May 2014 Newsletter
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A Note from the Executive Director
We’ve added a new section to our newsletter called “News from around Vermont.” We will be sharing information and stories from our regional partners and families. This issue, we share information from Addison and Chittenden county partners. Please also note our emergency preparedness information for families and welcome to our new Parent Support Provider in Addison County, Lorraine Sylvain.
Next issue, in early May, we will be promoting events in Vermont celebrating Children’s Mental Health week, May 4-7, 2014. The theme for Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is “Building Circles of Wellness” with a focus of promoting positive mental health, building resiliency in our children and youth, and sharing information for families, children and young adults. Several of our regional partners will be holding awareness events, so stay tuned for information about what is happening in your part of Vermont!
– Kathy, Executive Director
Welcome to our new VFFCMH Parent Support Provider in Addison County, Lorraine Sylvain!
Lorraine has been with us since early March and is already busy supporting/assisting families and building a Family Advisory Group in her region. Funds for this position in Addison County have been provided by grants from Ben and Jerry’s, Counseling Services of Addison County, and VT Agency of Human Services. Lorraine can be reached at 802-777-7983.
Emergency Know How
What to do in an emergency? This question is answered best by two words, “be prepared.” While it is impossible to be prepared for all emergencies, it is possible to be prepared with information that will direct you should an emergency happen.
First, Vermont Federation of Families, in partnership with many other disability groups, created an emergency planning tool, “Green Mountain Guide for Emergency Planning.” We can send this to you free of charge, just call or email to ask for it. This was created to assist families and individuals with disability to think about what they might need that is different than some other people need when faced with an emergency or natural disaster. These might include; medication, medical equipment, behavioral plans or strategies, or information on a specific disability.
Another important time to know who to call is when your child may have a mental health, emotional or behavioral crisis. Our friends and partners at HowardCenter in Chittenden County put together this “Guide to Handling Crisis in your Family” for our newsletter.
Guild to Handling Crisis in your Family
All children experience some type of crisis at some point – a tantrum, anxiety about school, conflict with a peer, loss of a pet – the list goes on. It is helpful to do some advance planning in your family so that you can be proactive and prevent a situation from getting worse. Children tend to function much better when they have some “practice” for potential trouble spots and feel less worried.
- Keep important phone numbers easily accessible – pediatrician, school counselor or teacher, mentor, neighbor, trusted friend, etc. Have your child practice calling a neighbor as a drill, so they will be comfortable if a true need arose.
- Know the number of your 24/7 local crisis team if you have safety concerns. In Chittenden County, First Call for Children and Families is 802-488-7777.
- Contact your local police department or poison control if you have immediate concerns.
- Access natural supports (family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors), and utilize these natural supports for respite. Creating community can go a long way. Children and caregivers can both benefit from breaks during stressful times.
- If needed, delegate tasks to other friends or family members. Identify a point person for coordination of care. It’s great modeling for children to ask for help when needed.
- Keep an open dialogue with your children in order to maintain their safety and your relationship with them. Ask direct questions and truly listen. Try your best not to fix the problem, if the child just needs validation and support.
- Appropriate responses and information shared will be different depending on your child’s age and developmental level. Generally speaking, less is more.
- Even in crisis, maintain structure, routine and meet basic needs (shelter, food, sleep, and safety). Sometimes a snack can go a long way…
- Remember to listen to your child’s needs; those needs are not always communicated verbally.
- Be involved in your child’s life – know who they are with, what they are doing, who is providing supervision, etc. Be in the know! It’s more than ok to chat with other parents about plans, which also increases connection to other adults.
- Practice risk reduction in your home and spread this message. Please restrict all firearms, all medication (both prescription and over the counter) and all alcohol. This is a minor inconvenience that can go a long way in a crisis situation.
- It is not always helpful for your child to hear you talking about the crisis incident to others. Keep adult information with adults and kid information with kids. Get support for yourself and practice good self-care!
- Remember children have a voice – let them contribute and participate as appropriate. They usually can tell us what they need!
Abby Matchette, Annalisa Anderson and Charlotte McCorkel are supervisors at First Call for Children and Families, the 24/7 children’s crisis team at the HowardCenter in Chittenden County.