June 2017

Consider This…  Things to Consider in June 2017 

Out Now – Don’t Hate; Liberate
On June 20th, 2017, the RTSC Webinar will present a panel of community organizers who will discuss the critical issues facing queer youth in the child welfare and school systems and present some strategies to keep them safe and supported. Below is their mission/vision statement:

“Out Now is a youth led, adult advised, queer youth organization that works to promote; harm reduction, self-determination, and community building through anti-oppression organizing.


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When Foster Kids Are Moved Around, Schooling Becomes an Afterthought 
As of September 2016, roughly 428,000 children were in foster care nationwide, an increase of 30% to over 50% in some states, in many cases due to the opioid epidemic. By the time youth in foster care reach their junior year, more than a third will have switched schools at least five times. As most SESPs will tell you, the consequences for students are significant. With each move, students lose an estimated four to six months of academic progress. This article from the Hechinger Report discusses the reasons for this educational instability, including the lack of emphasis that child welfare agencies put on education, and the new focus of the Every Student Succeeds Act which aims to mitigate the foster care experience by making school more successful for kids in care.

Developmental Trauma Disorder: The Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect 
This highly recommended article examines some of the neurobiologic consequences of Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD), including cognitive, emotional, social, and somatic manifestations. Common treatment modalities for DTD are discussed, including reasons to support or oppose DTD as an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). In addition, the effects of DTD which continue in adulthood are analyzed including their tendency to correlate with multiple health problems. Medical providers are urged to consider DTD an underlying cause of several conditions, including depression, anxiety, attention-deficit disorder (ADD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), chronic pain or fatigue, various addictions, and eating disorders.

Father–Child Interactions at 3 Months and 24 Months: Contributions to Children’s Cognitive Development at 24 Months 
This is the first study to examine the longitudinal association between observed father–infant interactions as early as 3 months of age and later cognitive development in children. The association between paternal interactions and cognitive outcome is evident at a very early age; therefore, putting preventive measures in place in early infancy to support fathers to better interact with their children is of immense importance. Moreover, fathers’ parenting is likely to mirror the parenting that they had received, so interventions at an individual and a policy level offer the potential to be of benefit across generations.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS): MA Taskforce Report Offers Path to Advancing Parent and Infant Health
Opioid misuse is a multi-generational issue that requires supports along the lifespan. Massachusetts is disproportionately affected, placing it second in the nation for prenatal exposure (13.7 per 1,000) after the East/South Central region of the U.S. The Massachusetts Interagency Task Force on Newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome published a report that provides key recommendations about how to address the current gaps in care and more deliberately address the needs of infants and parents through collaboration and coordination across health and human services. This article highlights the 12 key findings of the report. Link here for the full report: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/nas-final-report.pdf

Strong at the Broken Places: The Resiliency of Low-Income Parents
Despite the multitude of obstacles that low-income parents face, many of them succeed in helping their children flourish. They raise children who possess the social-emotional competence needed to develop and keep friendships; establish good relationships with parents, teachers, and other adults; and experience a range of achievements that contribute to their self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. What can we learn about these resilient parents that can be shared with other parents who could benefit from such information, as well as with those who are committed to supporting parents’ efforts to nurture their children? What types of policies and programs have been shown to promote parents’ resiliency and, in turn, their children’s? This policy report from The National Center for Children in Poverty provides some of the answers to these questions.

Helping Young Children Who Have Experienced Trauma: Policies and Strategies for Early Care and Education
In this report from Child Trends, the authors describe early childhood trauma and its effects, offer promising strategies for early care and education (ECE) programs and systems to help young children who have experienced trauma, and present recommendations for state policymakers and other stakeholders looking to support trauma-informed ECE for this vulnerable group.

Mass Incarceration and the Achievement Gap
The relationships between incarceration and family harm can become cyclical and cumulative: A parent is incarcerated. Family income drops. Housing stability is eroded. Stress increases. Children do worse in school and their health deteriorates. They drop out or are expelled. They become delinquent or homeless or end up in foster care. Eventually, they may be incarcerated and their own children suffer the same consequences they have faced. This article examines several possible explanations of why parental incarceration might have these surprisingly strong consequences and emphasizes the critical importance of designing prisoner reentry programs that give special attention to the needs of children.

Gender & Trauma — Somatic Interventions for Girls in Juvenile Justice:
Implications for Policy and Practice

This report from The Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality provides a foundational understanding of the relationship between trauma and gender—with a focus on system-involved girls—and provides an analysis of a vitally needed, promising approach: somatic interventions. In particular, the report maps the ways in which trauma-informed, gender-responsive, and culturally competent yoga and mindfulness programs can address the short- and long-term impacts of trauma on girls in the juvenile justice system.

Useful Tools and Resources

 Navigating SEL from the Inside Out
This comprehensive guide looks inside and across 25 leading social-emotional learning programs, with a focus on elementary schools.

Reaching Students with Emotional Disturbances
A seasoned educator shares four ideas for supporting students who have suffered emotional trauma.  From Edutopia.

A Mindset Shift to Continue Supporting the Most Frustrating Kids
“To me, the challenge about challenging kids is the way that I feel working with them. Interacting with these students can bring up all kinds of emotions: sadness because of their pain, defensiveness if a student is criticizing or attacking me, protectiveness over the other students being disrupted, and even annoyance that my day didn’t go as I planned.” For all those teachers.

Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success 
From the Department of Labor — a collaboration between government and the youth it serves. More than 100 young people provided honest feedback to the design and content of this publication.

Five Numbers to Remember about Early Childhood Development
These five numbers illustrate the importance of early childhood to the learning, behavior, and health of later life and explain why getting things right the first time is easier and more effective than trying to fix them later.  Great illustrations and graphs.

What is Complex Trauma? A Resource Guide for Youth and Those Who Care About Them
Developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, this resource guide is for youth who have experienced, or know someone who has experienced, Complex Trauma. Older youth, adolescents, and young adults can explore the information in this guide on their own to help make sense of their experiences and understand themselves better.

The campaign, #FosterMyEducation, has been disseminating stories from former foster youth about how difficult school can be under a disruptive system that rapidly moves children through homes and districts. The campaign highlights personal narratives posted to the Children’s Rights blog:  


LGBTQ+ Youth: Critical Issues for Kids in DCF Custody Tuesday, June 20, 2017 12:30 PM EDT  

Young people in the child welfare system who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or queer (LGBTQ) are at a greater risk for many negative experiences, including being less likely to be placed with a permanent family. These young people face discrimination and conflict with their families of origin as well as harassment and violence in group placement settings. To remove obstacles, service providers and families must acknowledge the barriers and seek effective strategies to address them. Holly Robinson, Co-Director of Out Now in Springfield, MA for the past 20 years, along with Community Organizers Stickii Quest, ShaeShae Quest, and Tianna Thomas, will discuss the critical issues facing LGBTQ youth in the child welfare and school systems and some strategies to keep them safe and supported.

For more on this topic, please read our RTSC Feature Article below

Featured Article Continued… 

Out Now – Don’t Hate; Liberate

On June 20th, 2017, the RTSC Webinar will present a panel of community organizers who will discuss the critical issues facing queer youth in the child welfare and school systems and present some strategies to keep them safe and supported. Below is their mission/vision statement:
Out Now is a youth led, adult advised, queer youth organization that works to promote, harm reduction, self-determination, and community building through anti-oppression organizing.   
Our organizational vision statement is: All queer people are liberated at home, in schools, and throughout society.
Out Now originated in 1995 as a support group for LGBT youth. It was formed because lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth typically feel isolated from peers and family. While it is recognized that being different for any reason is difficult in this society, being different because one is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is particularly challenging. 
Homophobia/homohatred can be prevalent in school environments and in some homes, leading LGBTQ young people to withdraw and hide themselves from friends and family. As a result, it can be difficult for our LGBTQ youth to establish beneficial social connections.
The point of entry into Out Now is at our popular education/drop-in group each Wednesday from 5-7pm, and our focus is on youth ages 22 and under. Here youth get to know one another, build lasting relationships and begin to understand themselves and others in relation to institutions and systems.
Additionally, Out Now is home to the QuEST Project. QuEST stands for QUeer Empowerment thru Solidarity and Truth. QuEST is the political arm of Out Now, which Out Now youth leaders organized about 10 years ago when we began a campaign to stop the construction of the Chicopee Women’s jail, and to address various oppressions and violence in our community. QuEST members are dedicated to educating ourselves and others on the intersections between queer youth and the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC).
QuEST strives to stop relying on incarceration as a way of solving our problems and to learn ways to resolve conflicts without revenge or violence. Our work is multidimensional in both content and methods. We have chosen to relay our message using both audio and visuals that speak to the work that we do in the office and in the community.
QuEST considers all of the interlocking systems of the PIC to be profiting off of the pain of people of color, poor people, queer people and other oppressed people. We work hard to combat oppression and create an equal society where we all strive for our individual and collective liberation.
QuEST also created a performance/ interactive workshop called, “Our Liberation!: Using Interactive Theater to Untangle Oppressions.” This project uses Theater of the Oppressed techniques in which the audience and presenters work together to strategize and disrupt incidents of oppression. Theater of the Oppressed calls on participants to re-imagine the roles of actor and spectator, merging them together to create spect-actors; the participants become a part of the theater performance. 
With the increased attention being paid to peer abuse and harassment and how it contributes to increased rates of suicide among LGBTQ youth, our Theater of the Oppressed workshop has great potential to empower our audiences to intervene and stop oppressive and violent behavior among peers that has its roots in racism, homophobia, and other oppressive systems.  
We bring the “Our Liberation!” workshop into the community to high schools, colleges, community organizations and conferences on an average of 6-7 times a year.

*Disclaimer: While every effort is made to ensure that the contents of Consider This… is accurate, the Federation for Children with Special Needs makes no representations or warranties in relation to the accuracy or completeness of the information found within the enclosed articles. The contents within this transmission are provided in good faith, and nothing included in it should be taken to constitute or imply professional advice, an endorsement or a formal recommendation.