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News and Notes from KidsPeace

Pornography addiction major concern for teens' developing brains

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Parents, do you know what your teen is viewing online? The Internet is a great resource, and websites like TeenCentral.Net, which offers free, anonymous counseling and peer support, can be immensely helpful for teenagers trying to wend their way through the mire of adolescence. But there are also a lot of dangers online that could have negative ramifications on teenagers' developing minds.


Studies indicate that more teens are becoming addicted to pornography, and the effects are impacting their academic, social and emotional growth. Review the warning signs in this infographic from HelpYourTeenNow, and talk to your teen today, before the problem spirals out of control.


Need more support? Check out our ParentCentral.Net Facebook page, where you can talk to parents just like you and get feedback on tricky situations.


Foster children can suffer anxiety from trauma of displacements

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Dr. John DeGarmoBy Dr. John DeGarmo 


Being placed into foster care is often a time of great emotion and trauma for a child. Emergency removals often occur late in the evening, with little to no warning, leaving the child and the caseworker unprepared. Foster children leave their homes with a quick goodbye, with only a few articles of clothing and perhaps a prized possession hurriedly stuffed into plastic bags. Before they know it, they are standing in front of people they have never met before. Against their will, they are in a strange place, their new home. With most children in foster care, it is a time of fear and uncertainty when even the bravest are scared. Foster children have no say in where they are placed or when they will go back to their birth families. It is this lack of control that often sends children in foster care spiraling into depression, anxiety or behavioral issues.


Anxiety issues can manifest themselves in a number of ways. Perhaps the one that foster children face the most is separation anxiety. The more a child is moved, the bigger the concern becomes.  Children who undergo multiple displacements often create walls to separate themselves in an attempt to not let others into their lives. In attempting to do so, many foster children end up lying to their foster families, as they try to keep their new family at a distance and maintain a sense of personal control.


Many children placed into foster care suffer from mental health issues. A placement disruption may be so severe to the child that it feels as if his entire world is falling apart. Everything foster children know to be true is now turned upside down. Their parents are no longer there to comfort them when they are troubled. The family members they lived with, laughed with and cried with is no longer there to take care of them. The beds they woke up in each morning are now different. For many foster children, the school they went to, the teachers they learned from and the friends they had formed relationship with, have also been taken from them. Instead, these children now live with strange families, wake each morning in different houses, sit in unfamiliar classrooms and are no longer surrounded by those who love and know them best. Children in foster care often struggle to deal with these traumatic events, as they struggle to adjust to new homes and families. The losses in their lives, along with the lack of permanency, can prevent these children from forming secure and healthy attachments with primary caregivers.


Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 13 years, and he and his wife have had over 45 children come through their home. He is a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system, and travels around the nation delivering passionate, dynamic, energetic and informative presentations. Dr. DeGarmo is the author of several foster care books, including the brand new book “Love and Mayhem: One Big Family’s Uplifting Story of Fostering and Adoption.” Dr. DeGarmo is the host of the weekly radio program “Foster Talk with Dr. John.” He can be contacted at, through his Facebook page: Dr. John DeGarmo or at his website, 

Technology becoming increasingly prevalent in healthcare

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This article was contributed by Dave Edwards 


Using technology for health and therapy 

The growth in popularity of mobile apps and smartphones is providing a revolution in a number of areas, including healthcare and occupational therapy. The app world is making communication easier and the world smaller, as well as ensuring that information is closer at hand than ever before, and there are now numerous websites, apps and downloads to assist the work of practitioners across the country.


Accessing a "pocket therapist" 

While the advancements in medical technology are clear to see, including the way appointments are booked, diagnoses made and treatment administered, one subject that gets significantly less coverage is that of mental health and, more specifically, the ways in which doctors and therapists are able to reach patients. More recently, however, there has been a marked increase in the number of mobile apps and downloads that have been created with a clear focus on occupational health and mental wellbeing; improvements to the provision of services will surely follow.


The use of mobile technology in healthcare and therapy reflects changes in attitudes and illness. Many mental health issues, including stress, anxiety and depression, are often attributed to the pressures and demands of a modern lifestyle, and so it seems fitting that treatment can be accessed with a single swipe on a phone, or the click of a mouse. These new apps are a great way of reaching people from a variety of backgrounds, enabling them to find out about services, trace their own progress and access information online or on their smartphones. This makes treatment, and keeping up with practitioners, easier than ever, and may encourage those who have been too afraid to seek help before to come forward – accessing a network of mobile healthcare can be less confrontational and more convenient than their previous experiences of healthcare.


How mobile technology can help therapists 

There are various apps that are regularly downloaded and used by therapists, particularly occupational therapists and those who regularly work with children and their families. These include apps such as MoodyMe, which allows a therapist’s clients to track their mood, diet, exercise, sleep and medication; PTSD Coach, an app designed to support and inspire; PsychDrugs, which can help patients and therapists to decide upon the medication that is best for them; Operation Reach Out, an app designed to identify the suicidal thoughts of patients and encourage them to seek help; Tactical Breather, an app that teaches breathing as a coping mechanism; and a particularly useful tool, Wellbe, which was designed in collaboration with and offers patients and their therapists guided CarePaths and care management systems. All of these are beneficial for both therapists and their clients, helping to bridge gaps in communication and hand control of treatment over to the patients themselves. This is markedly better for long-term treatment and coping strategies, and will encourage patients to look after themselves.


There are also apps that can be used specifically by those who work closely with children, tailoring help to suit the needs of younger people diagnosed with mental illness and particular physical and cognitive needs. These include Dexteria, which supports fine motor skills, iWriteWords and iDoodle Card, which can both be used to teach motor and visual concepts, and Cookie Doodle, which can encourage and develop skills through creativity. The examples given here are particularly useful for identifying and treating motor skill issues, as well as boosting confidence and communication skills in children who may suffer from anxiety and low self-assurance.


Revolutionizing mobile therapy 

The world of technology is always growing and changing, leading to a constant stream of advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of a number of ailments, including those that aren’t always seen. Mental health is a particular aspect of healthcare that is often left out in the cold, and many people choose to hide their symptoms from those around them. Being able to access easy and immediate treatment is often a lifeline for those who are suffering in the dark, and for the families of children who have recently been diagnosed.


The future holds a number of exciting prospects for therapists, allowing them to chart a patient’s progress and monitor their treatment without the need to see them, and handing control over to the individual. This is particularly useful for those who suffer from anxiety-related illness, and the families of young children who may be worried by frequent face-to-face visits. Soon patients and therapists will have better access to medications when required, be able to access a whole host of resources that were previously unavailable and be able to submit and answer questions pertaining to personal issues. As technology grows in sophistication, the ways in which therapists and doctors can operate will become more sophisticated too.


Holidays are time to blend old, new family traditions

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christmas-tree-farmBy Caren Chaffee 


Traditions exist in many areas of our lives, but it seems they are brought into sharper focus during the holidays. Traditions are important: They link our past to our present. They provide a sense of comfort and expectation. They help maintain connections among family members and friends. They are often met with a sense of anticipation. They can help us feel balanced and establish routine.


Families and individuals often make plans and schedule activities based on their traditions. This sense of consistency is important. However, it’s important to remember that families change. Foster families welcome new youth in their homes; individuals get married or re-married; many families are blended; grandparents may move into a home with their adult children and grandchildren; extended family members or friends may either move away to a different part of the country or may move closer to home.


As families change, traditions need to change, too. New family dynamics mean different needs and obligations. New members of the household (such as foster youth, grandparents or step-children) or new members of the extended family (in-laws or family members who may have moved closer) may have traditions that they enjoy as well. It’s important to incorporate these activities to ensure that they, too, feel the sense of stability and comfort that traditions help instill.


Adapting traditions does not imply “out with the old, in with the new” – but rather, it is created out of a blend of the old and the new. By merging activities and practices that are important to different members of the family, beautiful new traditions can emerge that become important to everyone’s past, present and future.


Helping foster children: sharing your gifts with kids in need

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Dr. John DeGarmo(1)By Dr. John DeGarmo 


I am often asked how I do it. How I am able to take care of so many children at one time; how I have time to do all I do. To be honest, my wife and I certainly cannot do it by ourselves. To be sure, during this time of Christmas and holidays, it seems even more difficult and challenging at times. To tell you the truth, we do it with help. 

There is a lovely couple at my church that has a heart for children in foster care, yet are unable to be foster parents themselves. For years, they have watched my wife and me take care of dozens of children, some staying for a few days, others staying for several months or even years. This couple has been a blessing to my wife and me each Christmas, as they have taken the mantle upon themselves of being our “foster grandparents.” Each Christmas season, they purchase presents for every foster child that is in our house. This has helped my wife and me ensure that our children in foster care have an extra special Christmas day, as we share both the message and joy of the meaning of this special day, as well as the joy of receiving gifts under the tree; gifts with a child’s name on them. Sadly, far too many children in foster care have never had gifts to open on December 25 before coming into care.   

My wife and I try to make it a day that the children never forget, and one on which that they are able to escape their pain and suffering and simply revel in being a child. Our “foster grandparents” help us accomplish this. Like our dear friends have done, others can reach out to the foster parents in their community and “adopt” a child during the holiday season, or other times of the year. This might also include helping out with school supplies at the beginning of the school year; birthdays; paying for school field trips and summer camps and other activities that are special to the child. Indeed, many foster parents simply cannot afford to provide all of the opportunities to their foster child; opportunities that help the child escape from their trauma, and opportunities to heal from their suffering. When others come together to help the child in such fashion, they are giving a blessing to the foster parents as well.

Recently, I have had the blessing and wonderful opportunity to speak to businesses, organizations and churches across the nation about how they can help children in care. During these keynote speeches of mine, I have seen people moved to tears from the stories I have shared with them about foster children. I have listened as others have told me of their inability to have children of their own, yet the call to help other children. I have even sat by those who have told me through tears about their own experiences when they were abused and abandoned as children, and wanted to help those children today who are experiencing a similar fate. On all these occasions, I have seen others looking for ways to reach out to foster children, seeking ways to protect and care for them.

For you see, not everyone is called to be a foster parent. As you know, not everyone has the skills to bring children into their home and care for those in need. To be sure, we are all given different skills and talents that allow us to help children in care. It is my hope during this Christmas and holiday season that you discover your skills and talents, and that you use these skills and talents to help children in foster care. Whether you are a foster parent, a social worker or one who simply cares for all children and want to be a stronger advocate for them, may you share your gifts with others, during this season and beyond.

Bloomsburg, Pa., foster teen invited to 27th Annual Down Under Sports Tournaments in Australia

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robin-mooreIn the course of two years, a Bloomsburg, Pa., foster teen went from running from the law to running for accolades.


Robin Moore, an 11th-grade student, was once well-acquainted with the juvenile court system, racking up fines for thefts and cyber bullying before landing himself in hot water for breaking into a coin shop with his older brother and stealing items to re-sell. But his caseworker, Tony Gold, said he has done a complete 180 since re-entering foster care in 2012.


“He’s gone from breaking into houses, sleeping on people’s couches and not listening to his mom to getting As, Bs and one C and being very, very cooperative and responsible and working with his treatment team,” Gold said.


Gold credits Robin’s foster parents, Steve and Betsy Hribick, but also commends the young man’s tenacity and realization that he would have more stable, trouble-free teenage years if he surrounded himself with positive influences. The teen, who formerly had low self-esteem and failed to stick with any sport or activity, is now on his high school’s football and track and field team, where he excels in the 100-yard dash and relay. His plan is to remain in foster care and continue to participate in track and field and football until he can enter college and study sports medicine.


“With some help and some structure, he’s been really dedicated,” Gold said. “And he’s really good at it too.” 


So good in fact that Robin is one of only 300 students across the nation chosen to attend the 27th Annual Down Under Sports Tournaments in Australia in July 2015. He has been invited to represent the East Conference Track and Field Team, but he must raise $6,400 by June 1 to attend. He is selling team t-shirts for $20 each, and Gold is hoping to hold other fundraisers to help him raise the money.


Anyone who sponsors him will be entered into a raffle for a trip for two to Australia. Minimum donation is $20, and may be made online at or by check, made out to Down Under Sports and sent to the KidsPeace foster care office at 304 Railroad St., Danville, PA 17821. 


Vote for KidsPeace in aMuse Toy's Community Outreach Project

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KidsPeace has been nominated for aMuse Toys' Community Outreach Project, and you can help us win!


Every year aMuse makes a significant donation to a nonprofit organization that serves the Baltimore community. Past winners have included Johns Hopkins, Kennedy Krieger, Casey Cares Foundation and The Baltimore Child Abuse Center. KidsPeace Maryland has been recognized for providing outstanding service to Baltimore families.


Allison Humphries, sales and programming manager for aMuse Toys, said, "We truly appreciate your hard work and energy and would love to give back to your cause."


National Neighborhood Toy Store Day (NTSD) is this Sat., Nov. 8. As part of this outreach day, customers will be asked in-store and online to vote for the nominee of their choice. This year, in addition to the monetary donation, aMuse Toys will incorporate a community service project as part of NTSD. Goodie bags for children of various ages will be assembled on Saturday then donated to the beneficiary to use with the families served by the organization.


Please spread the word and vote for KidsPeace here!


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