Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) has impacted social services in recent years. Groundbreaking research has opened our eyes to underlying factors that impact the lives of youth and adults alike. It is a health epidemic that requires a call to action. But, what do we do with the research? What are the practical application measures? How do we provide equitable services? What are the best methods for reaching, helping, and working with children experiencing trauma?

In presentations, I discuss the practical applications I have used over the last ten years in urban education from elementary to high school. Now, the research has caught up with the successes I have found in my office and work with adolescents. For example, to move from the emotional part of the brain (amygdala) to the thinking part of the brain (prefrontal cortex), it takes 90 seconds to reset. When you look around the room and find facts (i.e., the wall is gray, the vase is white, the chair is blue, etc.), the brain will slowly move from processing emotion to thinking. Your body will relax thus leaving you in control of your emotions versus emotions controlling you. Strategies like this work for children and adults. It is just one of the various practical applications that will be taught, practiced, and adapted for immediate personal and professional use. To provide equitable services, we must meet children where they are with an understanding of the underlying adversities they have experienced.

Counselors regularly experience and assist clients in crisis. These clients impact the counselor due to the level of trauma that can remain after the crisis is handled (Dupre et al., 2014). It can be a positive or negative outcome for the counselor. The positive outcome can be vicarious resilience or posttraumatic growth (Dupre et al., 2014). The negative outcomes can include the “counselor’s personal and professional development, increasing the risk for difficult countertransference reactions, empathic strain, burnout, and compassion fatigue” (Dupre et al., 2014, p. 83-84).

As social services workers, we must practice what we preach through self-care and putting our oxygen mask on first before helping others. While these practical applications can be utilized for others, we should practice and use them in our own lives to ensure personal wellness.

To learn more about ACEs and practical strategies, join me at the Indiana Youth Institute’s College and Career Conference on June 5 and 6 in Indianapolis. Register here: http://bit.ly/IYICollegeAndCareer

About Sherri Barrow

Sherri is the Future Center Coordinator at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis. You can connect with her on Twitter @MrsBarrowIPS or on LinkedIn.

References

Dupre, M., Echterling, L. G., Meixner, C., Anderson, R., & Kielty, M. (2014). Supervision Experiences of Professional Counselors Providing Crisis Counseling. Counselor Education & Supervision, 53(2), 82–96. https://doi-org.library.capella.edu/10.1002/j.1556-6978.2014.00050.x

Additional Resources

Welcome. How May I Serve You?

“Nobody has ever asked me what I value before, and if they have then they certainly have never asked me what I value when talking about deciding my future career.”

It was one of those statements that instantly made me stop in my tracks and appreciate the moments when I am given the opportunity to venture into the thoughts of my students and gain a better understanding of how I can I better serve them as a school counselor. I was delivering a lesson on career development to 11th and 12th graders and the activity was for them to identify what they value so we could start some career conversations around the significance of finding a career that aligns with their values and beliefs. I have done the lesson before and it is always a great conversation starter, but this was the first time a student was brave enough to admit she did not know what she valued because nobody had ever asked her that question before.

It was at that moment I brought myself back 20+ years ago and realized if I would have been asked the same question I was asking her, I would have felt the same exact way. As educators, we often assume our students come to us with this preconceived knowledge and perceptions that will help them decide their future destinies, but in all actuality, these are thought processes that have to be developed and will continue to be developed throughout their lifetime.

After some personal reflection, I had to admit that my own values and beliefs are still constantly evolving and what I value now may not have been the same thing I valued when I was a 16-year-old girl searching for direction in life.

This example serves as a perfect reminder of why it is imperative that schools offer a K-12 career development framework that is developed around student needs. This was the first time this question was ever posed to this student. Imagine the power of that question if this was an area of consideration that was introduced at an early age and the potential of how that thought process would have been able to develop so by the time this young lady was about to graduate high school she would have a very clear picture of her values and how they relate to her career goal.

Starting at an early age with career development opens the door for uninhibited aspirations that are driven by young minds that are getting to know themselves in regard to values, interests, strengths and ambitions. Acknowledging those aspirations has the potential to open up a world of wonder and excitement when young students start to think about not what they want to do but what type of person they want to become when they grow up. The connection to a career can come later.

The middle and early high school years can continue to drive this self-reflection home for students as they begin to research potential careers that align to the values and strengths they have already identified within themselves. This can become a time when they start to develop more defined goals and career planning conversations with the hopes that by the time they graduate high school they will be able to gain experiences in their areas of interest and connect with employers on a deeper level so they can develop a more well-rounded understanding of how these careers look and feel.

As counselors, we are in a unique position to guide our students through this K-12 career development system and I cannot think of many more careers as important and fulfilling as this one. We are given the opportunity to help our students discover the people they are striving to become!

So, I ask you, what are your values and beliefs? How do these values and beliefs relate to your current career? Without even knowing each of you individually, I would venture to say that all of us value the success of our students and have a belief that our responsibility as counselors is to help them become fulfilled, striving, successful members of society. . . and that pathway to success starts in Kindergarten.

To learn more about K-12 Career Advisement Strategies, join me at the Indiana Youth Institute’s College and Career Conference on June 5 and 6 in Indianapolis. Register here: http://bit.ly/IYICollegeAndCareer

About Terri Tchorzynski

Terri Tchorzynski is a Professional School Counselor at the Calhoun Area Career Center (CACC) in Battle Creek, Michigan, and has been named the 2017 National School Counselor of the Year by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). Through a data-driven, comprehensive, and student-centered approach to school counseling, Terri and her team have received both state and national recognitions. Behind Terri’s leadership, the CACC’s counseling department has been recognized by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) for exemplary practices in college/career readiness, and was the second school in the state of Michigan to receive the nationally recognized achievement of being a Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP). Terri has also been recognized as a Top Presenter for MDE’s Career and Technical Education Conference, an Honorary Counselor by the Michigan School Counselor Association, as well as being named the 2016 Michigan School Counselor of the Year. Connect with her on Twitter at @ttchorzynski.

 

Additional Resources

“Five Things Parents Need to Know About Career and Technical Education.” NBC Universal Parent Toolkit, February 2018.

“Launch Into the Field of Aviation.” ACTE Techniques, January 2018.

“Creating a Culture of College and Career Readiness.” ACTE Techniques, September 2017.

By Tami Silverman, President & CEO, Indiana Youth Institute

An increasing number of our children and youth have mental health disorders, encountering challenges with school, within their peer groups, and at home. Unfortunately, most of them are not getting the care they need. Signs of mental health disorder may be difficult to recognize, and unfortunately mental health disorders continue to be stigmatized. These, combined with a lack of access to services for many, create substantive barriers to care. More must be done to combat widely-held myths, connect children with treatment, supports, and services, and work to build strong support networks for all our young people.

A February 2019 study in JAMA Pediatrics estimated that 7.7 million American children, one in every 6 children, have at least one mental health disorder. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), ADHD, behavior problems, anxiety and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children, and some of these conditions, such as anxiety and depression, commonly occur together. The JAMA Pediatrics study also showed that roughly half of children do not receive any kind of treatment from a mental health professional.

Last year, 11.6% of Hoosier children received treatment or counseling from a mental health professional, a significant number, and yet still only a portion of Indiana children in need. The National Survey of Children’s Health indicates that 5.2% of Indiana children have ever been diagnosed with depression, and 11.0% have been diagnosed with anxiety. We know that accessibility remains an issue in Indiana. Among our neighboring states, Indiana has the lowest ratio of mental health providers available to serve the population, approximately 1 per every 700 people, and nearly 60% of the state’s population lives in designated mental health professional shortage areas.

Identifying mental health issues may be less obvious than physical ailments, such as broken bones, asthma, or diabetes. Occasional bouts with emotional distress, anxiety, stress, and depression are normal experiences for all children and youth. It can be difficult to distinguish between behaviors and emotions that are related to typical child development, and those that require extra attention and concern.

The national nonprofit Child Mind Institute describes seven myths about childhood mental illness that need to be debunked. These include recognizing that childhood mental illness is not caused by personal weakness or poor parenting. Children and youth cannot overcome mental health problems through willpower, nor will they grow out of their disorder. Instead, understanding that most psychiatric disorders begin before age fourteen provides additional incentive to screen and intervene during childhood. Children who receive early interventions and treatment have a good chance of managing or overcoming their symptoms.

How do you know when a child’s behavior is cause for concern? You should always seek immediate help for a child or teen who harms themselves or others or talks about wanting to do so. While short term stress, anxiety or depression can be developmentally appropriate, the National Institute of Health (NIH) advises that you should also seek help if a child’s behavior or emotional difficulties last more than a few weeks and are causing problems at school, at home or with their friends. Young children may exhibit symptoms such as intense worry or fear, frequent tantrums, complaints about frequent stomach or headaches with no known medical cause, and a lack of interest in playing with other children. Symptoms in teenagers include a loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, spending increasing amounts of time alone or avoiding social activities, sleeping too little or too much, and engaging in risky, destructive or self-harming behaviors. The NIH recommends talking with your child’s teacher and consulting your pediatrician, asking either for a recommendation to a mental health professional who has specific experience in dealing with children, when and if possible.

Caring adults and a strong support network, including family members, teachers, coaches and mentors, can serve as protective factors for mental health. Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration Division of Mental Health and Addiction manages our state’s Systems of Care, a model framework used to coordinate services and supports. Schools throughout the state continue to expand their services and expertise, understanding the importance of prevention, intervention, positive development, and communication to families.

While many agree that progress has been made regarding how mental health is viewed, stigma and negative connotations still keep far too many children from getting critical care and support. It is important to understand and work to reduce the barriers of stigma and access to mental health care. It is equally, if not more important, to understand that, for most youth, childhood mental disorders are episodic rather than permanent. Just as with physical illnesses, keys include ensuring children in need can receive appropriate screening and treatment. We would not ignore a child’s physical ailment, and it is time that we consistently take the same approach to their mental health.

(Tami Silverman is the President & CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. She may be reached at iyi@iyi.org or on Twitter at @Tami_IYI. IYI’s mission is to improve the lives of all Indiana children by strengthening and connecting the people, organizations, and communities that are focused on kids and youth.)

With the buzz about “collective impact” over the last few years, a quick Google search will yield a wealth of tools, resources, forums and organizations dedicated to helping ignite a group of local leaders from various community sectors toward a common agenda to resolve a complex social problem using a specific framework. However, weeding through this abundance of resources to identify rural collective impact models proves to be a bit like searching for a four-leaf clover in a grassy field.

Although rural collective impact models may be more difficult to identify, they are beginning to take their place on the stage as rural communities are identifying the intrinsic value of using this framework to improve community outcomes amidst the scarcity of resources that often exist in their rural economies. As rural communities embrace a collective impact framework as a way of authentically collaborating for social change, one critical question leaders should consider is how collective impact implementation must be adapted for a rural setting versus an urban setting to achieve the maximum output.

If I have learned anything working in rural communities for more than 20 years, it is the power of people and relationships. The rich heritage of Appalachian Kentucky is chocked-full of people who persevered, finding strength in some of the most challenging circumstances while also calling on their network of people to help them overcome the challenge at hand. It is this fabric of tight-knit relationships that must be woven into the rural collective impact tapestry. As we strive to align contributions around a shared result, it may mean utilizing personal one-to-one communication to engage stakeholders. It may also require relying on another community member with a personal relationship to activate another stakeholder. My experience is that it does not mean creating new community groups, but meeting people where they are in their existing community networks and helping them to see themselves in the data and recognize that they all have a contribution to the solution.

Implementing collective impact in a rural community is not without risk. With the lack of available resources and educational supports in many rural communities, carrying out new strategies or approaches may be perceived as hazardous. We are often asking leaders to risk the marginal footing they currently hold for nothing more than a possibility – a possibility of standing on a mountain of results. As we ask stakeholders to join us in the cause, we must remain transparent about the potential risks.

As a transformational leader, I have often found myself utilizing my passion to petition leaders, but was then left wondering why I was standing alone in the trenches of the work. Charisma and passion may have seemed to work on the surface, but in reality stakeholders were left with more questions than answers as they weighed their potential losses against the possible outcomes. When I employed the tool of transparency and helped leaders identify their potential losses while also helping them see a new vision, they were far more likely to join those in the trenches working toward a common result for their community.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention the importance of acknowledging time as a resource that is often scarce in our rural Appalachian Kentucky communities. It is the lack of people resources that lead many stakeholders to wear more proverbial hats than they can count. As such, it is imperative to remain transparent about the time obligations required while also allowing leaders sufficient time to consider and process their commitments.

In a recent community leadership meeting, I recognized that the group was struggling to align because they had not been given ample time to consider all the factors and implications, individually or collectively. I recognized through the conflict that the group was crying out for one thing – time. Rather than moving the group to a decision within the confines of the meeting, I gave them time to dialogue outside of the meeting, connect with their networks, and reflect on the information provided.

Within a one-week time frame, leaders had very thoughtfully reviewed the data, engaged additional stakeholders, and all aligned around a common result for the next year. Without the additional time, I can tell with you with complete confidence that today we would not have a group of local leaders willing to take a risk in service of the results they want for their community.

Using the collective impact framework, informed by local context while utilizing the power of relationships and naming the risks, are what I believe to be the fundamental elements to achieving the most impactful cradle-to-career results in a rural setting.

To learn more about the “Pipelines to Success in Rural Communities – From Community Vision to Creating Cradle-to-Career Results,” join me at the Indiana Youth Institute’s College and Career Conference on June 5 and 6 in Indianapolis. Register here: http://bit.ly/IYICollegeAndCareer

About Sherry L. Scott

Sherry Scott serves as the organizational results and data officer for Partners for Education. Scott has more than twenty-five years leadership experience working in the non-profit and education sectors. She has extensive experience directing federal grant programs, developing partnerships and key coalitions, designing data-driven continuous improvement systems and leading cradle-to-career, place-based initiatives in Appalachia Kentucky. A first-generation graduate, Scott earned both her bachelor’s degree of business administration in marketing and her master’s degree in corrections and juvenile services from Eastern Kentucky University.

Additional Resources

Learn more about Partners for Education at Berea College: https://www.berea.edu/pfe/

Click here for more information on Results CountTM and the Annie E. Casey Foundation: https://www.aecf.org/work/leadership-development/results-count/

teenager vaping

Indiana’s children face many significant health issues, with our opioid crisis and an alarming increase in nicotine use being two of the most urgent. Our state needs all its children to be healthy and have the opportunity to become the strong workforce and leaders of tomorrow.

Children are often the unseen victims of the opioid crisis, with kids of all ages both directly and indirectly affected. Family and community opioid abuse often affects younger children, while older youth may combat opioid addiction themselves. Hoosier children whose parents struggle with substance use disorder are more likely to experience abuse or neglect than other children.

Research shows a clear connection between parents’ substance abuse and child maltreatment, and the number of Indiana kids negatively affected by substance use disorder is growing. Parental substance abuse is the primary factor in more than half (52.2%) of Indiana cases where a child was removed from their home. The addictions crisis also has contributed to a crisis in foster care for the state, with the number of children in foster care having risen 50.2 percent from 2012 to 2015.

Although we may not hear as much about Indiana’s alarmingly high rates of tobacco use, the toll it is taking on our kids is no less dire. The use of any type of tobacco product is unsafe for young people. Experts agree that whether a teen smokes or vapes, the nicotine is both addictive and damaging to their developing brains.

Youth are sensitive to nicotine addiction and feel dependence earlier than adults. Each year, over 3,500 Hoosier children under 18 become new daily smokers. Nearly 9 out of 10 smokers start before age 18, and three out of four teen smokers become adult smokers. The brain continues developing until age 25 and adolescent use of products containing nicotine can harm the part of the brain responsible for mood, learning, and impulse control.

Today, the most commonly used tobacco product among teens are e-cigarettes. When adolescents use vaping products, they are both more likely to use cigarettes, and more likely to increase their use of cigarettes and vaping products over time. Teens who would otherwise be deterred from tobacco cigarettes may be attracted to e-cigarettes because of their unique qualities such as flavorings, design, and perceived social acceptance. The top reasons why teens use e-cigarettes are the use of the product by a friend of family member, availability of flavors, and the belief that vaping is less harmful than other forms of tobacco.

Smoking and substance use are just two of the health issues impacting young Hoosiers – overall, we rank 34th in kids health. We can, and must, do better. We will not change these trends without investing in our kids and our communities. Distressingly, we are 49th out of the 50 states in per-capita spending on public health issues like smoking, drug addiction and obesity.

The Indiana Youth Institute is part of a broad coalition of health, business and youth leaders that are coming together around a plan that calls for improving health outcomes by raising the state cigarette tax as part of next year’s biennial budget. A $2 increase in the state cigarette tax—which is currently under $1 and even lower than Kentucky—would significantly lower the appeal of cigarettes to young, price-sensitive people. It also would generate $360 million in the first year alone that could go toward funding opioid treatment and prevention, educating and protecting youth from e-cigarettes and smoking, addressing our state’s infant mortality concerns and strengthening the Healthy Indiana Plan.

Kids and families benefit from these initiatives. We have the potential to move from bottom ten states in public health spending to the top 10. By raising cigarette user fees in next year’s budget, we can make meaningful and transformative investments to improve our kids’ health.

Our kids are our future. They have limitless potential. Let’s ensure they have the good health needed to become Indiana’s next generation of citizens, innovators, and leaders.

(Tami Silverman is the president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute)

young boy high fiving older man next to bikes

What are your goals for 2018? For adults, the most popular resolutions include exercise more, quit smoking, learn a new skill, and manage money better. What about for kids? Should they also be making New Year’s resolutions? Studies show child goal setting can build their resilience, confidence and motivation. Yet it is important that we understand how goal setting is different for children. With the right approach and tools, building our children’s ability to set appropriate goals can put them on a path to long-term success.

As caring adults, we can set the conditions for our children to learn the benefits of goal setting. In fact, experts agree that most children learn how to set goals by continually watching their parents and mentors. Teaching children how to set and achieve goals helps them learn the values of reflection and self-improvement. And reflective self-improvement, also called a growth mindset, has been found to be a better predictor of future success than IQ.

To be effective, children must drive the goal-setting process. To ensure that the goals are truly those of the child and not a reflection of adult overreach, caring adults must play a supporting role, allowing the child to identify their unique goals. One approach, the ABCs of Goal Setting, from Psychology Today, highlights that goals should be achievable and believable, while involving personal commitment. EdWeek proposes a simple “noun plus verb” structure, such as “read every night” or “attend homework groups.” With any approach, it’s important to review plans regularly and to anticipate that setbacks may occur and adjustments will be needed.

While goal setting can be started with children as young as 3 or 4, it is important to adjust the approach based on the child’s age. At any age, start the conversation by simply asking children what they would like to do this year. Michelle Borba, parenting expert and author of the recent book “UnSelfie,” suggests then using this formula: “I will” plus “what,” “when” and “how.” For younger kids, the formula simplifies to “I will” plus “what.” Goals such as learning to tie shoes or memorize simple addition facts are realistic for little ones and can later grow to be more complex.

Psychology Today says a key in goal setting is to listen to the child and focus on the process of improvement rather than the product. We also can help by ensuring that our kids don’t set too many goals or select goals that are too complex or too simplistic. Many experts suggest that by selecting goals that are just out of reach we can teach children to try new things.

At the same time, kids need to see and understand that self-improvement takes time and that setbacks are normal. Show them the struggles you’ve encountered to reach your own goals. There are many great biographies, such as those of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and many Olympic athletes, that highlight the essential connection between goals, failure and success.

Goal setting holds the promise of helping kids in many parts of their lives, and experts recommend looking beyond academics. When youth are overscheduled and stressed, they may need to identify goals and action steps that foster relaxation and fun as part of their lives. Borba recommends we promote this balance by helping children set and achieve character goals. Character goals aim at cultivating “we-thinkers” instead of “me-thinkers,” helping kids become better individuals and community members through building traits such as caring, courtesy, respect, patience, generosity and truthfulness. Another way to reinforce the importance of these character goals is for the entire family to identify and work towards a shared goal, such as listening more or reaching out to elderly relatives.

In 2018, instead of just telling your child they are smart, you can teach them that they are capable of taking on challenges that can result in growth. Listen to their goals, help them define the larger strategy and necessary daily actions, then provide lots of cheering, encouragement in the face of setbacks, and unconditional support. As we aim to grow and nurture our future leaders, goal setting may be the key to building motivated, resilient and hopeful kids. And it’s a goal we can all share.

(Tami Silverman is the president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. She may be reached at iyi@iyi.org or on Twitter at @Tami_IYI)

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

• Psychology Today: The ABCs of Goal Setting
• EdWeek: 10 Tips for Setting Successful Goals
• Dr. Michele Borba: Helping Kids Become Goal Setters