Becoming a Parenting Facilitator: One Intern’s Perspective

Do you ever wonder what it’s like to become a trained facilitator for one of SCAN’s parenting programs? This week, one of our BSW interns shares his first-hand knowledge of the experience:

My name is Ernesto Aguiluz and I am a social work intern for SCAN. I have just completed the 21-hour training to become a facilitator for the Strengthening Families program for parents with children ages 10-14. This program helps parents recognize and strengthen the parenting skills they already have, and it also teaches them new skills they can start to use to help them on the difficult journey called parenting.

The Strengthening Families program training shows facilitators like me how to follow the program from beginning to end. It goes over topics such as setting limits and being consistent, as well as how to model these ideas for parents. One of my favorite topics was better understanding the needs of teenagers. After making a list of needs (including a need to belong and independence) we saw that there are ways to meet those needs in both positive and negative ways. Teenagers are going to meet their needs—one way or another— and we must show them the consequences of each route.

Overall, the training was very informative and focused on the foundation of showing love and setting limits. I encourage any family to explore this program—it will help your family grow closer and become stronger.

— Ernesto Aguiluz, SCAN Intern

Have you ever considered volunteering with SCAN’s Parent Education Program? In addition to facilitators, we need children’s program volunteers and guests to coordinate family meals. Learn more here.

Not Just for April: Great Tools to Use with Parents All Year Long

It’s the last day of Child Abuse Prevention Month, but the resources we unveiled in April are tools you can use all year long with the children and families you serve. Have you explored our Parenting Can Be Tough campaign page, where you can download most materials for free? Here are some of our favorite new tools and how you can use them:


Hang these on a parent’s diaper bag or backpack:


“My Child is Misbehaving” Diaper Bag Tags
(English)
“Mi hijo se esta portando mal” Diaper Bag Tags (Spanish)


Use these flash cards to help begin parenting discussions and meet parents where they are:

Parenting Can Be Tough Flash Cards (Bilingual English & Spanish)


Have parents post these Routine Cards where children can use them to check off tasks in the morning and at night:

 

Morning & Evening Routine Cards for Toddlers (Bilingual English & Spanish)


Hand a parent one of these “You’ve Got This!” folded cards when they need a special reminder:

“You’ve got this!” Leave-Behind Card (in English)
“¡Puedes hacerlo!” Leave-Behind Card (in Spanish)


Hang this poster to remind parents it’s okay to keep asking questions:

Parenting Can Be Tough Posters (Bilingual, English & Spanish)


And don’t forget to explore our Parent Resource Center (download the app!) where you can find more resources, including our newest series of fact sheets focused on parents of toddlers:

• Keep Toddlers Safe: KIDS & ROUTINES
• Learn More: UNDERSTANDING YOUR TODDLER’S BEHAVIOR
• Take Care of You: PARENT CONNECTIONS
• Look at Your Family: STRESS AND TRAUMA

From the Parent Education Desk: Creating Resilient Families

“Our family is facing financial issues at home, discipline issues with our middle child at school, and an overwhelming schedule. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. What can I do?”*

SCAN’s Parent Education team hears a lot of questions from local parents in our classes, support groups and workshops. They send a great monthly email to parents to respond to those concerns, and now we’re sharing them here on the blog, too!

Every family goes through hard times; resilient families are able to bounce back after those hard times. Resilience is defined as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.” It’s about how you handle negative feelings and move forward in a healthy, positive manner.
It is important to remember that resilience is something that is developed over time through thoughts, behaviors, and actions. Some steps families can take to become more resilient: create a strengths family tree, practice optimist, and rejuvenate regularly. For more concrete steps to take as a family to increase your resiliency, click here (English) or click here (Spanish).
(Learn more about SCAN’s Parent Education Program here.)
* Questions edited to protect privacy.

Baby Boxes: Questions & Answers As We Launch a New Program

This fall, SCAN of Northern Virginia is expanding its Operation Safe Babies program to include baby boxes and education through the Baby Box Co. and Baby Box University. We’ve explored the topic of baby boxes in the past, researched safe sleep and devoted much energy to our Operation Safe Babies program. And we know you have questions! Here we share some of the most common questions we’ve received so far. If you have others, please let us know.

1. You already distribute Pack-n-Plays through Operation Safe Babies. Why are you adding Baby Boxes to the mix?
Carl Ayers, Director of the Division of Family Services at VDSS, noted at the Virginia Safe Sleep Launch event on August 23, 2017 that safe sleep related deaths are the leading cause of infant deaths, age 1 month to 1 year, in Virginia. For the past two years, SCAN—in partnership with over 12 local agencies—has given out over 700 pack-n-plays to low income families in need of a safe sleep environment for their baby in an effort to reduce this number. By becoming a Baby Box Co. distribution site, SCAN will be able to engage with even more parents, not only to share information on safe sleep and abusive head trauma, but also to connect them with the man other resources that SCAN offers parents.

2. Will Baby Boxes really make an impact?

The Back to Sleep campaign was launched in 1994 by the National Institute of Health. And even though we know that back to sleep is best and reduces the instances of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) only 49% of mothers always put their babies on their back to sleep. This recent story underscores the continued need for more education: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/too-parents-still-put-babies-at-risk-of-sids/. In our opinion, this program is not all about the box, it is about engaging parents and caregivers and talking about safe sleep. Education is how we really create change.

3. Baby Boxes aren’t endorsed by the Consumer Product and Safety Commission, are they?

We understand that baby boxes are not fully endorsed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and that a safety approved crib should be the first choice for a parent when practicing safe sleep. But a traditional crib simply is not a viable option for many families in our community. There was a lot of discussion back and forth between SCAN and the Baby Box Co. We feel that our decision is an educated one and supports the overall mission of SCAN as well as Operation Safe Babies. SCAN sees this opportunity to spread our safe sleep and abusive head trauma messaging to a much larger population of new parents that we may not have otherwise been able to serve.

4. Who else is distributing Baby Boxes in Northern Virginia?

SCAN is currently the only organization working with the Virginia Department of Social Services in our region. We hope more agencies will be doing so soon, and will keep you updated! In addition to Virginia, other states who have launched a Baby Box initiative include Alabama, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and Colorado.

5. What comes in a Baby Box?

Each Baby Box includes a fitted baby mattress, fitted sheet, waterproof mattress cover and various newborn supplies, as well as our own Operation Safe Babies materials and educational tools.

6. How do parents get a box? How do they know how to use one safely?

Expecting parents can go to www.babyboxuniversity.com and participate in an interactive educational training designed to make sure they know about safe sleep, breast feeding, how to use the baby box, and other important health and developmental information. After successfully taking a quiz at the end of the online training, expecting parents in Northern Virginia will receive a certificate, which they can bring to SCAN to receive one Baby Box filled with a few goodies for baby. When they pick up their box, a SCAN volunteer will go through a checklist of guidelines to confirm they understand safe use. SCAN is distributing boxes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.

If you are interested in learning more about Operation Safe Babies or would like to volunteer with the program, please contact Moneka Lyons, Public Education Outreach Coordinator at mlyons(at)scanva.org.

Join us! 3 Workshops for Parents & Professionals

As students prepare to head back to school, we’re excited to offer three educational opportunities for the adults working to support them. SCAN is hosting three exciting (and free!) workshops for parents and professionals and we’d love for you to join us:

  • The Adolescent Brain: Understanding the “What” & “Why”
    August 17, 2017 | 2:30 – 4:30 PM
    In support of the recommendations in Resilient Children, Resilient Loudoun, The Loudoun County Partnership for Resilient Children & Families is proud to bring Jim Harris, MSW, Ed.D. for a special presentation for service providers. In this session, Jim will take you on a journey into the adolescent brain. I know, it sounds pretty scary! However, with this improved understanding you will learn how to take into consideration the developmental status of the adolescent brain in developing programming and interventions. Jim will pay specific attention to developmental progression and how it relates to different behavioral manifestations. He will use case examples and common issues in adolescent interventions to bring “real world” relevance to the information.
    REGISTER HERE

  • So What’s Wrong with Kids These Days? An Exploration of What We Can Do to Support Children in a Complicated World
    August 17, 2017 | 7:00 – 8:30 PM
    Jim Harris, MSW, Ed.D. will also provide a special presenation for parents, also in support of the recommendations in Resilient Children, Resilient Loudoun. It is no secret that we live in an increasingly complex world and that this complexity has resulted in a number of challenges for the appropriate social and emotional development of youth today. In this session, Dr. Harris gets back to the developmental basics and helps to give you some ideas about how we can better understand and support youth in an ever-changing and complicated world.
    > REGISTER HERE

  • Strategies for Fostering Healthy Self-Esteem and Resilience in Children and Adolescents
    September 7, 2017 | 6:30 – 8:00 PM
    Are you a parent/caregiver, CASA volunteer, or service provider working with a child or adolescent? We all want children to meet their full potential, but often life’s challenges leave them questioning themselves and their ability to handle the world around them. In this workshop, you will learn specific strategies that help children learn to trust themselves and successfully face life’s inevitable obstacles. Speaker Rachel Bailey is a Parenting Specialist who has been serving families in Northern Virginia for a decade. Besides being a mother of two, she also has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and a certification in Positive Discipline. Rachel provides parents with hands-on tools for raising children who meet their full potential. She is also committed to conquering the guilt that is associated with parenting today.
    > REGISTER HERE

 

A Family Tech Checklist for Parents

We know parents struggle with how to monitor their children’s use of technology. Limit screen time? Require shared passwords? Make some apps and games off-limits?

Cropped man and woman using electronic device free image

And it’s about so much more than rules—how parents handle technology can affect everything from family communication to personal trust to physical safety. It’s a lot to think about!

We often recommend parents post this Family Tech Checklist at home, and then start the discussion by asking their kids these five questions:

  1. “What technology/tools/apps do you know how to use?”
    The amount of technology—and access it provides to your kids—is astounding. And it changes every day. Do a regular check-in of your kids’ phones and gaming devices. Have them “show off ” what they can do.
  2. “Let’s check in on our security settings and passwords, okay?”
    Model safe behavior and reinforce the importance of privacy. Agree as a family to share all passwords in one place (excluding, of course, financial or other parent-only sites and tools.)
  3. “Have you seen anything online that’s made you uncomfortable or hurt your feelings?”
    This is an opportunity to listen (not to judge or yell). Cyber bullying is more common than you might think, and your kids should feel safe talking to you about it.
  4. “Can we talk? I’m uncomfortable with ______________ because _______________.”
    Rather than ban their use of Facebook, for example (which might result in secrecy or lying) explain why a certain photo or post is upsetting (use of foul language, inappropriate image, sharing of a location, etc.). Kids should know they will be held accountable for behavior online just as they are at school and home.
  5. “I need a break from my phone/web/email. Will you go___________with me?”
    Take a walk together, eat a meal, get outside and spend quality time together as a family. Model how helpful it can be to take a break from screen time.

(One app we DO recommend is our free Parent Resource Center app! You can download it on iTunes and Google Play HERE.)

Safe Sleep Trainings

SCAN is pleased to be partnering with Smart Beginnings Prince William County to offer valuable Workshops on Safe Sleep to the Greater Prince William community.  The first workshop will be offered on Tuesday, February 21st at 4 pm at the Hylton Education Center at Sentara Hospital.

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The FREE workshop is ideal for service providers, health care providers, parents, expecting parents, caregivers, childcare providers and anyone interested in helping spread awareness and information about safe sleep.

Tracy Leonard, SCAN’s Public Education Manager, will present the workshops using materials and information we have compiled through our Operation Safe Babies Program.  Those attending will:

  • Learn about the American Academy of Pediatrics New Safe Sleep Guidelines
  • Learn how to Reduce the Risk of SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Causes of Infant Death
  • Discuss barriers to safe sleep

If you’re interested in learning more about the trainings (or want to register), the following links will be helpful:

 

Support for Immigrant Parents

There have been countless (and often conflicting) news stories in recent weeks about immigration in the United States. In our networks, the discussion–for years–has simply focused on how we can best care for and support these families. What is it like to be an immigrant and a parent? What are the unique fears, challenges, and needs faced by these families?

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Please consider sharing our resources with the professionals and parents in your own networks:

We also highly recommend browsing our new Parent Connection Resource Guide for parenting classes and support groups for parents facing immigration and reunification.

What resources do you depend on in your work with immigrant families?

New Resource Guide to Help Parents in Northern Virginia

parentconnection_winterspring2017We know how critical it is that parents stay connected with their communities, especially when they are isolating themselves out of fear or frustration.

Please share our newest Parent Connection Resource Guide with parents in your network. With more than 80 parenting classes, support groups, workshops and more for parents across Northern Virginia, it also includes a key to find programs offered in Spanish and other languages, as well as those that provide childcare.

How are you keeping parents connected in your community? We’d love to include your programs in our next issue–let us know!

Help Parents Prepare: Safe Sleep for Babies on New Year’s Eve

Although the exact cause of SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is unknown, we do know what risk factors can contribute to SIDS.
 osbpexels-photo-105890
The following may increase the risk of SIDS:
• Sleeping on the stomach
• Being around cigarette smoke while in the womb or after being born
• Sleeping in the same bed as parents (co-sleeping)
• Soft bedding in the crib
• Multiple birth babies (being a twin, triplet, etc.)
• Premature birth
• Having a brother or sister who had SIDS
• Mothers who smoke or use illegal drugs
• Being born to a teen mother
• Short time period between pregnancies
• Late or no prenatal care
• Living in poverty situations
As human service providers, we do what we can to spread safe sleep education and bring awareness to some of these other risk factors.  Some may be beyond our control or the mother’s control, but it is important to look at the ones we can control.
Another risk factor that can be controlled, or even eliminated, is December 31 and January 1.  Why dates?  “After examining 129,090 SIDS cases from 1973 to 2006, researchers found that on Jan. 1, the number of babies who die of SIDS jumps up by 33 percent.” (www.sheknows.com)  Even parents who practice safe sleep may be impaired as they celebrate the arrival of the new year and are not as careful with baby on this night.  Parents can remove the risk by making sure that just as they would assign a designated driver, they assign a designated “caretaker” – someone who will not be impaired and someone who knows about safe sleep practices so that baby is never in jeopardy.  This practice should also be in play on other days when there are celebrations, date nights, or parties.  Help parents remember to always put baby first.
– Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager, tleonard@scanva.org
(Learn more about SCAN’s Operation Safe Babies here.)
SCAN