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December 2017


Things to Consider in December 2017


Feature Article


Making a Difference RTSC’s Annual Conference, November 14, 2017
by Mary-Beth Landy, Training & Support Specialist for RTSC

​Well, the leaves have all fallen off of the trees, which can only mean two things; the holidays are coming, and the Recruitment, Training, and Support Center (RTSC) of the Federation for Children with Special Needs, has held another successful conference! 

On Tuesday, November 14th, The RTSC team rose early to begin preparing for the arrival of 160+ registrants from across the state. The participants consist of Special Education Surrogate Parents (SESPs), Advocates, Adoptive and Foster Parents, as well as educational and child welfare professionals.  Read Full Article


Things to Consider…


The Power of Being Seen
How well do you think that your student is being seen in school? “Two big reasons students leave school are that they have no meaningful connection to an adult in the building, and no one knows their name and how to pronounce it.” Edutopia looks at how a school district develops a Social-Emotional Learning Program that doesn’t just feel good, but works.
  
Massachusetts justice system wrestles with how to define ‘adult’
The Massachusetts state senate passed a reform to raise the age of criminal majority to 19. Considerations that need to be reconciled between the Senate and the House versions (which remained at 18) include research on adolescent mental development, a focus on rehabilitation, recidivism rates, and other rights associated with the age of majority. If Massachusetts votes to raise the age of criminal majority to 19, it will be the highest age of juvenile jurisdiction in the country.
 
Audit of Massachusetts Department of Children and Families says agency failed to report 118 incidents of sexual abuse of a child
On December 7, 2017, Suzanne M. Bump, Auditor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts submitted the completed performance audit of the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Findings in the audit included DCF’s failure to report over 200 injuries. The audit period was January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2015. Recent reforms implemented in 2015 under Governor Charlie Baker were not audited.  Read the full audit report: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2017/12/07/201610583s.pdf.pdf

What are Massachusetts Doing Right…And What Does We Need to Improve Upon?
When talking about the best school systems in the country, Massachusetts ranks at the top. With only a 2% drop out rate, and being ranked #1 nationally in math and reading indexes, one can see why. But that’s not the whole picture. Income based disparities in academic performances over the last decade have grown, with year’s achievement gap being the 3rd highest in the nation.

A Seat at the Table: The Intersection of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Special Education
As state and national policy increasingly focuses on the role of SEL in schools and in out-of-school time, it is critical that special education settings don’t get left behind. How might a renewed focus on SEL competencies change the way we craft IEPs and transition plans? AS students with social and emotional challenges, special education students, can impact the changes they are to become the SEL, but only if they have a seat at the table.
  
Turning Brain Strains into Brain Gains for Adolescence in Foster Care
Adolescents in foster care often experience “strains” that tax their rapidly developing brains. These inhibiting factors include the continuing effects of childhood adversity and trauma, frequent moves among foster homes and schools and leaving foster care without a permanent family or adult connection. For young people of color, who are disproportionately represented in foster care and experience poorer outcomes than their white peers in child welfare systems, typical adolescent risk taking is often criminalized. Yet neuroscience shows there are ways of healing past trauma and turning “brain strains” into “brain gains” for adolescents in foster care.
 
How to Encourage Your Student to See a Therapist
Know a student who could benefit from seeing a good therapist, but don’t know how to broach the subject? Sometimes, people with mental health challenges try to keep a good façade that everything is alright, when what they really want is help. But talking with someone about their mental health can be tricky, as you don’t want to cause them to go running from help, especially when they are not use to asking for help. Here are some suggestions on how to support someone in finding professional help.


Useful Tools and Resources 


Creating Safety and Attachment for Students with Trauma
The impact on learning and behavior in the classroom for children with trauma, can be staggering for the teachers and staff to understand and manage. Every child with an adverse trauma experience carries that experience with them into the classroom, effecting their ability to engage, focus, and establishing trusting relationships. These are fundamental elements required for the cognitive, social and emotional development of any child. So what can you do?
 
Helping children in Foster Care to Manage Holiday Stress and Emotions
The holiday are times for joy and merriment, but for children in foster care, this times are full of mixed feelings. On the one hand they are excited about the time spent with their foster families, while at the same time, they are overwhelmed by the guilt and sorrow that they have regarding missing their biological families. And because this can be just as stressful of a time for the adults in their lives, it can be a trying time for everyone in the family. Here are some suggestions for helping your foster child manager their emotions throughout this holiday season.
 
Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope after a Disaster or Traumatic Event: A GUIDE FOR PARENTS, CAREGIVERS, AND TEACHERS
Find yourself at a loss at what to say to a child after a traumatic event? Do you have students from Puerto Rico in your class? Handling how to talk with a child about a traumatic event can be tricky. You want to say something comforting, reassuring and age appropriate, that can help the child’s own resiliency take hold and allow them to process the events in a healthy appropriate way. Encouraging a child to express themselves through play, stories, or if they are old enough, through talking is only the first step.
 
Why the Holidays can be Tough on Families of RAD Kids
So the holidays are coming, and the family is all excited for the family gatherings, get together, and of course gifts! Well if you are the parents of a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder, may be not so much.  You try so hard to make it a special time for everyone, but somehow, it always ends up in chaos. It is not about trying harder, but thinking like a reactive attachment child. Trying to understand these kids can seem counter-intuitive. First try to remember that they are stuck developmentally at the age of their trauma. Second, everything about their behavior is about creating, false or otherwise, a sense of safety that they control. And third, but major point to remember is that they push away their caretakers. But there are steps that you can take to help make the holidays go a bit smoother.


Featured Article Continued… 

Well, the leaves have all fallen off of the trees, which can only mean two things; the holidays are coming, and the Recruitment, Training, and Support Center (RTSC) of the Federation for Children with Special Needs, has held another successful conference!  On Tuesday, November 14th, The RTSC team rose early to begin preparing for the arrival of 160+ registrants from across the state.  The participants consist of Special Education Surrogate Parents (SESPs), Advocates, Adoptive and Foster Parents, as well as educational and child welfare professionals.

The day began with registration and breakfast, with an opportunity to visit with exhibitors.  The participants were busy with making connections, old and new, while eagerly preparing for our Keynote presentation by Dana Royster-Buefort, M.Ed, C.A.G.S., titled “Managing the Hearts and Souls of Many!”. Dana’s presentation focused on how we can all make an impactful difference in other’s lives. One participant commented, “I really appreciated how she spoke about her children’s role in determining their own paths. A nice parenting model that is respectful of child’s responsibilities.”

The morning and afternoon workshop session topics varied from Creating Safe School Environments and Community School to Parenting is my Super Power! The topics and presentations were well received with most feedback indicating the desire for more time and information. The staff of RTSC would like to thank everyone who supported this year’s conference, including the Federation and it’s staff, the presenters, exhibitors and most importantly the participants who made the day all the more worthwhile!

To access conference handouts and view photos taken throughout the day, visit our website at https://fcsn.org/rtsc/conference-2015/2017-conference-handouts/.

*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.