Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

(Christina at a Packer’s game, “The best day of my life”)

Introducing Christina P.
Melissa @ Kids Matter
I’d like to introduce Christina, Regional Supervisor for three counties in the North Region of the CCC. Christina has been with the CCC for four years and has been working in the Child Care Assistance Program for 11 years.
Christina has been working, in some capacity, since she was old enough to do volunteer service with a local hospital. Her first paying job was with a nursing home, in the dietary department. When asked what she liked most/least about her job with the CCC, she stated, “I love being able to help families.  The program freeze is what I dislike most about my job”.  Christina said that she chose her career because of her love for helping children and families.  Christina has a warm, giving heart, and feels most at home helping others.
She credits her grandmother for her choice to attend college and helping choose her particular career path. When asked about the most influential person in her childhood, Christina replied, “My grandma.  She is who drove me to attend college and do my best always”. Her definition of family is, “Being there for each other in the worst of times.” I asked her what was the most special way you’ve shown someone that you love them?” She replied, “Usually making them something, I think making gifts to show appreciation is much better than anything store bought.”
Christina’s definition of happiness is, “…no stress”. This is probably why her most memorable travel experience is Cancun, Mexico. No stress can be found there! Christina’s free time is usually spent outdoors and gardening.
I enjoyed this interview because I interact with Christina on a number of things within our organization, mostly via email. It’s nice to get to know someone a little more personally, outside of email correspondence!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Child Abuse Awareness

Child Abuse Awareness

Rashmi Adi-Brown (Guest Blogger) @ Kids Matter

2014 marks the 40th anniversary of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which expanded and centralized federal efforts to prevent and respond to Child Abuse and Neglect (CA/N). It is bittersweet to me that we have a month such as this. While I appreciate that we have April to remember and acknowledge that CA/N exists in our state, it is devastating to me that we do not emphasize that it happens every day, of every month, of every year.

We know the effects of CA/N negatively impact a child over the course of their life, affecting their success in school, work and life. It will impact their ability to love, trust and believe that the world, their world, can be a safe place.

In 2013, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, 56,128 children were reported abused and or neglected in Kentucky. That number rose from 24,506 in 2012.  Furthermore, 27 children died as a result of child abuse and neglect and there were 17 near fatalities. We know that there are risk factors present with a caregiver, whether in or out of the home, that may increase the chance of CA/N occurring. The risk factors may include: substance abuse, mental health issues and domestic violence.

I strongly believe it is our responsibility as adults, parents, and professionals to provide children with the basic tools for life: love, support, knowledge, and safety.  When a child is abused or neglected it shakes the very core of their being. We have all heard the phrase, “… through the eyes of a child”. In the children I worked with, girls and boys of all ages, I saw sadness, worldliness and weariness in their eyes. There are so many children, year after year, whose lives and souls have been torn apart and broken because of the hurt caused by someone they loved and trusted.

We can only prevent and protect our children by stepping up. This means being aware and responsible as parents, citizens and professionals to do everything we can to keep children safe. We can do this by talking about CA/N: what it is, what it means, and providing support to neighbors, family and friends who may be having a difficult time, supporting local and state awareness events, and reporting CA/N if you suspect it is occurring.

YOU can be that person! Make a difference in a child’s life!

Written by: Rashmi Adi-Brown, M.S., Director of the Division of Youth and Family Services, CHES Solutions Group

Friday, April 25, 2014

Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness
Dora Wilson (Guest Blogger) @ Kids Matter
“I am different, not less.”  Temple Grandin, animal behavior expert and author of The Autistic Brain
     Autism is a dirty word in most homes, especially homes of young children. Some 20 years ago, I opened the doors of my home to the beast of autism. Our home has never been the same. Of course, as when dealing with wild beasts, you either tame it or allow it to control you. We, as a family, decided to embrace, cultivate, understand, and subdue the beast of autism.
      Today, most people are aware of autism. According to Autism World, autism occurs in 1 out of every 110 births. One child is diagnosed every 20 minutes, which is an astonishing number. There are approximately 24,000 new cases recorded per year. As autism becomes more and more common, changes in our home, school, and society as a whole must take place to accommodate the growing population of people who are affected by this disorder.
    Some individuals with autism have a problem with communication. Many have little to no verbal language ability. Socialization is another problem. The small things that people take for granted in social settings are very foreign to people who have a disorder falling within the autism spectrum. Odd or undesirable behaviors are other problems that may accompany the diagnosis of autism. The list goes on and on. It is advisable that children be taken for regular checkups and for parents to pay close attention to the milestone guidelines that physicians supply. If you have a healthy child and are going through that list checking off the things your child can do… when you finish, go back up that list and imagine your checks were for not able to do and you will get an idea of what life is like with an autistic child.
Often, I’m asked how our family deals with the ongoing changes and challenges of autism. If I could sum it up in two words they would be, laughter and faith. We have learned to separate what is autistic behavior from the personality of my son. We know and believe that all life is worth living and most challenges make you wiser, stronger, and more understanding. We laugh because most people take life and the little things too seriously. My son, Jarred, has a wonderful sense of humor. His smile is addictive. Jarred is able to bring a ray of sunshine to an all too gloomy situation. People who have autism tend to see things at face value. The concerns of fashion, money, and prestige, are not important to them. The love of nature, the fascination of machines, and the wonders of the world are more likely to keep them occupied. Yes, rough days are frequent at our house. Full moons, change in the weather, and unplanned schedule changes can, and do, bring about anxiety.  However, we have had many wonderful days with time spent peering out the door laughing and watching squirrels rediscover the ground void of snow, laughing at young children playing innocently and laughing at absolutely nothing simply because… laughing is contagious.  We have tried new food and laughed because no one loved it, but Jarred. We have even cried together as family simply because a country song he loves moved him to tears.
Life with autism is not easy. But, is life ever easy? Autism is not the end. It’s only what you make of it. Never dwell on what things could be like in your home or for your child. Spend every precious moment living in the now, where your child is. Create wonderful memories and make life fun and exciting. The battles you face will not miraculously go away but, the joy you get from your autistic child will light even your darkest moments.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Kim L
Belinda @ Kids Matter
Meet Kim, a 14 year veteran of the CCC. She serves as the Lexington Regional Supervisor, overseeing eleven eligibility specialists who cover 20 counties. She is straight forward, friendly, and outgoing. She is a graduate of Madison Southern High School and holds a CTE in Computer Applications. This year, she and her husband will celebrate their eighth anniversary. They have two wonderful children, a daughter (age 18) and a son (age 10).
Kim speaks with great pride about her daughter, “My daughter is the first in our family to attend a four year college, and to know that I could give her everything that she needed to help make her dreams come true is the best feeling in the world.” She says, “My daughter is in her freshman year at Lindsey Wilson College, where she is majoring in biology, and will go on to pre-veterinarian.” Through the interview, I could just feel the smile light her face as she explained how her daughter, “spent three days a week for an entire summer at a veterinarian clinic doing volunteer work to make sure that was the path she wanted to pursue.” Kim’s advice to any college student is, “make decisions on what you want to do for a career by getting out there and seeing what is involved in the field that you are pursuing.” I couldn’t agree more with that statement. You may love animals, but until you work with them on a daily basis you may not realize the full extent of what you are getting yourself into. Congratulations to her daughter for recognizing such an important lesson at a young age.
Being very family oriented, Kim says that having children at a young age changed her life dramatically for the better and she, “wouldn’t have it any other way.” Kim says a happy family revolves around a healthy marriage which takes, “patience, understanding, and giving as much as you take.” She continues with excellent advice for any relationship by saying, “accept and respect others’ strengths and weaknesses.”
What makes Kim who she is? She contributes that to her family and the people with whom she surrounds herself. She says that the best advice for parents is to, “show your children patience, understanding, and lots of love. Provide discipline when needed, so they know how to grow and become responsible adults. While material things are nice, they do not create happy children.” She credits Julie as being the most influential person in her career. She states, “She has shown me what it means to have someone believe in you. To have someone give you the confidence to push yourself to your fullest potential is just awe inspiring.”
Being an outdoors person, Kim finds great relaxation and fun in weekend fishing trips with her husband. She also finds great comfort in being on the beach with her family. So much comfort, that she refers to herself as, “a true beach bum at heart.” She would call the beach her dream vacation and visits there as often as possible.
Having a grandmother, who is a cancer survivor, has inspired Kim to serve on the Relay for Life committee in Madison County. She encourages everyone to support cancer research, so hopefully one day no one will have to go through such devastation.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Earth Day 2014

Earth Day 2014

Robin @ Kids Matter

Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. Earth is an amazing and beautiful place.  Our ecosystem is complicated, and we have to take care to keep it in balance to preserve the planet for ourselves and future generations.

What’s happening?

Rainforests that once covered 15% of the earth’s land, now only cover 6%.  At this rate, we will probably consume the remaining rainforests in less than 40 years. Why is this important?  Major deforestation also brings pollution, soil erosion, malaria epidemics, leads to the extinction of plants and animals that existed in those forests; there is less rain, less oxygen, and increased threat of global warming. 

Over three million tons of toxic chemicals are released by factories into the land, air and water each year. There are many sources of pollution including: chemical and nuclear plants, oil refineries, human sewage, littering, and etc.  Pollution disturbs that balance in our ecosystem and can lead to serious changes in our environment such as increased illnesses, poor air quality, polluted drinking water, and etc. We can fight this by cutting down on landfill waste and reusing items and recycling others. Remember the old saying, “reduce, reuse, and recycle”? We can cut down on air pollution by driving less, (carpool or walk if you can!) and by quitting smoking.  Some types of pollution are out of our personal control, but we can contact our elected representatives to let them know how important protecting the environment is to us.

After this cold winter that we just had, it may be hard to believe, but climate change does exist. The global temperature has been going up, and will continue to do so unless we make changes.  Small changes in temperature can really have a big impact on climate and weather around the globe.  Many places have had increases in the number of droughts or floods, along with more frequent and severe heat waves. As the ocean begins to warm, even a little bit, the glaciers begin to melt, which causes the sea level to rise. This changes the balance in our eco-system and will probably present challenges to society and the environment far into the future.

These issues are just a few that affect our planet. Dealing with them is not easy or always cheap.  So remember, when you invest in the environment, you invest in the future. Explore the sources below to learn actions you can take today to go green!

The EPA website is also a great source for tips on what you can do to go.  An easy list of what you can do at home:
  1. Replace the five most used light fixtures or light bulbs to energy star ones.
  2. Look for energy star appliances when buying new ones for your home.
  3. Heat and cool smartly; change filters, use a programmable thermostat, have your equipment maintained to make sure it is operating effectively.
  4. Seal and insulate your home.
  5. Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
  6. Use water efficiently.  Repair leaky toilet and faucets, use the dishwasher only when full, and don’t let water run while brushing your teeth or shaving.
  7. Be green in your yard. Compost your garbage
  8. Purchase green power such as solar energy.
  9. Calculate your household’s carbon footprint, and reduce it.
  10. Spread the word.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring in Kentucky

Blog Squad @ Kids Matter

Welcome to a beautiful spring with its stunning and inviting color palette. Please join us as we journey through a virtual tour of Kentucky in spring. 

Photos courtesy of Debbie G., Elisha C., Kayla C., Nancy D., Belinda D., Mary G., Melissa B., Melissa W., Melissa R., Robin R., Shelly S., and Terry P. 

“Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer.”  Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.” Mark Twain

“I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring.  Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature's rebirth?”  Edward Giobbi

“The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another.  The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.”  Henry Van Dyke

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” William Shakespeare

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”  Anne Bradstreet

     “Spring is when life's alive in everything.”  Christina Rossetti

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Suzie S.
Robin @ Kids Matter
               Suzie is originally from the Central Kentucky area, but has lived across the state.   She worked in a Western Kentucky CCAP office for five years.  After moving back to Eastern Kentucky, she worked in CCAP for 11 years, before transferring to the office in Floyd County when she came to work for the Child Care Council of KY.  So, she has worked for three different agencies, doing the same job and helping many people across the state. 
Travel is a large part of Suzie’s life.  Suzie and her family have moved around quite a bit due to her husband being a minister.  She said, “In the church there is always the possibility of moving.  You have to make the best of it.  You can’t be miserable over something you can’t control… it doesn’t help.”  I love her positive attitude and adaptability!  Suzie also related an amazing travel experience to me about a trip to Israel.  The picture above, of her wading in the Mediterranean Sea, was taken at Caesarea by the Sea, Israel.  She has loved water all her life, probably partly because she grew up on Lake Cumberland and started swimming when she was three years old,  so was especially drawn to visit the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee while in Israel. 
Suzie has four grown daughters and nine grandchildren, with one more due this month.  She said the most beautiful things she has ever seen are the births of three of her grandchildren.  She was able to be in with her daughters during these births, and says it was amazing.  As much as she loves her children and grandchildren, she has been accused of loving her dog more.   J  She has a three year old rescue dog.  Suzie has a great passion for working with animal shelters to help find forever families for dogs and cats in need.  Another of her passions is riding motorcycles.  When the weather is good, she and her husband are out on their bikes.   They ride with the Fellowship of Christian Riders.  It is a motorcycle group that rides not to get converts, but simply to show that you can be a Christian and ride motorcycles.  Last year they rode to Hillbilly Hotdogs, in West Virginia, on their bikes.  Hillbilly Hotdogs is a big deal.  They’ve been featured on Diner’s, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network, and on Hotdog Paradise 2 on the Travel Channel.
Suzie said, “I have enjoyed the last year and a half at the CCC.  It’s a joy to work for an agency so mindful of its employees and good to work in a job where you are actually helping people.”  She said that if you have your priorities right in life everything will fall in line and work out right.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fun Science Experiments for Kids

Fun Science Experiments for Kids
Belinda @ Kids Matter
“The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage.” Mark Russell
Science is the career of having fun while making discoveries that not only change lives, but also change the way we think in life. Children are great explorers of the world and what better opportunity to explore that world, than through science. Some of the greatest discoveries have come from the smallest of experiments. Grow your child’s imagination and you could be raising the next Einstein or Newton! As Benjamin Franklin said, "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest."

Friday, April 11, 2014

Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scout Cookies
Julia @ Kids Matter
          Recently, I read an article and a blog about the outrage the writers felt over the sale of Girl Scout cookies. Because Girl Scout Cookies are an American institution and a greatly anticipated part of the early spring season, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to that complaint.
          As I read those opinions I started to get a little offended. The attack was on the Girl Scouts and how blind they are to the message they are sending out to young ladies. Their criticism of the Girl Scouts was the selling of cookies loaded with sugar, fat, and oils. It is MY responsibility, not that of a seven year old young lady, to put down the cookie and watch my own weight.
          I, along with countless others, live in a very income based area of town. We call it home. When I see Girl Scout outside the neighborhood grocery selling cookies, I am proud that those girls and parents have chosen to be a part of the Girl Scouts of America, versus more dangerous groups in our neighborhood.
They are learning and earning the money to go on trips to the zoo, a camp-out, the aquarium and etc. These are trips their families may not be able to afford for them to do. Selling something such as environmentally safe light bulbs would not really go over very well, but cookies always do. Cookies are a nod to the origins of GSA; they have a long and tasty history.
          Girl Scouts are not just about cookies. Cookie sales only take up 25% of their time with the remaining spent doing many other activities. The Girl Scouts of America is an economically, environmentally, and socially responsible organization that teaches young girls how to be strong, confident, and resourceful women. When I have a child, if I have a girl, I want her to be a scout. Not so that I can hoard boxes of Thin Mints in my home, like a troll with gold, but so my child will be part of a group of women who focus on learning, growing, and becoming leaders.
          Scouts are a wonderful and inexpensive way to get your child involved in the community. Girl scouting supports academic engagement and achievement, with an emphasis on helping girls succeed in school. Girl Scout programming has great benefits for girls and helps prepare them to go on and get a college education.
If you, like me, were once a Brownie, say the words;
"Twist me and turn me and show me an elf, I looked in the water and saw Myself”
For more information on the wonderful work done by the Girl Scouts of America, please visit their website!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Mary G.
Belinda @ Kids Matter
Mary is an Eligibility Specialist for the CCC and has been in the child care assistance business for seven and a half years. She respectfully serves the counties of Ohio, Butler, and Muhlenberg. Mary is such a wonderful people person who enjoys time spent with clients. She has a smile that lights even the darkest of rooms. She is the most caring, loving, person with a delightful bubbly personality and is always there to lend a helping hand.
Mary has been married to her sweetheart, Jody, for twenty-three years and falls in love with him more each day. She refers to him as her rock saying, “He works so hard to provide and be there for each of us.” Mary and Jody have four beautiful children, two boys and two girls, and also a handsome four year old grandson. She has also taken in another child, who she loves with all her heart, just as if she were her own. They also have a Labrador who she says is, “spunky and a crazy beast.” But, the dog loves them unconditionally and that’s the best kind of love.
Mary is deeply rooted in family unity, which she attributes to her mother. She says, “Mom is the most caring, unselfish person I know. She isn’t one to just say she is there, she actually is there.” Mary carries that over into her own family. She loves her family with great passion and considers them her greatest accomplishment in life. She enjoys every minute they spend together. Her family takes fantastic vacations. She conveyed a story of one particular fun and exciting adventure at Jelly Stone Campground, near Mammoth Cave. “It was October and there was so much for the children to do such as Halloween costume contests, hayrides, campground songs, picking and painting pumpkins, trick-or-treating, decorating camp sites, and even a haunted woods.” She was very excited as she described the fun they had.  The whole family enjoyed themselves and, believe it or not, there was not one single electronic device to be found. They went unplugged the whole weekend which, Mary says, “allowed them to spend time getting to really know each other”.
Having a large family can present challenges, and she tackles them head on. She describes her idea of a perfect day as being home ALONE cleaning the house. Her motivation in everything that she does is her family. She states, “I want them to be their best and I hope someday they come to realize I did my best to raise them into bright, sincere, caring, loving, thoughtful individuals who are never afraid to go after what they want.”
When asked about advice for raising a family she said, “Surround yourself with people who have the same goals and expectations.” Those people will be the community helping to raise your child. She’s a firm believer in picking your battles and often tells her children to, “Pick one you will win”. We aren’t meant to win every argument and sometimes it’s really not worth the time spent being angry. Her greatest advice is to take time and listen to what your children are saying. “Put down the remote, iPad, cellphone, or whatever gadget you’re connected to and truly spend time listening to them.” Mary is so family oriented that even her hobbies involve spending time with her children. She is a wonderful and devoted mom whose children love her immensely.  Her time is so packed with work, children’s sports, maintaining the household, church functions, and helping everyone that needs her that, if she were granted one super-human power, she would choose, “not to sleep”. She laughs as she says, “There is not enough time in the day.”