“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything”
- William Shakespeare
Employee of the Month
Hanrahan Youth Services would like to recognize Jerome Silent as March’s Employee/Foster Parent of the Month.
Jerome was originally hired by Hanrahan Youth Services in October of 2016 as a relief/support staff and 1:1 worker. He then moved into the role of fostering one of our ISA clients in December. It has been acknowledged by his resource worker that Jerome has put forth great effort to make the program work to its fullest potential for his youth, despite the many challenges associated with it. He works closely with the school to help his client be as successful as possible, advocates for him whenever necessary, regularly tries to create solutions, promptly follows up on any issues with the management team, and is sure to notify his resource worker of all steps taken. Jerome has also really proven himself in meetings with the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto.
Congratulations Jerome! Keep up the good work.
World Autism Awareness Day – April 2
Autism affects approximately 1 out of every 150 children around the world. It is a neural development disorder that affects their ability to socialize normally by impacting their abilities to utilize verbal and non-verbal communication. Since 2012, there has been a 30% increase in the amount of children being affected with autism, and World Autism Awareness Day helps to bring awareness to this growing health concern.
Rather than having one distinguishing characteristic, Autism is indicated by the coming together of three separate symptoms. The triad includes difficulty socializing, problems in communication, and a limited number of interests combined with repetitive behavior. It is no longer classified as a single disorder, but rather an entire spectrum ranging in severity. Autism is the core of all of these syndromes, with its features being prevalent to varying degrees throughout, and includes a number of disorders, with one of the most common being Asperger’s.
Asperger Syndrome is signified by the presence of Autism symptoms with no impairment of language development. Asperger Syndrome often leads to problems with social interaction with their peers. Common body language queues are often lost on those who suffer from AS. It is not uncommon to hear them speak of their frustrations with non-Asperger people, as huge chunks of the conversation just seem utterly lost on them. Things such as tone, context, and sarcasm have to be considered very carefully, and their frustration with communication often stems from this and other social queues. However, much like anyone on the Autistic spectrum, they will present with areas of intelligence that are much stronger than that of others. These areas tend to be in the reading, language, music, or spatial skills, occasionally manifesting to such a degree that they may fall into the “gifted” range in those areas. This seems to be counterbalanced by significant delays in other areas of development.
Hanrahan Youth Services receives numerous referrals for youth who fall on the Autism spectrum, and quite often for youth who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s. We would like to encourage our staff and foster parents to read up more on Autism as it could prove beneficial in perhaps gaining a further understanding of the difficulties, challenges, and joys of the youth who come to us with this diagnosis. Even better, attending a training session could most certainly help to better serve those particular youth.
(“Sunday, 2nd Apr, 2017 will be...World Autism Day”)
World Health Day – April 7
World Health Day is celebrated every year on the founding day of the World Health Organization. Through its efforts, we have seen the eradication of small pox, and its focus then turned to communicable diseases, with a particular focus on tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Each year, there is a theme to draw attention to a current world health issue. The theme for 2017 is Depression, which a number of our clients have been diagnosed with. Check out their website at http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/ for further information.
On this day you may take some extra steps to care for your health, consider getting a gym membership (and going), starting a diet, or starting multi-vitamins. Spreading the news of health and threats to our youth can be an excellent way to celebrate this day, and inform them of the important issue of global health. Everyone can take a hand in improving the overall health of the world, just by starting with yourself, your family, and your community. Blood banks are often taking volunteers to help out with their efforts, and the ability to have healthy, fresh blood on hand is central to saving many lives. You can also take the task at home, by getting to know your environment and property, and eliminate all possible sources of standing water. Standing water is a breeding ground for insects such as mosquitoes, who spread disease by consuming the blood of its hosts, and moving from victim to victim, spreading it as it goes. So this year, take some time to spread the word about how you and your youth can improve the world’s health on World Health Day!
(“Friday, 7th Apr, 2017 will be...World Health Day”)
Easter Long Weekend Visitations - April 14 – 17
Just a reminder that if any of the residents plan on having visitations over the Easter long weekend, they need to be planned out properly. Obtain permission from their workers, clearly communicate the details with the family and your resource worker/manager, make daily check-ins a priority and for group homes, ensure that visitation logs are being completed.
For the residents who will be staying back for the long weekend, please ensure that they have a nice dinner with the other residents and the foster parent/staff at some point to celebrate the holiday. Plan some activities/outings with them and be sure to purchase some chocolate/Easter treats to give to them on Sunday.
Academic/School Reward Program
Hanrahan Youth Services is pleased to announce the implementation of its School Reward Program!
We are always looking for ways to keep our youth motivated to attend school and to succeed to their fullest potential. As an incentive, we have decided to award those youth in our care who make a real effort to attend their classes and to try their best at achieving their academic goals. Please be sure to tell all of your youth about this opportunity and should you know of a youth who deserves to be awarded, don’t hesitate to notify your resource worker/manager.
YouthRAP (Reach Achieve Progress) is an interactive website intended to provide youth in care, and former youth in care who are living independently, with an easily accessible, comprehensive source of information and resourceful services.
YouthRAP provides youth with access to useful information such as:
Tips for independent living
Jobs, job postings, and tips on getting a job
Housing, and important information about housing and rights
Health care, and issues that youth face
Education and transitions from care
HYS asks that you please take the time with your youth to visit and explore www.youthRap.ca.
Spring has finally decided to show up!
With the warmer weather finally here, children will be out on their bicycles and looking to take them to school. Please remind your youth that cyclists are governed by the same rules as drivers, and review safe cycling procedures at home. Be certain that the bicycle is “road worthy” and that they are able to ride it in a safe manner. They should the serial number of their bicycles and make sure they LOCK them in the racks at school to prevent loss. Don’t forget that helmets are a must!
We also just want to reiterate that it is the perfect time to do some spring cleaning both inside the home (including the garage) and out. For those of you who aren’t aware, the HYS pick-up truck is available to do garbage-runs. If you need to access it, please contact Erin Hurley at head office. We strongly advise that this gets done as soon as possible to prepare for the warmer months.
Summertime Is Just Around the Corner
It is time for our foster parents and group home staff to find ways to motivate our youth to use their summer holidays as constructively as possible. If appropriate, and if outlined in our youths’ plans of care, then employment should be an obvious option. Although the summer may seem a long way off, opportunities for summer employment are already in play. One excellent source of information is the www.ontario.ca/summerjobs website. Another local agency is Job Skills in Brampton which can be accessed at www.jobskills.org. As mentioned above, YouthRap is also a resource that would be worth checking out. Services available include resume and interview success workshops. Summer job placements begin earlier than you may think, so now is the time to begin researching what’s out there.
Summer camps are also an option. Should this be what your youth plan on doing, please start looking into what camps they would be interested in attending. Registration usually starts sooner than people expect and spots can quickly become unavailable. Once they have decided on one, please speak to your resource worker/manager about registration/funding.
Kids Up Front and Rec Night
Foster parents and staff have probably seen numerous emails sent from the head office regarding tickets being offered through an organization called Kids Up Front. The Kids Up Front Foundation is a charitable organization that provides access to arts, culture, sport and recreation for children and youth who don’t normally get the opportunity to experience them. They receive donations of tickets to various events and offer them to agencies such as HYS. We have been very fortunate to have come in contact with this wonderful organization and have received a substantial amount of tickets from them for our youth over the past few years. Through these generous donations, we regularly send our youth to see sports games (Leafs/Raptors/Marlies/Toronto Rock, etc.), concerts, plays, the ROM, etc.
If you haven’t already, we encourage you to take advantage of some of these opportunities for your youth. We always hear wonderful feedback from the youth and staff/foster parents who attend. Please keep in mind that when you commit to tickets, it is imperative that you use them. If there is an emergency situation that prevents you from attending the event, you need to contact the head office ASAP so that we are able to make alternate arrangements for the tickets. As the tickets are donated, it is important to Kids Up Front that the tickets get used. Should it become a reoccurring issue where you request tickets and don’t use them, you may lose the privilege of receiving tickets.
Don’t forget about REC NIGHT which takes place every Wednesday at 8:00pm at Century Gardens in Brampton. This is a great opportunity to get out of the house and get your kids to be active and mingling with the Hanrahan family. It is open to all foster parents and staff. Take your youth to play some basketball, volleyball, or whatever indoor sport has been organized for that evening. Don’t miss out!
Should you have any questions regarding rec night, please don’t hesitate to contact Jeff McGregor.
Just for fun, try to solve the following brain teasers. The answers will be at the bottom of the newsletter. Good luck!
1. You may enter, but you may not come in,
I have space, but no room,
I have keys, but open no lock.
What am I?
2. What do you have to give before you can keep it?
3. The more you take, the more you leave behind. What am I?
4. This riddle must be done IN YOUR HEAD and NOT using paper and
pen or a calculator.
Take 1000 and add 40 to it.
Now add another 1000 to it. Now add 30.
And another 1000. Now add 20.
Now add another 1000.
Now add 10. What is the total?
(“Squigly’s Brain Teasers”) and (“Riddles and Answers to Bend Your Brain”)
DID YOU KNOW?...
“The brakes come online somewhat later than the accelerator of the brain," referring to the development of the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system respectively. At the same time, "teens need higher doses of risk to feel the same amount of rush adults do".
Teenage brains are simply wired to seek reward, a study in 2014 showed. When teens got money, or anticipated receiving some, the part of their brain that deals with pleasure and reward, lit up more than in adults in the study.
All this may make teens vulnerable to engaging in risky behaviors, such as trying drugs, getting into fights or jumping into unsafe water. By late adolescence, say 17 years old and after, the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and long-term perspective taking is thought to help them reign in some of the behavior they were tempted by in middle adolescence.
What is a parent to do in the meantime? "Continue to parent your child." Like all children, "teens have specific developmental vulnerabilities and they need parents to limit their behavior,”.
(Nixon & Britt, 2016)
As many of you know, our Budworth children’s residence has been closed since mid-December for home improvements and restructuring. Renovations have begun and we are hoping to have the program up and running again at maximum efficiency in the very near future.
The agency places a strong emphasis on maintaining each and every one of our homes to a high standard. We can’t reiterate enough how important it is for our youth to feel as much at home as possible, rather than just having been placed at somebody else’s house. We ask that our foster parents and staff ensure that our homes are as “homey” as they can be...warm, relaxed and comfortable. Should you notice any necessary repairs that need to be made or think of any items that would help in achieving this goal, please do not hesitate to put in a request with your resource worker or manager.
Duty to Report
Please remember that we all have a duty to report abuse or suspected abuse of a child. The Child and Family Services Act is clear on the civic responsibilities of ordinary citizens and their duty to report any concerns of abuse and neglect to Children’s Aid Societies, but there is a special responsibility on the part of professionals who work with children. It's important for all of us to increase our awareness about child abuse and neglect, to learn the signs and some of the underlying causes. Too many children lack the nurturing family and community supports essential for them to thrive and succeed. This has resulted in too many families coping with stressors and challenges affecting their ability to provide a safe, secure home for their children. (“Help Stop Abuse & Neglect”)
Please be sure to revisit the Duty to Report section of the Policy and Procedure Manual should you have questions regarding reporting procedures.
Strength Based Perspective
The Basics of Strength-Based Approach
Working from a strength-based perspective is a collaborative approach, whereby the person being supported by services is an active participant in the process of problem-solving issues they are experiencing. This allows the opportunity for the individual’s voice to be heard, and for the individual to be engaged in the decisions that affect their life. This is a chance to empower the client, but to also foster skills of self-advocacy. There is a significant focus on the quality of the relationship between the individual receiving support, and those that are providing the support. The relationship must be one of trust and transparency, in order for there to be real success.
A strength-based approach focuses on the inherent strengths of individuals, what their skills and abilities are, rather than on their deficits or problems. This also means investigating what resources are available, and how they can be used to accomplish what is needed. Although the goal is to promote the positive, this does not mean denying that issues or problems are affecting the client. Instead, it means combating situations based on the abilities and resources that exist, and utilizing these things in the most effective ways possible. The problems and concerns are not the main focus of intervention – the individual is.
Family and community work models often focus on the problems identified with the individual – thus, the individual is the problem that must be fixed. However, strength-based perspective focuses on the problem often existing because of interactions between people, organizations and structures. Although issues exist, the individual only experiences the issue – the individual is not the issue.
The following are important principles of the strength-based perspective:
1. People are recognized as having potential, unique strengths and abilities
and have the capacity to continue to learn, grow, and change.
2. The focus of intervention is on the strengths and aspirations of the people
we work with.
3. The language we use creates our reality – for the care providers, as well as
children, youth, and families.
4. Communities and social environments are seen as being full of resources.
5. Service providers collaborate with the people they work with, and the
client’s perspective of reality is primary.
6. Interventions are based on self-determination.
7. Change is inevitable.
8. There is a commitment to empowerment.
Problems are seen as the result of interactions between individuals, organizations or structures, rather than deficits within individuals, organizations or structures.
Professional Development - Training
We would like to continue to remind our staff and foster parents of the importance of ongoing training which can be used to assist you when dealing with the youth in our care. Hanrahan Youth Services is always willing to consider funding the many different sessions/webinars offered throughout the GTA and online that would be considered useful in working with our clients. We actually encourage all of you to make it a priority and take advantage of this opportunity to expand your professional development.
Should you be interested in doing so, please contact your resource worker or program coordinator with the details of the specific session you are looking to attend.
We have just recently registered a number of our staff and foster parents for workshops on:
Motivating Change – Strategies for Approaching Resistance
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder – Strategies for Supporting
Sexual Assault and Abuse Training
Addictions and Mental Illness – Working with Co-Occurring Disorders
Many of our staff and foster parents have attended different workshops offered through the Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute (CTRI) in the past. They provide a wide range of training opportunities and included in their upcoming events are:
Working in Social Services – The Essential Skills
Violence Threat Assessment – Planning and Response
Self-Injury Behaviour in Youth – Issues & Strategies
Crisis Response Planning
De-escalating Potentially Violent Situations
Anxiety – Practical Intervention Strategies
Challenging Behaviours in Youth – Strategies for Intervention
For a complete list and descriptions of their upcoming workshops, you can visit:
* Be sure to select the Toronto or Mississauga local listings.
Please note that approved training is not limited to CTRI, these are just some examples of ones that we regularly take advantage of. We are always open to anything new that comes up. If you come across something different that you think would be worth exploring for our staff and foster parents, please send the information to the management team.
Our mandatory annual trainings, including UMAB and First Aid & CPR, will continue as per the usual schedules throughout the year. For upcoming sessions, please contact the head office.
We have continued to notice some excessive increases in hydro charges within some of the homes. We ask that you keep the heat at a reasonable setting, remind your youth to keep windows and doors closed as the heat is on, continue to ensure that lights are turned off in rooms once they are exited, etc. We appreciate your cooperation is this matter.
Foster Parent Time-Off and Scheduling Relief
We understand how hard it can be to work around the clock. We also know how important it is to take time off whether it be for running errands, taking a break, visiting family and friends, or just taking care of business...we get it!
Hanrahan has a growing list of relief staff to utilize for the time you need, however, there is a process that needs to be followed in order to do so. It is essential that you communicate your request with your resource worker by submitting a TIME OFF REQUEST FORM. He or she will get this time approved, and then provide you with the relief staff list or book the relief for you. It is imperative that you keep them well informed of the time you take off, as well as ensure that your relief staff are documenting their hours and signing signature sheets when necessary.
Please note that any changes in dates or time need to first be approved by your resource worker.
Brain Teaser Answers
1. A computer
2. Your word
4. Did you get 5000? Way to go. Most of us did, but that’s wrong. The answer
is 4100. Believe it? Use a calculator.
Days Of The Year Site, ‘Sunday, 2nd Apr, 2017 will be...World Autism Day’, online:
Days Of The Year Site, ‘Friday, 7th Apr, 2017 will be...World Health Day’, online:
Squigley’s Playhouse Site, ‘Squigley’s Brain Teasers’, online:
Doriddles Site, ‘Riddles and Answers to Bend Your Brain’, online:
Nixon, R., & Britt, RR. (2016). 10 Facts Every Parent Should Know About Their Teen’s Brain. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/13850-10-facts-parent-teen-brain.html
Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, ‘Help Stop Abuse & Neglect’, online: http://www.torontoccas.org/index.php/en-ccast/page/help-stop-abuse-neglect