February 2016


Think Of Us
Using technology, data and multimedia, this new website seeks to develop an online platform to support foster youth, foster/adoptive parents and state workforces involved with vulnerable youth by using a collaborative approach to create the content. Some of the online resources include The Storyboard Project, a program that gives youth the opportunity to share their story through a visual medium; teaching youth how to tell their story strategically through online coaching and workshops; and offering school-to-work curriculum that includes creating an elevator pitch and strengthening interview skills.

Boston: It Takes a Village
Vital Village, headed by Dr. Renée Boynton-Jarrett, a Boston Medical Center pediatrician, with over 75 agency partners and 200 active participants, targets the three poorest neighborhoods in Boston. Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan have the state’s highest proportion of children living in poverty (42%); those neighborhoods also report high rates of domestic abuse. The program seeks to create equity and inclusion in each of Vital Villages’s priority areas: the prenatal period, peer-to-peer advocacy and schools including early childhood education.

In Mass. schools, a focus on well-being
This article from The Boston Globe focuses on two school districts in Massachusetts (Reading and Boston) and their efforts to create programming that builds social-emotional skills within the everyday classroom.  Based in the legislature passed last year to promote safe and supportive schools, strategies like class circles, instant rewards of positive praise, yoga and mindfulness, and early identification of behavioral health issues are creating initial successes for both students and staff. Teachers state they feel less overwhelmed and suspension and discipline rates have decreased.

Using Evidence to Accelerate the Safe and Effective Reduction of Congregate Care for Youth Involved with Child Welfare
This brief explores the options for reducing the use of congregate care for children and young adult who are suffering from trauma related symptoms of behavioral health. It looks at a future where congregate care is reserved for the short-term treatment of acute mental health problems for a small subset of youth. It provides empirical guidance, and presents several evidence-based approaches, for policy, placement and programmatic decisions.

How the system fails grandmothers raising kids
Grandparents are now the primary caregivers for more than 2.9 million children nationwide and two-thirds of grandmother-headed households live at or below the federal poverty line. Black children are twice as likely to live with grandparents or other relatives, as are white and Hispanic children, but since the Great Recession, white grandparents are now the fastest-growing subset of grandparent-headed households. This article discusses the resiliency of grandparents and the strategies they use to keep their grandchildren in subsidized housing and in childcare. The important bottom line is that many more resources are needed to support these precious caregivers.

Meltdown Leads To Felony Charge For Teen On The Spectrum
Although some progress has been made towards the goal of changing the behaviors of students by using evidence-based strategies to build skills rather than imposing disciplinary consequences, this article describes a family’s struggle to de-criminalize their son’s behavior during a “melt-down” incident at a community library in California that resulted in his arrest on a felony assault charge. This issue is becoming more important as young adults on the spectrum age into adulthood, and as the neurology of complex trauma makes it evident that brain development has been altered by maltreatment and neglect.

Visions of Community Conference March 5, 2016
The Visions of Community 2016 conference is sponsored by the Federation for Children with Special Needs, including its projects: the Parent Training & Information Center, Recruitment, Training and Support Center, Family TIES of Massachusetts and Massachusetts Family Voices. Attend your choice of over thirty workshops, meet Federation staff, visit our many exhibitors and enjoy a day of networking. Limited scholarships available for active Special Education Surrogate Parents. Contact dhardin@fcsn.org for the SESP scholarship code.