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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.

It’s estimated that one in every 122 people in the world has been uprooted from their homes due to conflict or persecution. Here in an increasingly diverse Northern Virginia, we see the impact of immigration, reunification and the refugee crisis on local children and adults. How can we support these families in our community? How can we provide resources to parents and children?

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That was the discussion at a joint meeting of our Allies in Prevention Coalition and the Loudoun County Partnership for Resilient Children and Families, where more than 90 service providers gathered to discuss the special experiences, needs and challenges of immigrant and refugee families. What were the key takeaways for service providers moving forward?

  1. Understand the differences between “Immigrant” and “Refugee.” Patricia Maloof from the Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington provided an excellent overview for meeting attendees, including the unique challenges faced by each group. While immigrants make a choice to leave and have options, refugees are fleeing danger, have little time to prepare and often cannot return home. She also touched on another important reminder: “There is diversity within these populations,” said Dr. Maloof, not the least of which is a wide variety of experiences leading up to their immigration or fleeing.
  2. Build on the strengths of families. Immigrants and refugees provide valuable contributions to the economy, education and richness & diversity of a community. Every one of our panel members highlighted the rich diversity that immigrant families can provide to our communities, and underscored that we must overcome our own biases to better assist them as they navigate life in the United States.
  3. Help immigrant parents understand the unique challenges they face. When parents feel isolated, parenting—even life in general—can feel hopeless. Be sure parents understand what they are experiencing is common. Then help them find tools that work for them and their kids. “They can tell their kids, ‘I will give you time and space to get used to life here’,” said panel member Maria Mateus, a Parent Liaison from Fairfax County Public Schools. “They should tell their child they want them to feel safe.”
  4. Get families connected. Parents and children—often far away from their immediate family members—need supportive networks that speak their language, understand their cultural nuances and can act as extended family and friends. They also need to connect with community agencies, which can be frightening. Panel member Lisa Groat, from Ayuda, discussed the ins and outs of how to make sure that families we work with know which benefits they are eligible for as they begin to establish a new life in the United States.
  5. Learn more about the immigrant and refugee experience. Local experts addressed a variety of topics at the meeting, including things like arranged marriage and immigration law. One attendee said that simply being exposed to a discussion about arranged marriage for the first time was incredibly enlightening. “Remember that survivors are resilient,” said Casey Swegman from the Tahirih Justice Center, who led this part of the discussion. We need to be open to learning more about these families so we can better support and celebrate that resiliency.

This is a discussion that will certainly continue among service providers, community members and families in Northern Virginia, thanks in large part to the work of the organizations who participated on our panel. Also consider exploring the Support for Immigrant Parents page on our Parent Resource Center, where you can find fact sheets to share in English and Spanish, as well as listen to a Parenting Today radio show on the topic with Shirley Jones from HACAN.

Most of our readers know that SCAN has three core programs: CASA, Parent Education and Public Education. From abused children already in the system to new parents bringing home a baby to families reunifying after immigration, our programs reach children and families living very different realities. These programs are complex and well-developed and effective. But they’re not always easy to explain. Over the past year, we’ve developed infographics to help us (and help YOU help us) tell the story of our programs and how they impact prevention in our community.

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We hope you’ll share this post with others when you talk about SCAN and consider the impact of our prevention programs!

Want more? Keep scrolling:

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When you hear about child sexual abuse, many thoughts might go through your mind:

“They should go to jail.”

“Parents should keep a closer eye on their children.”

“Who would do that to a child?”

These statements distance us further from what has happened.  These thoughts make it easier to dismiss the sexual abuse because it happened to someone else – whether with celebrity status, or it happened a long time ago, or it happened within a certain institution.  We believe it will never happen to the children that we know.

We need to shift our thinking though because 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday and 90% of victims are abused by someone they know and trust.  The thought that goes through your mind should be, “What can I do to prevent it from happening in the first place?”  As parents, professionals, or simply members of the community, we need to learn to recognize the signs of child sexual abuse, react when child sexual abuse is disclosed, and respond.  We also need to learn how to prevent it from happening in the first place.

In the case of Josh Duggar, it appears that not only those who are considered mandated reporters failed in their job, but other adults who were aware of what happened, including his parents.  So what exactly is a “mandated reporter”?  According to our national partner Darkness to Light, “A mandated reporter is one who is required by law to report reasonable suspicions of abuse. Mandated reporters typically include social workers, teachers, health care workers, child care providers, law enforcement, mental health professionals, among others but keep in mind that some states designate all citizens as mandated reporters. Regardless of specific mandated reporters, all persons can and should always reports suspected abuse. It is the job of all adults to protect children.”

It is not the job of a child to protect themselves from strangers or from bad things happening to them.  It is the responsibility of the adults in a child’s life to do that.  And if a child is sexually abused, or is the one sexually abusing other children, we must know how to react and respond.

“40% of child sexual abuse is by an older, more powerful youth” — www.d2l.org

Do you know how to recognize, react and respond?  Within the last 3 years, SCAN has trained over 825 Northern Virginia community members to be Stewards of Children using the curriculum created by Darkness to Light.  They know how to recognize, react, and respond.  Shouldn’t you?

If you are interested in becoming trained or organizing a training within your organization, please contact me. We cannot do this alone. Children need all of us.

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

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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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