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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.

Cover_Fathers

  • 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.

Cover_Babies

  • 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?

R0C7A5M4WBAs we approach Fathers’ Day, we’re reflecting on a project we’ve been working on at SCAN over the last several months to place special emphasis on engaging men, particularly (but not limited to!) fathers, in preventing family violence. One of our Master of Social Work interns this year compiled research around how to connect with, value, and engage fathers in the important roles of raising children, connecting with kids, and strengthening families. You can review the white paper summarizing her research here.

Then, in March, we invited LaMar Henderson to speak from his own experience as a son, father, and social worker interacting with dads and families from all walks of life. The very personal experiences he shared about having, as he put it, “three moms” (his biological mom, an aunt who helped raise him, and a foster mom) as well as the intermittent relationship he had with his biological dad opened a window for all of us. As I told Lamar after the event, so many attendees later commented to me on what a model of resilience he is. He inspired us to remember that the children we work with and worry about can overcome, can emerge into loving responsible role models for the rest of us. Working in child welfare requires that we acknowledge childhood pain and its lingering effects while also celebrating resilience and the adults who have overcome early traumas and difficult life circumstances. We thank LaMar for his willingness to be vulnerable and welcome others into his story in a way the helps us better empathize with many of the children with whom we work.

LaMar’s story exemplified the conflictive relationships many children (and adults!) have with parent figures and yet also how most kids truly crave relationships with their biological parents no matter what their experiences. As a community, we need to find creative ways to keep children safe but still cultivate those connections that are so important to a child’s evolving identity, connection to heritage, and sense of self. We also need to be flexible in engaging informal supports around a child at-risk, recognizing that non-traditional “parent figures” can be powerful positive forces in a child’s life, especially when those special adult relationships don’t usurp a parent’s role but rather support and add to the variety of adult-child relationships and connections that help a child mature, build social-emotional skills, and truly thrive.

Through support from Verizon, SCAN has developed special outreach materials with tips for dads on connecting with kids (see a rack card and fact sheets here to share), and later this month — airing on Father’s Day — we’ll have a special Parenting Today radio show focusing on the special father-child relationship.

In the human services field, we often hesitate to emphasize the valuable impact a positive father-child relationship can have because we know some children don’t have that opportunity due to an absent father or a father relationship that just isn’t safe or healthy. Instead, we need to dig in and be creative as a community in how we support all children, knowing that Kids Need Connections. How can we encourage moms–especially single moms–to intentionally foster their children’s other adult relationships in safe ways, to understand that encouraging the relationship with an estranged dad, an uncle, a coach, a teacher, a pastor, an employer doesn’t detract from her role and relationship with the child but, as long as done safely, can be critically important as that child grows? How do we honor the unique role step-dads can have – understanding its awkwardness sometimes but also encouraging healthy, positive, safe engagement with that child?

After the luncheon where LaMar spoke, he shared with me

“As you know, victims typically grapple with an emotional dilemma: Abuse made me who I am, or I am a victim of abuse. Your work at SCAN lets people be victims, but does not let the abuse define them or steal their voices. Your transforming message is invaluable as these casualties of pain develop into triumphant cheerleaders for justice and unconditional love. Your efforts continuously provide a platform for people to hold themselves and others accountable in the face of child maltreatment. Moreover, it provides families the environment to grow and heal together. I want to humbly thank you again for giving me the opportunity to hold people accountable and be the cheerleader for physical and emotional justice in Stopping Child Abuse Now!”

May all of us involved at SCAN – staff, board, volunteers, donors, parents, and families – strive to live up to the ideal LaMar describes. As you prepare for Fathers’ Day – whatever this day means to you, I hope you will join SCAN in continuously striving for an “environment for families to grow and heal together.”

Happy Fathers’ Day!

– Sonia Quiñónez, Executive Director
SCAN of Northern Virginia

Start your weekend off right with a hilarious video about fatherhood.

Stressing fatherhood involvement is more important than ever. The number of children living without fathers has more than doubled in the last 50 years, according to research recently released from the Pew Research Center. Studies show that fathers play a major role in every aspect of their child’s development. From emotional well-being to academic achievement, children with active fathers generally fare better as they grow up.

That’s why fatherhood was the theme of our most recent Allies in Prevention Coalition (AIPC) meeting. Family and child welfare advocates from all over Northern Virginia gathered on June 15thto exchange ideas about the challenges facing dads in our area.

CYEP Director Erick King

The highlight of the meeting was a panel discussion with two dads from the Capital Youth Empowerment Program’s Fathers in Touch. Participants in the program meet to discuss issues facing dads, get advice, and gain support and resources. The two dads both said the support from the program was invaluable. As the dads pointed out, to the laughter of everyone in the room, the AIPC meeting was almost entirely comprised of women. So, getting their take on being a dad in today’s society was really enlightening. One of the main issues that face dads, they said, was the stereotype that moms are nurturers and dads are disciplinarians. Based on the number of AIPC members who asked for more information about CYEP, it was clear that the program is an incredibly useful resource in our community.

From governmental campaigns to blogs, there is a national effort to encourage dads to become more active in their child’s lives and make fatherhood a priority in our communities. To learn more about the importance of dads, visit SCAN’s online parent resource center or check out our recent letter to the editor that appeared in local newspapers. 

Our next AIPC meeting is going to be bigger and better than ever. If you want to learn more about prevention initiatives in Virginia, RSVP to the Northern Virginia Prevention Summit, which will take place on September 15 from 12-2:30pm. For more details, contact info@scanva.org.

Fancy Free Friday:

If you love photography you’ll be all over this week’s Fancy Free Friday giveaway. We’re giving you the chance to win a $10 gift card to Penn Camera. As usual, all you have to do is leave a comment to get a chance to win. But you can DOUBLE your chances of taking away the gift card by subscribing to BuildingBlocks. If you’re stuck on what to say, here are some things we’d love to know: What do you think about fatherhood involvement? How do you think we can foster more active dads in our community? Or you can just say hi! We’d love to hear from you.

-Jenna Temkin

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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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