You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘News’ category.

Last month, SCAN hosted its 5th Annual Speak Up for Children Advocacy Training, bringing together more than 40 attendees for a day of public policy education and advocacy training. Partners from Prevent Child Abuse Virginia and Voices for Virginia’s Children along with a diverse group of child welfare experts and elected officials led discussions during the day-long, interactive workshop. The group discussed effective advocacy tactics at all levels; critical legislative updates; and policy priorities for the upcoming 2017 Virginia General Assembly session. The training was sponsored in part by Verizon, and volunteers from Boeing also supported promotion, planning and facilitation of the event.

Wondering what Advocacy Day attendees are going to do next? Here are some of the action items they plan to take in th ecoming months, and you can do them too:

img_6725-2

  1. Attend an Advocacy Day in Richmond during the upcoming 2017 short session of the Virginia General Assembly.
  2. Work towards having Erin’s Law passed in Virginia. Read an article on Erin’s Law, including comment from Advocacy Day guest Senator Jennifer Wexton, here.
  3. Share advocacy information with others in your network. Voices for Virginia’s Children has some excellent 2017 Tools for Advocates available here.
  4. Call, write and visit your legislators. Find out who your local legislators are here.
  5. Support the families you serve in our programs. One way to support them is by finding creative ways to share their stories with your legislators!
  6. Work with other organizations, across issues, to encourage more progress. Legislators told us again and again that the more cooperation and work they see behind an issue, the easier it is for them to bring attention to it! You can learn more about SCAN’s policy focus in the comine year here, and Prevent Child Abuse Virginia shares specific Bills they are following (along with many other useful advocacy tools!) here.
  7. Thank your political representative for working on behalf of children. (See number 4 above.)

You can download an overview of Advocacy Day here, or visit SCAN’s Advocacy page on our website here for more resources from the day, including a Legislative Glossary, Intro to the VA General Assembly and a Self-Assessment tool!

Advertisements

 

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.

PIP-Seal-Orange-Updated-12-18-14

[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

 

IMG_0274

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

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.

brothers-1429263Dr. Avidan Milevsky presented on the topic of siblings at an Allies in Prevention Coalition meeting in 2013, and will serve as the Keynote Speaker at this year’s Allies in Prevention Awards in April. (Nominations for the award are open and must be submitted by February 12th.) Dr. Milevsky’s recent article for The Huffington Post brings to light an interesting aspect of China’s recent decision to allow multiple births — how might the sibling dynamic change a society?

[Excerpted from The Huffington Post:]

…In addition to the new policy’s impact on health, child welfare, and the broader economy, this new shift will offer the Chinese people a life-long gift that will transform their families and society in profound ways. Children born any time after the policy was implemented in 1980 were lacking an irreplaceable component of healthy childhood socialization: siblings.

As a steady, international body of research is showing, growing up with siblings offers children a matchless context in which they learn about relationships, social engagement, sharing, ownership, identity, conflict resolution, and problem solving.

The first microcosm of a complementary relationship exists with a sibling. Siblings constantly competing for attention, resources, and space offer each other a great milieu to begin learning about the world. During the course of the day, children find themselves in countless basic social situations with their siblings that can offer them a training ground for working on social and emotional development. For example, a fight about a toy, which to parents may seem like an annoyance, is actually a training ground for children to learn about property ownership, respect, self-control, and conflict resolution.

What happens in the sibling relationship is the catalyst for all future social engagements. When children talk, yell, fight, interact, share, and play with their sibling they are developing vital social understanding. These early competencies learned from growing up with a sibling will have lifelong consequences. Studies have suggested that sibling closeness in childhood is linked with social-emotional understanding, cognitive abilities, and psychological adjustment. During adolescence, sibling closeness contributes to healthy identity formation and minimization of teen problems. In adulthood, siblings may offer shared responsibility/negotiation over aging parent care, and sibling warmth is linked with well-being and successful aging. Bringing all these findings together makes it quite obvious that siblings offer a fundamental and unrepeatable life provision.

Considering the important life-long lessons we learn from our siblings about relationships, social engagement, sharing, ownership, identity, conflict resolution, and problem solving I wonder how growing up with a sibling will impact the broader Chinese society. How will growing up with a sibling impact Chinese public and international policy in the future? [Continued…read the complete article by Dr. Milevsky on The Huffington Post here.]

We look forward to hearing more from Dr. Milevsky at the 2016 Allies in Prevention Awards this April. Nominations for this year’s awards are still open! Learn more and download the official nomination form here.

mg_1454-edit-edit

Virginia State Capitol (PHOTO: Ava Reaves, 2015) Source: wtvr.com

Every January, the Virginia General Assembly convenes, and this year children’s issues are once again at the forefront of many discussions. The three main agenda items SCAN will be focusing on in 2016 are early education, foster care and youth, and kinship care. A significant development this year that has the potential to greatly impact children, youth and families in Virginia is Governor McAuliffe’s announcement at the joint money committee of his biennial budget, which included support for early childhood education.

Bills that have been introduced in the legislature that pertain to these issues include:

Early Education and Child Care

A major focus of this year’s agenda is the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) and other aspects of early education. The bills listed below cover a range of issues from early education and childcare providers to providing funding for a mixed delivery approach, which is a major component to reforming VPI.

Click on the following links to track related bills:

  • HB 46: Establishes an Early Education Workforce Committee
  • HB 47: Funds for a mixed delivery preschool program
  • HB 242: Removes the requirement for local communities to provide matching funds to qualify for VPI funds
  • HB 500: Requires national background checks for day care providers and anyone living in the home of a day care provider
  • SB 269: Replaces the requirement that 2 members of the State Board of Social Services represent stand-alone child care center that meets state standards and a religiously exempt child care center

Foster Care and Youth

Reforming Foster Care has been a large part of SCAN’s policy agenda, and was recently addressed at SCAN’s Advocacy Day 2015. In the upcoming General Assembly, Virginia lawmakers have introduced bills surrounding issues of expansion of foster care services and maintaining records.

Click on the following links to track related bills:

  • HB 81: Expand time frame for maintain foster care records until age 22.
  • HB 203: Extends foster care services for children 18-21.
  • HB 271: Parenting time; replaces “visitation” in statutory language.

Kinship Care

Both of the bills introduced this year work towards amending and reenacting exiting laws referring to Kinship Care. (What is Kinship Care? Learn more here.) The third item is a study commissioned to have a better understanding of the feasibility in lessening the restrictions of barrier crimes in order to promote kinship foster care and adoptive placements while ensuring that they are a safe placement for children.

Click on the following links to track related bills:

  • SB 433: Kinship Guardianship Assistance program
  • HB 674 Kinship foster care; waiver of foster home approval standards
  • SJ 73 Study: Department of Social Services; feasibility of lessening restrictions of barrier crimes

The current session continues through February – will you track bills or contact your legislators? We hope so!

— Sydna Cooper, MSW Intern with SCAN

CASA_30yearsBCASA_30yearsThe CASA – or Court Appointed Special Advocate – Program just celebrated a big anniversary in Virginia: 30 years of giving children a voice in the court systems of our commonwealth.

Based on a national model through the National CASA Program, CASA began in Virginia in 1985, when three programs launched in Roanoke, Norfolk and Newport-News. SCAN added its Alexandria CASA Program to the list in 1989, and by 1990 there would be 10 total programs. Today, 27 programs operate across the commonwealth including others in our region like Fairfax CASA and CASA-CIS which serves children in Prince William, Fauquier, Loudoun and Rappahannock. Many have expanded since their beginnings, like SCAN’s program which – thanks to incredible support from funders and those in the local juvenile court system — grew to include Arlington in 2005.

Since CASA programs began in Virginia, more than 25,700 trained citizen volunteers have advocated for abused and neglected children in Virginia. Those volunteers have given more than 2.2 MILLION HOURS in advocacy services over the years. And we are so proud to be a part of that work.

Happy anniversary, Virgnia CASA! The best way we can think to celebrate is to recruit more volunteers and advocate for more children in the coming year.

Will you celebrate with us?

Advertisements

Join 1,087 other followers

welcome!

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.

Categories

Archives

recent tweets…