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For many parents, talking about race with children is a difficult concept. Adults often question how much children already know and how much information is appropriate to share, while balancing a need to protect children from the United States’ complicated (and often violent) racial history.

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We recently taped a Parenting Today segment on this topic with guest Natalie Bailey from the Department of Family Services in Fairfax County through out partnership with iHeartRadio. LISTEN HERE!

It is important to note that children are perceptive, and often pick up the nuances of race even without direct commentary. Adults need to realize there may be awkward moments, but by engaging children in conversations about race at an early age and continuing to do so throughout adolescence, parents have an opportunity to shape children’s self-esteem as well as perspectives in regards to race. Each moment is a learning opportunity to affirm children’s questions, challenge stereotypes, and teach children how to navigate an increasingly racially diverse community in positive, productive ways.

In the radio show linked above, Sonia and Natalie also mention three books that may be a good starting point for families:

How are families in your community talking about race and racism?

– Today’s blog post was written by SCAN MSW Intern Chamone Marshall

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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.

blogblock_immigrantparentsImagine you’re a parent. Raising a child is one of the hardest jobs you have EVER had. Now imagine you’re suddenly doing it in a new country, where very few people can speak your native language. Where you know little about the resources available to your family. Where few—if any—of your family and friends are there to support you.

This is the life of an immigrant parent.

More than 24 percent of children in the U.S. – about 17 million kids – have at least one foreign-born parent. Parents raising a first generation in the U.S. face a very special and difficult set of challenges. Obvious issues such as language barriers and lack of access to resources often mix with the more personal stresses of isolation, confusion about cultural identity and legal issues.

Last month, SCAN produced a Parenting Today radio show on the topic, with guest Shirley Jones from HACAN (Hispanics Against Child Abuse and Neglect).

“Parents are isolated because of the language—because of everything, really—and so they’re just trying to cope the best way they can,” explained Shirley. “They need a lot of support, a lot of help, to obtain some degree of safety for their family.” [Listen to the FULL RADIO SHOW here.]

At SCAN, we serve hundreds of immigrant families every year through multiple programs. Many of the parents in these families have shared their fears and frustrations with us, and as an organization we want to be a source of support. Over the last few years we’ve developed a number of fact sheets for our Parent Resource Center covering topics such as:

Resources from organizations for immigrant parents are valuable, but we understand very well that the isolation issue—when parents are feeling like they are on the outside of the very community in which they live—requires action on a person-by-person basis.

“They don’t know who to ask and where to go; that exasperates the isolation,” says Shirley. But by listening and being available, she insists each of us can have an impact.

“Slowly and carefully and lovingly, it can be done,” she says. “Invite an immigrant family that plays with your child to go to a movie, and now that family knows where the movie is and they will invite another immigrant family. Those sorts of things—just a little thinking and a little heart—will do it every time.”

This unique parenting experience is the norm for MILLIONS of parents today; the parents raising nearly a quarter of this country’s future citizens. It’s critical that we support immigrant parents as well as take the time to understand them.

Have you put “a little thinking and a little heart” into connecting with the diverse families in your community? Share with us – we want to know!

blogblock_parentingtoday2013A lot of people receive SCAN’s parenting resources in-person at community events. Thousands visit our online Parent Resource Center every month. Hundreds follow SCAN on Facebook. Dozens even read this blog every week. But there’s another way we’re able to reach thousands – perhaps tens of thousands! – of families every month: radio.

For over a decade, SCAN has worked with Clear Channel Media + Entertainment to produce Parenting Today, an interview-style show focusing on one parenting topic or challenge at a time. SCAN’s Executive Director Sonia Quiñónez hosts the show, interviewing one local expert for each segment that airs on various Clear Channel stations including 97.1 WASH-FM, 98.7 WMZQ, HOT 99.5, BIG 100.3, and DC 101. In recent months, topics and guests have included:

We invite you to listen to topics that interest you on our website here. But we also hope you’ll tune in on Sunday mornings to catch our newest shows, as well as the public affairs programming created by Clear Channel and other nonprofits in our region.

(Do you know someone who could offer great insight and resources for today’s parents? Let us know! We’re always developing new show topics and searching for knowledgable guests. Leave a comment below or email us at info@scanva.org with your suggestions. Thanks!)

Welcome to Building Blocks! SCAN has finally dived into the world of blogging, and we’re thrilled to bring you a variety of exciting posts in our kick-off week. Although you’ll be sure to hear a lot about our programs and amazing volunteers, Building Blocks isn’t just a blog about SCAN’s efforts. You can also find the latest info on child abuse prevention and a host of interesting information about parenting from around the web. We also have some great giveaways lined up (hint: they involve coffee!), so be sure to check back often.

Writing your first post for a brand new blog can be a little daunting. First impressions are important, and I’m not sure who would read this blog again if I spent my first post rambling about Virginia state laws or the origin of the pinwheel. So instead of giving you the same information you read about in each SCAN newsletter, I thought I’d put it all out on the table and reveal ten things you didn’t know about SCAN.

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About SCAN…plus one more for good measure!

1. While we at SCAN of Northern Virginia like to think we’re special, we’re not the only SCAN in the country. There are SCAN’s in communities across the U.S., but Greater Richmond SCAN and SCAN of Northern Virginia are the only two organizations using the name in Virginia.

2. More than 65% of parents who participated in our Parent Education Programs in 2010-2011 were foreign-born, Spanish-speaking parents.

Kids relax with some yoga at our ABC's of Parenting Class

3. Think yoga is only for hippies or Hollywood celebrities? Think again. SCAN partners with YoKid…Stretch Your Limits to provide yoga instruction to children of participants in our ABC’s of Parenting Classes.  While parents learn about praise and discipline, their children learn the ins and outs of sun salutations and warrior poses. Check out this video to learn about one child’s positive experience with yoga!

4. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in his college dorm room. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniack started Apple in a garage. And our founder Dave Cleary started SCAN in his basement. Many great companies started in humble locations, and SCAN was no exception when Dave founded it in 1988.  Just this year, Dave was named “2011 Champion for Children” by the Center for Alexandria’s Children.

5. 18 CASA volunteers have been advocating for youth through our Alexandria/Arlington CASA program since 2006. That’s five years of service!

6. What do rug showrooms and loveseats have to do with SCAN? Well, we asked ourselves that same question when we  started receiving weekly phone calls from people asking to see our furniture showroom. We thought we were the victims of an elaborate prank calling scheme, but it turns out that we share our name with a now-defunct furniture store in the DC area.

7. Turn your radio dial to 98.7 WMZQ, HOT 99.5 or BIG 100.3 and you might hear the voice of our executive director Sonia Quiñonez. Thanks to our partnership with Clear Channel Communications, you can listen to Parenting Today on major radio stations in the DC area.

8. We’re not big name-droppers at SCAN, but we think it’s pretty great that former NBC4 news anchor Keith Garvin used to be on our board of directors. He has also participated in numerous SCAN events and fundraisers.

We blew out 20 candles at our Toast to Hope birthday celebration!

9. SCAN celebrated its 20th birthday in 2008 with a record-breaking Toast to Hope celebration, along with official recognition from cities and counties honoring our two decades of service.

10. While I don’t like to toot my own horn, ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program (CSJP) interns at SCAN have spearheaded some awesome projects. Our Twitter account, Facebook page, and now our very first blog have all been launched by CSJP interns.

11. Ever wonder what makes SCAN’s website and newsletter so appealing? It might just be our go-to font, Myriad Pro.

Keep checking back throughout the week for a special giveaway, volunteer profile, links to parenting topics, YouTube videos, and updates from our last AIPC meeting!

Have any questions about the ten things you probably didn’t know? Want to share your ideas for Building Blocks? Give us your thoughts in our comments section!

-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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