"I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things."
– Mother Teresa
As you are most likely aware, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an international public health emergency, and all Publicly Funded Ontario Schools are to be closed until May.
Foster parents, staff, and residents are encouraged to follow regular respiratory illness protocols and prevention strategies which include:
Wash/sanitize hands frequently as possible
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
Cough or sneeze into a tissues or sleeve rather than hands
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
Stay home if you are ill
Consult Telehealth or your physician if you have any concerns
If you believe, or have been advised, that any caregiver, staff or child has been in contact or exposed to the COVID-19, please contact Bob or Brian right away, along with the resident’s worker/supervisor immediately to discuss the appropriate next steps.
In light of recent events with COVID-19 and the restrictions in place by businesses to limit interaction, Hanrahan Youth Services’ head office will be locked during business hours until further notice. Only administrative staff will be permitted on site during this time. Should you require any documents/cheques, etc. or to drop anything off, please contact Erin with enough time to prepare whatever it is that you require. The mailbox attached to the home will be utilized for dropping off and picking up items.
April Special Days
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is an annual campaign to raise public awareness about sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 67 males will experience rape or attempted rape at some point in their life.
On campuses, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted during their time in college. Additionally, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience sexual assault before the age of 18. Despite misconceptions, the prevalence of false reporting for sexual assault is low.
Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact. It can include rape, sexual harassment, inappropriate touching, and sharing private images without permission. “A person who abuses often uses coercion, manipulation, threats, or force to commit sexual violence,” said SAF Community Response Coordinator Stacie France. “Sexual violence does not discriminate. Anyone of any gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age, ability level etc. can be a victim of this heinous crime. Most of these crimes are committed by someone the victim knows; a dating partner, spouse, family member, peer, or an acquaintance. Most people know someone who has been a victim of sexual assault.” In solidarity with communities across the nation, Oswego County Opportunities’ (OCO) Services to Aid Families (SAF) program is encouraging community members to use their voice to support survivors, speak out against victim blaming, and promote consent.
“Ending sexual violence is possible, but it requires a societal shift that includes promoting healthy relationships, consent, and a trauma-informed response to survivors,” Consent is a clear, concrete example of what it takes to end sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. For instance, youth should never be forced without consent to show physical affection to an adult, even if they’re a relative or family friend. Encourage children and youth to respect others’ boundaries and bodies, challenge unfair gender stereotypes like “boys will be boys”, and treat others with respect. Additionally, teach individuals that when it comes to consent, only “yes means yes.”
Earth Day What started as an earth-conscious gesture has now become a national holiday and a full-blown environmental movement. Held each year on April 22, this is a good day to plant trees in a community park, clean up plastic on the beach, bicycle to school, attend a local Earth Day event, or hold a yard sale where proceeds go to a school or local non profit. Artsy types can even teach an earth-centric craft project in the classroom.
April 12th is Easter Sunday
Things To Do While In Self-Isolation
Attached is a comprehensive list of some resources families could use to teach their children educational material during school closures. At the top there is one category that accounts for sites, apps, programs, etc.. that apply to all age groups. After that it is broken down by school grades from Preschool to High school, so parents, children and youth could navigate to find something that interests them most. The idea here is that if you are recommending resources to a family, you could copy and paste the all ages resources, as well as the resources that fall under the grade their children are currently in.
Many of the resources are online based educational learning websites, some of which require a free sign-up (consisting of an email and creating a password). There are some options available for individuals without much internet access/device access but not many on this list. If you would like me to continue to search for those options, please let me know. From what I saw, most options that were "offline" consisted of print-outs and I recognize many families these days do not have a printer so I figured online was the best option.
Now is the perfect time to do some spring cleaning both inside the home (including the garage) and out! Get the whole group involved and de-clutter. Having everyone join in will make a big difference in the workload. To motivate them, try turning up some music or establishing a “reward” for when the work is done.
There are some special chores that need to be done seasonally like cleaning patios and windows. We ignore them for most of the fall and winter, but now it is time to get these things clean. Even though these chores only need to be done once or twice a year, they will help the home look better.
Temperatures are slowly creeping upwards which means that the snow has melted. We ask that staff and foster parents take a walk around the properties to see if there is any garbage laying around that needs to be picked up or any items that may require fixing.
Just for fun, try to solve the following brain teasers. The answers will be at the bottom of the newsletter. Good luck!
1. A man pushes his car to a hotel and tells the owner he’s bankrupt. Why?
2. Lose me once, I’ll come back stronger. Lose me twice, I’ll leave forever. What am I?
DID YOU KNOW?...
Guidance for Helping Kids of All Ages
1. Control Your Own Anxiety
Many of us are worried about the current situation and living with uncertainty isn’t easy. Yet, anxiety is “contagious.” Your kids will know that you are nervous even if you try to hide it. So how can you keep your cool, despite your own worries? Here are some things that may help:
Get the most credible information you can. Focus on fact-based, helpful information about the virus. Avoid endless social media streams, which can be filled with misinformation, and constant breaking news headlines, which can fuel your concerns. Stay up to date with notices from your child’s school, your state, and your city or town. Anxiety is best contained if you know the guidelines for protecting you and your loved ones, including hand washing, cleaning surfaces, use of sanitizers, whether you or your family need to be in isolation, and what supplies you should have at home in case you are quarantined.
Talk with folks who support you. This could be your partner, a parent, a friend, a spiritual leader, or another trusted adult you can confide in.
Take care of your physical health. Get a good amount of sleep and exercise and use other ways to reduce anxiety, such as meditation, yoga, listening to music, or watching a TV show.
If your child asks if you are worried, be honest! They will know if you are not telling them the truth. You can say things like: “Yes, I’m worried about the virus, but I know that there are ways to prevent its spread and take care of the family if one of us gets sick.”
2. Approach Your Kids and Ask What They Know
Most children will have heard about COVID-19, particularly school-age kids and adolescents. They may have read things online, seen something on TV, or heard friends or teachers talk about the illness. Others may have overheard you talking about it. There is a lot of misinformation out there, so don’t assume that they know specifics about the situation or that the information they have is correct. Ask open ended questions:
What have you heard about the coronavirus?
Where did you hear about it?
What are your major concerns or worries?
Do you have any questions I can help you answer?
How are you feeling about the Coronavirus?
Once you know what information they have and what they’re concerned about, then you can help to fill in any necessary gaps.
3. Validate Their Feelings and Concerns
Kids may have all sorts of reactions to the COVID-19. Some may be realistic, while others exaggerated. For example, if grandma is in a nursing home, they may have heard that older adults get sicker than healthier, younger individuals. You need to be able to acknowledge this valid concern, but can reassure them that grandma has the best medical care to manage the illness. Alternately, a child may be terrified that animals will get the virus such as a beloved pet. Again, take these feeling seriously, but then reassure them that dogs and cats don’t get the virus, so there is no need to worry about this.
4. Be Available for Questions and Provide New Information
This outbreak is likely to last a long time, so one conversation won’t be enough. At first, your child’s emotional reactions will outweigh their thoughts and concerns. As the outbreak continues and your kids get new information, they will need to talk again. Let them know they can come to you at any time with questions or worries. It’s also a good idea to have regular check ins, as they may not approach you with their fears.
When you update your kids with new information, don’t assume that they fully understand everything you say. Ask them to explain things back to you in their own language. This is an excellent way to know if your kids understood what you meant.
5. Empower Them by Modeling Behavior
An important part of prevention is hand washing, coughing or sneezing into your sleeves, wiping your nose with tissue then discarding it, trying to keep your hands away from your face, not shaking hands or making physical contact with others, and wiping surfaces with material that is at least 60% alcohol.
Be sure to demonstrate these behaviors first, so your kids can have a good model. It’s a great idea for you to wash your hands with young children singing “Happy Birthday” twice (about 20 seconds) so they know what to do on their own. Wiping surfaces as a family, after dinner, helps everyone feel part of the prevention effort. For older kids and teens, give alternatives to high fives or fist bumps, like elbow bumping, bowing, or using Mr. Spock’s “live long and prosper” Vulcan salute.
When you see your kids practicing good hygiene praise them for it! Reinforce that they are not only taking care of themselves, but also helping to prevent the spread of germs to others.
6. Provide Reassurance
Your kids may worry about how you’re going to get through this. Remind them of other situations in which they felt helpless and scared. Kids love family stories, and these narratives carry a lot of emotional weight. Try something like: “Remember that hurricane when a tree fell on the apartment?” or “Remember when the pipes burst in the house and we were flooded?” Remind them that you have been through challenging times before, and though everyone was distressed, everyone also worked together and got through it. Reliving these kinds of narrative helps the whole family to build resilience and hope.
7. Don’t Blame Others
In stressful times, when we feel helpless, there’s a tendency to blame someone or become more fearful, even when there is no evidence to support these reactions. This can create social stigma and be harmful towards certain groups of people – in the case of COVID-19, particularly people of Asian descent, and people who have recently traveled. The last thing we want our kids to do when frightening events happen is to cast blame on others, either intentionally or without meaning to.
When you ask your kids what they know about the virus, listen for anything that discriminates against a group of people, and address it in your conversation. And make sure not to reinforce negative stereotypes in your own actions and conversations.
Please remember that we all have a duty to report abuse or suspected abuse of a child.
The Child and Youth 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.
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.
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 manager/resource worker by submitting a VACATION/TIME OFF REQUEST FORM to them or the head office. They will seek approval from the directors of the agency, 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 staff/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 manager/resource worker as designated by the directors.