New Study Examines Experiences of Foster Youth during Covid-19

December 9, 2020 |

The Field Center for Children’s Practice, Policy and Research released data from a new study done this past year on the effect the Covid-19 pandemic is having on youth in the foster care system. Key findings: 55% of foster youth reported that they were food insecure as a result of COVID-19 43% experienced a negative impact on their living situation— including being forced to leave, fearing being forced to leave, or experiencing homelessness or housing instability 72% reported a money situation that would be stable for no more than one month 48% indicated a negative impact on their employment— such as being laid off, no longer having reliable gig work, or having their work hours/income severely cut 56% of those surveyed reported clinically significant levels of depression or anxiety 52% reported COVID-19 having a negative impact on their health/mental health care For those in foster care, 14% reported that their caseworker has not done a good job communicating with them during the crisis 59% reported having reliable access to a computer during the crisis   What can we do? Stay in contact with foster youth/ youth who have recently transitioned out of foster care. Provide emotional support and reliable information.…

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We’re Moving!

October 27, 2020 |

That’s right! We are exited to announce that as of November 1, 2020 Youth Empowerment Siskiyou will be located at 907 Fourth Street in Yreka. The opportunity for ownership was brought to us by volunteer Rebecca Richman, who previously owned the building. It has taken most of 2020 to work out the details of even possibly owning our new facility – estimating costs, applying for grant funding, a lot of waiting, scheduling renovations and so much more. We are so grateful for the opportunity to own our new facility. This new space is more child friendly- away from the bustle of main street- it has a back yard with a basketball hoop, bikes, space for gardening and yard games. Inside, a fully functioning kitchen and specialized visitation rooms. We have big goals for our new space and we can’t wait to show you when it’s safe to do so! Until then, you can take a virtual tour during the Smile Breakfast on December 1st. 

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What is the Mckinney-Vento Act?

October 20, 2020 |

The McKinney-Vento Act requires that state educational agencies provide youth experiencing homelessness the same access to free, appropriate public education. The McKinney – Vento Acts gives youth experiencing homelessness the Right to immediate school enrollment even when records not present Right to remain in the school of origin, if in the student’s best interest Right to receive transportation to and from the school of origin Right to receive support for academic success   How does McKinney-Vento define homeless? The term “homeless children and youths”– (A) means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence (within the meaning of section 103(a)(1)); and (B) includes– (i) children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; or are abandoned in hospitals;* (ii) children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings (within the meaning of section 103(a)(2)(C)); (iii) children and youths who…

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What is a Youth Advisory Committee?

October 14, 2020 |

“Nothing for us without us.”   Nothing for young people without the input of young people. We believe youth should have a say in the way services are delivered by programs that claim to serve them. Especially because a lot of the youth we serve are currently in or have past experience in systems that assume some level of control over their lives. The Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) functions similarly to a board of directors. It is a governing body that provides guidance and vision like a board.  It also can influence decision making like a board does. In this way, the YAC can have meaningful impact on the lives of youth in our community because they are helping to shape effective services. You might be thinking, “Okay, the YAC governs and make suggestions but what does that really mean?” The YAC could do things like: Starting an LGBTQ+ youth club Starting a youth recovery club Advising the CASA program on systematic changes Advising YES on how to implement a new grant opportunity Influence the Camp YES activities and group field trips Make suggestions how YES can trains staff and volunteers Provide input into events Provide input into program efficacy…

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Helping Children Heal From Trauma

September 17, 2020 |

Help your child feel safe. Keep a regular routine for meals, playtime and bedtime. Encourage (don’t force) children to talk about their feelings.  Tell them it’s normal to have a lot of feelings, listen and let them know what happened is not their fault. Provide extra attention, comfort and encouragement. Younger children may want extra attention. Follow their lead and be patient. Teach relaxation techniques. Encourage them to practice slow breathing and other techniques of self regulation. Be aware of your own response to trauma. Having your own history of trauma can affect how you cope- seek help if you need it. Remember, everyone heals differently. Respect each child’s course of recovery. Find help when needed. Find a mental health professional that knows proven strategies to help children cope with trauma.     Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway. 2019 Prevention Resource Guide.

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Foster Youth More Likely to be Suspended from School

August 6, 2020 |

“Students who are suspended or expelled are more likely than their peers to have academic problems, drop out of school, and enter the juvenile justice system.”   Kids Data recently released a bunch of data regarding school attendance for the 2018-2019 school year.   Suspension Data by Foster Youth Status California  Foster Youth 151.1 per 1,000 Non-foster Youth 34 per 1,000 Siskiyou County Foster Youth 96.2 per 1,000 Non-Foster Youth 42.1 per 1,000     Expulsion Data by Foster Youth Status California  Foster Youth 3.7 per 1,000 Non-foster Youth 0.8 per 1,000 Siskiyou County Not Available     Suspension Data by Homelessness Status California  Homeless Students 59.6 per 1,000 Non-Homeless Students 33.8 per 1,000 Siskiyou County  Homeless Students 93.3 per 1,000 Non-Homeless Students 40.3 per 1,000   As you can see the data above reflects that foster youth and homeless youth are more likely to be suspended or face expulsion from school in Siskiyou County and California. School attendance is an indicator of academic success which can have lifelong impacts. If our foster and homeless youth are not in school they are less likely to succeed in it. This should come as no surprise- you can’t do well at school…

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What is Trauma-Informed Care?

July 15, 2020 |

What is trauma-informed care? Summed up simply it is approaching services through the lens of “what happened to you?” rather than “what’s wrong with you?” Asking what has happened to someone when they come into services is encompassing, less victimizing and seeks to understand. The main purpose of approaching services with a trauma-informed lens is to, at minimum, prevent more harm and re-traumatization.  An example of re-traumatization is taking away a patient’s decision-making process. When trauma-exposed patients feel forced into a decision it can trigger a feeling of powerlessness again. A more overt example of re-traumatization is using restraints.   Core principles of trauma informed care are:   Safety Staff and the people they serve should feel safe physically and psychologically   Trustworthiness and Transparency Conduct operations with goal of building and maintaining trust   Peer Support Utilize live experience to promote recovery and healing   Collaboration and Mutuality Importance is place on leveling power differences between staff and clients to create meaningful sharing of power and decision making   Empowerment, Voice and Choice Recognize and build on identified strengths   Cultural, Historical and Gender Issues The organization actively moves past stereotypes and biases offering responsive services to meet the…

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Pride Month and LGBTQ Foster Youth

June 24, 2020 |

June is LGBTQ Pride Month, commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, a tipping point for the Gay Rights Movement in the United States. The movement began under the leadership of Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson and Storme DeLarverie. Today, celebrations attract millions of participants around the world, recognizing the significant impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning individuals have had on history. Memorials are held in June for those who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS and, in the time of COVID-19, it is also a moment to remember LGBTQ individuals who have perished as a result of this global pandemic. It may not be generally known, but LGBTQ youth are over represented in the foster care system. An article published in the journal Pediatrics (March 2019) found that 30.4% of youth in California’s foster care self-identify as LGBTQ, compared with 11.2% percent of the  general youth population in a nationally-representative study. Many of these young people have been victims of violence and verbal, emotional abuse. They often endure bullying or worse from peers at school or adults, maltreatment that is even more frequent for LGBTQ people of color. Research indicates that they are…

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Summer Camp in the Time of Covid-19

June 23, 2020 |

Since Covid-19 is a new virus that scientists know very little about right now it feels like the information being released is ever changing. The American Academy of Pediatrics published an article about summer camp in the time of Covid-19. Information covered includes: camp safety, camp benefits and testing. If you’re concerned about your child going to camp or wondering about the logistics- give this article a read. Some things to consider while deciding if your child will attend summer camp this year are: Children will benefit from reestablishing peer connections while learning to social distance The camp your child attends should provide enriching experiences while reducing Covid-19 exposure  If your child is at risk of developing a severe illness from Covid-19 it may be recommended that they not attend camp this year Children with special health care needs should not be excluded from summer camp- your camp’s director may be able to create an individualized plan for your child if, after consulting your doctor, you do decide to send your child to camp this year All camps (day and overnight) should follow established COVID-19 mitigation and response guidelines Camps should have a policy regarding symptom screening and what to…

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How Does Trauma Manifest Itself?

June 2, 2020 |

The ways in which trauma and PTSD may present themselves is dependent on the individual, their life history and personal experiences. Symptoms of trauma are exhibited on a spectrum ranging from subtle to disabling. Some people want to process their traumas while others may choose not to. This post is a very simplified description of the way trauma may look and feel. There are links included to reputable scientific resources for more reading material. Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. This post is written to bring awareness to the role trauma has in the lives of the children and families we serve. And, since trauma is so prevalent, it’s safe to assume you interact with someone who is experiencing their own trauma. Part of being trauma-informed is to learn about how trauma affects people. Including how you can respond with care and compassion rather than react in a harmful, re-traumatizing manner to what could be a manifestation of a person’s trauma. Some of the symptoms of trauma in children (and adults) closely mimic depression, including too much or too little sleep, loss of appetite or overeating, unexplained irritability and anger, and problems focusing on projects, school work, and conversation.…

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