Operation Safe Babies: An Update + NEW White Paper from SCAN

WhitePaper_OperationSafeBabies-COVEREarlier this week, a group of local service providers gathered in SCAN’s Community Training Room to learn about Operation Safe Babies.  Although many come in to these events with some knowledge on safe sleep and abusive head trauma, there are always new issues discussed and important ideas shared. Everyone walks away with valuable information and resources to share as they work with the parents and caregivers in their communities.

As we continue to expand our circle of Operation Safe Babies partners this fall — including organizations like The Center for Alexandria’s Children, Arlington County DHS and Fairfax County Health Department — what better time to publish our NEW white paper: Operation Safe Babies: Reducing Child Fatalities in Northern Virginia? This is the third in a series of white papers SCAN has published for service providers this year, and focuses on SIDS & SUIDS, Abusive Head Trauma, and Education & Prevention, as well as 7 excellent “Calls to Action.” I hope you will take a moment to download and share this important resource.

Do you have questions about Operation Safe Babies? Please don’t hesitate to contact me to learn more about how we might be able to work together in your community to support parents and keep infants safe. As the white paper notes:

“It is important to make sure that new parents have a support network in place made up of family and friends that they can call on for support.”

We are ALL a part of those support networks. How will you take action to keep babies safe?

– Tracy Leonard, SCAN Public Education Manager

Broadening Circles + Building Connections

blogblock_01152015_broadencirclesOur Allies in Prevention Coalition is a force to be reckoned with in Northern Virginia.  Over 80 members strong, it represents all five jurisdictions of the region and every area of service for children and families. Each time the coalition meets, I see members become armed with even more information and strengthened in their resolve to do what is best for those they serve.

Our most recent meeting, held in December at the Beatley Library in Alexandria, featured a panel discussion on Strengthening Community Connections.  Coalition members had a chance to talk about the importance of connecting children and parents with the existing resources in their communities, as well as how agencies can work together to reach more families.

The panel included Sally Wood, Recreation Enterprise Manager, Prince William County Parks & Recreation, Emily Thrasher, Family Programs Coordinator, Arlington County Department of Parks & Recreation, Diana Price, Central Library Youth Services Manager, Alexandria Library, Reverend Trisha Miller Manarin, Mid-Atlantic Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Robin Hamby, Family Partnerships Specialist, Family and School Partnerships FCPS, and Detective Kimberly Norton with the Prince William County Police Department.

The group was diverse, and that was exactly the point.

“We need to broaden our circles with each other,” said Rev. Manarin. “Even with a separation of church and state, we (service providers) need to engage the faith community.”

Det. Norton added that organizations should help to educate families about other resources. She charged members, for example, to help parents understand the harm that a phrase such as “if you’re doing something bad then the police will come and get you” could have.

Both Sally and Emily encouraged the other service providers to use Parks and Rec when the families they work with need creative ideas and new outlets for strengthening their bonds. They shared the educational, enjoyable, and even intergenerational activities Parks and Rec programs offer for families.

Another great resource for service providers? The library! Diana Price with the Alexandria Library mentioned some of the creative work they’re doing to reach out to those who are intimidated by coming to the library, such as teen book clubs that they offer right in schools.

Robin Hamby with Fairfax Public Schools encouraged service providers to build leadership skills with the parents they work with so that they become empowered to access even more resources and make more connections – from police to parks to libraries – for their children.

AIPC members left this meeting with valuable information and insight to continue building connections they can make in their communities. To help, we’ve developed this Community Resources List. We hope you’ll download the list and share it with the children and families you work with as well.

— Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager
(Want to learn more about the AIPC? Contact me at tleonard@scanva.org!)

The Baby Ban: What are we saying to parents?

Almost all of us have gotten on a plane and breathed a sigh of relief when we find we’re not sitting next to the inconsolable baby a few rows back. Yes, most people love cooing at cute infants. But screaming and crying while you’re trying to watch the in-flight movie is no one’s idea of a peaceful flight.

If you’ve been following the news lately, you may know where we’re going with this. Malaysian Airlines’ decision to ban babies from first class flights has caused an uproar among child advocates, parents and frequent fliers.

You can find plenty of articles and blogs about this issue from fuming parents and rejoicing childless fliers, but a blog from Carrie Kirby of the Parenting Squad a few years ago does a wonderful job of analyzing this topic. Here’s her argument:

“But of course, being a parent, I don’t think parents are wholly to blame for these mile-high hostilities. I blame society. Unlike cultures where multiple generations live together, ours keeps childless adults so separate from small children that, until they get seated next to some on a plane, they scarcely know what children are like.”

Kirby also wrote a wonderfully witty parent-passenger airplane contract, which you can find here. One of our favorite articles: “To catch any and all vomit before it enters your personal space, even if this means taking the hit with my own body.”

On the surface, this issue is all about the occasional annoyance of kids on airplanes. But Kirby brings up an interesting point: What does this ban say about our society’s view of children? And what does it say about how willing we are to support the parents in our community? Other airlines are thinking about instituting similar bans. Plus, other public places, like restaurants and movie theaters, have been discussing child-free days. Does this ban reflect something larger about how we view children? What do you think?

p.s. And for all of our parent readers, we know travel can be very stressful with young children – on a plane or otherwise! If you’re looking for tips on parenting challenges – everything from managing tantrums to dealing with stress to handling the holidays – check out SCAN’s Parent Resource Center.