Back to School Bash + Fancy Free Friday!

It’s that time of year…our kids are hitting the books, schedules are filling up and families across our area are getting back into the swing of school. With all of the excitement, we sometimes forget about the stress kids (and parents, too!) experience in the rush of September. Take time this week to start the school year off right:

1. Set aside time to talk with your kids every day after school. Ask questions. LISTEN to answers without judgement!

2. Make a commitment to meet their teachers, coaches and other adults in their school life.

3. Celebrate their success in school all year long (see below for a great way to kick off the party this week!) – how YOU approach school rubs off on them.

Our Parent Resource Center offers a variety of resources on topics including Advocating for your Child in School, Stress Management, Handling Bullying, Parent-Teacher Relationships and more. Be sure to check it out!

And now back to celebrating…we have a great FANCY FREE FRIDAY giveaway to help your family have its own Back to School Bash this weekend:

We’re giving away One Dozen Mini Cupcakes from Bittersweet Bakery in Alexandria. To enter to win, simply share one way you connect with your kids after a long day at school.

We’ll announce a winner Friday just in time for the weekend – can’t wait to hear your great ideas!

Adventures in CASAland…+ Fancy Free Tuesday!

Navigating the ins and outs of the court system, families, teachers, doctors and all the people involved in a child’s life can be daunting, but we recently had the opportunity to celebrate someone who makes it look easy – Ann Caulkins, one of our CASA Program staff members.  Ann volunteered with SCAN’s CASA Program for 5 years before she joined our staff 10 years ago. Since then her advocacy has touched the lives of hundreds of children in the local court system because of abuse and neglect.

Last week SCAN had a party in her honor. In case you weren’t there, we wanted to share some pictures with you (take a look below…)

Quite the crowd came out to celebrate Ann – CASA volunteers, staff and board members. Here's Ann being congratulated by SCAN founder Dave Cleary.

The party's theme was Adventures in CASAland, so there had to be an Adventures in CASAland board game…and here’s Ann examining herself as a board game piece…she has really “arrived” now.

Here’s another long-time CASA, Sabrina Black, and CASA staff Dana Taylor trying to find their CASA children safe and permanent homes in the Adventures in CASAland game – Dana looks like she may have won this round.

At the end of the evening, Ann shared some of her thoughts about what keeps her going and her appreciation for all the volunteers and staff and community members she works with who help her really see the impact our work has…thank you again, Ann. We couldn’t do it without you!


Wait, Tuesday!? Yep – that’s right. We’re doing a very special giveaway early this week (instead of our usual Fancy Free Friday). That’s because the big giveaway is THREE REDSKINS vs. Steelers tickets for the game THIS FRIDAY, August 12th, plus a parking pass!

How to enter to win? Simply comment below with your own favorite memory about volunteering – OR your favorite memory with Ann over the past 15 years – and you’ll be entered to win.  Comment AND subscribe to the blog and you get an extra entry!

We’ll announce the winner first thing Thursday morning…so you have plenty of time to pick up your tickets at the SCAN office before the big game.

Fathers + Fancy Free Friday!

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

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

Fancy Free Friday Winner


Watch this video to find out who won fame, glory, and a $25 gift card to Starbucks. It’s the reveal of our first Fancy Free Friday giveaway winner!

SCANning the Web + Fancy Free Friday

Logo of NPR News.

Image via Wikipedia

If you’re an avid NPR listener or website reader, you might have noticed they’ve been covering all sorts of children’s issues these past few weeks. And if you’re the sort of person who loves a tell-all biography or juicy reality TV show, you’ll love their newest blog, The Baby Project.

The Baby Project gives readers a peek into the lives of nine diverse moms as they go through the last stages of pregnancy, childbirth, and the first few weeks with their newborns. From posts covering birth plans and scary deliveries to baby names and swollen feet, these moms don’t gloss over any of the gory details. In one of the more memorable and lighthearted posts, mom Lateefah talks about her decision to use self-hypnosis during the delivery; she wonders, “how is this baby’s head going to come out of me?” I’m already hooked on following the stories of these moms, and even the pictures of the newborns will be enough to keep you coming back for updates.

The Baby Project is part of a larger NPR series on childbirth called Beginnings. With articles on medicine, economics, traditions, and global health, Beginnings takes a look at childbirth from almost every angle you could imagine. In a fascinating “global health” segment, All Things Considered host Melissa Block travels to Mozambique to look at maternal and infant mortality rates. Another article on “culture and traditions” addresses the difficult task of naming children. Do you shake your head with frustration when you hear about people naming their children after obscure fruits? You’re not alone. “Baby name hostility” is becoming more and more common as people try to give their children unique names.

Fancy FREE Friday! (Your reward for making it to the end of this post.)
On select Fridays, Building Blocks will have some awesome giveaways for our wonderful readers. To all of my fellow coffee addicts out there, this is the giveaway you’ve been waiting for—a $25 gift card to Starbucks. Now how do you get a chance to get a few extra shots of espresso in your usual venti skim latte? All you have to do is leave a comment in our comment section. It can be about anything from your thoughts on the links we love, to SCAN, to your coffee drink of choice. We’ll randomly select a winner from the comment section and post the results on Monday. Have a great weekend, everyone!

-Jenna Temkin