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Children of parents who talk to their children regularly about drugs are 42% LESS LIKELY to use drugs than those who won’t; yet, only a quarter of teens report having these conversations.

On October 24, Red Ribbon Week begins. An annual alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention awareness campaign, it’s the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the nation. And this year—with the theme YOLO: Be Drug Free—it’s providing SCAN, Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) and other partners in Alexandria with an exciting new way to spark conversations in families:

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  • SCAN and ACPS’ Family and Community Engagement (FACE) are providing Strengthening Families Parenting Classes, a series that helps build and strengthen the parent-child relationships and support families as they begin conversations around substance abuse prevention.
  • FACE has distributed original posters designed by ACPS’ very own students in Elementary, Middle and High Schools in Alexandria. (The poster creators are the winners of last years’ Red Ribbon Week poster contest.) Look for the posters in your schools or get a sneak peek of a winning poster here!
  • Our partners will also offer a series of parent/child forums in the fall and spring for ACPS families. Stay tuned!

So, what does Red Ribbon Week mean for the children and families in YOUR network? We hope you will:

  1. Empower families to discuss this message at home, at the dinner table, at family outings, and with friends and extended family. Explore the resources at healthieralexandria.org and redribbon.org to get started.
  2. If you’re in Alexandria, encourage kids and teens to enter the poster and video contests being sponsored by FACE, SCAN and its partners. Learn more about details and deadlines on FACE Center’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/acpsface/.
  3. Encourage kids and parents to follow the theme on social media using #youonlyliveonce and @redribbonweek. For information on the other program events mentioned here, please contact the ACPS FACE Center at face@acps.k12.va.us or 703-619-8055.

 

 

ParentConnection_SummerFall2016Twice a year, SCAN publishes the Parent Connection Resource Guide (PCRG), a catalog of parenting resources available in the Northern Virginia area. SCAN has just published its newest guide covering August through December of 2016.

Our goal in preparing and distributing the PCRG to child welfare professionals is to spread the word about the plethora of excellent programs and events offered in our community so that we can get parents—especially those most at-risk—connected with the resources they need and deserve. Our hope is that you will refer to this guide when you come across a parent or family who would benefit from some type of parenting help—whether it be a class, support group, or one-time seminar.

We organize the PCRG by type of resource: parenting class, parenting support group, playgroups, and other parenting resources; and then each section is further organized by jurisdiction: Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William.

The PCRG can be accessed online here, or, for the first time, on SCAN’s FREE Parent Resource Center app via your mobile device! (You can download the app here.)

Included in the guide are a couple of SCAN entries we are especially excited to offer this fall:

The ABCs of Parenting
The program covers topics such as child development, praise and empathy, building your child’s self-esteem, family rules, age-appropriate discipline, alternatives to spanking, and family stress management. No eligibility requirements. Registration is required. Class includes a family meal, childcare for children ages 0 to 4, a children’s program with yoga component for children ages 5 and older, weekly raffles and educational materials.

No. of weeks: 8 weeks
Date: Thursdays, October 11 – December 8
Time: 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: First Assembly of God Church, 700 W. Braddock Rd, Alexandria, VA 22302
Cost: Free
Contact: Alice Clark at 703-820-9001
E-mail: aclark@scanva.org
Website: http://www.scanva.org
Language(s): ENGLISH

Strengthening Families Program (ages 10-14)
SCAN of Northern Virginia partners with ACPS’ Family And Community Engagement (FACE) Office and the Alexandria Department of Community & Human Services, Center for Children and Families to offer a facilitator-led parent education class for parents with children in middle school (ages 10 – 14).

No. of weeks: 7 weeks
Cost: Free
Contact: Alice Clark at 703-820-9001
E-mail: aclark@scanva.org
Website: http://www.scanva.org

Cora Kelly Elementary School (with Casa Chirilagua)
Date: Thursdays, September 22 – November 3
Time: 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: 3600 Commonwealth Ave, Alexandria, VA 22305
Language(s): SPANISH

FC Hammond Middle School
Date: Tuesdays, October 11 – December 13
Time: 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: 4646 Seminary Rd, Alexandria, VA 22304
Language(s): ENGLISH & SPANISH

You can learn more about SCAN’s Parent Education Program on our website here.

We hope you’ll share the PCRG in your community this fall! Know of programs that we should include in the next issue? Please let me know!

– Alice Clark, Public Education Coordinator
aclark@scanva.org
 

 

 

IMG_0627.JPGWe were thrilled to hear about Lainie Morgan’s experiences during her first volunteer experience with SCAN. Enjoy her story — we hope it inspires you to volunteer, too!

As someone who used to teach children and families in Baltimore but now supports educators from a national office and misses being in the classroom, I sought out the opportunity to work directly with my new community through www.volunteermatch.org. SCAN’s mission and activities seemed to align well with what I’d learned supporting family resiliency strengthening for 15 years, so I signed up after attending one of SCAN’s monthly volunteer orientations.

Paired with the class of children five years and older, I assumed that the kids would come begrudgingly, antsy after a day of school, and be completely uninterested in the curriculum. Instead, students asked if they could come more than once a week, ran to the door each evening excited to start, greeted me with a big smile and stories of their week, and for the most part, engaged fully with our class. I was truly taken aback by how much the kids opened up and shared their talents and enthusiasms. From computer coding, patiently helping younger students and balancing with closed eyes to reading eagerly during snack, inventing new ways to explain an idea and really witty humor, these students have a ton to offer and build upon.

One week, our lone second grader gave me a card she’d made to celebrate her graduation from ESOL. I felt so special after she’d thought about me at school and wrote this beautiful note that I decided to write all the kids individual cards for the next class so they could enjoy that same feeling. During the volunteer debriefing that same evening, a parent educator asked if I’d share my observation about how well one of the kids was doing with her parent the following week. It can be hard for parents to recognize all the gifts children have when they spend a lot of time with them while managing the frustrations and annoyances of everyday life, so I was happy to reflect back what I was experiencing with the kids.

The next week each student got a letter describing what I’d noticed them doing especially well and how their presence in class specifically contributed to what we were all getting out of it. I also made a copy for each family, so that parents and caregivers could see how their kids were thriving. Parents and students alike were more excited than I expected; families talked about how grateful they were to hear such a glowing report and kids were surprised they’d achieved so much. One student gave me a big hug, another recited back to me one of the talents I’d mentioned in a later class, and a third made his own thank you card for me.

Strong self-esteem and consistent connections with a supportive adult greatly impact a child’s development. I feel extremely privileged to get to contribute even a tiny bit to that by working with the children touched by SCAN’s Parent Education Program. I would strongly encourage others to get involved as well; matching your talents with SCAN’s various needs ultimately puts you in a place to serve the needs of children and parents right here in our community.

– Lainie Morgan, SCAN Volunteer

p.s. SCAN’s next Volunteer Orientations this summer will be held on July 14 and August 6. Register here.

parentingclasslaughsSCAN kicked off its first parenting class of the year on February 5th using The ABCs of Parenting from the evidence-based Nurturing Parenting Program®. This 8-week program is designed to empower parents by providing them with effective parenting skills and techniques. The length of the program provides the group enough time to delve into the core curriculum lessons while also allowing relationship-building among parents and their facilitator.

During this first series of 2015, we have had the privilege to meet and work with nineteen Spanish-speaking parents and their families. We can’t believe how quickly we have reached our half-way point. As we do for all programs, we evaluate and–if necessary–re-tool our activities throughout the series. With that in mind, we asked our Parent Education Team to take a moment and share tips and lessons learned from this and past parenting classes. With over 40+ years of combined experience, they had plenty to share!

Whether you are new to program implementation or an experienced facilitator or program coordinator, here are some tips you can consider as you implement similar programs.

  1. Know your audience. Being familiar with participants’ cultural backgrounds, genders and language differences is something we all know as critical for a facilitator to be aware of before walking into a class. However, there are other nuances to consider. For example, some individuals may have been placed in a class unwillingly by the court. They can bring a negative attitude and influence to the group. The challenge is finding a way to engage those parents and help them focus on the positive things they will gain from participating, instead of who or what brought them to the group.

    Our team recommends acknowledging their feelings. For example, “For some of you it may feel hard to fit this commitment into your schedules each week. I promise we are going to have some interesting conversations and a few laughs and before the end of this class you will likely look forward to these evenings we have together.” It is also helpful to express value in their presence. For example, you could say “In my experience, everyone brings value to these conversations and I encourage you to participate in discussions openly and honestly. Your wisdom and experience may be what helps another parent get through a challenging time.”

  1. Set expectations for the group. Each person, including the facilitator, will have their own expectations about the class. As the leader of the group, set the expectations early on. This can be done during pre-registration and during the first session when ground rules are established.
  1. Integrate relevant news. If you are working with an evidence-based curriculum you may be hesitant to integrate outside sources of materials such as news articles, quotes from well-known individuals or community members. Our team believes doing so provides an interesting and fresh take to each class. Integrating real-world situations and discussion enhances your message and supports the idea that there are others outside of the group talking about the issue.
  1. Have conversations, not lectures. Build structured conversations and activities into the sessions, rather than just lecturing. Create opportunities for the participants to contribute their relevant life experiences to the class. Enjoy and value their participation and let them know it.
  1. Set a chain of communication and check-in regularly with your team. When running any sort of program, the team needs to be on the same page. Establish clear roles for your volunteers and staff. Then designate a chain of communication. Ideally this should be set up days prior to the first class. A short debriefing at the end of each class allows staff and volunteers to bring up any challenges they are encountering and as a group find a way to address it before the next class.
  1. Working with children?
    • Say it with enthusiasm! When you are leading a children’s program, act with the poise and enthusiasm that you want to see reflected in the children and childcare volunteers. For example, if you are introducing a new game to kids and you show your excitement about how you have the coolest game in the world to share with them, then the kids will also be excited about it.  Really, if you sell it right, you can get kids to do any sort of game or activity!
    • Be flexible. Kids’ moods, likes and desires can all change in a flash and you need to be able to change with them. Don’t be upset if things don’t go the way you planned. Always have a backup game, activity or craft ready to go at all times.
  1. Have a sense of humor. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned. Weather delays/cancellations, unexpected logistics challenges, and volunteer cancellations have all caused havoc at some point in the life of a program. There are times we just need to take a breath, have a laugh and realize that when the program is supported by great staff, volunteer, and partners who have a common goal and belief in a mission, it will all eventually work out. (And if we can’t model flexibility, patience and humor for parents, then who can!?)

Have you worked with children and parents before? What are your best practices for connecting with families and making a lasting impact? We’d love to hear in the comments below!

– Marisol Morales, SCAN Parent Education Program Manager

We love sharing SCANSnapshot posts here on the blog. Giving you a glimpse of our programs – the parents, children and volunteers who make it all happen – is a great way for us to show you the things we could never fully explain with words alone, including…

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The quiet interest and uncertainty of parents as facilitators begin to share knowledge the first night of Parenting Class…

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The giggles and joy in the Children’s Program as the kids jump into their first yoga class…

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The sense of security when parents sit with others who will not judge, but understand their struggles…

parentcafe_flyerREV

The excitement that comes with opportunities to reach new communities of families, like the Spanish-speaking parents at two local schools who will be a part of our brand new Parent Cafe series launching next month.

Interest. Joy. Security. Excitement. Want to learn more about our Parent Education Program and its impact on local families? Click here.

In our blog post last week we promised to let you know how we’d manage without our amazing volunteer Beth Donnelly (owner of The Regal Fig Food Co. and weekly creator of healthy meals for our Parenting Class families) while she’s out of the country for a couple of weeks. Well, we think this picture is worth a thousand words. Or perhaps worth 24 volunteers:

The generous crew from Virginia Commerce Bank24 VOLUNTEERS in total – came to our ABCs of Parenting Class on Tuesday night ready to do anything they could to help.

The moral of this 2-week story? EVERY person can make an impact. It doesn’t matter if you’re a gourmet chef or a bank employee. A high school student or a retiree. A bilingual child advocate or a yoga instructor. We’ve seen every volunteer (all 200+ over the last year alone) make a real difference for the children, parents and families touched by our programs. They’re all helping us prevent child abuse and neglect in our community.

So when do YOU want to start making a difference?

MEET BETH DONNELLY.
(She’s pictured above at our ABCs of Parenting Class, center, with high school volunteer Kaylyn and parent participant Kathy.)

Local small business owner? Check.

SCAN volunteer? Check.
Globe-trotting cooking class teacher? Check.

Wait…what!? That’s right – this week Beth (owner of The Regal Fig Food Co.) is in Africa teaching local resort chefs about Western cooking techniques. (You can see her photos and updates at The Regal Fig Facebook page here.)

We never cease to be amazed by the volunteers who make our programs possible. And not just because they’re committed to helping SCAN build hope for local families, but because they are living proof that we ALL can make time to make a difference. When Beth is home, she volunteers at our ABCs of Parenting classes, teaching parents about nutrition and meal planning while cooking healthy meals for dozens of children and caregivers in class. While Beth’s away, we’ll rely on other volunteers to provide meals for the families. Who will step up and help? Stay tuned…we promise to post another SCANSnapshot next week!

p.s. And don’t worry – you don’t have to be a professional chef to have an impact at Parenting Classes (or any of SCAN’s programs)! We depend on dinner volunteers as well as childcare volunteers, logistical volunteers and so much more…we’ll find a way for you to get involved too! Click here to learn more.)

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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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