Sunday, May 14, 2006

First of Two Examples of Effective Efforts Towards Prevention

Neglect Vs. Abuse
In an article called, "Helping the Overwhelmed Family, author Ellen Perlman mentioned that a child safety agency in Minnesota found that separating child neglect from child abuse cases was better for the protection of children.

Preventing Neglect and Empowering Families to Succeed
I see wisdom in differentiating between neglect and abuse. In the case of neglect, a parent is not providing for a child's needs -- something which might be remedied through parental education. Whereas abuse can be more pervasive and damaging.

With that in mind, I wanted to share about two Ohio agencies for whom I programmed recently... Both of these agencies appear to be doing a good job at parental education and fostering family stability. Here is part 1 of 2...

Homeless Families Foundation
As well as being a child advocate, I (Lisa) also work a day job as a youth services librarian. I recently visited the Dowd Education Center in Columbus, Ohio in that capacity. The Homeless Families Foundation is a family shelter in Columbus, Ohio, whose programs include:

1.) Apartment units for homeless families. Adult participants must be drug-free and alcohol-free in order to participate in the program. There are frequent tests of parents to assure continued sobriety.

The Homeless Families Foundation operates as a "Housing First" agency, based on the belief that families are capable of living independently and can address their issues best in a stable, long-term environment.

2.) Support services for adults. This includes GED test preparation and development of job skills.

3.) The Dowd Education Center provides after school programs and summer school for homeless children in K-8th grades.

The center views children as innocent victims in the tragedy of family homelessness. Therefore, their commitment to homeless children is to provide healthy meals, educational support and an atmosphere of stability.

When I visited the Dowd Education Center to promote summer reading, literacy and to booktalk several books to the children, I was impressed by the meals provided to children.

I don't know if you've seen the movie "Supersize Me," but too often school cafeterias serve cheap, unhealthy meals. And, having volunteered at homeless shelters in the past, the ones I volunteered for tended to serve stale, leftover food (even on Christmas!)

But these meals were healthy. All four food groups were represented. They smelled wonderful. And, being a health-conscious eater, I can honestly say that I would have been happy to grab a tray myself!

I was also impressed by the programs that they were offering the children. One teacher gave me her email and I promised to send her a list of the books that I booktalked to the children. She wanted to build upon their initial enthusiasm and to promote literacy at the shelter.

I liked how they channeled the children's energy into physical activities such as dance class and tae kwon doe.

Viewing the entire program through my "foster care" lens, it was obvious that this program promotes family stability through:

-Its selectivity (no substance abuse by parents in the program)
-Long-term shelter (as Maslow's hierarchy of needs will attests, shelter is a primary need)
-Academic focus (for children and adults)
-Health focus (for children and adults)

I have to add that when I led a program for the children, their enthusiasm was wonderful. I had brought a "wheel of fortune" of book covers. I called each child up to take a turn at spinning the wheel and then I booktalked the title based on the book cover that appeared. The children wanted to read every story and find out what happened!

I was also saddened by recognizing some of their unmet emotional needs. One young girl clung to my arm throughout the beginning of my presentation. When I ended my program, young children rushed to me to give me hugs. I was surrounded by a human wall of need, a circle of arms around me.

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Comments:
Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. My interest was tweaked because I was involved in grant writing for a group home for girls locally.
Good luck with your book.
I'll stop by again.
 
hi. "surfed" in from johanna's blog. i'm a middle school teacher in her district and my kids and i are reading Pictures of Hollis Woods (excellent book about a foster child named Hollis). they are REALLY into it. would you possibly be interested in writing an informal letter to a bunch of middle school kids about your ideas or experiences regarding being a foster child? it doesn't have to be a novel... pleaaaassee?
thanks! lemme know!! :)
 
So very nice to meet you!

I looked for an e-mail option--couldn't find it so here I am. Thank you for stopping by my blog yesterday...and for your very relevant comments.

I am wondering: could I use your blog address in an upcoming post? AND--any possibility I could send you (via e-mail) a few questions that you could answer and I could post an interview??????

It would be a great way for everyone to hear from a former foster child who is now a flourishing adult!!!!!

Besides, I'd like to get to know you better!

How did you find my blog? How appropriate was your timing!!!!

My e-mail is DV4242@aol.com--please send me a note...or, of course, you can respond on my blog if you prefer.

LOVE, love, love the scriptures you posted. Scripture does speak to this issue often, doesn't it!

Thrilled you stopped by!

diane
 
I am happy to take the time to write a letter to middle school students.

It would also be my privilege to participate in an interview.

Thanks for your interest!

Oh - and my email address is lisa@miss-lisa.com
 
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