How to Start a Great School Year

It seems hard to believe that we are in the last days of summer break. Summer has flown by – and parents are gearing up to go back to school. Duval County students start on the 18th and Clay County starts on the 12th which leaves just a few more days of summer time freedom before the school year routines kick back in. With the school year fast approaching – many parents may be wondering how to transition back into the more hectic school year schedule

Establish a Bedtime Routine

The night before school starts isn’t the time for a drastic adjustment to the bedtime routine. Instead, ease children back into a school year routine and those earlier sleep schedules gradually. They’re not going to like it after the late nights during the summer, but it will keep them from being miserable the first few weeks of school.

During the last two weeks of summer, re-introduce a school year bedtime. If you haven’t started yet – start tonight! And begin waking late sleepers earlier and earlier, closer to the hour they'll need to rise when school begins.

How to Make Mornings Less Stressful

Choose Outfits the Night Before

Mornings can be very hectic for families with children. There are a few things you can do to make sure you avoid chaos. Planning ahead really makes the morning go much smoother!

Lay out children's clothing the night before. This is a huge way to cut out morning stress. Let your kids help choose their outfits, or if they are old enough they can choose their outfits themselves.

Have backpacks packed and ready

Scan backpacks for missing homework, projects or library books the night BEFORE. Make sure musical instruments or sports bags are packed and ready to go. Again this is a huge way to make sure everyone gets out the door with as little stress as possible. If everything is packed and ready by the door, you won’t lose time in the morning searching for missing items!

 

Plan a Practice Run

 

Another thing that can really help is making a practice run before the first day of school. 

Before school begins, make a practice run to get children to the school on time. The first day of school is no time to find out it takes ten minutes – not five – to walk to the bus stop!Bus riders will need to be familiar with the location of the bus stop; print – let them take a copy in the backpack, so they won’t be nervous trying to remember their new bus number. You can post the bus schedule on a calendar at home to prevent a missed bus. Also – allow tons of EXTRA time on the first day of school – it’s always busier than you think it will be.

Getting Things Organized

One really important thing to do before school starts is to get your house organized! And it’s not as time consuming as it sounds - a little organization at home goes a long way when the new school year begins!

 

Create a Central Calendar

 

Create a central area for all family calendars and schedules.You'll need a family event calendar to track after-school activities, school programs and volunteer work. Add specialized calendars and schedules, and you have it: a one-stop shop for family time management.

Plan Lunches

Create a list of school lunch ideas at the start of the school year, that way you won’t be left wondering what to pack. There are lists online of great ideas to keep those lunches creative all the way through the school year.

Create Good Homework Habits

Make sure the room your child studies in is quiet, has plenty of light, and has schools supplies close at hand. Remove distractions by turning off the television and discouraging social phone calls during homework time. Setting a regular time and sticking to it helps children complete their homework assignments.

These are great tips of things parents can do to help their kids get ready for a successful school year. With a little organization and planning, the transition of going back-to-school can be simple.

 

 

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Becoming a Therapeutic Foster Care Parent

In Florida there are over 8,000 children currently in foster care. There are many ways for the community to get involved and help these kids who are in transition – from foster or adoptive parents to volunteers and mentors. However, there is one group of children who need a special type of foster care.

Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care

Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care (STFC) servers children who simply can’t live with their families of issues and these particular kids can’t be in traditional foster care either. These children who have severe emotional or behavioral issues that often stem from prior neglect or abuse.

That’s where STFC comes in – the program provides a safe, nurturing place for children to work out their issues. The STFC program at Daniel is now the largest in the state of Florida and serves local children and children with severe needs from other counties.

 

Why children need Foster Care and/or STFC

All kinds of good kids end up in foster care when bad things happen in their families, whether it’s domestic abuse, drug use, or neglect – there are wide-ranging reasons that kids may need foster parents. For a child to be in STFC there are certain criteria.

STFC Criteria:

  • Children must be between the ages of 5 and 17
  • Exhibit symptoms of emotional or mental distress
  • Be unable to live in their own homes or need additional care outside of typical foster care

Foster parents provide these children a temporary and supportive home where they can heal.

Foster parents often say that being there for the foster kids is very rewarding.  They provide stability and loving home and that makes a big difference in a child’s life.

How to become a Specialized Therapeutic Foster Parent

There are certain training classes that people must complete prior to becoming a STFC parent.

 

Eligible foster parents must:

 

  • Be able to provide a stable, nurturing home environment
  • Be willing to be screened for law violations
  • Own a reliable car and provide proof of insurance
  • Complete 30-hour foster care training and 30-hour therapeutic training course 

 

Family Support Services – FSS – and Daniel work in partnership to train and license traditional and therapeutic foster parents so they can help the kids who really need it most.

Family Support Services (FSS) 

www.fssjax.org

(904) 421-5800

 

Foster Care Training Classes

Family Support Services (FSS) offers ongoing training for Traditional Foster Care. For information about traditional foster care please call 904-421-5800 for further information about the PRIDE training classes.

Daniel will be hosting a Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care training class in the month of June. Classes begin June 7th and continue throughout the entire month each Saturday.

June 7th   9 AM – 3 PM

www.danielkids.org

Contact: Mary Blackmon (904) 296-1055 x2708

 

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Succeeding Through the School Year

As the school year draws to a close and the weather warms up, students tend to lose focus at school. They’re busy counting down the days until summer vacation and losing motivation in their school work. Parents are often left wondering how to keep their children on track and how to help them finish the school year successfully.

How can parents help their kids stay focused?

Parents need to know what is going on with their children outside of school. Children can be distracted by their
relationships with their peers, whether things are going well or going poorly. It’s important to keep track of the non-academic things that your children are dealing with.

  • Know their friends, and/or who they’re dating and how they are getting along with their friends.
  • These relationships can negatively affect your child’s ability to focus at school.
  • Make sure your kids feel comfortable talking to you – it’s important to keep an open dialogue. 

Tips on Staying Involved

Parents get tired toward the end of the school year too! But, we really need to remember to stay involved.
Remember, it’s easier to ask about assignments and grades, before the grades are final and report cards come home!

  • Check up on your child’s grades before it’s too late.
  • Many school districts offer an online “grade portal” where parents can check-in on grades and pinpoint any missing assignments.
  • Contact your child’s teachers if you have questions.
  • Email and/or write notes
  • Set up a weekly chat with your kids to check-in and make sure they are staying on track.

Reinforcing Good Study Habits

Kids begin to lose focus after Spring Break and that means that parents have to step in and provide encouragement. They may have started the school year out strong, but have lost focus on their studies. Parents can step in and reinforce those good study habits from the beginning of the year. 

  • Take a look at what technology they’re using
  • Make sure your children are studying in a quiet place without TV, phones, and computers.
  • They don’t have to work in silence, but make sure they aren’t surrounded by technology.
  • Parents plan a “homework time” of your own, whether that’s quietly reading or sitting at the table sorting mail
  • Your kids will be more focused seeing you setting an example

Spend Time Together 

One great way to keep kids on track to spend time together as a family! Take walks after dinner and enjoy the spring weather. It really helps kids finish school strong when they have those times when they are able
to relax. And of course, remind them that there is an END in sight for school. There are just two months left until the end of the school year. Have your little one mark off each finished day on a calendar.  They’ll be able to see just how FEW days they have left! 

 

 How Art Therapy Helps Children

It seems all children love to create beautiful works of art that end up proudly displayed on the fridge!  But, did you know that creating art can be therapy for kids? Here is more information about how art therapy benefits those affected by trauma and how you can find an art therapist.

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, with the help of their art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.

How Does someone become an Art Therapist?  

A master’s degree is required for entry level practice in art therapy.  Art therapists are as qualified as other mental health therapists and they utilize talk therapy as other therapists do.

Who does art therapy help?

Art therapy can truly benefit anyone! It is used in a variety of settings including: hospice, hospitals, wellness centers and in outpatient therapy. People who have experienced trauma benefit from art therapy and that includes those who have survived trauma resulting from combat, abuse, and natural disaster.

How does this type of therapy help children?

Art therapy gives children a safe place to talk about their feelings. It can increase communication, independence, self-esteem and focus. This type of therapy can help kids open up about things they may not feel comfortable talking about by using different types of artistic experiences.

How to Find an Art Therapist

Many parents may be interested in finding art therapist for their own children.

The American Art Therapy Association’s website is a great resource for parents who are interested in this type of therapy.

Visit their website www.arttherapy.org to search for therapists in your area, to learn more about art therapy and to read what others have to say about it.

Also, click on the “Find a Therapist” section for a full list of therapists in your area.

Upcoming Community Art Project

Daniel is working with the talented artists at Roux Art to create a community art piece February 27th – March 2nd, 2014 at the Spring Home and Patio Show at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. Everyone is invited to come out and be a part of the making of the piece! We’ll be at booth numbers 1107 and 1108. Once the community art piece is finished, it will be installed at the Daniel Academy campus.

Event info:

Jacksonville Home + Patio Show

Prime Osborn Convention Center

Thursday, February 27 – Sunday, March 2, 2014

www.jacksonvillespringhomeshow.com

 

Web Resources:

www.danielkids.org

www.arttherapy.org

http://www.jacksonvillespringhomeshow.com/

 

Talking to Your Teens about Dating

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and many of us have love on our minds, including our kids. For most parents out there, the idea of your pre-teens and teenage children dating probably brings up feelings of fear and uncertainty. When should kids begin dating? What types of dating behaviors are appropriate at certain ages? So when should parents start preparing themselves for their kids to show romantic interest in others?


When to Talk about Dating with your Kids
The answer might scare some parents, but the truth is that it’s perfectly normal for kids to start having crushes in the late elementary and early middle school years. It’s part of the biological changes of puberty, and before we see the physical changes, the hormonal ones are already happening. Remember, if you child has a crush – that’s fine. The problem is when kids act on those feelings too quickly, which is why parents need to be alert and involved.


Guidelines for when Kids should start Dating

It’s difficult to extend age guidelines to all kids and teens when it comes to dating. Most child psychology experts say pre-teens should only participate in supervised group activities like school dances or trips to the mall or movies. One-on-one dating is appropriate for older teens, with polls showing most parents allowing the transition at age 16. The best approach is for parents to use their judgment to decide what is ok for their kids based on their maturity level.

 

Dating Patterns Among Pre-Teens and Teens

We can also look at some numbers on pre-teen and teen dating patterns so parents have a better idea of what to expect. Research shows that:

  • Among 13-year-olds, 37% of males and 34% of females have been in a romantic relationship
  • Among 15-year-olds, 49% of males and 56% of females have been in a romantic relationship
  • Most romantic relationships among 12 to 14 year olds last less than five months
  • By age 16, relationships last an average of two years

 

Teenage Dating Rules

It is important for parents to set some dating ground rules and clearly communicate these rules and consequences to their pre-teens and teenagers. Some of these rules should include:

  • Curfews
  • Appropriate age of partner
  • Telling you who they will be with, where they will be and contact information
  • Encourage your kids to invite friends over, but set ground rules such as no closed doors
  • When setting rules, there are two important things to keep in mind:
  • Don’t be too oppressive and restrictive, otherwise you’re asking for rebellion. Use logic and reason when creating dating rules.
  • Explain why you are setting certain rules or forbidding certain activities. This helps your teen see that you aren’t just trying to control them, but that you care about them and that’s why you’re setting rules.

Of course some of these rules, like curfew and partner age, will change as your child ages. But these are important basics to have established once your child wants to date.

 

Communication Tips for Parents

Talking with teenagers about dating can be difficult. Remember, having open and honest communication with your kids about dating is critical to staying involved in their dating lives.

  • By the pre-teenyears, you should have already had the basic sex talk, and this should be an ongoing conversation as your kids get older. Make sure you are also including feelings in these discussions.
  • Answer your kid’s dating questions openly and honestly. This will set the standard for all future
    conversations.
  • Talk to your teen about friends and daily events. This way you can learn about their peer network
    and what things they find important. When it comes to dating, this information can give you insight into who they might date and what kinds of activities your child and his or her partner might be interested in.
  • Be open to discussing your relationship experiences. Use these talks to establish how you define a healthy relationship.
  • Set an example for your pre-teen and teen in your own relationship. Model healthy relationship behaviors with your partner that so your child can see what it means to be in a committed, equal partnership.


Whether parents are ready for it or not, teen dating is something they’ll have to face at some point. But teen dating doesn’t have to be a horrible prospect, as long as parents work to have open communication and they establish and follow through with dating rules.

  

Helping Kids Understand School Violence

There have been a number of violent incidents at schools and universities across the country recently. Parents are left wondering how AND when to talk to their children about these issues. Approaching this topic can seem overwhelming and it may seem easier to avoid these topics all together. But it's important begin the conversation with your kids. 


How can parents help their kids cope with these situations?

It’s possible your child may overhear grownups talking about these difficult stories or hear about them on the radio or TV.   When these things happen, it's very important for parents to honestly listen to their kids and talk to them. Kids are often GOOD observers and take in that information, but BAD interpreters.

 

How do you begin the conversation?

It’s important to help kids understand and cope with this in an age-appropriate way. Of course, you’re not going to talk to your grade-schooler the same way as you would your high-schooler.


Make the conversation age-appropriate

There are gun awareness and safety initiatives happening in elementary schools in Duval County this year. That’s a great place to start – as a parent you can build off the presentation that is being done in schools and ask questions. 


Elementary-school age Children - Be honest, but not graphic

The best approach for school-age kids is a direct and honest one. Respond to any questions your kids may have and ask what they've heard about these situations from friends or classmates. Answer their questions honestly, with simple answers that don't delve into explicit, potentially traumatizing details.

 

Find out what makes them scared

Find out what makes them scared. If you're trying to comfort kids, you have to find out what's worrying them. Make sure any conversation you have includes lots of opportunities for your kids to ask questions and share their concerns.


Talk about safety plans

Let your kids know that the adults in their lives are doing everything they can to make sure they will stay safe. Check with your child’s school about safety measures they have put in place and talk to your kids about it. Talk about what you do to keep you home safe, such not opening the door for strangers. Reassure your kids that the chances something bad will happen are very slim.


Middle or High School Children - Be direct and honest

At this age, school shooting perpetrators are typically adolescents, too, which can cause serious feelings and anxiety in already-emotional teens. If they ask a question such as, "Why would somebody do this?" be honest that people sometimes have lots of anger and bad feelings that make them want to hurt and kill other people.


Approach the topic casually

Teens aren’t known for always being willing to talk with their parents.  Approach it with a question, "So I heard about this on the news. What are kids saying at school?" You can’t force them to talk, but you are more likely to get them to talk if you approach calmly and causally. They will open up when they are ready to talk about it. 

Don’t offer reasons for why these things happen

Don’t feel obligated to give a reason for what happened.  As parents, sometimes we’ll have to be OK with the fact that we don’t have all the answers. In reality, we don’t know why some of these things happen. And that has to be OK. It is also important to talk to your kids about how AND when to report issues to their teachers and administration at school. If they see OR hear something, they need to know how to get that information to adults.


 

Helping Families Reunite

Florida’s Adoption Reunion Registry

 

Each year thousands of children are adopted right here in Florida. These children are then able to experience the comfort and security of finding their forever families. As adopted children get older questions can arise about medical history or they may become curious about their birth families and want to reunite.  One Florida organization can help people do just that – Florida’s Adoption Reunion Registry.

Florida’s Adoption Reunion Registry (FARR)

Florida’s Adoption Reunion Registry is run by the State of Florida and is a mutual consent registry. It does not search for people. When people register contact information is stored and not disclosed until a match is made with another registered person who has a connection with the adoptee. The registry can make the process of finding your biological family much, much easier. Remember adopted adults have a RIGHT to medical and or social history of their birth family.

Who Can Register with FARR?

Adopted adults, birth parents and siblings, birth aunts, uncles and grandparents can all register with FARR. One really great thing is that Adoptive Parents can register on behalf of their minor child.

How to get started with Florida’s Adoption Reunion Registry

You can find applications at: www.adoptfl.org 

What is the cost to register with FARR

There is a one-time fee of $35 (check or money order only.)  The registry is not an ONLINE registry, so applications and the fees must be mailed.

Florida Adoption Reunion Registry

1317 Winewood Blvd

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0700

 

If you or someone you now have questions about any part of this process, please contact Florida’s Adoption Information Center at: 1-800-96-ADOPT

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New Topic

Beat the Holiday Blues


Now that Thanksgiving is over and the holiday season has officially started, there is a lot of excitement at this time of year, but many people experience what is sometimes called, “the holiday blues.” 

 

Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holiday Season

The holiday season can be a very stressful time. During the holidays we find ourselves facing the stressful demands of shopping, cooking, travel and even entertaining house guests. It’s important to remember to take care of ourselves  to prevent stress, fatigue, and even depression.

How to curb stressful holiday activities

  • Be reasonable about your schedule
    • You can’t attend every party; nor should your child. The last thing you want to do is overbook yourself and be at an event when you are irritable. Remember, it is the holidays.
  • Decide what your priorities are and stick to them
    • Lots of therapists will tell you to stay active during the holidays and engage in activities where you are giving back. Indeed, this is a very healthy approach. Understand that feelings of sadness, anger, and loneliness, can be overcome when you are giving to others.
  • Let go of family resentments
    • It’s the time of year to declare amnesty to friends and relatives whom you may have had issues with in the past. The holidays are a perfect time to try to move past old resentments.

 

  • Don’t expect the holidays to be what they were when
    you were a child
    ; they never are
    • You aren’t the same as you were when you were a child and no one in your family is either. Make the best of each year and try not to compare to year’s past.

 

  • Control your alcohol consumption
    • If you do drink, don’t let the holidays become a reason to overindulge. Remember, alcohol is a depressant and people should not drink when taking medication or are depressed. Alcohol will worsen anxiety and depression.

How to Beat the Holiday Blues

  • Take care of your health
    • Have your family wash their hands often. This is the season for colds and flu.
  • Spend time in the kitchen with your children
    • Aromas can be particularly strong in triggering memories and often stay with a child for a lifetime. Make a list of dishes you make every year.  
  • Exercise
    • Physical activities like yoga and walking will stimulate brain chemicals that induce euphoria and put people in a better mood.

 

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Remembering to Give Thanks

 

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and that means the biggest shopping day of the year is fast approaching. Families across the country will wait in long lines at stores to grab early-morning sales on the biggest shopping day of the year – Black Friday. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become shopping staples, this year some retailers are extending sales to Thanksgiving Day, with national chains like Old Navy opening at 9 AM and Walmart opening at 6 PM. 

This has led to a concern that Thanksgiving has become more about getting the best deals rather than giving back and being grateful for what you already have.

 

Teaching Children to be Thankful

 

Thanksgiving is a perfect time to reiterate the spirit of giving with your children. While these Black Friday and related sales are a way for the family to save money, it’s important to remember why we celebrate Thanksgiving and take time to reflect on what we have, not necessarily what we want. This message will then hopefully carry through to for the whole holiday season and beyond.

 

We all benefit when children learn to give to others. Charitable involvement has been shown to help raise self-esteem, develop social skills and encourage kids to appreciate their own lifestyle.

 

  • Acknowledge what your child already does – Introduce the idea of giving to others by first acknowledging what they are already doing that benefits others. For instance, the last time your children cleaned out the toy box or closet it meant that you were able donate those items to people in need. Spotlighting the things your children already do enables them to look at giving in a new light. In fact, your children will likely be so happy to discover how they already makes a difference; the motivation to give more often will quickly surface.
  • Give your children a choice – Your children will be more likely to adopt a giving spirit, when they are able to choose a cause that’s meaningful to them. Whether they have an affinity for animals or nature, finding what holds your children’s interest allows them to become more vested in the project.
  • Make giving a family affair – Include your children when YOU making a decision about supporting a cause. Allow them to see your thought process behind choosing certain organizations or causes. Also, volunteering as a family is a great way to spend time together while also modeling the importance of giving back.
  • Incorporate giving into activities your children already participate in – When it comes to incorporating acts of giving into everyday activities, the options are unlimited. For example, you might encourage your children and their friends to write holiday cards for our troops during a portion of their play date. Whatever you do, weave it into the fun of what you are already doing.
  • Give and receive – Often, children will go through the motions of helping others (volunteering, donating) without fully understanding why they are doing it. Take the time to spotlight how the giving process was received. For example, share the stories of families who benefited from your canned food drive.

 

Making Time for Family

 

Aside from giving, Thanksgiving and the holiday season is also about spending family time together. There are a number of ways for parents to accomplish this throughout the holiday season.

 

 

  • Continue or develop holiday traditions. If your family has a holiday tradition, be sure to keep it going even as your children grow older. If you don’t have a family tradition, now is the time to start. Perhaps you all have a different part of the Thanksgiving dinner you make or all take a nap after the meal. Maybe it’s even a family shopping trip during Black Friday.  Anything that your family can do year after year as a unit will create shared memories between you.
  • Consider getting a family gift. If you do find yourself out Black Friday, get a family gift. It does NOT have to be expensive.  This could be a board game, a movie you watch together every holiday season, or a football you all throw in the yard together. Getting a family gift will get everyone thinking in terms of the family as whole and get each member excited about spending time together using that gift.
  • Have kids talk to family members. Whether it’s during Thanksgiving dinner or over the long weekend, have your kids ask their grandparents, aunts and uncles about their holiday memories. This will help them bond outside the nuclear family and add to their understanding of the real meanings behind the holidays.
  • Volunteer as a family. This goes back to what I mentioned earlier- in terms of instilling the spirit of giving. Whether it’s something you do on Thanksgiving or a resolution to do something that you simply discuss during Thanksgiving, pick a cause close to your hearts and volunteer as a family. You could all go work in a soup kitchen or simply bake treats for local heroes – like firefighters, police and nurses that have to work Thanksgiving. Giving back to the community as a family will allow you all to bond through your gratitude and spirit of philanthropy.

 

Giving Back

 

There is also a new countrywide movement that’s building momentum called “Giving Tuesday” that focuses on the importance of giving after having received all of the holiday deals.

 

Giving Tuesday provides an opportunity for families to participate in a national day of giving to the nonprofit of their choice – like Daniel or any one of hundreds of nonprofit agencies. With an entire holiday dedicated to giving thanks and a few for getting deals, is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (December 3rd) and it’s a day for giving back. This is a wonderful opportunity for families to look at their annual giving and join their fellow Americans in an enormous gesture that serves as an example to future generations.

 

 

Resources:
 
http://givingtuesday.org/about/

http://www.more4kids.info/553/teaching-children-the-meaning-of-thanksgiving/

http://www.parents.com/holiday/thanksgiving/crafts/adorable-thankful-crafts/

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NEW TOPIC

Celebrating National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month, making this is a great time for people to learn the facts about kids in foster care and adoption in Florida.

Florida’s Adoption Information Center - a statewide service that’s been operated right here in Jacksonville by Daniel since 1994.  The Adoption Information Center averages more than 10,000 calls each year with a wide range of adoption questions.

Getting the Adoption Process Started

Many people think that in order to adopt you have to travel overseas or pay large sums of money to private agencies. While those are indeed routes you can take, many people don’t realize there are plenty of children locally who need adoptive families and who can be adopted for no cost at all.

 

  • As of November 1st, 2013 there are 62 children in Northeast Florida waiting to be adopted and 600throughout the state of Florida.

 

Children in the Community who Need Adoptive Families

 

When people think about adoption, they probably picture a family adopting a newborn baby. However, the majority of kids who need an adoptive home are actually school-age children. Kids end up in the foster care system due to no fault of their own. Most likely they have been abused, abandoned and neglected. Consequently, a judge decided the family was incapable of caring for the child, and they enter the foster care system.

 

Kids waiting to be adopted are all of different ages, races and circumstances. A lot of these kids have been through some rough times, but placed in a loving adoptive home, they go on to lead happy, successful lives.

 Details on Adopting a Child from the Local Community

 

Most private adoptions can cost upwards of $30,000,  a public adoption of a child in Florida comes at little-to-no cost.  The required training class and home study are provided for free, and court costs can often be paid for by the agency if the family cannot afford them. Some families who adopt can even qualify for monthly financial support to offset ongoing costs. The amount is negotiated on a case-by-case basis and depends on the child’s circumstances and availability of funds.  Other one-time expenses that might be reimbursed are birth certificate fees and travel expenses for visiting the child.

 

What’s the process involved to starting and completing an adoption?

 There are certain misconceptions out there about adoption. Many people may think it is a complicated process and they have to meet some stereotype of “perfect parents”, but none of this is actually true.

 

Adopters are as varied as the children who need to be adopted. To be able to adopt in Florida, you can be married or single, already a parent or never a parent, in your 60s or 20s, a renter or a homeowner, and a person of wealth or of modest means. There is no certain description required to be an adoptive parent. If you are able to open your heart and home to a child and give them the love and basic care they deserve, you can be an adoptive parent.

 

9 Steps to the Adoption Process

 

As far as how long the process takes, it varies case by case. There nine general steps to the whole process:

 

  1. Call - Florida’s Adoption Information Center (1-800-96ADOPT or 1-904-353-0679) to begin the process.
  2. Orientation - One to two hour session to speak with experienced adoptive parents and adoption counselors about the process.
  3. Preparation Course (MAPP) - The Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) is an in-depth, 10-week training course all adoptive parents must complete. It allows you to assess your family, yourself and to explore adoption issues.
  4. Home Study - This is the time when background checks and character references take place. A counselor will also come into your home at least once to make sure you can provide a safe and stable environment for a child. The counselor is likely to ask about your reasons for wanting to adopt, your financial situation and parenting philosophy. The whole point of the visits, background checks and references is to ensure a successful adoption for everyone involved.
  5. Approval - All the information collected is sent to an adoption specialist and you are notified when your application is approved.
  6. Finding the Right Match - You can continue looking online and attending recruitment activities where children available for adoption are in attendance. When you find a child or children you are interested in, notify your counselor for more information.
  7. Making the Match Permanent - Once you find the perfect match, you will spend more time getting to know the child, and the child will spend time getting to know you and your family. This can include sharing photo albums, short home visits, and eventually overnight or extended visits. Placement will happen once you, the child, and the counselor feel the child is ready.
  8. Placement Supervision - A counselor will make monthly visits to your home to see how the child is adjusting and whether any additional services may be needed. The supervision period ends when the counselor sends the “Consent to Adopt” to your attorney.
  9. Finalization - The child will usually live with your family six months before the adoption is finalized before a judge.

 

It may sound like a lengthy process, but in reality steps 1-4 can usually all be completed in less than nine months. Once these steps are completed, it’s just a matter of being approved to adopt and finding your child.

 

The First Step in the  Adoption Process

 

Call the Florida Adoption Information Center at Daniel at 1-800-96-ADOPT- we’re there to answer questions for prospective adoptive parents, parents who already have adopted and help answer any question you may have that has to do with adoption. You can also visit the Explore Adoption website at adoptflorida.org. In fact, you can even do a child search, putting in your parameters regarding sex, age and the types of special emotional or physical needs you do or don’t feel comfortable with. In this past year, Duval County was first in the state for the number of adoptions, with 265 adoptions  finalized.  

 

 

http://www.adoptflorida.org/kids1.shtml

http://www.adoptflorida.org/kids1.shtml

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NEW TOPIC 

Dealing with Bullying

In the light of the recent tragic situation which resulted in the death of Rebecca Sedwick, parents may be thinking now more than ever about the issue of bullying. 

Rebecca’s tragic death brings the issue of bullying to the forefront of the public awareness again. It really does raise the question for parents – how do I talk to my kids about bullying? What people should focus on is looking at ways to prevent the bullying from ever happening. No child should be made to feel that way. That’s why parents need to talk to their kids about the issue, especially if they think their child is the one who is the bully. Bullying is really about an imbalance of power.

How do you know if your child IS the bully?

Remember, children who bully come in a variety of packages, there’s not one type of bully. Here are a few things to look out for.  

Does your child: 

  • Get into physical or verbal fights
  • Have friends who bully others
  • Act increasingly aggressive
  • Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
  • Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
  • Blame others for their problems
  • Refuse to accept responsibility for their actions
  • Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity

Cyberbullying

As we saw in the case of Rebecca Sedwick, cyberbullying is another way that kids are being bullied. Parents, it is imperative that you monitor what your kids are doing online! It is your responsibility to teach your kids how to act online. Monitor your child’s online activity and teach them how to use the Internet responsibly.

Be honest with them and let them know that you check in on their accounts. Remind them that they will be held responsible for the things they post online. Also, it is imperative that they realize that the things they put on the Internet last forever. These things can become an issue when they go on to college, try to get a job.

What can a parent do if they realize their own child is the bully?

Talk to your child about his behavior and don’t accept any kind of excuses.  You need to let your child know he is responsible for the choices made and must accept the consequences.

You may need to request a meeting with your child’s teacher or guidance counselor to find more about the situation because your child might not be telling you everything.

You do need to punish your child, but be careful not to belittle him.  You may also need to seek some type of counseling for your child because he may be bullying because of a problem he has.

Research shows that being a bully has long-lasting negative consequences.  A study found that boys who are identified as bullies in middle school were four times more likely to be convicted of a crime by the time they were 24-years old.  Bullies are more likely to be involved in fighting, vandalism, skipping school or dropping out and stealing.

Resources:

 

http://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/kids/

http://www.mychildsafety.net/effects-of-bullying.html

http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/bullies.html#

http://www.focusas.com/Bullying.html

http://www.schoolfamily.com/school-family-articles/article/819-if-your-child-is-the-bully

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/81890/what_to_do_if_your_child_is_a_bully_pg2.html?cat=

http://www.life123.com/parenting/tweens-teens/bullying/school-bullying.shtml

http://www.stopbullying.gov/respond/be-more-than-a-bystander/index.html

http://www.a4kclub.org/get-the-facts/bullying-statistics

 

 

National Bullying Prevention Month 

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and there are many organizations working to bring awareness to the problem of bullying. Aaron Paul, of Breaking Bad fame, recently raised $1.8 million dollars for an anti-bullying charity. His wife is a co-founder and many kids will be helped because of his support.  But bullying is still happening in our schools.

Bullying can be a huge problem for kids and it has truly long lasting effects. Victims of bullying are often scared to go to school, ride the bus, or even be alone in the hallway.

A recent study shows one-third of school age children are bullied each year – with less than 40% telling someone about it. Of course bullying does include things like punching, shoving or hitting.  But it also includes:

Inflicting psychological distress or physical harm on someone

  • Bullying is unwanted, purposeful and repeated – whether that’s verbal, nonverbal, physical, or it is happening online  
  • That includes spreading rumors, excluding people, taunting, etc.
  • Cyberbullying, which includes sending mean or threatening emails or text messages through the use of technology.

Bullying is really about an imbalance of power.

Signs your Child is Being Bullied

The most obvious signs, of course, are physical such as bruises or injuries.  Others include:

Appearing anxious

  • Lack of interest in school, declining grades
  • Trouble eating or sleeping
  • Lost or destroyed clothing or books
  • Avoiding certain situations, like taking the bus to school

What to do if you think your child is being bullied

First, offer comfort and support, no matter how upset you are about the situation.  Remind your child that he or she isn’t alone and that it’s the bully who is doing something wrong, not your child. Be there for your child and let him or her know that you will work together to figure out the best solution to the problem. Do NOT confront the bully’s parents or the bully himself.  The parents are likely to argue with you or assume your child is part of the problem.

Duval County School Board Anti-Bullying Policy

The Duval County School Board has developed an anti-bullying policy and parents who have concerns should report the bullying to their designated school administrator, who will then follow up with an investigation. Seek out someone at your child’s school.

DCPS Bullying Hotline

DCPS takes ALL reports of bullying seriously and have set up a Bulling Hotline so that it is easier to report instances of bullying. You can either call the hotline or you can text or email to contact someone at DCPS.

Contact Info:

Bullying Hotline: 904-390-CALL (2255)

Text or email: 390CALL@duvalschools.org

How to Talk to your Kids about Bullying

A lot of kids see other children being bullied and confide in their parents. What should these parents tell their children to do to stop the bullying without putting their own kids in harms way?

 

  • Be a friend to the person being bullied. Children can help someone who’s been bullied by simply being nice to them at another time.
  • Tell a trusted adult at school, like a teacher or coach. An adult can help stop bullying by intervening while it’s in progress, stopping it from occurring or simply giving the person being bullied a shoulder to lean on.
  • Help the person being bullied to get away from the situation. However they do it, make sure the children know not to put themselves in harm’s way. A bystander can offer a way for the person being bullied to leave the scene by saying something like, “Mr. Smith needs to see you right now,” or “Come on, we need you for our game.”
  • Set a good example. Do not bully others. If a child knows not to bully others, then other students will follow their example. To help even more, children can actively participate in anti-bullying activities and projects.
  • Don’t give bullying an audience. If one of your child’s friends or peers begins to bully someone, they shouldn’t encourage the behavior by giving it an audience. Instead of laughing or supporting, they can let the bully know that his or her behavior isn't entertaining.

Warning Signs your Child Could be a Bully

Here are a few things to look out for:

     Get into physical or verbal fights

  • Have friends who bully others
  • Are increasingly aggressive
  • Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
  • Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
  • Blame others for their problems
  • Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
  • Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity

What to do if Your Child is a Bully

Talk to your child about his behavior and don’t accept any kind of excuses.  You need to let your child know he is responsible for the choices made and must accept the consequences.

You may need to request a meeting with your child’s teacher or guidance counselor to find more about the situation because your child might not be telling you everything.

You do need to punish your child, but be careful not to belittle him.  You may also need to seek some type of counseling for your child because he may be bullying because of a problem he has.

Research shows that being a bully has long-lasting negative consequences.  A study found that boys who are identified as bullies in middle school were four times more likely to be convicted of a crime by the time they were 24-years old.  Bullies are more likely to be involved in fighting, vandalism, skipping school or dropping out and stealing.

Resources:

 

http://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/kids/

http://www.mychildsafety.net/effects-of-bullying.html

http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/bullies.html#

http://www.focusas.com/Bullying.html

http://www.schoolfamily.com/school-family-articles/article/819-if-your-child-is-the-bully

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/81890/what_to_do_if_your_child_is_a_bully_pg2.html?cat=

http://www.life123.com/parenting/tweens-teens/bullying/school-bullying.shtml

http://www.stopbullying.gov/respond/be-more-than-a-bystander/index.html

http://www.a4kclub.org/get-the-facts/bullying-statistics

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