Discussing Race & Racism: A Primer for Parents

For many parents, talking about race with children is a difficult concept. Adults often question how much children already know and how much information is appropriate to share, while balancing a need to protect children from the United States’ complicated (and often violent) racial history.


We recently taped a Parenting Today segment on this topic with guest Natalie Bailey from the Department of Family Services in Fairfax County through out partnership with iHeartRadio. LISTEN HERE!

It is important to note that children are perceptive, and often pick up the nuances of race even without direct commentary. Adults need to realize there may be awkward moments, but by engaging children in conversations about race at an early age and continuing to do so throughout adolescence, parents have an opportunity to shape children’s self-esteem as well as perspectives in regards to race. Each moment is a learning opportunity to affirm children’s questions, challenge stereotypes, and teach children how to navigate an increasingly racially diverse community in positive, productive ways.

In the radio show linked above, Sonia and Natalie also mention three books that may be a good starting point for families:

How are families in your community talking about race and racism?

– Today’s blog post was written by SCAN MSW Intern Chamone Marshall

Emergency Preparedness for Families

National Preparedness Month 2009We recently taped a Parenting Today radio show on how families can be prepared for emergencies. (Stay tuned for the show to appear on iHeart Media stations soon!) From severe weather to active shooter situations, parents can take steps now that can make a difference if/when those traumatic moments arrive. Officially known as “Emergency Preparedness,” it means planning ahead, having supplies on hand, and being ready when an emergency occurs. The goal is to stay safe and connected during a disaster, as well as be better able to recover after an emergency.

If you work with families — or have a family of your own — we encourage you to go through this basic list, check out the resources mentioned below and proactively plan for the worst to keep your children as safe and calm as possible in the event of an unexpected emergency:

  1. Create a family emergency plan. Know safe places to go as well as how you plan to communicate with one another, and develop a list of important information for every member to carry at all times (cell phone numbers, doctor numbers, etc.) Talk about the plan with your children every year, and adjust as they get older. If you have pets, be sure to consider their wellbeing as well. Ready.gov offers great Family Emergency Plan templates here.
  2. Check with your childcare center, school and workplace about the emergency plans they have in place. Request a copy and adjust your family plan to reflect their procedures and guidelines.
  3. Practice emergency drills. It can be as simple as walking down the block to a neighbor’s home that’s been designated as a safe meeting spot, or drawing a map together of your house with exits marked in case of a fire. Actively work with your kids to go through simple steps that will give them the knowledge to stay calm and make the best choices in case of emergency.
  4. Build a “Go Kit” together. This should include basic items to keep your family safe and connected in case of emergency (loss of power, stranded, etc.) Examples of items to include are water, non-perishable food, radio, flashlight, batteries, first aid kit, fuel for vehicle, etc. Be sure to consider special needs for families such as diapers, formula and medications. Volunteer Alexandria, the lead agency in Alexandria for the recruitment and management of unaffiliated volunteers during an emergency, has a great list here. So does FEMA. Keep in mind, every family’s kit could be different according to medical issues, special needs, mobility, etc.
  5. Know how to communicate with one another. Have a radio and extra chargers for devices; download the Ready Virginia Mobile App for alerts and updates. Experts suggest that you text or email instead of calling when possible – this is more likely to work if phone lines are overwhelmed or down. Be sure to program “In Case of Emergency” (ICE) contacts into everyone’s devices so emergency personnel can contact those people for you if you are unable to use your phone.

Of course, the hope is that disaster won’t happen – but if it does, you can work now to make sure your family is as safe and prepared as possible. In addition to the links we’ve mentioned, there are many more great resources for families online at www.ready.gov and at local agencies like Volunteer Alexandria.

New Study Shows Many New Mothers Don’t Receive Advice on Infant Care

A report recently published in Pediatrics and funded by the National Institutes of Health spotlights a troubling statistic: 20 percent of new moms said they did not receive advice from their doctors regarding current recommendations on issues like safe sleep and breastfeeding. This reflects a greater challenge we’ve noted in our community — new parents often feel isolated, in need of resources and hungry for connections that can make them more nurturing parents. Our new Operation Safe Babies initiative is one way SCAN is working to address the issue in Northern Virginia.

We’re sharing a portion of the original medicalxpress.com article here: 

Many new mothers do not receive advice from physicians on aspects of infant care such as sleep position, breastfeeding, immunization and pacifier use, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Health care practitioner groups have issued recommendations and guidelines on all these aspects of , based on research which has found that certain practices can prevent disease and even save lives.

The study authors surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 1,000 , inquiring about infant care advice they received from doctors, nurses, family members and the news media.

Roughly 20 percent of mothers said they did not receive advice from their doctors regarding current recommendations on breastfeeding or on placing infants to sleep on their backs—a practice long proven to reduce the risk of  (SIDS). More than 50 percent of mothers reported they received no advice on where their infants should sleep. Room-sharing with parents—but not bed-sharing—is the recommended practice for safe .

The study appeared in Pediatrics and was conducted by researchers at Boston Medical Center, Boston University, and Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

“Earlier studies have shown that new mothers listen to their physicians,” said Marian Willinger, Ph.D.., of the Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which funded the study. “This survey shows that physicians have an opportunity to provide new mothers with much-needed advice on how to improve infant health and even save infant lives…”

[Read the full article and more details about the original report here: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-07-mothers-physician-advice-infant-position.html]

Parenting. There’s an app for that?

Are you a parent with a smartphone? This post is for you! Over the summer, one of our interns compiled some of the top-ranked parenting apps available on iTunes. We thought we’d share them here on the blog, and also invite you to browse our online Parent Resource Center whenever you’re searching for tips on how to handle specific parenting challenges.

It can be good to have information available at your fingertips, but we also have to put in a plug for good, old-fashioned human interaction. Every parent should have a real, live network of support: other parents, neighbors, mentors and others who can help you whether you’re struggling or celebrating as a parent.

appsSo have fun checking out the apps, but also consider learning more about our educational parent support groups here. Both could be great sources of information and support on your parenting journey!

Total Baby is touted as the most comprehensive baby logging and tracking application available, and was cited by many of the surveyed parents as a must-have. The app tracks feedings, immunizations, nap length, time nursing (and on what side), growth, allergies and milestones.

Cry Translator claims to be able to identify the reason for a child’s cry with 96 percent accuracy and within 10 seconds. Whether it’s boredom, hunger, stress or downright exhaustion, the app also provides tips on handling the child’s needs.

WebMD is free, and provides a wide variety of physical and mental health information. The app also includes a symptom checker and a drug & treatments guide.

iHomeopathy is an “at your fingertips” guide to treating first-aid emergencies, childhood ailments and common illnesses.

Easy Parenting is an app that covers many of the challenges of parenting today, including those “from pregnancy to teenage years to leaving the nest for university or work” with tips for meeting challenges along the way.

The Family Matters app is designed to help engage family members in virtual discussion. Some of the questions and activities are simple, while others go a bit deeper. You can choose from hundreds of location-driven activities as well, which makes it ideal for family vacations and travel.

Surf Balance Safe Browser combines a fun, full-screen mobile browser with unique parental control features that go beyond simple website filtering. You can guide, limit and verify your child’s web usage from your mobile device.

Do you use other apps as a parent? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Parenting: From A-Z

Today’s the day! (Yes, it’s National Hot Fudge Sundae Day and National Merry-Go-Round Day, but that’s not what we’re talking about.) It’s the first day of registration for ABCs of Parenting Class! And in honor of that day, seven SCAN staff members took on the entire alphabet to bring you 26 tips and pieces of advice about parenting. Here are SCAN’s ABCs of Parenting from A-Z:

[Rebekah Beck – Education Program Manager]

Shannon (left) and Rebekah (right) pose for a photo during our spring ABCs class

Acceptance – Your child is his/her own person with their own abilities, interests, and dreams…not a carbon copy of you.

Behavior – Focus on the behavior separate from who your child is– we all do things we aren’t proud of from time to time, but that doesn’t mean we are any less of a person.

Compassion – Remember how difficult it was to grow up with all of the ups and downs, success and struggles. They don’t call them growing pains for nothing.

Discipline – It’s a way of teaching your child how to succeed and learn from their mistakes in a positive, affirming way while helping them distinguish right from wrong by your example through patient, nurturing guidance.

[Shannon May – Parent Education Coordinator]

Energy – Keeping up with your children’s energy level can be exhausting, but hang in there and make sure to take care of yourself each day.

FUN! – Find joy in the silly and even frustrating moments with your kids.

Growing – Celebrate each stage of your child’s development and give yourself credit for the ways that you grow and learn in your parenting throughout each stage.

Hard – No joke, there are days when you feel like you’re at your wits end—but hang in there!

[Sonia Quiñónez- Executive Director]

Volunteer Nancy plays with the children of ABCs participants in the spring

Individuals – Every child is different. Being an effective, positive parent means trying to figure out what works best for your particular child.

Joy – Children bring joy into our lives. Even in the difficult times, try to appreciate the joy your child can open up for your family.

Kindness – Treating your child with kindness and respect teaches them to respect themselves, how to care for themselves, and how to treat others with respect and kindness as well.

Love – When you’re at your wits end, ask yourself, “What would love do?” Approaching difficult conversations and the trials of parenthood with love keeps our problems in perspective and allows opportunities for growth and joy in our families.

[Dana Taylor – CASA Case Supervisor]

Moments – Make the most of downtime with your child.  Teachable moments can be implemented in almost any situation. Take advantage of the moment and teach your child a thing or two.

Nurture – Nurture your child’s natural gifts. This helps to increase your child’s self-esteem and sense of well-being.

Outlet – As a parent, consider having a healthy outlet. It is important to self-care by taking care of your physical and emotional/mental health.

Praise – Praise your child!  Use phrases like, “good job,” “you’re awesome,” “I’m proud of you,” and “you’re beautiful.”

[Karen Price – Director of Development]

Quality Time – It’s not just about how much time you spend with your kids, but also about the quality of that time.  Your kids are great people in the making, so make sure you give yourself a chance to just hang out and get to know what they are thinking and feeling.

Role Model – Remember that your kids watch everything you do and will learn more from what you do than what you say.  You are their role model!

Skills – It takes skill to be a parent and there’s no instruction manual, but there are lots of services and websites with tips and advice to parents.  When you hit a snag, use them to connect with other parents and get some new ideas.

Time For Yourself– Recharging and taking a little quiet time for yourself makes you a better parent.  Don’t feel bad for taking care of yourself too!

A spring session ABCs grad and her son pose with class facilitators after receiving their certificates

[Sarah Self – Public Education Coordinator]

Unbelievable – The things kids say. The lengths parents will go. The whole parenting experience. No matter how many times you’ve been told, you never really quite believe it until you experience it for yourself. And even then every day is a surprise/shock!

Valuable – Parents gain skills that can make a difference in other aspects of their lives. From patience to perspective to anger and stress management, working on these skills as a parent can be valuable in other situations too, such as interacting with co-workers or communicating with family members.

Work – Nobody is born knowing how to parent, and it’s one of the toughest jobs in the world. It takes work (and a lot of it) to nurture a child and build a family. And just like work, there are sources of training (like parenting classes) and team-building (like support groups) that can help you constantly improve your skills!  

[Jenna Temkin – Summer Intern]

eXhale – Never underestimate the power of a deep breath. When your children or life in general get to be overwhelming, simply taking a deep breath can make a huge difference.

Years – They go by quickly… or at least that’s what my parents tell me! Appreciate each moment with your children because they’ll grow up faster than you think.

Zonked (Exhausted, Asleep) – Parenting is tiring. And I can guess that  reading the entirety of this post was, too. Good job to those of you who made it to the end!


If you or someone you know would like to learn even more about parenting, you can register for SCAN’s ABCs of Parenting Class in English by calling Parent Education Coordinator Shannon May at 703-820-9001. Classes are held on Tuesdays from August 23 to October 11 from 6-8:30pm at First Assembly of God Church.