Hope Begins at Home. Home Begins with You.

Some of your most special memories growing up might include making macaroni necklaces and hand-painted cards for mom on Mother’s Day. But imagine for a moment if there had been no mom in your life to celebrate; no nurturing figure to tuck you in at night or offer warm hugs after a bad day. Many children in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services (CPS) are in desperate need of someone to celebrate and be grateful for, and that someone could be you.

Canopy Children’s Solutions (Canopy) seeks families wanting to make a difference in the lives of children. Youth in foster care are often shuffled in and out of group homes and care facilities every few months without the ability to develop long-term connections. These connections are essential to establishing a sense of self-worth, love and security that children need to grow and thrive.

Canopy is hosting an informational meeting for individuals and families interested in learning more about therapeutic foster care (TFC). The meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. at the Canopy office located at 105 Asbury Circle, Suite A, Hattiesburg.

Canopy believes that all children deserve to grow up in nurturing, stable families. When children are placed into foster care, it is often due to circumstances involving abuse, neglect and/or exploitation.  Following such traumatic events, children need individuals or families to provide loving reassurance in the comfort of a temporary safe haven.

“Mother’s Day can be very difficult for children in foster care who don’t have a place to ‘belong,’ especially if they don’t understand their separation,” said Elliott Brown Therapeutic Foster Care Program Supervisor.

“We receive calls nearly every day hoping to place a child into our program. It is heartbreaking to have to turn them down because we simply don’t have homes to place these children in.”

Canopy’s TFC Program specializes in the care of foster children with emotional, developmental and medical needs. When children are enrolled in the program, they receive interventions that are designed to address their individualized needs in the most comprehensive manner possible. Canopy’s TFC staff not only provide direct support to foster children through individual and family therapy, but also to resource families through ongoing training.

Ultimately, the TFC Program is looking for compassionate and dedicated resource parents who are willing to provide much-needed care to foster children with therapeutic needs. Fostering is an opportunity to draw upon one’s own compassion, generosity and wisdom to help another person in need. These children need to be reminded there is love and compassion in the world; they need to know there is hope, and it can start with you.

For more information about therapeutic foster care, please contact Elliott Brown at 601-606-0208 or elliott.brown@mycanopy.org or visit mycanopy.org.

Things I’ve Learned from a Child with Autism

April is Autism Awareness Month. Autism Spectrum Disorder, typically referred to as simply autism, is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are more than 10,000 Mississippi youth on the autism spectrum, affecting 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys. While the challenges of a child with autism are often great, it is important to remember, so are their strengths.

Canopy Children’s Solutions offers a variety of therapeutic autism solutions including intensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, specialized education autism classes, and targeted emotional and social skills therapy. While our staff are dedicated to nurturing and teaching children, they also find children teach them along the way. Staff from Canopy’s Early Intervention Autism Clinic, which specializes in intensive ABA therapy, share with us some things they have learned from working with children on the autism spectrum.

Things I’ve Learned from a Child with Autism

“Children are incredible teachers. A child with Autism has taught me to speak Spanish, to become culturally aware, how to praise myself for the hard work, and to self-correct when I know I can do better. Most importantly, a child with autism has taught me to laugh and smile unapologetically.”—BreAnna Newborne, BCBA (Senior Behavior Interventionist II)

“I’ve learned to celebrate EVERYTHING! It’s easy to get bogged down and miss what are truly special moments. Children with autism have taught me to cherish and celebrate small victories because small victories will lead to milestone moments.  It’s up to us to find joy in everyday success!”—Racheal Caldwell (Behavior interventionist)

“A child with autism has taught me to take nothing for granted. I have learned that golden moments like a smile, saying ‘hi,’ or telling mom or dad ‘I love you’ for the first time may seem small to some, but to our clinic families, it is an earth-shattering big deal.”—Jasmine Allen (Behavior Support Specialist II)

“I have learned children with autism are just that, children. Just like any child, they need us to believe in their potential to learn, perform, and to thrive alongside their peers and within their communities. They can do it with our support.”—Madeline Potter, BCBA (Behavior Support Specialist II)

“Children with autism have taught me more than I could ever imagine. I have learned just how unique each child is. By working with these kids each day, they have helped me grow personally and professionally.”—Robyn Brewer (Behavior Support Specialist I)

 “A child with autism taught me there is, in fact, a difference between Kylo Ren and Darth Vadar. Who knew!? There is so much about the world they take in, and in turn, can offer us a new perspective. Each session I grow as a therapist because they challenge me to be better and see the world through their eyes.”—Laura Barker (Behavior Support Specialist I)

“A child with autism taught me when someone says, ‘you can’t,’ I have the choice to say, ‘watch me.’ Each of us has the last say so in whether we give up or continue pushing through. I smile every day because I get to see these children transform.”—Alana Cole (Behavior Support Specialist I)

“Children with autism have taught me to take the time to learn how they communicate; how we deliver our ABA services to best benefit not only the child, but also their families. These children help me grow every day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”—Hayden Rizer (Behavioral Support Specialist I)

I have learned that a child with autism is not defined by their disability or limitations because limitations can be overcome. Any progress made in learning or development is an accomplishment. The smiles, the laughs and even contact are huge conquering feats.”—Rebecca Taylor (Behavior Support Specialist I)

A child with autism taught me to leave expectations at the door, because with determination, anything is possible.”—Garrett Yaeger (Intern)

“A child with autism taught me to smile in the ‘bad moments’ because those moments are what teach us to truly appreciate the good.”—Karla Banks (Autism Clinic Coordinator)

I have learned many things from kids with autism. They’ve taught me greetings in different languages, facts about traveling the world, current weather reports, new and fun outside games to play, and many different ways to truly connect with others. There are many details they pay attention to that I would never have thought. Being with these kids is the best part of my day!”—Lindsay Rigby (Volunteer)

Individuals with autism have much to offer if we take the time to look past their diagnosis. Many companies, like Microsoft for example, have embraced their unique strengths and are actively pursuing individuals on the spectrum for employment. This offers hope to thousands of individuals on the spectrum and to their families who know the impact their loved ones can have on the world, given the opportunity. We should actively help to cultivate their strengths and individual uniqueness. Given half a chance, any child with autism would have a thing or two to teach us all.

If you know a child in need of autism solutions, please contact Karla with Care Coordination at 800.388.6247. You can also learn more about Canopy Autism Solutions here.

The Silent Cries of Child Abuse

At five years old, Katie hears the door slam. Keys crash against the countertop. She feel her heart pounding and her mind begin to race, “Please have had a good day, please don’t be mad…” The house falls silent, then a voice filled with frustration and anger echoes down the hallway as she hears a crash in the kitchen. Katie turns off the light and jumps into bed, pretending to be asleep, hoping maybe, just maybe, he won’t turn down the hallway. Loud footsteps clomp closer and closer to her bedroom door, then stop and trail off in another direction. She hears a loud smack followed by a string of loud obscenities and muffled crying. Katie closes her eyes tightly, “Please no, not again.” The crying turns to screaming, pleading, “No! No, please! Leave her alone!” Katie’s bedroom light turns on. She is drug from her bed to face the horrors of what she had heard from behind the door.

Katie’s story is real for the more than 7.4 million children affected by some form of child abuse each year. More shocking, approximately five children die every day as a result of abuse—80 percent of those fatalities are children under the age of four.–Children’s Bureau

 

In 2017, the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services cited more than 6,000 evidenced cases of abuse or neglect in the state. Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education. In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month, Canopy Children’s Solutions wants to bring awareness to this issue that is devastating the lives of children across our state and country.

80percentWhat constitutes child abuse? Under Mississippi Code Section 43-21-105, child abuse is defined as a child whose parent, guardian, custodian, or any person responsible for his or her care or support, whether or not legally obligated to do so, has caused or allowed to be caused upon the child non-accidental physical injury or other maltreatment. This does not include reasonable corporal punishment. Child abuse is more broadly characterized by six major categories by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families and Children’s Bureau: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, abandonment, and/or substance abuse.

“Understanding what constitutes abuse is important in protecting those who are often unable to protect themselves,” said Tammy Miller, South Central Region Director for Canopy Children’s Solutions, who has more than 17 years of child welfare experience. “Many times, a child will not openly tell a trusted adult they are being abused, either because they are too young to understand that these actions are inappropriate, or for fear of what the abuser will do if they find out. However, there are sometimes signs or behaviors in children that can point to an abusive history.”

Signs of abuse can include extreme aggressive and unwarranted behavior, unexplained injuries, cowering from an authoritative figure, frequent or prolonged unexcused absence from school, fear of going home, behaviors that are not age appropriate (pants wetting in school-aged adolescents, hyper sexuality in children, delays in development, etc.), and extreme weight loss or malnourishment.

If you suspect that a child has been abused, collect as much factual information as possible. Document things you have witnessed, seen or heard that make you suspect abuse with the date(s) and detailed description(s) of each occurrence (i.e. child was out of school for a week and returned with a faint bruise to his left cheek; child constantly comes to school hungry; parent yelled and called child “stupid” and “useless” over report card grades, young child seen wandering the street alone after dark). Miller advises asking the child about things you have noticed using open ended and non-leading questions while being aware the child may not be truthful. Be sure to disclose if you think he or she is hiding something. File a report by calling the Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-222-8000, or file a report online at www.reportabuse.mdcps.ms.gov. These two options will open a case with the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services (CPS) who will further investigate the claim. Only utilize these options if the situation is not an emergency. If a child appears to be in imminent danger, call 911 immediately.

“Many people shy away from reporting concerns over fear of false accusations. If the behaviors are severe enough to warrant concern, it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Miller. “Filing a report does not necessarily mean a child will be removed from a home or that criminal charges will be pressed. In fact, CPS can often provide services to the family such as substance abuse treatment, mental health evaluations, parenting skills, and other social services that can benefit the family as a whole.”

what ifMiller also noted that fear of retaliation is another major obstacles that keeps people from reporting. Reports can be made anonymously through the 800-number.

Children are our most valuable, and yet, our most vulnerable assets. Helping protect the livelihood of children in our communities is a responsibility of all adults, whether you are a teacher, a parent at a baseball game, or a bystander in a store parking lot. Don’t let the silent cries of a child keep you from speaking up. If you suspect something, say something.

For more information about signs and types of child abuse, visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at www.childwelfare.gov or contact your state child welfare agency.

Written by: Laura Walker, staff writer for Canopy Children’s Solutions

2018 Children’s Mental Health Summit

The Fifth Annual Children’s Mental Health Summit, hosted by Canopy Children’s Solutions (Canopy), will take place Thursday and Friday, May 10-11, at the Jackson Hilton Hotel in Jackson, Miss.

The theme for this year’s event is Every Child Can Be a Success: Creating Positive Outcomes. This two-day event will feature a half-day pre-conference on Thursday, May 10, with breakout sessions on varied topics that affect Mississippi families and children. The main conference will follow on Friday beginning at 8:00 a.m. featuring Scott D. Miller, Ph.D., of the International Center for Clinic Excellence as keynote speaker. In addition to the keynote, Canopy is pleased to welcome speakers Teresa R. Mosely, M.Ed, and Nick Hughes, M. Div., who will share their personal testaments of triumph over tragedy. A complete list of speakers and topics can be found on the event website.

“It is important that we provide tools to those who work with children so they can better support the intricate needs of the children they serve,” said Canopy CEO John Damon, Ph.D. “We have been very successful in bringing in speakers for the Children’s Mental Health Summit who challenge conventional thinking and broaden our skills as clinicians, teachers, social workers, child advocates and parents. I’m very excited about the opportunities that we will have again this year.”

Registration for the pre-conference is $50 per participant and $100 per participant for the main conference on Friday. Participants may choose to attend one or both days. These fees include the cost of materials, breaks, lunch (Friday only) and Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Licensed counselors and social workers can receive up to 9.5 CEUs for attending both days of the summit. Licensed educators may also receive up to 1 CEU credit for participation.

For complete information on the Children’s Mental Health Summit, including registration and information on overnight accommodations, please visit www.helpkidsthrive.org or contact Kym Williams at 601.352.7784.