“Positive communication with your kids IS possible!” SCAN’s Parent Education team members often find themselves giving these words of encouragement to parents in our classes, support groups and workshops. Thanks to a great monthly email they send to parents, we’re sharing their thoughts here on the blog, too:
Positivecommunication can reinforce good behavior, and help you understand and eliminate bad behavior. It can build your child’s confidence and self-esteem. But positive communication is not always easy. With parents’ busy schedules these days, it can be hard to find the time to just talk with your children.
We recommend taking advantage of downtime and talking with your child while riding in the car, walking to or from the bus stop or waiting for a sibling. What should you talk about? We like using open-ended questions like, “What was the best part of your day? The worst?” or, “Who did you spend time with today?” and allowing your child to finish talking and really listen to what they are saying, without judgment.
For more tips on positivecommunication with your children, including fact sheets in English and Spanish, click here. For on-the-go-access to Positive Communication resources (and more!) download SCAN’s free app for parents here.
(Learn more about SCAN’s Parent Education Program here.)
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.
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.
We 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!
Children of parents who talk to their children regularly about drugs are 42% LESS LIKELY to use drugs than those who won’t; yet, only a quarter of teens report having these conversations.
On October 24, Red Ribbon Week begins. An annual alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention awareness campaign, it’s the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the nation. And this year—with the theme YOLO: Be Drug Free—it’s providing SCAN, Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) and other partners in Alexandria with an exciting new way to spark conversations in families:
SCAN and ACPS’ Family and Community Engagement (FACE) are providing Strengthening FamiliesParenting Classes, a series that helps build and strengthen the parent-child relationships and support families as they begin conversations around substance abuse prevention.
FACE has distributed original posters designed by ACPS’ very own students in Elementary, Middle and High Schools in Alexandria. (The poster creators are the winners of last years’ Red Ribbon Week poster contest.) Look for the posters in your schools or get a sneak peek of a winning poster here!
Our partners will also offer a series of parent/child forums in the fall and spring for ACPS families. Stay tuned!
So, what does Red Ribbon Week mean for the children and families in YOUR network? We hope you will:
Empower families to discuss this message at home, at the dinner table, at family outings, and with friends and extended family. Explore the resources at healthieralexandria.org and redribbon.org to get started.
If you’re in Alexandria, encourage kids and teens to enter the poster and video contests being sponsored by FACE, SCAN and its partners. Learn more about details and deadlines on FACE Center’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/acpsface/.
“The Partnership believes that, when parents share wisdom with one another, we all become better parents.”
The chats can be as simple as a one-time gathering to discuss a specific topic, or an ongoing group providing support and resources. The end goal is to help create communities of parents who are interested in helping a wider circle of children and parents grow up to be happy, healthy and competent.
How did APCYF develop tools for the program? With help from SCAN! APCYF is a member of SCAN’s Allies in Prevention Coalition (AIPC), where they learned about a Working Parent module that Public Education Manager Tracy Leonard had developed for SCAN’s new series of workshops. APCYF’s Michael Swisher adapted the module into conversation starters that help parents have intentional, supportive conversations.
Through our Public Education Program, we are able to create unique tools that allow our Allies in Prevention Coalition members the ability to adapt to the children and families with whom they work. APCYF is a perfect example of how SCAN builds capacity in our community and in our families.
p.s. Parents talk with one another naturally — and often find the greatest source of support from one another. If you know a group of parents who want to have a focused conversation on parenting challenges, share these online resources from our friends at APCYF. Download their tools for free to help spark the conversation!
Twice a year, SCAN publishes the Parent Connection Resource Guide (PCRG), a catalog of parenting resources available in the Northern Virginia area. SCAN has just published its newest guide covering August through December of 2016.
Our goal in preparing and distributing the PCRG to child welfare professionals is to spread the word about the plethora of excellent programs and events offered in our community so that we can get parents—especially those most at-risk—connected with the resources they need and deserve. Our hope is that you will refer to this guide when you come across a parent or family who would benefit from some type of parenting help—whether it be a class, support group, or one-time seminar.
We organize the PCRG by type of resource: parenting class, parenting support group, playgroups, and other parenting resources; and then each section is further organized by jurisdiction: Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William.
The PCRG can be accessed online here, or, for the first time, on SCAN’s FREE Parent Resource Center app via your mobile device! (You can download the app here.)
Included in the guide are a couple of SCAN entries we are especially excited to offer this fall:
The ABCs of Parenting The program covers topics such as child development, praise and empathy, building your child’s self-esteem, family rules, age-appropriate discipline, alternatives to spanking, and family stress management. No eligibility requirements. Registration is required. Class includes a family meal, childcare for children ages 0 to 4, a children’s program with yoga component for children ages 5 and older, weekly raffles and educational materials.
No. of weeks: 8 weeks
Date: Thursdays, October 11 – December 8
Time: 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: First Assembly of God Church, 700 W. Braddock Rd, Alexandria, VA 22302
Contact: Alice Clark at 703-820-9001
Strengthening Families Program (ages 10-14) SCAN of Northern Virginia partners with ACPS’ Family And Community Engagement (FACE) Office and the Alexandria Department of Community & Human Services, Center for Children and Families to offer a facilitator-led parent education class for parents with children in middle school (ages 10 – 14).
No. of weeks: 7 weeks
Contact: Alice Clark at 703-820-9001
Cora Kelly Elementary School (with Casa Chirilagua) Date: Thursdays, September 22 – November 3
Time: 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: 3600 Commonwealth Ave, Alexandria, VA 22305
FC Hammond Middle School Date: Tuesdays, October 11 – December 13
Time: 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: 4646 Seminary Rd, Alexandria, VA 22304
Language(s): ENGLISH & SPANISH
You can learn more about SCAN’s Parent Education Program on our website here.
We hope you’ll share the PCRG in your community this fall! Know of programs that we should include in the next issue? Please let me know!
– Alice Clark, Public Education Coordinator
We’re reading some great books this summer at SCAN! Here are some of our current picks:
Our CASA volunteers just finished reading Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc as part of their quarterly book club for in-service hours. LeBlanc chronicles the lives of two teenage girls in this New York Times bestseller, giving a glimpse of the tragedy they endure through homelessness, betrayal, the heartbreaking separation of prison, and, throughout it all, the damage of poverty.
Parenting with Presence: Practices for Raising Conscious, Confident, Caring Kids by Susan Stiffelman, MFT, was recommended by SCAN’s Parent Education Program Manager. An easy, non-academic read, the book covers concepts through the author’s own experience working with families. Stiffelman expresses the challenges many families face, and provides insight on why certain behaviors are happening, ways to help parents build awareness about these behaviors and small changes families can make that can make a big difference.
Know a tween/teen reader? Check out Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories, R.J. Palacio’s sequel to the wildly popular Wonder. These stories are an extra peek at main character Auggie before he started at Beecher Prep and during his first year there. Readers get to see other perspecties of Auggie and his life through Julian, the bully; Christopher, Auggie’s oldest friend; and Charlotte, Auggie’s new friend. Wonder is a book in SCAN’s Young Adult Stories that Build Resiliencyseries; discussion questions and other resources can be found here.
What are YOU reading this summer? We’d love to hear!
SCAN’s work with immigrant families in our Parent Education Program often involves the issue of reunification — when children and parents are reunited after long periods of time living apart in different countries.
Jessica Gutierrez Foster, one of SCAN’s Parent Education facilitators, was recently interviewed for a special report on Univision covering unaccompanied immigrant youth and the challenges they face when they reunite with their parents who immigrated years before. Jessica discusses the Families Reunite workshops she has conducted to help parents gain perspective on their youth’s experiences and perspectives, while another facilitator works with the youth on coping with those challenges. The workshops conclude bringing parents and youth together to facilitate communication and understanding, all with the goal of building family cohesion that protects against the youths’ attraction to gangs, which often serve as an alternative “family” structure when they don’t feel accepted and supported within their reunified family.
Watch the first Univision segment (en Español) here:
So much of what we do at SCAN is about prevention, before child abuse or neglect begins in a family. As child welfare professionals, we know that education and support of parents is key to empowering caregivers to ask for help, improve their skills and nurture children in the healthiest ways. But connecting parents with the resources they deserve and need–especially in a large, transient area like Northern Virginia–is not always easy.
Publishing the Parent Connection Resource Guide (PCRG) is one way SCAN helps. Twice a year, we curate an easily-downloadable directory of classes, workshops, support groups and more for parents in our region. Read the latest version here.
The PCRG includes opportunities from more than two dozen agencies and organizations and organizes them by five regions: Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax/Falls Church, Loudoun and Greater Prince William. It also includes SCAN’s own programs for parents, which currently include:
ABCs of Parenting Class (in English) | Alexandria, VA THURSDAYS, MARCH 31 – MAY 19 (registration begins February 15)
The program covers topics such as child development, praise and empathy, building your child’s self-esteem, family rules, age-appropriate discipline, alternatives to spanking, and family stress management. No eligibility requirements. Registration is required. Class includes a family meal, childcare for children ages 0 to 4, a children’s program with yoga component for children ages 5 and older, weekly raffles and educational materials. > Download a Flyer
Parent Café: Taller Para Padres e Hijos (in Spanish) | Sterling, VA FEBRUARY 4 – FEBRUARY 25
Starting February 4, a four week Spanish-language parent workshop will cover topics ranging from creating family rules to Hispanic parents raising American children. The workshop includes a program for children 10 and older that complements parents’ sessions. Sessions will take place in Sterling, VA from Mondays from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. > Download a Flyer
Learn more about SCAN’s Parent Education Program here.
Last month, SCAN held a training for facilitators who will lead a new parenting program offered by SCAN’s Parent Education Program: Strengthening Families. Strengthening Families is an evidence-based program focusing on building positive relationships between parents and middle-school children. Charlie McLaughlin from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth led the three-day training with lots of energy and enthusiasm. Here are our Top 5 Tips from the training:
Give love and set limits.
Balancing showing love and setting limits for children can be hard. Some parents focus on setting limits for their middle school children and think that they do not need as much attention and affection as when they were younger. Other parents are afraid to set limits because they want their child to feel loved.
Children need both love and limits. Parents still need to show affection and tell their child that they love them. Parents also have a responsibility to set limits to keep them safe and teach them right from wrong. Parents should teach their child that actions have consequences and that certain behaviors are acceptable and others are not.
To keep a balance between love and limits, parents should speak openly about what the rules and expectations are and what the consequences will be for breaking those rules. If a child does not follow the rules, the parents should calmly follow through with the consequence. When children are following the rules, parents should be sure to compliment their child and thank them.
Understand each other’s challenges.
Some children may think that parents have easy lives. From their point of view, parents get to earn money, set house rules, stay up as late as they want and go anywhere, anytime. They may not understand how hard parents have to work to earn money, how stressful paying bills and taking care of all of the housework can be, and how much they may worry about their child.
Some parents may think that their children have easy lives. They do not have all of the responsibilities of paying bills or doing all of the housework. They do not have to work full-time jobs or give rides to their children. Parents may not understand how stressful it can be to try to balance school work (which can be really hard), after-school activities, friends and family. Youth also may have to deal with bullying or peer pressure to drink or use other drugs.
Both parents and youth need to be aware of the challenges everyone in the family is facing, so that they better understand each other and appreciate the challenges other family members are facing.
Actively listen to your child.
Parents should listen to their children and let them finish talking before reacting. Sometimes parents respond before a they can completely explain something that happened. If a child tells his parents that one of his friends was caught cheating, the parents may jump in and respond at that point. If the parents respond by reminding the child that cheating is wrong or saying the child can’t spend time with this friend, then the child won’t have the chance to explain that he reminded his friend that cheating is wrong and tried to stop him. He will probably not come to his parents again with a problem because he may think that his parents do not listen to him and do not trust him to know that cheating is wrong.
Parents should let their child explain everything that happened to make sure they know the whole story before reacting. This can be difficult, but it shows the teenager that their parents will listen to them. When children feel their parents listen to them, they are more likely to come to them for help.
Use “I statements.”
Parents should also make sure that they are clear with their children about what they are feeling. One effective way of doing this is using “I statements.”
“I statements” follow this format: “I feel ___ when you ___ because ___.” This is followed up with what the parent wants the child to do differently in the future.
Using “I statements” makes it clear how the parent feels without putting blame on the child. Parents should use “I statements” in a calm voice, and they should be willing to listen to their child’s response.
Plan family meetings.
Making time to meet as a family can be difficult because of people’s busy schedules. However, family meetings are an important opportunity to address issues that come up and celebrate accomplishments. Having regular family meetings means that families do not only talk to each other when something is going wrong. Having a set for a family meeting that all family members participate in strengthens each family member and the family as a whole.
SCAN is very excited to begin this new program, and our facilitators are looking forward to meeting and working with parents and their children this Fall! Please contact us if you’re interested in learning more.