Kindness for Children with Incarcerated Parents

11.2 percent. More than 1 in 10.

This is the number of adults in Alaska, that had experienced having a family member in jail at some point during their childhood. Seventy percent of those reporting an incarcerated family member grew up with four or more adverse childhood experiences (i.e. witnessed or experienced domestic violence, substance abuse in the household, sexual abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, household mental illness). These ACEs can lead to physical and mental health issues later in life. R.O.C.K. Juneau, the Juneau School District, AWARE, Zach Gordon Youth Center, AEYC, CCHITA and many other local and statewide programs are working together to reduce adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in our communities. We are working to reduce ACEs and increase protective factors and resilience in young people and families.

Children whose parent(s) are in jail often are typically placed in the temporary custody of the single (non-incarcerated) parent, or a family member, most often a grandparent. Foster care is sometimes necessary. This can be a very challenging time for the children as well as their caretakers.

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Support and connections are so essential and valuable to those that find themselves in a caretaker role, which can occur very quickly through difficult circumstances. If someone becomes a caretaker for a child or teen due to parental incarceration, substance abuse and mental health instability, the unfortunate stigma often attached to those challenges can further alienate caretakers from others in the community.

When we support these caretakers, we are supporting the kids they are caring for.

Lemon Creek Correctional Center recently implemented a program called New Chapter, to support loving communication between incarcerated parents and their children. Incarcerated parents can record a video of themselves reading a book, poem or letter to send to their child. Because of the size of Alaska, children may be located too far from their incarcerated parent to be able to visit in person. This program allows the child to feel a strong sense of connection to their parent.

Help, in many forms is needed for the families and children impacted by an incarcerated parent. Support is needed to assist with the many changing feelings, such as grief, shame and denial. Children most of all need generous support from our Juneau community, whether through our faith communities, parenting programs, supportive friends and circles, health care providers and schools — to understand the impact of adverse childhood experiences, the right-now struggle of living without a parent. These children and teens need to experience meaningful connection, love and opportunity to be resilient to the challenges they are facing.

If you’re aware of a family affected by incarceration, please open your heart and mind just a little wider.

Let’s all ask ourselves, “How can we support this caretaker or child’s need? How are the needs of these children and caretakers different from or the same of our own needs? How can I, as an individual, help build stability and resilience in this family?”

Let’s make Juneau a more kind, supportive and safe place to be a child or teen.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT- SERRC and TLC

Young adulthood can be a crazy time in the lives of those exploring it. From graduating high school, starting college or moving into a career, it can all be extremely overwhelming. Fortunately, there are a few organizations and programs in Juneau that can help support teens and young adults in this transition period.

We connected with Kate Prussing, the Workforce Development Coordinator at SERRC. She has been working at SERRC for 24 years and is currently running the JobX program. It is designed for older youth ages 16-24 to help complete a high school equivalency and/or get enrolled into a post-secondary career training or linked and placed into work opportunities. JobX is a great program for young adults who have dropped out of high school and need to get reconnected to complete high school or a GED; it is also for those youth who have completed but for a variety of reasons may not be engaged in employment or training and may need additional guidance to launch.

“At SERRC-The Learning Connection we have GED and career awareness prep classes as well as general adult education classes to better prepare young adults (& older adults) for the rigor of college classes. Our MATCH program integrates academics, employment skills and career readiness skills into a fun and hands-on training program that really helps people design plans for their future. Another program that has been very successful for many of our youth are the free construction and trades training programs that have resulted in improved work skills and higher paying work opportunities for youth.”

Kate pointed out that youth that are engaged, improving their skills and enter the workforce better prepared is a great thing for the community as a whole, but often times, young adults face adversities that can make these tasks challenging.

“Often times the youth we serve have had their education interrupted or disrupted; for example they may have moved several times, they have a complicated family/home life or lack a regular home, many experience mental, physical or substance use health issues; programs like ours help to get them reconnected to academics, career opportunities, as well as social services and supports that help to ensure the other programs are successful.”

How can the community better support these kids?

These young adults are the future of Juneau and community members can continue to support them in their journey by investing in them and caring about them.

For example, the JobX program has a work experience program that pays the wages for the youth through grant funds but local businesses "host" them and supervise them in their work setting so they might grow their employment skills. Another great support is donating gift cards as incentives to give to youth as they meet important goals.

Kate of SERRC and ROCK Juneau encourage the community to help identify youth that might benefit from these services and help get them connected!

Thanks Kate and SERRC for all you do for Juneau’s young adults!

What's Next? Will Kindness Continue in 2019?

Life is full of transitions. From the moment we arrive, to the moment we leave, our lives are nothing but learning and moving from one stage of life to the next. How quickly it all goes!

In September, R.O.C.K. Juneau’s continuing efforts to making 2018 A Year of Kindness for Kids, is looking at the amazing transition of leaving the structure and supports of high school, and what it really takes to launch into independent living. We’re also closing in on the last stretch of 2018, and wondering, “Will some other group in Juneau adopt 2019, as a Year of Kindness?” Will Kindness continue in Juneau?

Transitions! Opportunities!

Every young adult faces the move from (hopefully) twelve years of formal school learning to the many decisions that frame the ‘what’s next’ stage of life. Living independently means needing to know how to find employment, housing, cooking and cleaning for oneself, as well as managing finances, voting (we hope so), and living well with social connections and relationships. All of these many life areas are in the mix of decision making about whether or not to continue schooling, training for a career or moving right into working or traveling.

Whatever a young adults means and support systems may be, the transition often takes years to fully complete.

Juneau has several support services and organizations working to assist with the transition and skills needed to be successful as a young adult, and they exist to support older adults as well!

Tlingit and Haida offers an Employment Services Program, which provides career assessment testing, motivational training and job skills workshops. Also, Tlingit and Haida has a robust Job Placement Program encompassing educational, training and employment opportunities such as Work Experience and On-The-Job training.

Further, Tlingit and Haida offers computer classroom training and vocational classes at the Vocational Training & Resource Center (VTRC) with an open admission policy for individuals of any race, color or nationality.

In partnership with the State of Alaska, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), the Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation (TVR) department serves eligible applicants with disabilities to obtain and maintain employment.

The Southeast Regional Resource Center (SERRC) operates over 30 programs and services to support adult learners across a wide span of needs, from GED preparation and testing, job readiness and search assistance, to English as a Second Language classes and much more.

In addition to traditional university 2 and 4 year programs, the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), School of Career Education recently held an open house in their facility downtown. An amazing array of construction technology courses are offered. There are diesel (both heavy machine and marine) classes, mine mechanic and welding classes through the power technology program. Through collaboration with the Juneau School District, Ce Ce Brenner, a Registered Nurse with the health sciences program at UAS, is offering a Certified Nurse Aid (CNA) online & in-person training course for current high school students. There are 5 students currently enrolled! They each will earn 9 college credits and 1.5 high school science credits upon completion, and be ready for employment here in Juneau or any other community.

The road to independent living is traveled by every adult, and thankfully, Juneau has a variety of supportive services and individuals. We all need guidance, mentors and opportunities to develop the skills and find our ‘place’ in the fabric of our community.

May we add an early shout-out to folks who feel that Kindness is needed, in all forms, shapes and sizes in Juneau: How can we continue a community Kindness effort in 2019? Is there a group interested in adopting the cause next year? Reach out, we’d love to share what we learned this year, and what we learned from Lieutenant Kris Sell’s, inaugural year of Kindness in 2017.

Kindness ROCKS.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: Game On

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Gaming has become a huge part of teen culture in the present day. It is a popular way for teens to interact with others and pass the time on rainy days. Game On is a one stop shop for everyone, including high school students, to stock up on all their gaming needs. But there is something special about this store.

Owners, Casey and Emry, opened up Game On in 2016 with the intention of sharing their passion for videogames with others, as well as celebrating diversity and representation in the games that they love. They interact with a lot of high school students and their store aims to be a positive influence in their lives. The store is a safe place for every one of all races, genders and ages.

Game On has a Diversity Wall that they use to feature videogames that exhibit diverse characters and storylines. This allows a wide variety of players to identify with and see themselves in the games that they play, as well as normalizing diverse representation. The wall features a new game each week and brief explanation about what makes the game special. You will see games that feature characters that vary in races, sexualities, genders and several other identities.  “This wall is the most important part of our store, because we deserve games as diverse and interesting as the people who play them.”

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The store will be growing in the future to offer more services and room to play for its customers and in turn, have an even larger impact on the community. Casey also hopes to teach others how to use the videogames that teens love for their educational and skill-development opportunities.

“I'd like to host one or more small seminars for educators and direct service providers to help them learn how to best utilize these things kids already have and are playing with in order to improve everything from physical coordination and mental flexibility to budgeting and finances. It's all already in there, but no one has taught the teachers how to use it.”

Thank you, Casey and Emry at Game On, for the positive supports you offer to teens in Juneau!

 

Check out their website at www.gameonalaska.com and follow them on Facebook to stay up to date with whats going on in the store!

In August, We Focus on Teens

R.O.C.K. Juneau (Raising our Children with Kindness) continues A Year of Kindness for Kids.

This month, Juneau gears up for another year of school success and efforts to build a community where kids of all ages experience high quality learning, and growth in understanding themselves, their circle of friends and family and the world around them.

Throughout August, R.O.C.K. Juneau’s Year of Kindness for Kids action team will highlight the needs and services that support Juneau’s teens. Students in their high school years continue to explore and expand their individual identity, choices and challenges with growing independence, relationships, trust and compassion. Youth look to healthy and grounded adults for guidance and support, as well as meaningful activities that foster these essential skills.

While greater alignment and breadth is needed to build a seamless, inclusive system of support for all teens, Juneau currently has a variety of programs and healthy messages open to high school aged students.

The Zach Gordon Youth Center hosts “Teen Talk Tuesday,” with a variety of safe and respectful conversations hosted by both adults and teens on topics such as racial and gender equity, self-care, climate change, and healthy relationships and sexuality.

Each of our three high schools houses a Teen Health Center, which offers confidential and free health services to students regardless of family income. Teens can receive health assessments, sports physicals, diagnosis and treatment of minor injuries or illness, behavioral health counseling, reproductive health and nutrition consultation as well as other services. The Centers strive to support teens as they move through the natural physical and emotional changes of adolescence.

Juneau Youth Services (JYS) also supports teens with various behavioral/mental health, chemical dependency services and residential programs. JYS offers a Transitional Living Program for youth ages 16-21 who need extra support with learning the skills of living independently.

At Thunder Mountain High School this year the INTERACT Program will be partnering with an orphanage in Kenya that provides housing and education to 300 elementary aged youngsters. INTERACT students hope to provide basic learning materials to this center, with a long-term goal of making a trip there in the Fall of 2019 or the Spring of 2020 to aid in their school construction. Juneau’s INTERACT teens are excited to help another community reach their dreams of educating their children.

Sources of Strength is a student centered, positive school climate program at both JDHS and TMHS. This program aims to reduce stigma, break codes of silence and encourage positive support to reduce violence, substance abuse and prevent suicide in Juneau teens. It empowers teens to be agents of change by learning about and living from one or more areas (sources) of strength: spirituality, medical access, mental health, family support, positive friends, mentors, healthy activities and generosity.

Kindness (and kindness projects) abounds at all of our schools!

If any of these teen projects, supports or activities have special interest to you, please reach out to the schools to learn more and find a way to help. Your connection and support, however small, makes a real difference in the continuum of meeting the complex needs our young people.

Kindness for youth with special needs

Embedded within the mission and vision of R.O.C.K. Juneau (Raising Our Children with Kindness), is the intention to build a community where kids are loved, equipped and empowered.

To equip and empower (and love!) kids in Juneau, we need to build equity based structures, strategies and efforts to resources, so that each young person has access to the supports needed for a healthy childhood and adolescence. This means inclusive play, learning and employment opportunities for kids and youth with physical and behavioral disabilities.

Juneau has a number of exciting, inclusive efforts and partnerships that are truly making a difference in all of our lives, and especially the lives of kids and families living with challenges (and joys) of special needs.

The rebuild of Project Playground at Twin Lakes, a collaboration between the community and the City and Borough of Juneau will have enhanced safety and accessibility with exciting new play components and surfaces. The Contractor portion of the build continues through July, with community volunteers scheduled for Aug. 8-12. If you’re interested in helping or donating coffee and snacks, please reach out to: volunteer@goprojectplayground.org.

Integrated and inclusive summer opportunities for summer fun and camps are being offered through partnerships between the CBJ, Zach Gordon Youth Center, The Canvas at REACH, Inc. and SAIL, Inc.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Disability Employment Initiative are supporting a program called Youth Employment in the Parks, YEP. This program is one great example of the power of partnerships: for first-time-employed high school aged youth, CBJ and SAIL have partnered to offer paid work supporting CBJ Parks and Rec staff in maintaining parks and trails around Juneau. YEP also offers youth soft job skills support, like building a resumé.

“I really like working outside. I’m now interested in finding a career in the outdoors,” said Savannah Strang, 18.

“This job has really helped me open up to people and make friends,” said Shane Paul, 16.

This fall, the Juneau School District is launching a new opportunity for students in partnership with Bartlett Regional Hospital and REACH, Inc. Project SEARCH is a one year long Transition-to-Work program for older high school students with special needs, offering a supported work-exploration immersion experience at Bartlett Regional Hospital. The intended outcome is competitive employment for students who might otherwise not have the work readiness skills to be productive and reliable employees.

Juneau also celebrates some amazing 2018 State Track Championships from the Unified Sports Teams. Will Weinleader and Jacob Rosenbruch (TMHS) won first place in men’s shot put, with Gabe Cannon and Lance Fenumiai winning second place (JDHS). Brianna Fallis and Gretchen Neal (JDHS) winning 100 meter dash, and long jump was won by Brianna Fallis and Ashleigh Neal (JDHS). Congratulations to all! Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

Juneau is improving in awareness and intention to build a more inclusive community for individuals of all ages and abilities.

R.O.C.K. Juneau’s efforts will continue to support systems and families to raise inclusive-minded, healthy kids and teens. We need to continue our focus on investing in robust early learning opportunities for all young kids to minimize supports needed later for academic and social success. We need to continue to build engaging, safe and skilled afterschool opportunities for our youth.

Let’s lean in (not lean back) to building a Juneau community that is inclusive and accessible to everyone, where everyone belongs and enjoys a full life.

“A lot of different flowers make a bouquet.” — Muslim proverb

Happy Pride! ROCK Juneau Recognizes LGBT Youth

Every year on the last Saturday in June, people take to the streets for Pride Parades across the country. This tradition was started in remembrance of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, and has resulted in numerous LGBT celebrations throughout the month of June.

R.O.C.K. Juneau’s (Raising Our Children with Kindness) would like to acknowledge and celebrate our community’s LGBT youth in recognition of Pride Month. 

Growing up can be difficult and emotional. It is a time where we start to find ourselves and begin to better understand who we are. This can be especially difficult for youth that are questioning their gender or sexual identity. There can be pressures from surrounding peers and family and although we have come a long way in the evolution of LGBT rights, most will continue to face some sort of discrimination or bias.

Callum is 17 years old and has related to several different labels, but typically identifies as a transgender male. He has extremely valuable insight as a young person that is a part of the LGBT community in Juneau. Callum is an active advocate as the leader of Thunder Mountain High School’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), a youth advocacy and support group, as well as a member of Teen Council.

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“Often when young people come out we have to "prove" our identities, which is tough for teenagers who are still trying to understand and explore themselves in general, so when it comes to such personal things like gender and sexuality, it can be really hurtful for people you trust to not believe you. There are also the standard slurs and sometimes physical violence that are accompanied by being a part of any minority. We find ourselves walking for 10 minutes to find a restroom in which we don't have to fear for our safety, or wondering whether or not to just call our boyfriends our friends.”

Although LGBT youth face these adversities often, there are some supports that can help relieve some of that stress. During the school year, the Teen Health Center is open to all students in the high schools. These centers offer free counseling, sexual health services and other health services. Planned Parenthood also offers sexual health services to all, including the LGBT community, and has recently began offering transgender health services. There are therapists in town that specialize in gender and sexuality, as well as a few doctors that are willing to do hormone replacement therapy for trans youth. Callum has used some of these resources and emphasizes their importance.

“I have been very fortunate to have been able to see a counselor who specializes in gender and who wrote me a letter recommending to my doctor that I start testosterone. I also attend a group that meets once a month and it is for trans youth to just connect with each other. These resources are important because middle school and high school are an especially important time and LGBT youth often don't receive the support they need from family members, friends, or even health care providers.”

There are a handful of supports and events that encourage and celebrate the LGBT community in Juneau, but a majority of them are directed towards the adult population. This can make it difficult for LGBT youth to find a safe space or receive the same supports as adults. Some examples of events or spaces that are safe and specific for LGBT youth are drop-in centers, movie nights, pride proms or just a hangout space designated to LGBT youth. Callum would like to see more of these in his own community.

“We need more spaces for LGBT youth to come together and be unapologetic about who we are.”

ROCK Juneau aims for an inclusive and loving community for all. As Pride Month comes to an end, we encourage you to continue to celebrate and support Juneau’s LGBT community and its youth. Thank you, Callum, for your voice and your time. Happy Pride!

 

Written by Tayler Shae and Callum Marks

Celebrating Alaska Native Youth and Culture

R.O.C.K. Juneau’s (Raising Our Children with Kindness) effort to host 2018 as the Year of Kindness for Kids, dedicates the month of June to celebrate Alaska Native youth and culture, and recognizes Celebration 2018 hosted by Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) as a kick-off to support tribal youth in our community. The keystone of R.O.C.K.’s partner work is to co-create a community where children are loved, equipped and empowered.

 

 

 

Celebration 2018 begins June 6 and runs through June 9 to celebrate the rich heritage of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people. Traditional dancing, food contests, a Native fashion show, and art market are a few of the scheduled events. For full scheduling details, visit www.sealaskaheritage.org and be sure to look for the Toddler Regalia Review and the Juried Youth Art Show!

SHI President Rosita Worl states, “When we first held Celebration in 1982, we were celebrating that the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures had survived. Since then, Celebration has grown into a huge event and today we are celebrating the vibrancy of our cultures. Celebration has also been a way to teach our ancient songs and dances to our young people and to show them who they are. Celebration is not a ceremony but the songs and dances performed have their origins in our sacred ceremonies. So it has become a vital way to pass on some of our ancient practices. It has also been a way to share our cultures with the public and to promote cross-cultural understanding.”

R.O.C.K. Juneau strives to build a collaborative culture in Juneau where all children and teens have opportunity to learn their heritage, their language, and their interests surrounded with adults who value the childhood journey and can guide them to independence and contribution as healthy adults. Let’s build this community together.

Here’s a Year of Kindness for Kids invitation for you to consider this month: How can I (personally and/or professionally) share in the support of tribal children and teens?

R.O.C.K. Juneau invites you to participate in Celebration 2018, cheer Alaska Native accomplishments, and to volunteer or donate to programs that support language and cultural opportunities for youth. Additional opportunities to support and engage in cultural events and programs for youth will be featured throughout the month of June. If you would like more information, or have information to share, please contact ROCKJuneau@gmail.com.

May celebration be the way of life! Lasting celebration calls us to live in harmony and with gratitude of this exquisite land, with balance and respect among people, and to honor our children, our future.

Special thanks to Rosita Worl of Sealaska Heritage Institute and Tina DeAsis-Wright of Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska for their contributions to this column.

Sister School Exchange Program

"Five students with their teacher traveled to Scammon Bay this spring for the Sister School Exchange Program.  After the Juneau students traveled to Scammon Bay, five Scammon Bay students and their teacher traveled to Juneau to learn about our community.  

The Juneau students met weekly and worked on a year long curriculum.  Topics included learning about ourselves and our cultural heritage, how we are connected with our community, how our community has changed over time and how we relate to each other. We met with a local community member and learned about Tlingit history.  We also met several Friday evenings via google hangout with our Sister School and learned about Scammon Bay. We learned fun information about each other but also serious things like pros and cons about each community and current community wide issues facing Juneau and Scammon Bay.   Finally we created an essential question which guided our visit. Our essential question was: How do Scammon Bay community members currently gather and process subsistence foods?


I have been impressed with this group's commitment to this year long process which helped us prepare for our upcoming trip.  I have also been impressed with the community support we received to help make this experience a positive one. While in Scammon Bay, numerous community members reached out to the Juneau group each and every day.  From saving and then sharing local foods with us like musk ox, rabbit, ptarmigan, seal and lynx to giving the Juneau students Scammon Bay sweatshirts. While in Juneau, we can’t thank the parental and community support enough.  From Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway donating a ride up the tram to receiving a complimentary permit from the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation for our camping experience. We will forever appreciate the community support from both towns which help make this trip possible."

-Sheila Degener, Librarian at Floyd Dryden Middle School

 

In May We Focus on Middle School

Building social connections and opportunities for Juneau’s young people is one of the five focus or goal areas of R.O.C.K. Juneau (Raising Our Children with Kindness).

This month, the Year of Kindness for Kids action group is shining the light on middle school students. What are some of the amazing things happening in Juneau for young teens, and what are the needs of this age group?

Here’s what we know: With over 25 years of prevention research, we know that strong, positive relationships with parents and other caring adults protect adolescents from a range of poor health-related outcomes and promotes positive development. Youth-adult connectedness appears to be foundational for adolescent health and well-being.

The greatest gift or support for a young teen then is to receive steady, calm and supportive guidance from a caring adult. Having someone available and ready to offer just-the-right-amount of listening (really listening), asking questions that expands thinking, and the offering of support … all leads to successful learning.

Early adolescence is a busy time of life! There are so many changes with moving away from parent and adult guidance with life’s details, and then seemingly overnight — launching into independence! Change is happening inside the body and outside in the social world. Managing time, responsibilities, decisions, friends, preferences — all can be exciting and challenging.

With lots of amazing adult (and parent) support and shared planning, five students and a teacher from Floyd Dryden Middle School traveled to Scammon Bay this spring for the Sister School Exchange Program. Upon their return, five Scammon Bay students and their teacher traveled to Juneau to learn about our community. These 10 students (with lots of support) were able to reach beyond their own community to learn and appreciate the beauty and challenges of their peers in another region of Alaska, a truly rich and compassionate learning experience.

At Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School, the 7th and 8th grade students of the Stikine House just completed a health project which culminated in a Health Fair which was attended by over 70 guests from the community including professionals in health fields. Students selected their own topics, completed research to then create a Health Campaign which was presented at the Fair. Topics included: anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide prevention, issues related to body image, outdoor survival, texting while driving, sports medicine, and topics related to the LGBTQ community. Students interviewed their peers and adults to create videos, commercials, and information about the impact of their topic. Teachers and staff are reporting an increase in kindness and seeking to understand others through the work of this project.

The BAM Afterschool Program (Body And Mind) offers a variety of fun activities at both Dzantik’i Heeni and Floyd Dryden middle schools, and serves about one quarter of the student body. BAM is always looking for more adults to lead or co-lead a class —imagine sharing your hobby or interest with eager learners! Contact C. Allen Truitt for more information, C.Allen.Truitt@juneau.org.

You can make the difference in the life of a young person with a little attention and conversation. Juneau’s kids need more coaches, more mentors, more adults willing to lean into the ups and downs of learning about life with young teenagers. Share yourself with someone who needs you. Let’s work together to make Juneau a great place for kids.

“Be the person you needed when you were younger.” — Ayesha Siddiqi

Recognizing Child Abuse Prevention Month

In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, ROCK Juneau has reached out to people in the community that are actively advocating for those who are at risk or have experienced abuse. Cady Kuzmich, an AmeriCorps volunteer and Children's Advocate at AWARE, discusses the statistics and what you can do to help.

"In an effort to shield children from some of the ugliest parts of the world, we risk sheltering them from conversations that can arm them with knowledge they need to protect themselves. Parents may be unsure how to broach conversations about abuse with their children -- how young is too young after all? Considering over a third of child abuse victims are 11 years old or younger, according to Juneau’s S.A.F.E. Child Advocacy Center, we need to be having tough conversations with our kids sooner rather than later.  

Of course, a conversation with a five-year-old will look different than a conversation with a 12-year-old. By using vocabulary and examples of situations that apply to them, you can help a child embrace their ability to hold firm boundaries and learn the difference between safe and unsafe touch. Practice giving children more opportunities to say “no” when something makes them uncomfortable.

The Child Advocacy Center works to prevent abuse and serve children who have been subjected to abuse on their road to healing.  Along with providing trauma-informed services, the CAC connects families with professionals that can aid their child’s recovery after a traumatic event. Services provided by the CAC include videotaped forensic interviews, case management, counseling, crisis intervention, community education and forensic medical examinations. Staff work with families to ensure the process is minimally traumatic.

According to the CAC, one in 10 children are sexually abused and eight out of every 10 incidents of abuse take place in isolated environments. Limiting a child’s outings with others to public places rather than isolated locations is one tip the CAC recommends to decrease the risk of abuse.

Though “stranger danger” has been pounded into the national psyche for decades, we now know 9 out of 10 times children are abused by someone the family knows, according to the National Children’s Alliance. Nearly four out of 10 times, the abuser is another child.

Understanding the myriad reasons children are afraid to speak up is vital to recognizing the insidious nature of abuse. Abuse comes in different forms -- physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Abusers manipulate, shame and threaten their victims in order to keep them silent. When the abuser is so often related to the child in some way, the child may fear speaking up will cause a rift in the family or disappoint their parents.

Warning signs of potential abuse include low self-esteem, extreme passivity or aggression, discomfort with touch, learning and speech disorders, trouble sleeping and interest or knowledge of sex inappropriate for their age.

Though it may be instinctual to investigate potential abuse yourself, the CAC advises against conducting your own interviews. Instead, they encourage anyone who suspects abuse to make a report to the Office of Children’s Services at 907-465-1650 or the Juneau Police Department. Reports can be made anonymously if the caller prefers to remain unnamed.

The AWARE Shelter and the CAC both offer prevention and intervention resources and information for families concerned with a child’s well-being."  

Representative Geren Tarr will be hosting a Go Blue Rally taking place Friday, April 6th from 12-12:30pm on the Capitol steps. Wear blue and attend to show your support!

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT-Big Brothers Big Sisters

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This month as we focus on elementary aged children, we have visited with several organizations about what they offer to children in Juneau. One that stood out to us is Big Brothers Big Sisters. We talked to John Maddox, an Enrollment and Matching Specialist, about what the program entails and how it can have a positive effect on our community, including personal testimony from a local participating couple that mentor an elementary aged child. 

"In 1904, Big Brothers was started by a New York law clerk named Ernest Coulter.  They later merged with a similar women’s organization named Ladies of Charity.  We officially became Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of America in 1977.  BBBS of Southeast Alaska began service in 1979, when Juneau citizens, Kevin Richie and Margaret Pugh, saw a need for the program in the area.  Since that time, and with this same spirit, the organization has continued to serve residents in Juneau and its surrounding communities.  For the full history you can visit our website at:  http://www.bbbsak.org

 

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Our mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported 1-to-1 relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.  Our vision is that all children achieve success in life.

 

All of our programs are completely voluntary and free.  We accept all children, ages 6 – 16, as long as they are able to communicate safety concerns and want to be in our programs.  Adult mentors, 18 and older, must be able to pass an extensive background check and have the ability to form an appropriate mentoring relationship with a child.  We ask for a minimum of a one year commitment from all program participants.  Additionally, all participants need to be able to meet 2 -4 times per month to enjoy whatever healthy activities everyone agrees upon.  BBBS sponsors, at least, one awesome activity per month.

 

We have many options, including a couple’s match option.  Chris and Colin are matched with Aaron.  They say, “We’ve really enjoyed being a part of the BBBS program; it’s been a remarkably impactful experience to get to know our ‘Little’, to see him open up to us and grow, and to spend time together.  We go on adventures, try different activities, and just hang out doing simple things like board games or drawing pictures.  The thing that was most unexpected for us as Bigs was just how much this program would affect us; we truly care about our Little and value our time with him.  The time we get to spend together is not a commitment or an obligation; instead it really feels like a privilege to be around to bolster his confidence, encourage and support him.”"

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From February to March, the Year of Kindness for Kids Continues.

February is coming to a close and soon we will be moving on from our toddler/preschool efforts to focus on being kind to elementary aged children. Although the months move on, the needs of Juneau's toddlers continue to be relevant and we encourage our community to keep this information in mind:

“Look out Kindergarten, Here I Come!”  is the book around 70% of Juneau children receive as their last Dolly Parton Imagination Library book when they turn five.  Children enrolled receive a book in the mail every month – a total of sixty books – and we know children enrolled in the program are  read to more often.   But is one book a month enough?  Are our Juneau kids really ready for kindergarten?   It came as quite a shock when the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development posted the results last year, that only 38% of our Juneau children are starting their first day of school with the skills they need to succeed.

 

So what is missing?  Here are three exciting new initiatives to increase quality, affordability and capacity of child care and preschool in Juneau.

 

“Learn and Grow;” Alaska’s Quality Recognition Improvement system for early childhood is now up and running, joining almost every other state in measuring and increasing quality.  Until now it has been hard to consistently measure the quality of programs, and to support early childhood programs in gaining and maintaining quality. Learn and Grow is rolling out five levels of quality, in partnership with support services offered through thread: Alaska’s Child Care Resource and Referral Network.  (AEYC is the Southeast office for thread.) The first two programs in Juneau just achieved the second level of quality in Learn and Grow, and are well on their way to the third. There are another 12 licensed child care programs in Juneau working toward the second quality level.  

 

Child Care Assistance to help parents afford the cost of child care is about to get a much needed increase in federal funds, thanks in part to Senator Murkowski’s support.  The federal continuation budget that just passed includes doubling the amount of the Child Care Development Block Grant for the next two years, which will bring a surge in parents being able to enter the workforce and be able to afford raising a family in Juneau.  

 

Best Starts is an initiative of ROCK Juneau (Raising Our Children With Kindness) to increase kindergarten readiness and build quality, capacity and affordability of child care for working families. We know that 70% of Juneau children are in need of high quality child care and preschool while their parents are working.  There are only about 600 licensed child care, Head Start, and preschool spaces in town – about one space for every 4 children under age 6, and some families are piecing together two or three part time programs to cover a workday.  Best Starts is working with the city and business leaders to provide the financial supports for child care programs to increase quality and capacity and support part time Head Start and Preschool programs to expand to full time.  

 

Take action: During this year of kindness for kids, here are three ways you can help support high quality child care and preschool in Juneau. 1. If you know an early childhood educator, take a moment to thank them for their hard work to lay the foundation of lifetime learning for young children. 2. Start a discussion at your workplace about how to support employees with young children. 3. Visit JuneauBestStarts.org to share your child care story or find out how you can advocate for more high quality child care and preschool in Juneau.

A special thanks to Joy Lyon, Executive Director of AEYC-SEA, for the detailed information on childcare and early childhood education in Juneau. Be on the lookout for more community spotlights and kindness for kids as we move into March with a focus on elementary aged students!

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT- Bartlett Beginnings

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Many of us are familiar with Bartlett Regional Hospital, but not everyone has heard of Bartlett Beginnings. Bartlett Beginnings is a program within the hospital that is dedicated to the health and safety of infants, toddlers and new families. They host several support and education groups for growing families including a Toddler Group which is a family support and child play group that meets weekly (check out the calendar tab on our website for the time and place!) They discuss a different topic every week using some evidence based information, but is largely intended as an opportunity for families to share their own experiences and talk through what had been challenging or successful for them. The meeting space has a variety of play areas and toys that the children interact with so they have multiple opportunities for parallel and interactive play, exposure to taking turns, and cooperation. They also have guest speakers from the community on special topics and community programs directed at families with young children. Previously, they have had speakers from the Infant Learning Program, Parents as Teachers, local Pediatric Dental offices, music programs and more come and talk with the families multiple times a year. Similarly, there is a Dads and Kiddos Group that meets monthly (also posted on our calendar). The intent and structure of that group is largely the same, but focused particularly on Dads and their children age 0-4.

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The Perinatal Educators at the hospital have been trained in Circles of Security, a popular parenting class, and hope to offer two sessions this calendar year. Also, recently several staff participated in a Safe Kids sponsored Car Seat Tech training. Bartlett Beginnings now has 4 certified CPS Technicians. They plan to not only help ensure the safe travels of infants in our community, but also to participate in annual community car seat events that increase the safe transport of children of all ages.

Bartlett Beginnings works every day to increase parent knowledge and support in order to ensure health and safety for Juneau's infants and toddlers. Thank you Bartlett Beginnings for all that you do for our community's kids!

R.O.C.K. Juneau Carries Kindness Forward in 2018

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Two thousand and seventeen thank you’s to Lt. Kris Sell and her 2017 Year of Kindness Committee members! Their vision and efforts really activated our community to be more thoughtful and compassionate. Kindness DOES make a difference!

R.O.C.K. Juneau (Raising Our Children with Kindness) is continuing the kindness celebration by hosting a Year of Kindness for Kids during 2018.

R.O.C.K. Juneau is a new collaborative in town committed to substantive improvement in Juneau’s vision and action to build sufficient and equitable access to resources for a healthy childhood and adolescence.

Kindness is more than ‘being nice.’ Kindness for Kids is about building strong families which in turn builds a stronger Juneau. We believe in a community where every young person feels loved, equipped and empowered.

R.O.C.K. Juneau’s work encompasses building intentional cultural healing and safety, ensuring families have strong social supports, access to a full spectrum of mental and physical health services, and uniting our community in reducing adverse childhood experiences.

Each month we are highlighting the inspiring and successful programs, events and efforts of a particular sector of young people. In addition we’ll be sharing specific needs or gaps of that group.

We’re inviting everyone in Juneau to continue wonderful acts of kindness, with particular emphasis for our young people! Together, we can make a difference! Investing in our kids will pay tremendous dividends in building a healthier, kinder and more successful community.

In January, R.O.C.K. Juneau focused on infants and newborns. We visited with REACH Infant Learning Program about their program for families with kids ages birth to three that have existing or potential developmental delays. The program is connected to the Juneau community and participates in and encourages events specifically for the birth to three age group such as the annual Baby Fair, Baby Toddler Time at Bartlett Regional Hospital and Library Story Time. They have strong connections with their families as well as pediatricians in the community and they offer free developmental screenings on their website: www.reachilp.org.

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R.O.C.K. Juneau also connected with the Parents as Teachers program which is a home visiting program for families with young children. Once or twice a month, the parent educators visit families in their homes to provide positive parenting support, increase parent knowledge of their child’s development and improve parenting practices. In addition to home visits, they also coordinate monthly Group Connections where families in the program can meet and connect with each other. Based on survey results from parents exiting the program, there is a significant increase in understanding of child development, increased ability to deal with stresses of parenting and life in general and an increased ability to meet their child’s social and emotional needs.

In January, the SE Alaska United Way AmeriCorps Program supported newborns in need. They collected diapers and baby formula to donate to local organizations with children in need including St. Vincent de Paul’s and Love INC. But the need doesn’t end when the drive is over! Donate diapers to these agencies to help them keep their shelves stocked.

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Now it’s February, so keep an eye out in the newspapers, on social media and on the radio ways to be kind to toddlers! We will highlight special events, such as family nights at the turf and other toddler centered programs such as the Dad’s n’ Kiddos play group and Toddler Time at the library. Also we will discuss the need for child care for young children in Juneau with current childcare providers in town.

If you’d like to participate and spread kindness to the infants and toddlers in our community, try some of these ideas:  Offer to bring a meal to a family with a new baby, or ask if you can run load of laundry, or run a few errands.  If you don’t know any families with new babies, donate diapers to a local agency!

Check out our 100 + 18 ways to be kind to kids, on our website, ROCKJuneau.org. Follow and like us on Facebook and Instagram (ROCKJuneau)…and most of all, share your acts of kindness with #ROCKJuneau.

Written by:

Tayler Shae, Early Literacy Outreach Coordinator and Becky Roth, R.O.C.K. Juneau Coordinator, they can be contacted at ROCKJuneau@gmail.com

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT-PARENTS AS TEACHERS

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The Parents as Teachers (PAT) program is a home visiting program for families with young children. Once or twice a month, the parent educators visit families in their homes to provide a comfortable setting for support and connection with their child. Parents as Teachers aims to provide positive parenting support, increase parent knowledge of their child’s development and improve parenting practices.

In addition to home visits, they also coordinate monthly Group Connections where families in the program can meet and connect with each other. They have a meal together and participate in a planned activity, whether it be simple sensory play or swimming at the pool.

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There are currently 45 families in Juneau that are participating with several more on a wait list. Emily is one of three Parents as Teachers Coordinators in Juneau. She says the program is special because it is based on inclusion and meeting parents wherever they are at on their parenting journey. The coordinators aim to support parents through the tough reality that parenting can be difficult, but to also encourage and educate parents to be the best they can be for their child. Families are able to build a connection with the coordinators and discuss child development and accurate milestones. PAT also conducts developmental and social and emotional screenings to provide accurate measures of the children's development and refer to outside services, if needed.

They have seen high rates of success among their families. Based on survey results from parents exiting the program, there is a significant increase in understanding of child development, increased ability to deal with stresses of parenting and life in general and an increased ability to meet their child’s social and emotional needs. This program has displayed so much success for the parents that are able to participate, but lack of funding means a long wait list. We encourage everyone to talk about the importance of programs like these in the community and advocate for more of these resources.

With every visit, families receive a free book for their child. If you'd like to help PAT directly, you can donate hardcover, cardboard books for infants at the AEYC-SEA.

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COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT-REACH Infant Learning Program

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Ages birth to three are a time of significant brain development for infants. Some children experience delays in their development and parents experience unfamiliar barriers. The REACH Infant Learning Program provides education and support to parents and their children ages zero to three, dealing with existing or potential developmental delays. This is a voluntary program that aims to strengthen and support families through healthy development. The program is made to be parent driven and encourage their contributions to their child's development with added support from speech-language, physical and occupational therapists, and a family service coordinator that provides consistency and support to the family. The program creates a bonded team between family and educators with knowledge of child development in order to explore the family's strengths and needs and then use that information to create a plan that includes both the child and family goals.

The program is connected to the Juneau community and participates in and encourages events specifically for the birth to three age group such as the baby fair, Baby Toddler Time at Bartlett Regional Hospital and Library Story Time. They have strong connections with their families as well as pediatricians in the community. While they have seen lots of support and successes throughout their program, they would love to see a public playroom that would be age appropriate for infant aged children and open to the community at little to no cost. They have also noticed a lack of treatment options in Juneau for parents or infants that are facing addiction, noting that they often need to go as far as Anchorage to get the help they need. If you or anyone you know can contribute ideas or support for the needs of the Infant Learning Program at REACH, please contact us at rockjuneau@gmail.com.

For more information and free developmental screenings, visit their website: www.reachilp.org

 

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Martin Luther King Jr Donation Drive

The United Way of Southeast Alaska AmeriCorps Program has organized a donation drive In honor of MLK Jr. to help infants and mothers in need. They will be collecting feminine products, diapers and formula throughout the month of January to donate to local organizations. The donation drive is being done in conjunction with a MLK Jr Celebratory event being held by the Black Awareness Association on Monday the 15th at St Paul's Catholic Church. Find out more about their event through their facebook link. https://www.facebook.com/Black-Awareness-Association-Juneau-AK-171820359510520/

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Juneau’s first Year of Kindness ends, but kindness effort will continue

ROCK Juneau was mentioned in a KTOO Public Media article here!

"The year may have come to an end, but the effort to make Juneau a kinder place will not. ROCK Juneau, a community organization that wants to improve the welfare of children and youth, plans to continue working in the community for the Year of Kindness for Kids in 2018."

2017 Year of Kindness comes to an end.

ROCK Juneau would like to give a million thanks to the Juneau Police Department for their hard work and contributions during the 2017 Year of Kindness! They have done a lot of good for our community throughout the last year while encouraging and inspiring others along the way. At their ending event, ROCK Juneau announced that we will be coordinating a Year of Kindness for Kids in 2018. We will be highlighting successes and addressing needs in our community that influence our young people. Keep an eye out her on our website, as well as our social media pages for more information! Cheers to 2018!

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