Blog archive

SCAN’s blog was originally launched in July 2011 and named BuildingBlocks. Today, the blog resides on our website and serves as an integral way to share news, trends and updates from SCAN. To explore archived content at the old blog site, click here.


From the blog: Two incredible teens and why they help SCAN

blockblock_teensApril 7, 2014

We are continually impressed and inspired by the young volunteers involved with SCAN. There’s something special about teenagers making the time commitment to be a connection for kids in their own community, and for setting an example that many adults would be smart to follow. This month – as we launch our new Kids Need Connections campaign – seems like the perfect time to share a teen perspective of SCAN and its programs, so we sat down with Colleen and Cecily, two local high school students with a passion for supporting SCAN this month and all year long.

SCAN: Girls, tell us a little about yourselves.

COLLEEN: I’m a senior at TC Williams High School, and I run the TC Abuse Awareness Club. We’re helping SCAN by running bake sales, promoting the symbol of the pinwheel around our school, making posters with statistics to raise awareness of abuse in our community, and any other things SCAN may ask for assistance with.

CECILY: I’m a junior at Patriot High School. I’m helping SCAN as an individual. I’m self-motivated, and decided to reach out and support SCAN this April because it’s a wonderful cause.

SCAN: Why do you think it’s so important for young people to get involved with abuse prevention? 

COLLEEN: As a youth in foster care myself, I understand how child abuse is still shadowed by social taboos, and I believe that we as youth should (more…)

From the blog: What parents need to know about Sexting

Jenna-Lyn Ryckebusch, a Senior Programs Coordinator at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, recently joined the Darkness to Light Facilitators at their quarterly meeting to discuss sexting and online solicitation. 

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children categorizes sexting as the sending or posting of nude or partially nude images.  With the availability of technologically advanced cell phones with video capabilities, sexting is a growing issue for teens.  4% of cell-owning teens (12-17) say they have sent nude or partially nude images.  NCMEC through their NetSmartz Workshop, have developed 5 tips that parents can use to talk to their teens about sexting.

  1. Think about the consequences of taking, sending, or forwarding a sexual picture of someone else, even if it’s of you.  You could get kicked off of sports teams, face humiliation, lose educational opportunities, and even face a police investigation.
  2. Never take images of yourself that you wouldn’t want everyone – your classmates, your teachers, your family, or your employer – to see.
  3. Before hitting send remember that you can’t control where this image may travel.  What you send to a boyfriend or girlfriend could easily end up with their friends, and their friends’ friends, and so on.
  4. If you forward a sexual picture of someone without their consent, you are violating their trust and exposing them to potential ridicule.  It’s not up to you to decide who should see their body, so don’t forward the image to anyone.
  5. If anyone pressures you to send a sexual picture, don’t give in and talk to an adult you trust.  Remember that anyone who tries to get you to do something you are uncomfortable with is probably not trustworthy.

To prevent your teen from sexting, try setting house rules for Internet and cell phone use with your teen.  Talk about what the consequences will be if the rules are broken.   Know what apps teens are downloading and using.  Look for apps such as Snap Chat, Yik Yak, and Kik on their mobile devices and understand how the apps work and what they are used for.  Remember to model for your children what is appropriate to post on your own social media.

Try these Discussion Starters

• Have you ever received a sexual message or naked picture on your cell phone?

• Has anyone ever asked or pressured you to send a nude or sexual picture?

• Do you think it’s OK to send “sexy” images? Why?

• What could happen to you if you send or forward a naked picture?

• How likely is it that images and messages intended for one person will be seen by others?

For more information, visit our online Parent Resource Center and explore topics like Internet Safety & Cyber Bullying and Tech-Savvy Parenting.




From the blog: Why I support SCAN

Ever want to learn more about the people who support SCAN? Ever wonder WHY they support SCAN? Today we talk with Paola McDonald, a local entrepreneur (and mom), about her personal and professional support of SCAN’s programs in Northern Virginia.

SCAN: How did you first learn about SCAN? What was your initial involvement?

Paola: I used to work for SCAN several years ago.  I was the Parent Education Coordinator, back before I had children myself.  I was also the CASA Volunteer Recruiter for about one year.  It was a short term, contract position where I was able to assist the CASA program with their minority volunteer recruitment efforts.

SCAN: What is your involvement today? Why do you continue to support SCAN?

Paola: Today I continue to support SCAN as a Pinwheel Partner.  I am also on (more…)

From the blog: Thoughts from SCAN’s Parent Education Program

We’re currently in the middle of our spring ABCs of Parenting Class (in English), with 22 parents and their children joining us for a special 8-week series designed to change the way they nurture and raise their kids.  What better moment than this to share recent thoughts from our current Parent Education Manager, Andres Marquez-Lara, who acknowledges how well-known the classes are, but asks us to consider how ongoing support groups also play a critical role in SCAN’s impact on families moving forward:

DSC_3499SCAN’s Parent Education Program weaves together a series of programs that support parents and their children in fostering positive relationships with each other. The Parent Support Groups (PSGs) are a very important part of our Parent Education Program.

At times, they have been overshadowed by (more…)

From the blog: A new way to look at community education

How does our work to educate the community about child abuse and neglect make a difference? Why is public awareness so critical to changing the way we think about prevention?

Our answer, in one (brand new!) infographic:




You can download this infographic as a PDF (with a full second side of information!) on our website here.




From the blog: Speaking up for children…and SCAN

blogblock_spokespersonIt’s not easy to talk about child abuse and neglect. But it’s not something we can ignore. And we can’t keep thinking it doesn’t happen “in my community.”

Child abuse cuts across all boundaries of economic level, race, ethnic heritage and religious faith. Unfortunately, child abuse occurs in all segments of our society, but (more…)

From the blog: Empathy’s role in healthy, happy (loved!) children

blogblock_empathyWith Valentine’s Day comes thoughts of sweet cards and candy and expressions of love. And love and nurturing are critical components of strong, healthy parenting. But there’s another important skill we encourage families to strengthen:


What is empathy, exactly? It’s the ability to (more…)

From the blog: An opportunity to honor the heroes among us

alliesawards365 days a year, thousands of people across Northern Virginia are working to protect children, support parents and strengthen families. From social workers to teachers to child advocates to coaches to faith leaders, these people are our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends.

They’re also HEROES.

They’re connecting with the children in our community every day, changing the directions of lives and (more…)

From the blog: Lighting the Way for More Adults to Stand Up Against Child Sexual Abuse

blogblock_loudounCSAChild sexual abuse is not the problem of one socio-economic status, culture, race, religion, or gender. It impacts every community and every person across the globe. ~

SCAN is once again at the forefront of not only raising awareness of the prevalence of child sexual abuse in Northern Virginia, but also in providing adults with concrete ways in which they can prevent, recognize and react to child sexual abuse.  Two of our trained facilitators and SCAN staff members, Sonia Quiñónez and Delmira Morales, recently provided the Stewards of Children Training to a group of Arlington parents.  And although Sonia and Delmira have done multiple trainings across Northern Virginia over the last few years, this time, they were able to provide the training in Spanish with Spanish materials. We’re grateful that SCAN can be reactive to the community’s needs and that we are continually searching for funding to aide us in educating and engaging the community with such crucial trainings.

SCAN is also the recipient of a 100 Women Strong grant to provide the Stewards of Children training in Loudoun County over the next year.  We will be working with the Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS) and the Loudoun Child Advocacy Center to coordinate our efforts to reach community members who would benefit the most from the Stewards of Children Training.

f you are interested in your group, organization or company receiving the Stewards of Children Training, please contact me! I’m SCAN’s Community Education and Engagement Coordinator and would love to share more information with you.  To learn more about our work with Darkness to Light, you can also click here.

– Tracy Leonard




From the blog: A special request from CASA

AR_CASASCAN’s CASA volunteers are an incredibly special group of people. Last year, 79 individuals volunteered over 6,100 hours to advocate for 165 children in the Alexandria and Arlington court systems. They’re a diverse group — and it’s important they continue to be. We give a voice to a very diverse group of children: infants and teens, boys and girls, locally born & raised and recent immigrants. Having a volunteer base that includes male and bilingual volunteers is critical if we hope to continue speaking up for our community’s most at-risk children.

This winter, we’re working with CASA for Children of DC and CASA of Montgomery County MD to focus on the recruitment of male and bilingual volunteers. Know someone who might be interested? Please share the news; thousands of children in our region–especially young boys and Spanish-speaking children–are depending on it.

Of the more than 900 CASA programs across the country, six operate in our region. Click on a link below to learn more about the impact of CASAs in a specific local community and how you can help:





From the blog: New year, new thanks, new calendar!

SCAN2013_AnnualReport_fbgraphicsAs 2013 — our 25th anniversary year — drew to a close, we were already looking ahead to all we could accomplish in 2014. We set a goal to raise $26,000 through holiday giving that would help us kick off “YEAR26” with a bang. And friends like you once again amazed and inspired us with your support! Your generosity resulted in more than $29,000 in end-of-year giving, equipping our programs and energizing staff to start the new year off right.

And so we begin the first weeks of 2014 with gratitude, and invite you to check out our NEW Annual Report & 2014 Wall Calendar. What better way to be reminded of your impact all year long? You can:

  • Page through the report online HERE.
  • Download a PDF HERE.
  • Request your own printed copy by sending an email to

Thank you for your support in 2013, and here’s to a great YEAR26 ahead!





From the blog: A special letter from SCAN Board Member Mary Kudless

December 29, 2013

MaryKudlessWell, the holiday cards have arrived in our mailboxes and our hearts are warmed by messages and photos from family and friends.  Take a look at the wonderful pictures of children and families in SCAN’s Annual Report.  It brings alive SCAN’s work with children and families through their CASA, Parenting Education and Public Education programs.  All of this effort is about strengthening families and supporting the inherent dignity and joy in raising happy and healthy children(more…)

From the blog: Family tips for a stress-free holiday


December 17, 2013

For many people the holiday season is the most wonderful time of year. For others it the most stressful time of year and can lead to arguments, depression, substance abuse and violence.

“All families deal with stress at one time or another, but the pressure of the holidays can make it even greater,” said Sonia Quinonez, Executive Director of Stop Child Abuse Now of Northern Virginia (SCAN).  “Families are dealing with busy schedules, high costs and long to-do lists, all natural triggers for more stress.”

One of the biggest causes of family stress is simply (more…)

From the blog: Speak up for children. Yes, you!

December 13, 2013

advocacyday2013_comboWe recently hosted our 2nd Annual Advocacy Training through our partnership with Prevent Child Abuse Virginia. Speakers included local legislators as well as experts from Voices for Virginia’s Children, Zero to Three and The Commonwealth Institute. Dozens of attendees received a valuable day of strategy and updates on policy, legislation and advocacy tips. But the information is relevant for all of us committed to speaking up for children in our communities. Whether you’re an experienced advocate or just trying to learn more about (more…)

From the blog: ACES and Child Welfare

blogblock_ACESDecember 6, 2013

Can a traumatic childhood experience cause adult health problems? A landmark study shows that exposure to an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) like abuse and neglect can actually increase the odds of later developing serious adult health issues like cancer, liver disease and heart disease. It can also make people more prone to suicide, poor work performance and a host of other negative outcomes.

The groundbreaking research survey known as the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) asked over 17,000 adults to report on 10 adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse and neglect, parental divorce, domestic violence and parental mental illness. The study found a significant association between (more…)

From the blog: How Can I Teach My Child Gratitude?

[This post was originally published by SCAN in November 2012, and we had so many readers like it that we wanted to share again on the new site as we head into the week of Thanksgiving. Enjoy!]

As many of the families in our community get ready for the Thanksgiving holiday next week (not to mention the rush into gift-giving season), we’ve heard parents struggling with how to teach their children gratitude.

  •  “Will my son ever say ‘thank you’ without being reminded?”
  • “Why is my daughter focusing on what she DOESN’T have rather than everything she DOES have?”
  • “Is gratitude something I can actually teach my kids?”

Let’s be honest–it’s not just children who (more…)

From the Blog: Volunteering with SCAN – A New and Improved Approach!

IMG_20130503_144707_487REV SCAN’s 250+ volunteers are absolutely critical to the work we do. Volunteers multiply the impact of our small staff and extend our reach throughout the area. We want volunteers’ experiences working with SCAN to be rewarding and beneficial for everyone involved.

As a result, we are continuously evaluating our volunteer application and screening process. August marked the launch of a new and improved approach at SCAN to ensure each volunteer is matched with the opportunity that best fits their interests and time availability.

To get started, all potential new volunteers now complete a simple one-page Volunteer Interest Form, then attend one of our monthly Orientation Sessions. These sessions, offered (more…)

From the Blog: Toast to Hope Photo Gallery

We can’t imagine a more remarkable evening to celebrate SCAN’s 25th Anniversary and witness a community make a renewed commitment to changing the lives of children and parents for years to come. SCAN’s Toast to Hope on November 2nd was record-breaking on so many fronts:

  • 300+ guests in attendance
  • 100+ volunteers, sponsors and donors giving time and funds
  • $95,000+ donated to support SCAN’s child abuse prevention programs (more…)

From the blog: A SNEAK PEEK of #ToasttoHope!

In just 3 days, we’ll welcome hundreds of friends to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for our 11th annual Toast to Hope. Still haven’t bought your tickets for this fun event, complete with wine & beer tastings, gourmet food and silent auction? We’re already expecting to break attendance records – but you can still join us! Buy tickets today here or VOLUNTEER with us that evening and get in the door FREE! Please contact Karen Price ASAP if you can volunteer:

And for those of you who just can’t wait to experience the sunny skies and silver linings on Saturday, a few sneak peeks: (more…)

From the blog: Meet Miguel Huaman

IMG_6774-2525610851-OIt’s a busy time at SCAN – there’s a new CASA Volunteer Training going on, our Parenting Classes are in full swing, and in two weeks we’ll be celebrating our 25th anniversary at Toast to Hope! But before that happens, we’ll also have a chance to relax and enjoy a Happy Hour with our fabulous Council of Young Professionals. We hope you’ll join us!

CYP Networking Event
Thursday, October 24th at 6:30 PM
Crystal City Sports Pub

Ever wonder who is involved with our CYP? Meet Miguel Huaman, 2013 SCAN Croquet Tournament Champion AND this year’s president of the CYP. (More on that Croquet Tournament later.) He joins us on the blog today for a quick Q&A about his own SCAN story:

SCAN: How long have you been a volunteer at SCAN?

Miguel: I have been a volunteer a little over a year. I have cooked for parenting classes and workshops several times, I have sold pies at Art at the Avenue, I have volunteered for fundraisers like Toast for Hope and the Croquet Tournament.


From the blog: New thoughts on Sibling Dynamics

DrMilevskyOne of the most common questions we get from parents is how to stop siblings from fighting so much. The sibling relationship can be intense; children often spend more time, communicate more and fight more with their brothers and sisters than anyone else in their lives. But constant bickering, jealousy and conflict can pose a challenge for parents and the family unit as a whole.

So what can a parent do?

Earlier this month, SCAN engaged members of its Allies in Prevention Coalition for a discussion on the topic with Dr. Avidan Milevsky, a well-known psychotherapist, author and professor who focuses on family issues, parenting, and siblings.

“Sibling fighting is an opportunity,” insists Dr. Milevsky. (more…)

From the blog: Who is talking about children this election season?

blogblock_advocacySept2013The Virginia Governor’s election is heating up, but where are the conversations about children during this election season? Like one local resident, SCAN urges all of the candidates to “step up, be bold and listen to the voters who demand action for Virginia’s vulnerable children.”

As Strong Kids, Strong Virginia has outlined, the new Governor will have the power to make many decisions impacting children and families. For example, the Governor prepares the state budget, which includes funding to care for, educate, and protect kids. The Governor also chooses the leaders of state agencies that serve our children, such as the Departments of Social Services and Education, and approves or vetoes bills passed by the General Assembly. Yet issues like preventing abuse and neglect and supporting parents are too seldom part of the candidates’ conversations during election season.


From the blog: The ABCs of Parenting Scores an ‘A’

Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Alison Hyra, an experienced research and evaluation consultant, as well as a member of SCAN’s Council of Young Professionals.  

A_gradeSCAN provides parenting classes for Northern Virginia families that use a curriculum entitled the ABCs of Parenting.  Like many social service agencies, SCAN collects important information about who attends the parenting program and how they might have changed as a result of participating in the curriculum.

As a member of SCAN’s Council of Young Professionals, I was excited to learn that SCAN had data about the last two years of parenting classes.  Since I am also a professional evaluator focusing on parenting, marriage and families, I was eager to dig into SCAN’s data and see how the program was making a difference.

I’m pleased to report that my analysis indicates that SCAN’s parenting programs are making strong and significant changes among program participants.  (You can download the complete Case Study PDF here.)

We collected data on participants’ parenting attitudes before the program started and after the program ended.  These attitudes are associated with levels of child abuse and neglect risk.

As a result of program completion, SCAN was able to reduce the percentage of parents deemed high risk by half.  Additionally, by the end of the 8-week parenting course, between a third and a half of parents had a low risk of child abuse on each attitude.

This evaluation suggests that SCAN’s delivery of the ABCs of Parenting is making a difference in the lives of Northern Virginia families and children, and reducing the risk of child abuse and neglect.  Thankfully, SCAN offers the classes in English and Spanish throughout the year, and the next session begins later this month.  Please click here for more information on classes, or click here to download the complete Case Study PDF.

– Allison

Dr. Allison Hyra
President, Hyra Consulting


From the blog: SCAN’s New Site Welcomes All

Today’s guest blogger is Diane Charles, a previous Executive Director of SCAN and a member of SCAN’s 25th Anniversary Committee. We invited Diane to explore to take a sneak peek at the new site and share her thoughts on how it would change the way parents, child advocates and supporters could make an impact.

Promoting the well-being of children, improving parent-child relations and preventing child abuse and neglect is what fuels SCAN of Northern Virginia every single day through the essential services they provide.  This mission is more evident than ever when one lands on SCAN’s newly revamped website.  (more…)

From the blog: Child Abuse Prevention Grows Up…Almost

scan_25_thumbToday we welcome guest blogger Laura Yager, the Director of Partnerships and Resource Development for the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board.  Laura has worked in the prevention and treatment field for over 25 years, and offers an important perspective for SCAN and its supporters as we celebrate our 25th anniversary.

Preventing a problem before it starts might sound like common sense. From Smokey the Bear —“Only YOU can prevent forest fires!” —to seat belt safety— “Click it or ticket!”—we’re inundated with simplified but effective messages about how we can prevent something bad before it happens.  If only protecting children could be that easy.