Fatherhood Fridays Webinar

2020 TEXAS FATHERHOOD FRIDAYS

Due to current events, the 2020 Texas Fatherhood Summit will not be taking place in person in Austin as planned and has been adapted into a series of free virtual events, kicking off on the original event date of Friday, June 12, 2020. We’re now hosting a series of four webinars called Texas Fatherhood Fridays over June and July


We’re really excited by the opportunities this new format offers and hope you can join us for each one. See below for dates, agendas, and registration links or find everything on the main Texas Fatherhood Fridays web page. 

The 2020 Texas Fatherhood Fridays series is hosted by the Child and Family Research Partnership at The University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Prevention and Early Intervention Division.

JUNE 12, 2020 | SUPPORTING FATHERS
10:30 am – 12:00 pm Central Time

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Agenda:

● Welcome and Introduction to the 2020 Virtual Fatherhood Summit Webinar Series: Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Director, Child and Family Research Partnership; Associate Dean, The University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs & Sasha Rasco, Associate Commissioner, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
● Keynote address: Dr. Ron Mincy, Professor of Social Policy and Social Work Practice, Columbia University’s School of Social Work
● Introduction of the new online Texas Fatherhood Resource Hub
● Practitioner Stories: Examples of Excellence Awards
JUNE 26, 2020 | FATHERS’ MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS
10:30 am – 12:00 pm Central Time

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Agenda:
● Welcome and Updates
● Fathers’ Mental Health Needs Panel: Ed Emmett, former Harris County Judge; Judge Oscar Kazen, Bexar County Court; Kevin Johnson, Positive Recovery Center. Moderator: Dr. Dorothy Mandell, Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies, UT Health Sciences Center
● Examples of Excellence – Announcement of Grand Prize Winner
JULY 10, 2020 | FATHERHOOD DURING THE PERINATAL PERIOD
10:30 am – 12:00 pm Central Time

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Agenda:
● Welcome and Updates
● Fathers’ Impact on Maternal and Child Health During the Perinatal Period, Dr. Dorothy Mandell, Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies, UT Health Sciences Center, and Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Child and Family Research Partnership, The University of Texas at Austin
● Q&A
JULY 24, 2020 | FATHERS AND PUBLIC POLICY
10:30 am – 12:00 pm Central Time

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Agenda:
● Welcome and Updates
● Enforcement of Access & Visitation for Nonresidential Fathers Panel: Joyce Garcia, El Paso County Domestic Relations Office; Mireya Cepeda, El Paso County Family Court Services Division; David Simpson, Harris County Domestic Relations Office. Moderator: Leah Leone, Access and Visitation, Office of the Attorney General
● Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center: Father Inclusive Policies, Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Child and Family Research Partnership, The University of Texas at Austin

Free Virtual Parent Coaching

FREE Virtual Parent Coaching

During the COVID-19 Crisis

As COVID-19 impacts the world and our community, the Parenting Academy is ready to face the challenges with you! Take advantage of FREE virtual parent coaching as you navigate these uncertain times. Register to attend a one-on-one session or group seminar by calling (360) 922-3600 or emailing contact@parenting-academy.org.

Virtual One-On-One Parent Coaching Sessions
Meet with a specialized parenting coach to focus on achieving the unique goals you have for your child and for yourself as a parent.

Virtual Parenting Group Seminars
These 60-minute seminars focus on a range of topics for parents and provide research-based, practical tips for everyday parenting! Limit of 12 participants per seminar.

Coping with Stress

FREE Virtual Parent Coaching

April 7, 2020 | 5:30 pm

Learn techniques to manage day-to-day stress that help you stay calm to consistently apply positive parenting strategies. Appropriate for parents of children all ages.

Virtual One-On-One Parenting Coaching Sessions

Meet with a specialized parenting coach to focus on achieving the unique goals you have for your child and for yourself as a parent.

Virtual Parenting Group Seminars

These 60-minute seminars focus on a range of topics for parents and provide research-based, practical tips for everyday parenting! Limit of 12 participants per seminar.

Register to attend a one-on-one session or group seminar by calling (360) 922-3600 or emailing contact@parenting-academy.org

Parenting in the Digital Age

FREE Virtual Parent Coaching

April 8, 2020 | 1:00 pm

Remember when the only “screen time” was TV? Take away practical tips for navigating the ever-changing landscape of media and technology. Appropriate for parents of pre-teens and adolescents.

Virtual One-On-One Parent Coaching Sessions

Meet with a specialized parenting coach to focus on achieving the unique goals you have for your child and for yourself as a parent.

Virtual Parenting Group Seminars

These 60-minute seminars focus on a range of topics for parents and provide research-based, practical tips for everyday parenting! Limit of 12 participants per seminar.

Register to attend a one-on-one session or group seminar by calling (360) 922-3600 or emailing contact@parenting-academy.org

Positive Parenting During the Pandemic: Work/Life Balance

FREE Virtual Parent Coaching

April 9, 2020 | 1:00 pm

Struggling to find balance with work and life when both are in your living room? Learn five proven strategies to relieve stress and find balance during these hectic times. Appropriate for parents of children all ages.

Virtual One-On-One Parent Coaching Sessions

Meet with a specialized parenting coach to focus on achieving the unique goals you have for your child and for yourself as a parent.

Virtual Parenting Group Seminars

These 60-minute seminars focus on a range of topics for parents and provide research-based, practical tips for everyday parenting! Limit of 12 participants per seminar.

Register to attend a one-on-one session or group seminar by calling (360) 922-3600 or emailing contact@parenting-academy.org

Stuck at home with young kids? Here’s what to do— and not to do

By Jackie Mader

This week’s newsletter is going to be a bit different as we take some time to finish up a soon-to-be-released series on teaching kids to read. The series will dive into the research on how kids learn to read, as well as tips for parents on what to look for in classrooms and how to support your child in learning to read at home. Look for it on our website April 1st, and I will also send the links out in my newsletter that week. 

In the meantime, I know many of you are in the same situation as I am: working from home with young children. I’ve answered some questions and compiled some resources from experts and educators that may help you get through this time, as well as a list of articles pertaining to kids and coronavirus. Feel free to respond to this email with any questions, story ideas or activity ideas, and I can share them in the next newsletter or via Twitter (follow me @jackiemader). Stay healthy everyone! 

What should I do at home with my young children? 

The priority is to help children feel safe and “not absorb all the anxiety that we’re feeling,” said Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. And while many parents are trying to find resources to homeschool, Golin said it’s important for parents to take pressure off themselves to provide a “traditional academic” experience for young children. In fact, it’s OK—and even good— to just let kids play by themselves. Golin said the first few days at home are important because you can set up a routine that is not centered around screens. “We have this dichotomy often in our society that we have two choices, which is being on the floor playing with our young child or putting them in front of the screen,” Golin said. “This is a really wonderful time to remind parents of all the wonderful ways that young children can…play by themselves without a screen. In fact, it’s really important that they do.” 

One of the biggest concerns for young children during this time is figuring out a way to “replace interaction” that typically happens in preschool settings, Golin said. He suggested that parents take turns reading books aloud for groups of children via video or a conferencing platform, and that parents focus on giving kids experiences, rather than structured academic lessons, since that’s how they learn best at this age.  

Susan Friedman, the senior director of publishing and professional learning at the National Association for the Education of Young Children, or NAEYC, underscored the importance of a well-rounded experience while children are out of school. “Are children exercising their bodies? Are they making art? Are they playing? Are they having conversation?” Friedman asked in an e-mail interview. “Those are important questions to ask right along with what kind of screen time.” 

When it comes to providing activities and experiences for kids, it can be overwhelming to wade through the endless ideas available online. Several school districts, including the New York City Department of Education, have compiled activities and resources for children organized by grade level, including early childhood. Many museums offer virtual tours. NAEYC has ideas for parents who want to create “centers” in their homes like those found in most preschool classrooms. Most importantly, however parents choose to structure their time, research shows kids thrive on routines, and the experts I spoke to said regardless of how parents fill their child’s time at home, they should aim to maintain a predictable schedule each day.  

Is it bad if my kid is getting exponentially more screen time now? 

Individual circumstances are going to vary, so if your child will be using a screen for a large part of the day, Golin said it’s important to remember best practices for choosing media content for young children. The most important things, Golin said, are that the content be age-appropriate, that it isn’t an “all day thing,” and that the media you show has clear beginning and ending points. “That is going to be better for kids than You Tube, for instance, which never ends,” Golin said. Some experts say media use should be limited to educational content, especially for young children (one study specifically cautioned against using anything but PBS content). Friedman pointed to NAEYC’s position statement on technology and media in early childhood and suggested parents scrutinize the quality of content. “The quality of what children watch on screens is more important than how much they watch,” Friedman wrote. Beyond watching content, a video chat can be a great way for kids to stay in touch with friends and relatives and give kids a chance to socialize. You may even be able to enlist Grandma to hold a daily story time or switch off with other parents to host a virtual circle time. Vincent Costanza, the chief academic officer for Teaching Strategies, which focuses on early ed curriculum, assessment and professional development, said parents often hear mixed messages about technology and there are times when technology can enhance relationships. “Setting up those kinds of experiences where technology is used to connect with others are certainly appropriate and should be leveraged at this time,” Costanza said. And when it comes to tablets and apps, parents should have clear expectations for what their child will take away from that screen time. Research shows that children under the age of 3 are less likely to learn from screens, so while giving your child a tablet may feel like you’re giving them an educational activity, it’s more entertainment than anything else in the early years.  

What about those controversial online preschool programs? 

For years, early education experts have cautioned parents about online preschool programs. Preschool programs are no replacement for the important in-person interactions that we know benefit the growing brains of young children. But what if your child’s preschool is closed? “You probably don’t need to sign up for one of those programs,” said Golin, adding that an immense amount of content for young children is already available without subscribing to an online preschool program. Plus, Golin reiterated, parents should not be concerned with trying to fill their children’s day with academic content. “I’d rather have kids watching old episodes of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood than worrying about if this is going to be the right [online] kindergarten readiness program,” he said.  

If I’m going to use online resources, how do I tell if they’re good? 

If you’re like me, you may have seen lists of 30 or more websites and online learning sites floating around the online parenting world, including on Facebook and in e-mail listservs. It can be overwhelming, and difficult to know which websites are quality. Golin said this is where parents can be helpful to each other. Instead of blindly sharing those lists, recommend a program your kid has enjoyed and share why they’ve enjoyed it. Also, caution parents about any part of that website that isn’t so great. Friedman recommended several resources, including The Kennedy Center’s daily lunch doodle with children’s book author Mo Willems and the PBS Kids Play and Learn Science app which provides ideas for hands-on, non-screen science projects. NAEYC has advice online for parents on how to choose technology for young children and Common Sense Media is also a good resource for parents to determine which websites, movies and books are age-appropriate.  

What can early childhood classrooms and schools do during this time? 

I was heartened last weekend by a story I heard about Dandelion Montessori, a small private Montessori school in Somerville, Massachusetts. When the local school district announced it would be closing, Heads of School Micki Sausen and Lindy McGrail Younis came up with a plan to provide support to parents and give their young students – who range from nearly 3 years old to 6 – a semblance of normalcy. Sausen and Younis spent hours collecting school materials and packing individual bags of activities for each of their 26 students. Each bag is different and includes activities and materials like Play-Doh, beads, puzzles, snap pea seeds and art supplies, tailored to what each student was working on before school closed. Bags were either handed out to parents outside the school or delivered to parents at their homes. The school’s teachers, known as guides in the Montessori world, will also do daily video check-ins with each student and their parents while school is closed, to sing songs, read a book and answer any questions about school materials that were sent home. “In this time of uncertainty, it’s just sort of supporting families and letting them know ‘You’ve got this, you can do this, it’s going to be OK and we’re here for you,’ ” Younis said. School officials are also considering hosting virtual play-dates if the closures continue.  

Vincent Costanza said one of the best things a preschool program or school district can do at this time is to send home model schedules with recommendations for parents on how to replicate their child’s day in the classroom. Costanza said it’s also important for programs and districts to communicate with their families at this time, especially to relay information on where parents can access meals and other essentials if they are in need. “This is an event that’s changing at least daily, if not much more quickly than that. Having an established communication structure in place I think is very important.” 

Across the nation, I’ve heard of many schools sending home lists of hands-on activities and parents organizing to share ideas. The executive director of my older son’s school, The Rise School of Austin, sent more than two dozen activity ideas out to parents when our school closed last week as teachers worked on creating a distance learning program. We’ve been very quickly making our way through this list, and I’ve included some of my favorites below: 

Feel free to respond to this e-mail with your ideas or tweet at me (@jackiemader) or tag hechingerreport on Instagram to share your experience and thoughts.

Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-being During the COVID-19 Pandemic

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently reports that the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is low for young Americansresearch on natural disasters makes it clear that, compared to adults, children are more vulnerable to the emotional impact of traumatic events that disrupt their daily lives. This resource offers information on supporting and protecting children’s emotional well-being as this public health crisis unfolds.

Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, everyday life has changed and will continue to change for most people in the United States, often with little notice. Children may struggle with significant adjustments to their routines (e.g., schools and child care closuressocial distancing, home confinement), which may interfere with their sense of structure, predictability, and security. Young people—even infants and toddlers—are keen observers of people and environments, and they notice and react to stress in their parents and other caregivers, peers, and community members. They may ask direct questions about what is happening now or what will happen in the future and may behave differently in reaction to strong feelings (e.g., fear, worry, sadness, anger) about the pandemic and related conditions. Children also may worry about their own safety and the safety of their loved ones, how they will get their basic needs met (e.g., food, shelter, clothing), and uncertainties for the future.

While most children eventually return to their typical functioning when they receive consistent support from sensitive and responsive caregivers, others are at risk of developing significant mental health problems, including trauma-related stress, anxiety, and depression. Children with prior trauma or pre-existing mental, physical, or developmental problems—and those whose parents struggle with mental health disorderssubstance misuse, or economic instability—are at especially high risk for emotional disturbances.

In addition to keeping children physically safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also important to care for their emotional health. Below, we summarize recommendations for promoting the emotional well-being of children in the face of these types of adversities and provide a list of helpful resources. Because broader environments play an important role in supporting an individual’s resilience to childhood adversity, this list supplements resources specifically for children and their families with those intended for educators, communities, and states, territories, and tribes.

Recommendations to support and protect children’s emotional well-being during the pandemic:

Understand that reactions to the pandemic may vary.

Children’s responses to stressful events are unique and varied. Some children may be irritable or clingy, and some may regress, demand extra attention, or have difficulty with self-care, sleeping, and eating. New and challenging behaviors are natural responses, and adults can help by showing empathy and patience and by calmly setting limits when needed.

Ensure the presence of a sensitive and responsive caregiver.

The primary factor in recovery from a traumatic event is the presence of a supportive, caring adult in a child’s life. Even when a parent is not available, children can benefit greatly from care provided by other adults (e.g., foster parents, relatives, friends) who can offer them consistent, sensitive care that helps protect them from a pandemic’s harmful effects.

Social distancing should not mean social isolation.

Children—especially young children—need quality time with their caregivers and other important people in their lives. Social connectedness improves children’s chances of showing resilience to adversity. Creative approaches to staying connected are important (e.g., writing letters, online video chats).

Provide age-appropriate information.

Children tend to rely on their imaginations when they lack adequate information. Adults’ decisions to withhold information are usually more stressful for children than telling the truth in age-appropriate ways. Adults should instead make themselves available for children to ask questions and talk about their concerns. They might, for example, provide opportunities for kids to access books, websites, and other activities on COVID-19 that present information in child-friendly ways. In addition, adults should limit children’s exposure to media coverage, social media, and adult conversations about the pandemic, as these channels may be less age-appropriate. Ongoing access to news and social media about the pandemic and constant conversation about threats to public safety can cause unnecessary stress for children.

Create a safe physical and emotional environment by practicing the 3 R’s: Reassurance, Routines, and Regulation.

First, adults should reassure children about their safety and the safety of loved ones, and tell them that it is adults’ job to ensure their safety. Second, adults should maintain routines to provide children with a sense of safety and predictability (e.g., regular bedtimes and meals, daily schedules for learning and play). And third, adults should support children’s development of regulation. When children are stressed, their bodies respond by activating their stress response systems. To help them manage these reactions, it is important to both validate their feelings (e.g., “I know that this might feel scary or overwhelming”) and encourage them to engage in activities that help them self-regulate (e.g., exercise, deep breathing, mindfulness or meditation activities, regular routines for sleeping and eating). In addition, it is essential to both children’s emotional and physical well-being to ensure that families can meet their basic needs (e.g., food, shelter, clothing).

Keep children busy.

When children are bored, their levels of worry and disruptive behaviors may increase. Adults can provide options for safe activities (e.g., outside play, blocks, modeling clay, art, music, games) and involve children in brainstorming other creative ideas. Children need ample time to engage in play and other joyful or learning experiences without worrying or talking about the pandemic.

Increase children’s self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy is the sense of having agency or control—an especially important trait during times of fear and uncertainty. Children often feel more in control when they can play an active role in helping themselves, their families, and their communities. For example, children can help by following safety guidelines (e.g., washing their hands), preparing for home confinement (e.g., helping to cook and freeze food), or volunteering in the community (e.g., writing letters or creating art for older adults or sick friends, sharing extra supplies with a neighbor).

Create opportunities for caregivers (which may mean yourself!) to take care of themselves.

Children’s well-being depends on the well-being of their parents and other caregivers. Caregivers must take care of themselves so they have the internal resources to care for others. To this end, adult caregivers can engage in self-care by staying connected to social supports, getting enough rest, and taking time for restorative activities (e.g., exercise, meditation, reading, outdoor activities, prayer). Seeking help from a mental health provider is also important when adults struggle with very high levels of stress and other mental health challenges.

Seek professional help if children show signs of trauma that do not resolve relatively quickly.

Emotional and behavioral changes in children are to be expected during a pandemic, as everyone adjusts to a new sense of normal. If children show an ongoing pattern of emotional or behavioral concerns (e.g., nightmares, excessive focus on anxieties, increased aggression, regressive behaviors, or self-harm) that do not resolve with supports, professional help may be needed. Many mental health providers have the capacity to provide services via “telehealth” (i.e., therapy provided by telephone or an online platform) when in-person social contact must be restricted.

Emphasize strengths, hope, and positivity.

Children need to feel safe, secure, and positive about their present and future. Adults can help by focusing children’s attention on stories about how people come together, find creative solutions to difficult problems, and overcome adversity during the epidemic. Talking about these stories can be healing and reassuring to children and adults alike.