By Dr. John DeGarmo
I have recently conducted several training webinars regarding foster care, and they are now available at my website. These webinars are free, and you are welcome to share them however you see fit. They include:
Preparing your Home for the Arrival of a Foster Child: Tips, Ideas, and Strategies on how to be Best Prepared
Handling Loss and Grief in a Foster Home: Strategies for both foster parents and foster children when dealing with grief during a time of transition
The Dangers of Online Technology and Social Networking for Foster Children. The many dangers that both foster children and foster parents face and strategies on how to best combat
You can find them under the Speaking and Training heading on my website.
Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 11 years now, and he and his wife have had over 30 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 the highly inspirational and bestselling book "Fostering Love: One Foster Parent’s Story," and the upcoming book "The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe and Stable Home." He also writes for a number of publications and newsletters, both here in the United States, and overseas. Dr. DeGarmo can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, through his Facebook page, or at his website.
By Kristen Fritz
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Most of us have heard this popular phrase and many have probably used it at some point. Used as a common defense mechanism, does it actually hold true to its meaning? According to a recent study, the answer is no.
Results of a bullying study showed that victims of bullying at school, including bullies themselves, are not only more likely to experience psychiatric problems in their childhood, but can have lingering issues into their adulthood as well. To date, this has been the most comprehensive effort to establish the long-term consequences of childhood bullying, according to experts.
The study followed 1,420 subjects from Western North Carolina who were assessed four to six times between the ages of 9 and 16. Researchers asked both the children and their primary caregivers if they had been bullied or had bullied others in the three months before each assessment. Participants were divided into four groups: bullies, victims, bullies who also were victims and children who were not exposed to bullying at all.
Participants were then assessed again in their adulthood and researchers found that victims of bullying in childhood were 4.3 times more likely to have an anxiety disorder as adults, compared to those with no history of bullying or being bullied.
Bullies who were also victims were particularly troubled: they were 14.5 times more likely to develop panic disorder as adults, compared to those who did not experience bullying, and 4.8 times more likely to experience depression. Men who were both bullies and victims were 18.5 times more likely to have had suicidal thoughts in adulthood, compared to the participants who had not been bullied or were perpetrators. Their female counterparts were 26.7 times more likely to have developed agoraphobia, compared to children not exposed to bullying.
In the news article, William E. Copeland, lead author of the study and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center says, “Bullying is not a harmless rite of passage, but inflicts lasting psychiatric damage on a par with certain family dysfunctions. The pattern we are seeing is similar to patterns we see when a child is abused or maltreated or treated very harshly within the family setting.”
If you know someone who needs help with bullying, check out the Anti-Bullying sections on TeenCentral.Net and ParentCentral.Net.
By Denise Morganthall
Most people will agree that customer service is one of the most important parts of a company’s overall strategy to conducting business since without customers there is no business. If this is the case, why is it that so many of us can easily cite examples of poor customer service in our daily lives?
Most companies like to think they have good customer service. However, if steps are not taken to ensure this is true, reality is often far from their perception. In today’s world, competition is tougher than ever. If you can’t provide services when somebody wants them, there is always someone else who will. You rarely get a second chance when you drop the ball.
At KidsPeace, our commitment to great customer service goes hand-in-hand with our Mission, Vision and Values. Do you know what they are? While the welfare of the client is always first, the revenue we generate helps us provide for the clients and helps pay staff and cover our organization’s bills. Great customer service builds a customer base that enables us to properly take care of the children we serve and our staff.
Customer service is part of the foundation of our business success. KidsPeace constantly strives for positive customer relations to maintain the integrity of our organization. We view ourselves as the Ambassadors of KidsPeace and realize that without our customers, we would not be here.
By Kristen Fritz
Adults participate in yoga to help reduce stress and to improve flexibility and posture. Now kids are using yoga as more than just a means of physical exercise, but as more of a lifestyle change.
While experiencing a dark time in her life, a local woman in Chicago works to help boost her children’s and other children’s confidence and ability to resist violence. Students at Nash Elementary School on the city's West Side are learning the principles and techniques of yoga through a program called Keeping the Peace, which is funded by the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority and aimed at students who have a parent who is incarcerated, according to an ABC news article. Meghan Olson started the program as a way to give back from her experience.
"My father was incarcerated in Puerto Rico. Our family had such support around us. I had always been involved with children on the West Side of Chicago and I saw the need there," Olson says in the article. "I see children who are shut down, mislabeled. I see children who are angry."
Students say the camaraderie of like-minded children and understanding adults offers invaluable support and help manage their emotions.
"I feel safer here and people can comfort you like when you feel sad and stuff. Like it was this one time when I was kind of sad then when I came in here everybody gathered around me and gave me a hug," seventh-grader Sania Franklin says in the article.
The program also helps keep them focused by following a different path.
"I feel that I should try to stray myself from doing anything wrong with an illegal intent and keep myself away from the gangs completely," eighth-grader Tyrone Fullilove, Jr., says.
Participants in Keeping the Peace also have access to individual mentoring and family counseling sessions in the evening.
By Denise Morganthall
As workplaces become more diverse the need to communicate properly becomes critical. Good communication between managers and employees, customers and employees and employees and clients is essential to operating a successful business. But though communication is recognized as key to a successful work environment, companies often struggle with poor communication. These are some deterrents to effective communication:
1. Lack of leadership: Employees look to their leaders for direction. If managers lack leadership skills, it can stunt the growth of a company.
2. Unclear goals and duties: Before an employee begins work each day, he should have a proper understanding of what is expected in his role.
3. Under-trained employees: An untrained employee will cost the company more money in the long run when they leave to pursue a career with more options. The more a new employee knows about the organization, and how his role affects the overall success of the company, the better the employee is able to communicate with leaders and colleagues.
Employees are more motivated when they have the opportunity to provide feedback about day-to-day operations, share ideas or get involved in decision making. When employees become disengaged from the company, they lose sight of their goals and are less likely to become invested in the company’s success. Low employee morale is usually what causes an employee to feel this way and further inhibits good communication.
Another consideration is how we communicate, often relying on phone conversations or e-mail, which can be impersonal and lead to misunderstandings. Face-to-face communication is a better choice and allows for an exchange of ideas.
By Denise Morganthall
Life is what is happening to you right now, not what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. And the last thing you want to do is miss it.
Did you rush of to work this morning without really taking the time to taste that cup of coffee?
Did you rush through washing the dishes and miss what was going on in the yard right outside your kitchen window?
Taking the time to realize what you are doing, when you are doing it, is a key facet of slowing down and living a simpler life. But even more important is just taking the time to BE, at least once a day – taking it all in, enjoying the quiet, watching the clouds or enjoying a cup of your favorite tea while resting your body. Start enjoying the simple things in life.
By Denise Morganthall
A Residential Treatment Facility specializes in the treatment of chemical dependency; alcoholism; or psychological problems such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, personality issues, PTSD and self-injury. Eating disorders, sexual problems, violence and other behavioral issues may also be addressed in these facilities.
KidsPeace offers residential treatment in Pennsylvania, Maine and Georgia as well as at Mesabi Academy, a juvenile justice facility in Minnesota. There are a variety of specializations within RTFs, but overall they have the advantage of providing an environment that may be less threatening, and more healing, than a psychiatric hospital. In addition to counseling, clients receive education and experience therapeutic recreation to put them on a path to healing.
Clients and clinicians often function like a family, allowing for a much deeper connection. Residential Treatment Facilities also offer a personal atmosphere where the client is in the company of others who suffer from similar issues. This provides a strong support structure, which results in better awareness and more rapid healing and personal growth. This makes clients more likely to return to their families and continue on a successful path.
By Kristen Fritz
Scientists are interested in what children are thinking, but pinpointing their thoughts isn't exactly an easy thing to do.
Instead, a recent study in PLOS Biology was conducted in the hope it would help depict how the brain process works and reacts in educational settings. "Sesame Street" was used as a way to test what happens on a neurological level during a popular TV program specifically aimed at learning by comparing the brains of adults and children.
"We're kind of honing in on what brain regions are important for real-world mathematics learning in children," said lead study author Jessica Cantlon, assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester.
Participants included 27 normally developing children, ages 4 to 10, and 20 adults between the ages of 18 and 25. Each participant took part in one or more of the three components to the study. Researchers focused on what happens in the brain during mathematical lessons by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure the neural activity in participants.
Part of the experiment had children and adults watch the same 20-minute montage of clips from "Sesame Street," and the fMRI scanner measured their brain activity for the duration of the video. In a different task, participants had to determine whether the stimuli they were shown, such as faces and numbers, were the same. Some clips were related to counting, while others were about colors, animals and other non-math topics. The children were given standardized IQ tests after the scanning.
The results showed that adult-like brain responses tended to show up in kids who demonstrated higher math and verbal knowledge levels. A brain region called the interparietal sulcus appeared to be linked to mathematics, as activity in that area tended to increase during math-related "Sesame Street" segments. However, the researchers do not have enough evidence to know if these neural patterns are the cause or effect of learning.
By Nicole Lux
January was a great month for children in foster care with KidsPeace in Indianapolis.
Fraternal twins Kinsey and Kelsey Mix, who are 7 months old, were born three months premature and had to face many adversities in their first days of life. Both children endured hernia surgery before they were released from the hospital, spent some time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and were fed via G-tube for several months. But now they are developing and growing quite well.
Kinsey is now feeding by bottle only, and Kelsey’s therapists are hopeful that she will pass her next feeding study and be able to feed via bottle as well. Both girls are able to flip from their backs to their stomachs and are smiling and giggling often. Foster parents Anna and JohnAllen Schmitt have been amazing in attending to the girls’ demanding appointment schedule and undergoing hours of training necessary for the girls to have a shot at a normal infancy.
KidsPeace Indianapolis would like to give a shout out to this family for their hard work and the excitement associated with the deveopmental advancements the girls have made since they entered the Schmitt’s care. We are proud to have individuals like JohnAllen and Anna as a part of our foster care system and hope that they inspire other parents in the Indianapolis community to consider fostering children.
By Ericka Chukwuanu, LGSW
Fifteen years is a long time to reflect on, but as I settle in my chair and try to recall who, what and where I was 15 years ago, I come face to face with my 18-year-old self. I was halfway through her freshman year of college and fumbling to find my voice. I was the quiet observer taking in the stories of my peers while struggling to put words to my own. During that time in my life, I was so afraid of my own voice that I became good at listening to the voices of others and believing that because they were more vocal their stories had more value.
I watched as my peers explored their sexuality, experimented with alcohol and other substances and rebelled against those things (whatever those things were back then) they felt held them back. I watched as my female friends and I battled with images of self-worth, self-love and self-respect. I watched as my male friends categorized the females they encountered based on criteria two which the average 18-year-old female is rarely privy.
During that time and the year prior I encountered stories so vastly different than mine but all requiring a listener just the same. There were questions that I, as an 18-year-old, could not answer. Who at 18 knows what to tell a friend questioning his or her sexuality? Who at 18 knows how to talk openly and honestly about reproductive health? At 18, do you truly understand that the friend always drinking or getting high is really crying out for help? Do you understand that the highs and lows that a person is feeling may be signs of something far more than just being a teenager?
At 18, where do you go with all of this information? Where do you send those seeking answers? For me, I tried to be the best listener possible and to pay attention to when a listening ear would not be enough.
I think TeenCentral.Net is that resource for all youth, whether the quiet observer or the storyteller. It is where a teenager can go to learn more about the issues affecting their age group and know the information is safe and current. It is where that teenager tired of watching others get bullied can go to learn more about ways she can stand up for her peers. Or where she can go to regain confidence about her decision not to drink or experiment with drugs. It is where a teenager can go to learn more about what she cares about and figure out ways to make those things matter to others.
It is that thing I wish I had known about way back when. It is that tool that I hope every young person is aware of now. Happy 15th anniversary TeenCentral.Net!
By Denise Morganthall
The mid-winter blues are common at the time of year. We all gather indoors, breathe dry furnace air and daylight is scarce. The February blahs can bring about mood swings, depression, sleep deprivation, lethargy and a number of other ailments.
To add to the February blues is what we would least expect – Valentine’s Day. I thought that was all about love, togetherness, candy and cards, but this is not always the case. Valentine’s Day can bring severe feelings of loneliness, disconnection and inadequacy, along with pressure to have a significant other. It’s a day that triggers some questioning about relationships and whether they are for real.
Just remember, Valentine’s Day can be fun without a significant other. Have fun with it – send funny cards to friends or children and buy yourself a gift. If you do experience any of these common feelings, know that you are not alone.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, as spring is on the way. Let’s think “February RENEWS” instead of focusing on the “February blues.” We’ll get through this together.
By Kristen Fritz
Back in September, a survey was conducted on the state of drug use among U.S. teens and adults that suggested drugs are still a big problem for many Americans. For the annual survey, researchers from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) polled 70,000 people ages 12 and older, asking them about drugs they may or may not have taken within the month. The survey, which looked at data from 2011, provides a look at current substance abuse around the country, according to its authors.
The survey found a 14 percent decline in prescription drug use for non-medical purposes among people 18 to 25, which reflects 300,000 fewer young adults abusing such drugs compared with last year's survey. Prescription abuse rates among children 12 to 17 and adults older than 26 remained unchanged.
About 8.7 percent of Americans 12 and older were identified as current drug users -- similar to last year's 8.9 percent rate -- for a total of 22.5 million American drug users.
"Behind each of these statistics are individuals, families and communities suffering from the consequences of abuse and addiction," SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, says in a press release. "We must continue to promote robust prevention, treatment and recovery programs throughout our country."
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are ways to prevent teen drug abuse. Common risk factors can include: a mental or behavioral health condition, such as depression, anxiety or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); early aggressive or impulsive behavior; a history of traumatic events, such as experiencing a car accident or being a victim of abuse; or low self-esteem or poor social coping skills. They suggest talking to your teens about reasons not to abuse drugs, ways to resist peer pressure, and even be ready to discuss your own drug use.
Don't be afraid that talking about drug abuse will plant ideas in your teen's head. Conversations about drugs won't tempt your teen to try drugs. Instead, talking about drug abuse lets your teen know your views and understand what you expect of him or her. Other great resources are TeenCentral.Net and ParentCentral.Net, free online counseling forums where you can get advice and read stories from other people dealing with the same circumstances.