little or no experience in, particularly the research and compilation involved in grant writing, through out the next I hope that SCAN continues to provide new opportunities. Like many SCAN affiliates I am looking forward to Croquet Day, and Toast to Hope and getting to be a part of the behind the scenes elements that make a large scale event a success.

Friends,

When we sat down to write this note, it began with three simple questions:

1. Why are we calling for change in our community? Every day the children in our community are experiencing abuse and neglect – reports of heartbreaking cases are in the news daily. Unfortunately, more than 40,000 children in Virginia were involved in a valid report of abuse or neglect last year, with 48 children dying as a result of their maltreatment. Across the U.S., an estimated 679,000 children were victims of abuse last year.

2. What is more important than the wellbeing and innocence of a child? Prevention is the key to reducing these statistics and keeping children safe. SCAN’s staff, volunteers and Board of Directors are working diligently to develop and grow effective prevention programs for all children and families in our community.These programs are focused on well-researched ways to reduce the risk factors associated with child abuse and neglect, while improving outcomes for children and families who are exposed to multiple risk factors. Our goal is always to mitigate effects of victimization for children!

3. Who will partner, volunteer, donate and advocate for the protection of children? We invite you to meet the people who have connected with SCAN over the past year to be educated, empowered and energized to make a difference for children and families in our community. READ THOSE STORIES IN OUR ANNUAL REPORT HERE!

At SCAN, we believe there is no one way to create change; there must be thousands of us working together to make it happen in Northern Virginia. We challenge you to join SCAN as we energize a community for lasting change that focuses on prevention and the ultimate protection of our children for years to come. Please make a year-end donation to SCAN here.

– Donna Fleming, President
SCAN Board of Directors

 

SCAN’s Alexandria/Arlington CASA Program is a key component of our child advocacy work, and people often ask us about the program’s unique format and impact. Today our CASA Program Director LaTeeka Turner is sharing some of the most common questions we get from child welfare professionals and child advocates about this important, effective program: 

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Q: Who are CASA volunteers (also known as “CASAs”)?

A: CASAs are trained volunteers appointed by a local Judge to help the Judge determine what is in the child’s best interest. SCAN oversees the CASA Program for the City of Alexandria and Arlington County, working closely with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

Q: What does a CASA volunteer do?

A: CASAs are responsible for taking the time to find out as much information as possible about the appointed child and the child’s circumstances through reviewing relevant records and interviewing all relevant people involved in the case, most importantly, the child. CASAs then submit a written report to the Court to recommend to the Judge what they believe is best for the child’s future. In all cases, CASA volunteers advocate for safe and permanent homes for children.

 

 

Q: What kind of training do CASAs go through?

A: Each individual is subject to a thorough screening process, including background checks, interviews, and thirty-two hours of initial training to learn about the human service system, juvenile court, and issues such as substance abuse and mental health as well as the special needs of children who are involved in custody and in abuse and neglect cases. After being sworn in by the Judge as official CASAs, volunteers must complete at least twelve hours of additional in-service training each year.

 

Q: Do CASA volunteers understand the importance of confidentiality?

A: Yes! CASAs must take an oath before the Court that requires them to fulfill the roles assigned to them and to do so while respecting the confidentiality of all information and/or reports revealed to them. CASAs are trained to only share information with direct parties to the case and only the direct parties to the case will have access to review the CASA reports submitted to the Judge. 

Q: Can CASA volunteers provide direct services?

A: No, CASAs do not provide direct services to the child, such as supervising visitation or transporting the child.

Q: How is a CASA different from the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)?

A: CASAs are unpaid volunteers and the GAL is an attorney representing the legal interests of your child. CASAs are not a party to the case and cannot bring a child’s case back before the Judge. The CASA’s role is one of a “Friend of the Court” and an impartial observer, conducting an investigation as the Judge would if time permitted.

 

Q: How do CASAs determine the child’s best interest?

A: CASAs talk with the child, parents, foster parents, other family members, social worker, teachers, attorneys, and anyone else who is important to the child. They make home visits to observe the child at least 1-2 times a month, and may also meet with the child in school or at another designated location. CASAs also review relevant records regarding the child such as attendance records or health records.

 

Q: What do CASAs do with the information that they learn about the child?

A: CASAs submit a written report to the Court detailing what he/she has learned from interviews, observations, and record reviews. The report also contains recommendations for what the CASA believes is in the child’s best interest. In all cases, CASAs advocate for safe and permanent homes for children.

Q: Who gets to read the CASA report?

A: The Judge, the attorneys, the assigned social workers, and the child’s Guardian Ad Litem (GAL). The reports cannot be shared or redistributed to others outside of the case per the Code of Virginia which sites the following:

  • 16.1274.

Time for filing of reports; copies furnished to attorneys; Amended reports; fees.

…… “All attorneys receiving such report or amended report shall return such to the clerk upon the conclusion of the hearing and shall not make copies of such report or amended report or any portion thereof.

Q: Can CASA provide a copy of their report to someone else?

A: Unfortunately, we are not permitted to share CASA reports outside of their submission to the Court.  This is a regulation from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services(DCJS) which governs CASA and the Code of Virginia.  The CASA report is the property of the Juvenile court therefore we cannot distribute the reports and that is why they are filed at the Clerk’s office and distributed from there and the clerk’s office is charged with retrieving them from parties after the hearing.

The Alexandria/Arlington CASA Program is one of nearly 1,000 local CASA programs across the country affiliated the National CASA Program. Learn more about SCAN’s CASA Program here.

Have a question about CASA? Please comment below! 

 

 

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!

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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.

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.

During 2015 SCAN remained steadfast in our mission to promote the well-being of children, improve parent-child relations and prevent child abuse and neglect.

Through new initiatives such as Operation Safe Babies, our
continued dedication to CASA, and our increasing outreach of parenting classes and workshops, we are making sure that EVERY CHILD in Northern Virginia will grow up in a safe, stable, nurturing family, with the supports they need to contribute to stronger communities today and as adults tomorrow. SCANAnnualReport_2015_page1

SCAN is privileged to have friends like you that are also looking out for EVERY CHILD. The work you do in supporting children and families is critical to keeping children safe and nurturing their growth and development.

As we look to 2016, with your help, SCAN will:

  • launch new programming that supports our Kids Need Connections community education campaign for child abuse prevention,
  • add to the over 1,000 adults trained in the prevention of child sexual abuse, to recognize the signs, and to react in a responsible way to prevent or intervene in abuse or suspected abuse, and
  • provide our communities with the tools they need to advocate for children at all levels.

We express our sincerest gratitude: for every blog post read, email answered, hour given, thought written, or word spoken on behalf of SCAN.

“Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be.”   ~  Rita Pierson

Thank you!

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

 

(We invite you to read our 2015 Annual Report and make a year-end donation to SCAN here.)

One year ago this week, SCAN published its first white paper. In an effort to provide a deeper understanding of some of the complex issues we address in prevention and advocacy work, we continued to develop more in-depth tools for resource providers and child welfare advocates in our community. Since last fall, we’ve published two more papers. SCAN’s current list of White Papers includes:

  • Building Resiliency Using Children’s StoriesCover_Stories
  • An overview of resiliency in children, the importance of connections with adults and specific tools and techniques for using reading, stories and specific books to build resiliency in a variety of settings. A Call to Action at the end of the paper includes “6 Steps to Build Resiliency in the Children in Your Life.” Download the white paper here.

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  • The Power of Fathers in the Lives of Children
    Why are fathers important in a child’s physical, social and emotional development? Fathers are underserved in many parent-focused resources, but their involvement has a great impact on outcomes in children. A Call to Action at the end of the paper includes “10 Steps to Help Fathers Connect with Children.” Download the white paper here.

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  • Operation Safe Babies: Reducing Child Fatalities in Northern Virginia
    Inspired by SCAN’s new Operation Safe Babies initiative, we explore the impact of Severe Head Trauma (SHT) and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS/SUIDS) on child fatalities as well as the power of educating new parents in safe sleep, soothing techniques and seeking parent support. A Call to Action at the end of the paper includes “7 Steps to Keep Your Infant Safe During Their First Year of Life.” Download the white paper here.

We have plans to develop additional white papers in 2016. What topics would be helpful in your work with children and families?

D2L_1000trainedEarlier this week, we opened our Community Training Room to 10 adults for Stewards of Children, a child sexual abuse prevention training program from Darkness to Light. The class included parents, a lawyer, a nanny, SCAN board members, CASA volunteers, teachers and more. It was a perfect reflection of why we feel our work in child sexual abuse prevention is so important: It is EVERY ADULT’S responsibility to help protect EVERY CHILD.

That night marked an important milestone for SCAN: we have now trained more than 1,000 adults to recognize, react and respond to child sexual abuse in our community!  What a perfect opportunity to share what’s going on in — and what others have been saying about — our work:

  • SCAN has given six trainings to hundreds of people this summer alone, with organizations ranging from summer camps and recreation centers to parenting groups and Head Start programs.
  • “Very great job,” said one trainee. “It was incredibly moving and great exposure to this issue.”
  • Public Education Manager Tracy Leonard and Executive Director Sonia Quinonez are the two approved facilitators on SCAN’s staff, but we also train other facilitators in the community and currently manage a group of about 10 across Northern Virginia, in addition to working with the Center for Alexandria’s Children to train individuals in Alexandria.
  • “This training was very insightful,” said another trainee. “It provided needed information to ensure protection from abuse of children in my life and those under my care.”
  • Darkness to Light is our national partner in this work, and has recently been in the news for its work with TLC in producing “Breaking the Silence,” a documentary on child sexual abuse following the unfortunate abuse that occurred in the family featured in the cable channel’s series 19 Kids and Counting. You can watch the documentary here.

1,000 adults trained. A reason to celebrate! Because we know that adults are the first line of defense – a primary line of defense. Primary prevention aims to prevent an injury before it occurs. In a recent D2L blog post, Paula Sellars, M.S.W., writes: “A safe adult is a trained adult.” We encourage you to read her full post here: http://www.d2lblog.com/2015/08/25/first-line-of-defense/#sthash.NvPhyeFB.dpu

And we invite you to consider when YOU will become a safe adult — and adult who will take on their responsibility to protect the children in their community. Be a part of the next 1,000 we train at SCAN! 

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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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