As we reflect on the impact of our programs in 2017, it’s an important time for us to gather new data about children and families in our communities. One of our favorite resources for statistics is Voices for Virginia’s Children, especially their links to the Kids Count Data Center, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. We also refer to the Virginia Department of Social Services’ online information system here.
The newest numbers on child abuse in Northern Virginia report that more than 6,500 children were involved in valid cases of child abuse or neglect last year. We are committed to these children, and will continue to work in 2018 on both advocacy and prevention — and we hope you will too. (Perhaps 2018 is the year you join our Allies in Prevention Coalition!)
Please download our new Child Abuse in Northern Virginia fact sheet and refer to it in the coming year as we work together to protect children and prevent child abuse in 2018.
SCAN has known for years that Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children is an excellent curriculum for teaching all adults how to protect children from child sexual abuse. We have trained close to 1,500 adults in Northern Virginia. However, there is a wider network of Darkness to Light facilitators in Northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland that is reaching and training even more adults.
Through our Public Education efforts at SCAN, we convene these facilitators twice a year to share best practices, roadblocks, and skills to become stronger facilitators. In June, I had the honor of training 18 more facilitators. Some will join our efforts here in Northern Virginia (The Young Marines, Northern Virginia Family Services, We Support the Girls, Falls Church City Public Schools), and others will take the training back to their organizations (which included Prince George’s County DSS, Prince George’s County Public Schools, and The James House).
Darkness to Light facilitators know that they have been trained using a curriculum in which attendees are able to immediately implement things they have learned, whether that is reducing one-on-one situations between children and adults, creating policies in our organizations that protect children, or being empowered to intervene in situations where adults are crossing boundaries.
Being a facilitator is a rewarding experience. If you would like to become one, we will be having another training on August 10 in Loudoun County. Register for the training here.
You soon learn you are a part of something bigger – a movement to end child sexual abuse. It can be done.
– Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager, tleonard(at)scanva.org
Last month, Voices for Virginia’s Children published an important blog post about state-wide collaboration and its impact on children who have experienced trauma. They shared three states we can watch for best practices and policy, and we’re re-posting their thoughts today as we continue the discussion about Trauma Informed Care (listen to our recent radio show on the topic) here in Northern Virginia:
Local and regional Trauma Informed Community Networks (TICNs) across Virginia are bringing partners together from local government, schools, and services providers to transform their approaches to working with children who have experienced trauma. Their goal is to work across silos, develop a shared framework, coordinate resources, and innovate new approaches to caring for children and families. Voices is considering how state-level policy approaches could strengthen this work at the local level. To help facilitate this conversation we researched state-level approaches to trauma-informed policy efforts in three other similar states- Wisconsin, Tennessee and South Carolina. While Virginia is strong in partnerships and interventions at the local/regional level, these states are farther along in elevating the issue to the state level and, in turn, using that platform to strengthen local networks.
Here is what we found most interesting about these three state-level approaches:
Training in Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for a wide variety of practitioners.
Expanding the “Resource Parent” curriculum for foster parents and birth parents.
Systems- change efforts focused on transforming practices and policies. For example, in this area, the First Lady’s initiative supported an organizational assessment of trauma-informed practice.
Leadership: The work is coordinated among various departments but there is no one state lead. The closest is the Steering Committee for the First Lady’s initiative made up of high level government officials and stakeholders from outside of government, such as pediatricians and philanthropy.
Funding: The total budget is about $1.6 million which is primarily used to support he training for providers and parents. Localities apply to participate and determine which models they would like to utilize. Some of the initial funding came from federal Promoting Safe and Stable Families funds. The state has also added general funds.
When we sat down to write this note, it began with three simple questions:
1. Why are we calling for change in our community? Every day the children in our community are experiencing abuse and neglect – reports of heartbreaking cases are in the news daily. Unfortunately, more than 40,000 children in Virginia were involved in a valid report of abuse or neglect last year, with 48 children dying as a result of their maltreatment. Across the U.S., an estimated 679,000 children were victims of abuse last year.
2. What is more important than the wellbeing and innocence of a child? Prevention is the key to reducing these statistics and keeping children safe. SCAN’s staff, volunteers and Board of Directors are working diligently to develop and grow effective prevention programs for all children and families in our community.These programs are focused on well-researched ways to reduce the risk factors associated with child abuse and neglect, while improving outcomes for children and families who are exposed to multiple risk factors. Our goal is always to mitigate effects of victimization for children!
3. Who will partner, volunteer, donate and advocate for the protection of children? We invite you to meet the people who have connected with SCAN over the past year to be educated, empowered and energized to make a difference for children and families in our community. READ THOSE STORIES IN OUR ANNUAL REPORT HERE!
At SCAN, we believe there is no one way to create change; there must be thousands of us working together to make it happen in Northern Virginia. We challenge you to join SCAN as we energize a community for lasting change that focuses on prevention and the ultimate protection of our children for years to come. Please make a year-end donation to SCAN here.
– Donna Fleming, President
SCAN Board of Directors
It’s a new school year and we’re excited to launch a new menu of workshops for the community! We encourage ALL groups of people to consider a workshop — from nonprofits, schools and government agencies to parenting groups, employers and faith groups. Our workshops are based on SCAN’s existing child abuse prevention and advocacy programs as well as the expertise of SCAN staff. We can often customize workshops for the specific needs of a group, and most topics are available in English and Spanish, too!
So, how does your group want to be empowered this year?
We want to host a BROWN BAG SERIES for our employees:
Strategies for the Working Parent: Customize a parenting topic to compliment your human resource efforts in your office and offer support to your employees.
Don’t see a topic here you would like? SCAN can customize and deliver a 1-hour workshop for $400. In most cases we can add concurrent children’s programming for an additional fee. (Download the full SCAN Workshop Menu here.)
How can we support your organization in its work this year to build stronger families, support parents and protect children? Contact us and let’s get something on the calendar!
Being the wealthiest county in the United States might sound like a great thing, but for the vulnerable children and families living in Loudoun County, it simply isn’t.
During 2016, SCAN will be helping agencies who serve children and families in Loudoun County to determine where gaps in services exist, explore what obstacles children and families are facing, and sift through data to paint a more accurate of picture of “wealth” in Loudoun County.
The focus groups have been an informative way for SCAN to get to know the community better as well as an exciting new way for organizations to talk to one another. At the end of our grant, we will produce a report for agencies in Loudoun County to use when seeking funding for their programs and when having open conversations with the decision makers of Loudoun County. Funding, government supports and individual contributions will be able to be more efficiently used to fill in gaps and further develop the “wealth” of Loudoun County. Because wealth means many things, including a more connected community that protects children from abuse, helps foster positive parenting skills and ultimately builds stronger families.
– Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager
p.s. You can download an infographic about our work in Loudoun here.
“Advocacy is giving a voice to children and families.”- Christie Marra, Virginia Poverty Law Center
On Tuesday, November 17th, in partnership with Prevent Child Abuse Virginia, SCAN invited individuals from across Northern Virginia to participate in its 4th annual Stand Up for Children Advocacy Day. (#standupforchildren)
Participants in this year’s training spent the morning with Christie Marra from the Virginia Poverty Law Center in the Be Heard Advocacy Seminar, where they learned advocacy basics and how to navigate the Virginia Legislature to become stronger voices for Virginia’s children and families.
Delegate David Bulova joined us this year to provide a case study on how he was able to advocate for the successful passage of the Safe Sleep for Infants Act (HB1515). He provided many insights for the participants on how to persevere in the process, and the importance of making your advocacy personal “so that legislators can relate and remember.”
Del Bulova also empowered advocates: “Bills often take more than one try. Learn from experience and know the value of your advocacy.”
In the afternoon Christie Marra was joined by Amy Woolard from Voices for Virginia’s Children and Kendra Kielbasa from Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William County for our policy panel discussion. During the panel, participants had the opportunity to learn and discuss the upcoming legislative agenda items surrounding Kinship Diversion, Youth in Foster Care aging out of the system, and the Virginia Preschool Initiative.
Following the policy panel we welcomed Northern Virginia legislators to provide more insight on their goals for children and families in the upcoming 2016 General Assembly. Joining us on the panel was Senator George Barker, Del. Alfonso Lopez, Delegate Dave Albo, Delegate-Elect Mark Levine, and Delegate-Elect Paul Krizek.
Participants were very active in voicing their questions and concerns for the upcoming year, and one noted that they “loved the legislative panel at the end, that it was very engaging!” The legislators took great interest in the topics being discussed and engaged participants to learn more about the critical issues children face in Virginia. Del. Albo, Del.-Elect Levine, and Senator Barker even took the opportunity to express interest in working with one another to sponsor a bill regarding Kinship Diversion , showing the strength of collaboration.
This concept of collaboration was a recurring theme noticed throughout the day. Delegate Bulova noted that legislators love “peace in the valley” – when stakeholders work together ahead of time on an issue. Collaboration is something that advocates should constantly be striving for, noted Marra: “There is power in numbers.”
So how can you be a stronger voice for children and families?
Be engaged, passionate, and knowledgeable. As service providers you see how policies adversely affect your clients every day, and have knowledge about what will work. As Del. Bulova said “Be sure to know the WHY, and be specific with the HOW.”
Collaborate! Facilitate connections with other advocates in your network. If you are nervous about being heard, then make your voice louder by speaking up with others.
Follow SCAN’s Connections blog to stay up to date on current issues and trends affecting Northern Virginia’s children and families.
Christie Marra from the Virginia Poverty Law Center gave an engaging presentation about the legislative process and how advocates can influence policies that impact children and families.
“An advocate’s role is to know the political climate, reach out for support, and rally the troops,” noted Christie. Participants spent the rest of the day being empowered to do just that.
Jim Pope, J.D., MSW, the Fairfax County CPS Hearing Officer, shared the story of how his work with the Northern Region Child Fatality Review Team led to successful advocacy efforts at the state level. Jim’s case study on writing and advocating for a bill to allow the team access to critical information to properly address child fatality perfectly illustrated the legislative advocacy process presented by Christie.
The training portion of the event was followed by policy and legislative panels. A panel of representatives from Youth for Tomorrow, Voice for Adoption, and the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis spoke about how policy issues are impacting the populations they serve. The topics discussed included child trafficking, child mental health, and foster care and adoption. Participants also learned the powerful impact fiscal policy has on children and families.
“Virginia needs a different approach than a “cuts only” approach to balance the budget,” noted Jeff Connor Naylor with The Commonwealth Institute. As the panel ended, one person noted that she “gained more knowledge about Virginia’s budget process” that would inform her advocacy work in the future.
A panel of legislators from across Northern Virginia discussed potential state legislation dealing with children and families. Senator Barbara Favola and Delegates Dave Albo, Alfonso Lopez and Charniele Herring spoke with participants about everything from healthcare to poverty to child care standards.
“It was helpful to see the legislators in person and hear their perspectives on the legislative climate,” noted one participant. For many, observing the legislative panel and interacting with local lawmakers helped minimize the distance they felt between their own daily work advocating for children and the larger systems which impact that work. Many indicated that they are now much more likely to track legislation that affects their clients, and contact their legislators in the future.
So what next? Participants at the training walked away with these five tips:
2.ENGAGE MORE with your legislators: Child welfare professionals know the issues and challenges children and families face better than almost anyone, so we need to be the one’s to speak up and let our representatives know when there is a policy issue than needs to be addressed. Legislators need us to keep them informed, and they do value our input.
3.EXPLORE THE “LOBBYIST-IN-A-BOX” TOOL: You can subscribe to this service on Virginia’s Legislative Information System (or LIS) and track up to 5 bills for free.
4.SUBSCRIBE TO SCAN’s CONNECTIONS BLOG: Stay informed on the issues and trends in child welfare both here in Northern Virginia and across the United States.
5. VISIT SCAN’S WEBSITE: Our Statistics, Policy & Research page provides current statistics on child abuse and neglect in Northern Virginia, as well as links to additional resources such as white papers and fact sheets.
As one of the participants was completing an evaluation of the training, she wrote: “I feel this training helped a lot, and I look forward to more children’s advocacy trainings in the future.”
We’re gearing up for a meeting with our local Stewards of Children authorized facilitators this September, and this blog post was going to be a quick, simple reminder that these professionals are available across Northern Virginia to give your community organizations powerful trainings in the prevention of child sexual abuse.
But then our national partner in this outreach, Darkness to Light, announced this week that they’re unveiling Stewards of Children version 2.0 – an even more impactful training to help adults recognize their responsibility and feel empowered to take action. And we got inspired all over again to do more outreach, taking this opportunity – referred to as a “documentary training that will change the world” – to invite every one of our friends and supporters and contacts like you to consider how you could support one of the new, two-hour trainings. How YOU can encourage a group you’re involved with to consider having a one-day training that could change the lives of the children you care about, the children who NEED YOU TO PROTECT THEM.
We hope you’ll watch D2L’s new video preview of their program, and then contact SCAN to discuss a training with your youth sports league coaches, your faith group, your Parent Teacher Association, your playgroup, your neighborhood association and so on. We’re meeting next month with our group of trained facilitators who are ready to change the way you think about the prevention of child sexual abuse, and our partners at the Center for Alexandria’s Children also have a group of facilitators available for trainings in the City of Alexandria.
For information on our work with Darkness to Light, visit www.scanva.org/D2L
To request more information or schedule a training, contact Tracy Leonard, SCAN’s Community Education & Engagement Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
July is the start of a new fiscal year at SCAN and a chance to take a look at how we did last year and what our plans are for the coming year. For me – as SCAN’s Director of Development – that means looking at our fundraising and development goals, so I thought I would put together a little summary for all our supporters who helped make SCAN’s child abuse and neglect prevention services a reality this year. CLICK on the nifty infographic I made (below) to illustrate it all. And of course, feel free to comment below if you have any questions!