PFSA Blog Feed Latest Posts Protecting Infants, Supporting Mothers Even a quick scan of the daily news tells the story of the opioid epidemic that causes devastating harm to the substance user, her children and family, and the larger&#8230; Thu, 17 Aug 2017 17:28:29 Z Beth Bitler <p>Even a quick scan of the daily news tells the story of the opioid epidemic that causes devastating harm to the substance user, her children and family, and the larger community. You don’t have to look far to find the story of a tragic death from overdose or a report on the harm that Substance Use Disorder (SUD) causes newborn babies exposed to drugs in utero. Everyone but the cruelest would agree that infants should be given the best start possible in life, and that entering the world with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS, “withdrawal” in newborns) is nowhere near that mark. And, it’s important to note that NAS exists not only in opioid addiction; withdrawal from alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs also occurs.</p><p>One arena in which the issues effecting newborns is a “hot topic” is our state legislature. Recently, Rep. Kathy Watson (R-Bucks County) introduced a bill that would help ensure that babies who are born dependent on controlled substances are safely cared for and receive critical medical and developmental services. The legislation would reverse a 2015 amendment to the state’s Child Protective Services Act that exempted health care providers from reporting infants born exposed to drugs when mothers were legally prescribed addictive narcotics during pregnancy. Clearly, the protection of the newborn is the most crucial of concerns, but that’s not where the concern ends.</p><p>Is it possible to care about babies and <strong>not</strong> their mothers? I don’t think so, and I don’t think it’s an either/or choice. So, how do we do both?</p><p><a href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-521 alignright" src="" alt="Image of business partners hands on top of each other symbolizing companionship and unity" width="200" height="300" /></a></p><p>In an ideal world, there would be readily available treatment for women who would seek help early, surrounded by a loving family to temporarily care for their kids and then provide support as they recover. Treatment would offer services aimed specifically at pregnant and postpartum women. This ideal world would not subject the substance user to the shame and stigma associated with SUD that stops many from asking for help. Women would not have to choose between getting prenatal care and losing their children. And babies would be kept near – not taken away from – their mothers in early recovery.</p><p>If only we lived in an ideal world.</p><p>In our <em>real world, </em>we often take an almost opposite approach. Less than a quarter of our nation’s SUD treatment centers offer specific services for pregnant and postpartum women, and even fewer offer recovery drugs to control cravings and withdrawal. Experts say that quitting drug use without the use of such medications has a higher incidence of relapse and can be stressful on a fetus, according to a recent article in the <em>Washington Post. </em>And opiate antagonist drugs like Vivitrol® show great promise preventing relapse. We’ve made a lot of progress in offering recovery medications in general, but pregnant women face resistance from doctors wary of harming the fetus, though some studies have shown few or no long-term effects from their use.</p><p>Today, only a fraction of family members of substance users receive education in SUD science and effective ways to support recovery.  And many people view the substance user as the enemy – who “asked for it” when addicted – because they do not understand, and cannot comprehend, the unbelievable power of the drug.</p><p>How do we reach the ideal world? Look at one aspect of the problem.</p><p>Mandated reporters rightly make reports when infants are exposed to harmful drugs, and our overburdened, underfunded child welfare system becomes involved.  According to the 2016 <em>Annual Child protective Services Report, (PA Department of Human Services)</em> the large majority of calls to General Protective Services (GPS, reports that don’t rise to the level of child abuse but services to prevent harm to children are needed) involve parental substance abuse, with mothers being the person most reported. As the opioid epidemic grows, the Commonwealth has not responded to the critical needs of children of substance users to the extent that is needed. The numbers of effected children are not declining; what are we waiting for?</p><p><a href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-514 alignright" src="" alt="RF collage" width="195" height="300" /></a>While services vary from county to county, some counties have no alternatives to removing children from the home. If it is safe – by providing ongoing treatment, support and education to mothers – to keep babies with their mothers, that should be the first goal of our child welfare and SUD treatment systems.</p><p>“These mothers will stay clean if we show them that they can bond with the baby, that they are successful,” says Kimberly Spence, a Missouri neonatologist recently quoted in the<em> Post </em>article<em>, </em>noting that taking the baby away can exacerbate the mother’s drug problem. “They no longer have a reason to stay clean.” She typically puts newborns with NAS on a tapering dose of morphine to reduce withdrawal symptoms. At the same time, mothers are offered recovery drugs to help them maintain their recovery as they commit to quit using drugs and become nurturing parents.</p><p>One way that PA Family Support Alliance is a part of the solution is our <em>Recovering Families</em> program, a parenting curriculum specific to parents as they recover from SUD. For people engaged in 12-step programs, the slogans and steps are discussed in the context of parenting.  It covers topics like how to talk to children about SUD and recovery, the importance of balancing parenting responsibilities with the needs of recovery, and the impact of substance use on child development. We provide materials and training to organizations who work with parents in recovery; these local providers now offer <em>Recovering Families</em> across Pennsylvania and several other states.</p><p>As we each have a role to play in preventing child abuse, we each have a role to play in helping children – and parents – effected by drug use. September is National Recovery Month, a great time to become part of the movement toward an ideal world.</p><p>To learn more about <em>Recovering Families</em> <a href="">visit our website</a>, or call us at 717-238-0937.</p><p><img class=" wp-image-517 aligncenter" src="" alt="2017-recovery-month-horizontal-web-banner" width="443" height="102" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p> 0 2017-08-17 17:28 +00:00 2017-08-17 13:28 -04:00 Latest Posts Full Stop: Children Cannot Consent to Sex with an Adult. Ever. I have long heard that as people age, the shock factor decreases and very little about human behavior is surprising. That was not my experience as I heard Milo Yiannopoulos’&#8230; Wed, 01 Mar 2017 16:19:43 Z Beth Bitler <p>I have long heard that as people age, the shock factor decreases and very little about human behavior is surprising. That was not my experience as I heard Milo Yiannopoulos’ comments seemingly advocating for sex between young teens and adults. I mean seriously, what the hell is this man thinking? I am uncertain if he should be considered a fool or a misguided idiot in asserting the notion that adults who have sexual relations with children under age 18 are somehow helping them “experiment with their sexuality” and that the sex was “consensual.” The only thing that brought my blood pressure down into normal range was reading and hearing the outrage expressed around the country. That, and the fact that he lost his job too.<br />In fact, Milo’s assertion is a gross affront to any moral and legal interpretation of children’s rights. Teresa Huizar, executive director of the National Children’s Alliance, wrote brilliantly about the Milo controversy, “…fascinating as it is to recount Milo’s many other transgressions, his gut-churning comments about child sexual abuse reveal a vile and all-too-common myth: that children can somehow consent to sex with adults. They can’t. Full stop.” Excellent comment. Remember it and repeat it if ever you hear another fool or misguided idiot suggest that children can consent to sex with adults. You can add it to the list of things children under age 18 cannot do. They cannot vote. They cannot purchase tobacco products. They cannot consume alcohol. Stands to reason, does it not, children cannot consent to sex with an adult. Full stop!<br />The sexual abuse of children &#8211; and that is exactly what it is &#8211; is a major black eye for the state of Pennsylvania. When you consider Jerry Sandusky’s serial sexual predation of children, the multiple ongoing grand jury investigations into child sexual abuse in the Catholic dioceses around the state, and the daily news reports of allegations of institutional sexual abuse in our schools and other organizations, Pennsylvania has rightfully been termed by some observers as Ground Zero &#8211; an epicenter &#8211; for the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.<br />Sexual abuse was involved in 47 percent (1,960) of all substantiated reports of child abuse in the 2015 Annual Child Protective Services Report published by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. Let’s be clear about this: These 1,960 children were not building their résumé of sexual experiences. They were being abused by adults who damn well should have known better. These adults were perpetrators and should feel the full force of our state’s law. And these children were victims and they deserved to be safe and cared for in the communities in which they lived, went to school, and played.<br />Almost immediately after hearing about Milo’s very bad day when he should have remained silent, I read an equally impactful article in the Baltimore Jewish Times by Toby Tabachnick. I was not half way through the article when I decided to be a huge fan of Toby. And the reason is simple. She was telling about one more situation where a teacher was accused of sexually abusing students, this time at Yeshiva Boys School of Pittsburgh. However, rather than sensationalize the situation for news circulation, she told the facts about what the school had done as soon as they learned of the abuse from a member of the community who saw the teacher “touching a child inappropriately” in the school library. Yeshiva followed a near textbook proper response. The administration immediately removed the rabbi from the school, contacted ChildLine (PA’s hotline for reporting child abuse), and cooperated fully with law enforcement. Yeshiva communicated with parents after consulting law enforcement and held a meeting with the broader school community. School leaders prepared for the worst by having their staff fully trained on child abuse prevention, recognition, and reporting. Quite simply, Yeshiva chose to put the care and protection of their students above their own convenience as an institution. How different the current battle around the elimination of the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse victims might look if other organizations and institutions had been so honorable. So, kudos to Yeshiva and Toby Tabachnick for reminding us all there should be zero tolerance for the abuse of children, that community members have a critical role to play in child protection, and that there really are institutions that do the right thing for children.<br />I have spent the past 30 years working in child abuse prevention and I certainly was not surprised to read about these champions for children, but it sure was nice to read. Let’s each do our part to make sure there are more stories where folks knew what to do to best protect children &#8211; and did just that. To learn how to do your part, please visit</p> 0 2017-03-01 16:19 +00:00 2017-03-01 11:19 -05:00 Latest Posts Every Child in PA Deserves and Needs a Champion I’ve noticed lately that I’m weary from “bad news.” Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we gloss over the dangers and atrocities in our communities.  You know&#8230; Wed, 25 Jan 2017 14:05:50 Z Beth Bitler <p>I’ve noticed lately that I’m weary from “bad news.” Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we gloss over the dangers and atrocities in our communities.  You know what I mean; the kind of news that tells us despite all our good works, bad things happen that we can scarcely imagine before we view it on television, hear about it on social media, or read about it in those nearly-extinct publications called newspapers.  I am suggesting we bring a greater balance into our daily conscience, like appreciating the moments that bring joy to our lives. There’ve been a few things that have made me smile broadly in recent days; people and situations that have made me feel proud to be part of this human race &#8211; literally and figuratively speaking.</p><p><a href=""><img class="alignright wp-image-505 " src="" alt="blog 1" width="348" height="196" /></a>I just finished a radio interview with RJ Harris at WHP 580 iHeart Media in Harrisburg to tell central PA listeners about PFSA’s kick off to our new PA Blue Ribbon Champion for Kids campaign.  The goal is quite simple:  To shine the light on everyday heroes who do their best to protect children. We ask Pennsylvanians from every region of this commonwealth to help us highlight those individuals &#8211; teachers, social workers, doctors, neighbors, regular folks &#8211; who have done something special to protect a child.  Maybe their act was truly one of heroism by stepping in during a crisis to save a child from imminent death; maybe it was simply being aware of a need and ensuring that a child was properly fed or clothed; or maybe it was just being present in a child’s life as a tutor, mentor, coach, or volunteer in a community organization or sports team. In other words, we are looking for folks who did the right thing, at the right time, and it made all the difference in the life of a child.</p><p>When I explained this concept to RJ, he smiled the most genuine smile and said, “Isn’t that nice?”   And it really is.  It’s time for us to acknowledge the good that is around us.  Maybe when we see and hear what others do for children, it will motivate each of us to do more than we believe we are capable of doing.</p><p>I opened my local paper recently and read about a very humble man who saved a five-year-old girl during a bizarre attack at a day care center.  I’m not sure I would have been as courageous given such a dangerous situation, but I would like to think I would have stepped in and done what was needed.</p><p>What I do know is I am both grateful and proud of this man who had no legal obligation to take action on behalf of that little girl.  Somewhere inside his soul, instincts of goodness and valor arose and he acted upon them. I believe we all have the grace, kindness, and humanity to cheer one another to do the right things by the children in our midst.</p><p><a href=""><img class=" wp-image-506 alignleft" src="" alt="" width="129" height="221" /></a>So, I ask you, please, to think about the people in your community who act on behalf of the best interests of children. And then, nominate one of these heroes as a #PABlueRibbonChamp. You can do so by visiting <a href=""></a>, download the nomination form, and make sure to return it to PFSA by February 27<sup>th </sup>. Finally, please follow and support our campaign on social media and in your communities because every child deserves and needs a champion!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> 0 2017-01-25 14:05 +00:00 2017-01-25 09:05 -05:00 Latest Posts A Champion for Children It seems like a lifetime ago, and in many respects it was.  I was a tender, 25-year-old administrator of a crisis nursery in York County. On so many levels, I&#8230; Thu, 19 Jan 2017 18:58:44 Z Beth Bitler <p>It seems like a lifetime ago, and in many respects it was.  I was a tender, 25-year-old administrator of a crisis nursery in York County. On so many levels, I was in over my head. I knew little about county government, much less state or federal.  Truth be known, I am not sure I had ever been to Harrisburg.  But I was trying to stabilize a small nonprofit, develop programs that helped families, and  launch my career.  What I did possess was lots of energy and undying determination.  I courted away from the employment of a major health corporation a dynamic, young woman who was one of the few known registered art therapists in the area.  Common sense told me that young children who had been sexually abused, especially those who were pre-verbal, needed a different type of therapy and I felt in my gut that this woman could hold the key to much healing.</p><p>We launched an art therapy program to complement respite care, case management services, and a comprehensive parent education and support program, but I needed funding and fast. In the early 1990’s, most of us were just learning about a form of Medicaid funding called Early &amp; Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment, or EPSDT.  I read and learned voraciously about this funding and I spent hours completing an application. To my dismay and anger, it was denied.  For reasons I can no longer recall, someone in a position of authority determined this funding stream was not applicable for art therapy.  I turned for funding assistance to a state senator and state representative – my first-ever visit to legislative offices. These legislators agreed to work together to bring a positive resolution to my funding crisis, and before I knew it, I was given a date and time to meet with staff from the then-PA Department of Public Welfare.</p><p>I remember the meeting day as if it were yesterday.  I wore a blue suit, held a briefcase ( yes, women used them back then) that contained a few notes jotted on a legal pad that summarized key funding points, steps I had taken, the answers given, and, of course, my argument for why it should be applicable.  With quarters in hand for the parking meter, (Don’t we all miss those days when one quarter got us through a meeting in Harrisburg!) I found my way to Labor and Industry and the designated conference room filled with more than a dozen people &#8211; none of whom I knew, except for the senator. At the appropriate time, all eyes looked toward the entrance door and in walked a woman named Karen Snider, Secretary of Public Welfare.  I nearly fainted.  It never occurred to me to ask who would be participating in the meeting and I could not understand why so many people were needed for such a small issue.  Truth be known, I still struggle to understand.</p><p>Secretary Snider sat down, introductions were quickly given, and then she looked at me and said, “Angela, will you please review the circumstances that bring us here today?”  In my calmest, most determined voice I went through the points I had scribbled on paper.  When I finished, the Secretary asked if there were questions.  Silence.  The complete absence of sound <span style="text-decoration: line-through"> </span> I broke into a cold sweat; had I sounded foolish?  Did I say something that offended someone? Were my points all factually correct?  Goodness, I was out of my league and over my head on this one!  And then with seamless grace the Secretary stood and looked at me and said, “This all seems like a very reasonable request, thank you for bringing this to my attention and for meeting with me today.” With a broad smile and nod, she looked at those assembled and said, “Gentlemen, would you please see that this it taken care of?”  And she walked out of the room.  Welcome to state government – Karen Snider-style!  Welcome to my first lesson in learning what both determination and the power of one person with common sense and authority can bring!</p><p>I went back to my office and with little effort from that day forward, EPSDT funding flowed into the crisis nursery and hundreds, if not thousands, of children received therapeutic care in response to acts more horrific than most of us can imagine.</p><p>After several years, it was time for me to work in a larger pond and I assumed leadership of PA Family Support Alliance.  I became reacquainted with Karen Snider in 2012 at an event for Child Abuse Prevention Month sponsored by PFSA.  She was still graceful, very complimentary of our work, and I took the opportunity to sit with her and tell her about the 25 year-old-woman who sat in front of her decades before.  She smiled, hugged me, and said, “I remember and I’m so glad I did not scare you off!”  We continued to cross paths as PFSA worked in partnership with the Girl Scouts on child protection policies and training; Karen Snider was a member of their governing board. Then, PFSA worked on a multi-year family engagement initiative within Harrisburg School District, where she led the Harrisburg Public Schools Foundation. For many years our offices were in the same building and she was ever present on Sundays &#8211; her favorite time to do office work. We’d sometimes talk in the parking lot; we’d always smile and nod in a way that made us both recall a different time.</p><p>Though I now have gray hair, wrinkles, and am a grandmother, I always still felt much like a “kid” in her presence.  Maybe that wasn’t a bad thing. She cheered me on that day in 1993 surrounded by men who were nearly twice my age.    What I learned during that very first meeting in Harrisburg is that one person can do the right thing for children and make a difference.  Karen made a choice to be a champion for kids throughout her lifetime- as an entry level social worker, then as Secretary of Public Welfare, and finally as a volunteer.  I’m sure she had lots of choices and she chose to be a champion for PA’s children.  Lots of folks gathered at a church in Camp Hill this week to say a final thank you and goodbye to Karen.  She died peacefully in her sleep and I’m sure she did so with lots of things she still wanted to accomplish.  We each have a choice about the issues we support.  Our state now has one less champion for children and I’m inviting you today to stand up and assume that role.  Live Karen Snider’s example and be a champion for children who are being abused and neglected.</p><p><a href="">Join our cause,</a> because every kid needs a champion.</p> 0 2017-01-19 18:58 +00:00 2017-01-19 13:58 -05:00 Latest Posts A Shocking Case of Child Neglect The allegation that a Halifax Township couple locked three children in a room, denied them food which left them within days of starving to death, shocks our conscience. The children,&#8230; Tue, 03 Jan 2017 16:49:37 Z Beth Bitler <p>The allegation that a Halifax Township couple locked three children in a room, denied them food which left them within days of starving to death, shocks our conscience. The children, ages 4, 5, and 6 whose weights ranged from 23 to 27 pounds at the time they were removed from the urine-, feces-, and bug-infested home in northern Dauphin County, are part of an extremely  vulnerable demographic group. Research has shown that kids in the toddler years to primary school-enrollment age are in a prime window for abuse and neglect. As Ivey DeJesus noted in a Patriot-News/  report on the case, “Mandated reporters &#8211; professionals such as teachers and doctors who work with children &#8211; are by law required to report suspected abuse, but very young children may not have that connection.” The Halifax children had passed the age of initial checkups by medical professionals who could detect nutritional and physical problems and were required to report suspected abuse. At the same time, they were not yet age 8, when compulsory school attendance might have brought them to the attention of district officials who also are mandated to recognize and report child abuse in Pennsylvania.</p><p>What this terrible story points out is the need for each of us to play a role in child protection. If a neighbor has children’s toys strewn in the yard but you see no evidence of children, or sporadic evidence of children, what should you do?  If you see those adult neighbors occasionally with young children who look unhappy, unkempt, and fearful, what should you do?  If a family has a school-age young child but you notice that the child does not appear to be going to class, what should you do? Where is the line between being a nosy neighbor and a child protector?</p><p>The answer is that when it comes to the protection of children, we have to err on the side of the child – not the convenience or needs of adults.  Our community-based, research- supported Front Porch Project presents real-life scenarios where potential harm to a child is possible and offers suggestions on how to safely intervene and defuse the situation. In situations like the one in Halifax, here are some ideas: Bring that neighbor a food item to share. Start a conversation. See what you can observe about the condition of the children and the home. Ask the parents casually about school plans for the kids. Then, if you feel that child abuse is afoot, call the professionals at ChildLine – 800-932-0313 – and share your observations and concerns. The county Children and Youth agency will then, do a thorough investigation.</p><p>We know that people who abuse and neglect children live among us and often rely on neighbors to “mind their own business,” to disbelieve that someone is capable of this kind of inhumanity to children. Sadly, that is not true.  Child neglect is the most frequent form of child maltreatment. In Pennsylvania in 2015, there were more than 66,000 reports of children suspected to be in need of General Protective Services (mostly neglect). More than 24,000 of these reports, involving more than 34,000 children, were determined to be valid. Reports to General Protective Services are assessed and many kinds of help are provided to the family – help with basic needs, educational programs for example, as well as out-of-home placement for children whose parents are unable to care for them. In the same time period, there were 40,590 substantiated reports of suspected child abuse. As serious as physical and sexual abuse is, we often do not realize the extent of child neglect in our communities.</p><p>Become a PA Blue Ribbon Champion for Kids and report suspected child abuse and neglect to professionals. Not every child can be saved. Not every case of abuse can be detected. But if each one of us commits to put child safety first, we can save more children from the horrors of abuse and neglect.  And, if you’d like to help heal the malnourished and abused children found in Halifax, please contact Dauphin County Children and Youth Services at 717-780-7200. They are accepting gift cards, clothing, toys and other items for the children.</p> 0 2017-01-03 16:49 +00:00 2017-01-03 11:49 -05:00 Latest Posts Let It Be Resolved One of the lessons we can take from this season of light and enlightenment is that even Ebenezer Scrooge and The Grinch were transformed from their miserable states to a&#8230; Thu, 08 Dec 2016 22:51:09 Z Beth Bitler <p>One of the lessons we can take from this season of light and enlightenment is that even Ebenezer Scrooge and The Grinch were transformed from their miserable states to a place of joy and peace. In each case, their hearts grew bigger, their souls softer. I’ve felt jostled around a good bit this year with more challenges and detours from my comfort zone than I can count. Perhaps I have not lived in the miserable state of Scrooge and Grinch but most certainly I have not experienced nearly enough belly laughter and levity.</p><p>Earlier this evening, my four-year old granddaughter Hailey and I upheld what she now counts on as tradition at Mae Mae’s house &#8211; the decorating of her very own tree.</p><p><a href=""><img class="alignright wp-image-484" src="" alt="dec-blog-1" width="202" height="202" /></a>he danced around to holiday music, gently touched her special ornaments, and the mere reflection of tree lights on her face successfully brought tears to mine. We cuddled on the couch and read most of her Christmas books; she listened as if hearing the stories for the very first time and in watching her, perhaps they were new reads for me too. And so it is that each of us can start anew. We can mark the turning of the calendar to a New Year and become less burdened by disappointment, hate, jealousy, and rejection. We have to make room in our lives for a little love and levity. How do we do it?</p><p>Well, just as our children learned to walk, we have to take baby steps. For example, 2016 has taught me that I can wade my way through a lot of change and be mostly graceful through the process. None of us enjoys extended times of upheaval brought on by moving to a new community or work projects that seem to take longer than expected or planned. But in these times we can learn to trust the process and we can have within us a sense of determination that we can see things through to completion, or perhaps a sense of comfort once again.</p><p>I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions but I am big on always striving for improvement and that takes resolve. As I gladly wind down this calendar year and look to a new one, I resolve to be more patient with myself and search for laughter if it does not come easily to me on its own. I resolve to be generous, both with myself and others, even when every instinct tells me to be stingy &#8211; with my time, my energy, and my financial resources. A giving heart fortifies itself.  The Grinch’s heart grew three times and Ebenezer Scrooge’s icy heart melted when they began lifting the spirits of those around them. I commit to giving more of my time to the people I hold most dear.</p><p><a href=""><img class=" wp-image-485 size-medium alignleft" src="" alt="dec-blog-2" width="208" height="300" /></a>Spend some time thinking about your own words, “Let it be resolved …” Whatever you identify as spots within yourself and your life that could use a little “perking up,” make sure you include enough room for adding joy. What makes you laugh out loud? For me, it’s a silly 30-minute TV show called <em>The Big Bang Theory</em>. Other days, it is almost anything my daughter Kelsey says because she has a way of reaching my funny bone. Whatever sparks your joyful moment, relish it. Celebrate it. Find the time and space to indulge in the guilty pleasure of laughing heartily.  Charlie Chaplin put it perfectly, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”  And remember, your children needed your help and encouragement with every developmental milestone and you will add to their good health by demonstrating the place laughter and levity have in life.</p><p>Don’t waste a single day of 2017.  Be it resolved.  I will live, love, and laugh my way through the New Year.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> 0 2016-12-08 22:51 +00:00 2016-12-08 17:51 -05:00 Latest Posts Our Children: Pennsylvania’s Greatest Blessing When you gather with family and friends this holiday season, what will top your list of blessings? Good health? A job promotion? That fabulous new car in the driveway that&#8230; Mon, 28 Nov 2016 14:52:56 Z Beth Bitler <p>When you gather with family and friends this holiday season, what will top your list of blessings? Good health? A job promotion? That fabulous new car in the driveway that you’ve always wanted? Or will it be something less material and more soulful? Like the sound of your child’s laughter. Or the burst of color as you walk together through a swirl of falling leaves. Or the powerful bond you feel with that little person as you share a bedtime story.<br />Our lives and work are measured so often now in Facebook likes and Twitter retweets, in Instagram followers, or the latest Google analytics. We can measure almost everything we do by virtue of algorithms. But how do we calculate the value of time spent nurturing our children and grandchildren? Or the impact, large and small, that kids have on society’s emotional and physical well-being?<br />My job requires me to delve into the darker sides of human behavior and measure their impact on children. I’m forced to explore the horrific reality of children’s deaths and injuries at the hands of perpetrators, some of whom are their parents, caregivers, and so-called “loved ones.” Those numbers are recorded in an annual state report. The statistical analysis of child abuse’s toll exposes it as a public health epidemic. But it’s so much more than that. Death by child abuse robs us each year of the equivalent of a classroom of children in Pennsylvania. We lose their laughter, their innocence, their creativity, their essence. They are gone forever as if whispers on the wind.</p><p>It doesn’t have to be this way. Child abuse is preventable.<br /><a href=""><img class="alignright wp-image-453 size-medium" src="" alt="our greatest blessing" width="300" height="202" /></a><br />Through strong parenting programs, family-support activities, community-awareness efforts, and educating professionals and community members how to recognize and report child abuse, we can create a safer world for our children. Each one of us has a role to play in protecting kids from abuse and neglect. I urge you this holiday season to become more soulful about Pennsylvania’s children and the incalculable worth they bring to you and our world. They are our richest, dearest blessing. Become actively involved in Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance’s work of protecting kids by hosting one of our Front Porch Project community workshops. Take a parenting class at a PFSA- affiliated agency in your region. Or, enroll you and your coworkers and employees in our free, on-site, face-to-face training session in how to recognize and report child abuse.</p><p>You can learn more at <a href="">our website</a>.  Remember, every kid needs a champion. Let us count you as a blessing to PA’s kids this holiday season.</p> 0 2016-11-28 14:52 +00:00 2016-11-28 09:52 -05:00 Latest Posts If parents had to apply for the job…. Recently I adopted my first pet from an animal rescue and I secretly wondered if I would meet their qualifications.  I mean seriously, how embarrassing would it be to have&#8230; Wed, 29 Apr 2015 16:02:20 Z Angela Liddle <p>Recently I adopted my first pet from an animal rescue and I secretly wondered if I would meet their qualifications.  I mean seriously, how embarrassing would it be to have my application, complete with essays, not accepted?  I actually labored as I described how I would address training and behavior modification in 500 words or less and the conditions under which I would need to relinquish ownership of the dog.  My essays passed the muster; then it was on to checking with my veterinarian and three references.  It concluded with a scheduled home visit and, by that point, I wondered how I managed to raise two daughters.  The final step was signing a multi-page contract that had me agreeing to unannounced visits and their right to remove the dog and re-assume ownership if they weren’t satisfied with the care being provided.</p><p>My two little girls, no longer small as they tower above me, are just on the cusp of birthdays marking 24 and 25 years of age.  In fact, the younger accompanied me on the trip to the animal rescue.  Thank goodness during the periods of quiet in the car she didn’t ask me where my thoughts were meandering.  Truth be known, I was considering the stark reality that I likely would never have been a mother if the same process for adopting this pooch had been applied to my maternal skill set.  After all, describe my parenting philosophy and how I would approach behavior modification?   How many parents consider, preverbal children, that we will ever encounter anything other than total agreement and euphoria?  Somewhere in my more youthful state, I thought a great diet, matching bedroom furniture and Garanimals, coupled with great child care and attentive, engaged parents would guarantee smooth sailing.  As all parents know, the preverbal stage lasts but the blink of an eye and before we realize what happened, we have traveled many bumpy roads together.  Sprinkled in between the moments of worry, exhaustion, power struggles and trying to make it to the violin recital, piano, basketball and softball practice on time, there were times when we knew we “fit together” no matter what.  Those were truly euphoric moments.</p><p>Like most families, we had our share of family traditions, with Mother’s Day being no exception.  Most years we walked the woods together and clipped lilacs; still my favorite flower today.  I would watch them bury their faces into the bouquet as they tried to inhale the scent and compete to gather the largest bunch.   I have no clue how 25 years passed by so quickly. What I do know is they are still my little girls and I <em>still</em> cannot describe my parenting style in 500 words or less. Yet, I know these things for certain; nothing beats coffee on the couch with Kelsey or seeing my only grandchild Hailey reach for Bryn and hear her say, “mommy.”  I celebrate their successes and I feel their pain as if it is inflicted on my own body and I doubt that will ever change.  Being a mom has challenged and stretched me in every way imaginable; it’s the one job I have given whatever my best has been, but never felt my grade to be very high.  I suppose it’s like that with things that mean the world to us.</p><p>And as far as the rescue pooch goes, her name is Lilly and this morning she attempted to chew my shoe while I showered and she left a nice puddle on the kitchen floor.  Housetrained?  Not quite.  But like the kids, she’s family and we “fit.”</p> 0 2015-04-29 16:02 +00:00 2015-04-29 12:02 -04:00 Latest Posts An Ounce of Prevention The old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and there’s probably no area in which that rings more true than in child abuse prevention.&#8230; Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:23:07 Z Angela Liddle <p>The old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and there’s probably no area in which that rings more true than in child abuse prevention. A few years back, PFSA took an in-depth look at the cost of child abuse in Pennsylvania and found that we spend more than $3.55 billion dollars each year investigating reports of suspected abuse, providing services to children and families directly impacted by abuse and attempting to “undo” the long-term consequences of child abuse. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that the cost for each victim of child abuse is more than $210,000 over a lifetime.</p><p>While all of these things are necessary and, often effective, they are not the entire solution. And as difficult as it is to quantify the cost of child abuse, the cost of prevention is even more elusive. In Pennsylvania, prevention services are provided at the county and community level through a combination of public and private providers. It would be safe to say, however, that we spend far less on prevention than on treatment and consequences of abuse.</p><p>So it’s time for Child Abuse Prevention Month, observed each April since 1990, a chance to highlight the importance of prevention. At PFSA, we work on child abuse prevention all year, but we make a special effort on outreach and awareness this month. Often this process involves helping folks to understand that each of us has a role to play in prevention and that we can each take small steps to combat this big problem. We can each provide our own ounce of prevention.</p><p>We will offer up an ounce of prevention each day in April via our Facebook page – some tips, some information, some inspiration – to help you take a small step. I hope you will check out our posts and offer your own suggestions as well. Here is a bit of what we plan to offer:</p><ul><li>The importance of kids receiving support and encouragement from their neighbors</li><li>Success stories from parents who have benefited from parent support and education</li><li>Community efforts to prevent child abuse (including our Painting for Prevention murals)</li><li>Why traditions matter</li><li>Latest research on prevention strategies and trends</li></ul><p>We hope that each small step you take will be the beginning of the journey to a Pennsylvania that’s safer for kids and families. James Vollbracht writes in “Stopping at Every Lemonade Stand:” <em>It all begins by starting ‘small.’ When we begin to think small, we can become much like a master weaver who is asked to create a beautiful tapestry. First the weaver envisions the finished tapestry, seeing it in all its future beauty. Then, beginning with a single thread, the magic begins to flow from the weaver’s hands onto the tapestry. Some of the threads are thick and colorful, while others are more discreet, yet each thread in the tapestry is essential to the project. So it is with our community tapestry…..When we consider each small thread in the community tapestry as essential, we start seeing things differently. Maria Teresa summed it up beautifully when she said: “We can do no great things, but we can do small things with a great amount of love.”</em></p> 0 2015-04-01 18:23 +00:00 2015-04-01 14:23 -04:00 Latest Posts Implementing Our New and Improved Child Protective Services Law Requires Training Are you:-Seeking easy-to-understand information on Act 31 requirements for the training of mandated reporters of child abuse?-A licensed or certified professional seeking training options to meet the requirement of licensure&#8230; Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:57:34 Z Angela Liddle <p>Are you:</p><p>-Seeking easy-to-understand information on Act 31 requirements for the training of mandated reporters of child abuse?</p><p>-A licensed or certified professional seeking training options to meet the requirement of licensure or its renewal?</p><p>-A a foster parent looking for training on child abuse recognition and reporting?</p><p>-A volunteer in a key program area and your volunteer role is being reclassified as a mandated reporter of child abuse?</p><p>-Coaching a youth sport?</p><p>-Part of a faith-based institution and responsible for educating clergy, staff and members to better protect children and reduce risk to your organization?</p><p>-A concerned citizen who wants to be in the know about Pennsylvania’s child protection efforts?</p><p>If you answered &#8220;yes&#8221; to any one or more of those questions, you&#8217;ve landed at the right place!</p><p>PA Family Support Alliance works daily to help you protect PA’s children through accurate, up-to-date information on child abuse recognition and reporting, your responsibilities, your liabilities and your protections. Straight from the law to your hands, in an easy-to-understand way, our child welfare expert staff and trainers will help you play a pivotal role in protecting children from abuse and neglect.</p><p>We’ve spent the past 20 years focused on training, educating and supporting folks who work and volunteer with children and concerned citizens who are outraged each year to read our state’s annual child abuse report outlining child abuse-related death and near fatalities. We have listened to the anxiety and concerns of thousands of mandated reporters each year as we have trained workers in social service agencies, public welfare offices, libraries, churches and religious institutions, law enforcement and day care centers, just to name a few. We know many of you are anxious about the widespread changes coming December 31, 2014 to our Child Protective Services Law and the impact on you professionally and personally. PFSA worked hard with advocates and legislators to craft a law that is stronger and better for children. We know it’s a big change and change brings anxiety. But quite frankly, they are good changes and we have been proud to be a part of this historic time for PA’s kids. We are here to help you and make your learning experience as convenient and effective as possible.</p><p>Before you decide how you will meet your training requirement or educate yourself on changes to the law, do your homework – there is a lot of misinformation floating around! Some folks have jumped on the “let’s develop a training for mandated reporters” because it is currently in the spotlight. Quite frankly, not all of them know what they don’t know. Make sure the training you select has the appropriate approvals. For health-related state licensure, training must be approved by both the departments of Public Welfare and State. For school personnel, training must be approved by both the departments of Public Welfare and Education. For agencies licensed by or subject to registration or certification by the Department of Public Welfare and foster parents, training must be approved by the Department of Public Welfare.</p><p>To help you with your training decision, let me say there are several things – important things- that set PFSA apart from all the rest. At a quick glance:</p><ul><li>PFSA’s training for mandated reporters is approved by PA Departments of Welfare, State and Education.</li></ul><ul><li>PFSA’s training has been independently evaluated by senior research staff at Johns Hopkins University. They say it’s good; they say it works, all because they read what thousands said who took our training!</li></ul><ul><li>PFSA is the only organization offering on-site training, with state-of-the-art resource materials presented by child welfare expert trainers.</li></ul><ul><li>PFSA is the only organization offering multiple web-based training options. You can select self-guided or you can participate in a virtual training led by our child expert trainers.</li></ul><ul><li>PFSA is the only organization offering a Train-the-Trainer program. That means, after carefully completing a screening process and training sessions, you have an opportunity to present PFSA’s training curriculum to your colleagues within your place of employment.</li></ul><p>We’ve provided a great deal of information in this blog. To learn more about Act 31, other changes to our Child Protective Services Law or how to access training, please visit our website at <a href=""></a>. Keep a watchful eye on this site and make sure it is marked as a favorite. Better yet, please pass along this blog to your colleagues, friends and family – those who need and want to know about child abuse recognition and reporting.</p><p>Just like the law changes, PFSA’s website will be undergoing a large transformation; all new and improved to help you in your efforts to help PA’s kids.</p><p><strong> </strong></p> 0 2014-10-22 18:57 +00:00 2014-10-22 14:57 -04:00