Helping Teenagers Cope With Grief After Tragedy and Loss

by Robin Stein, Director, Response Center at Jewish Child & Family Services

As a therapist who has worked with teens almost exclusively for over 30 years, I can’t help but imagine what it must be like to be a teenager in 2015. With so many young lives cut short today due to violence, bullying and suicide—dealing with the fear, the sense of loss, the uncertainty.  Grief work with adolescents is so incredibly important.  Often, parents immediately react by telling their child they must be in counseling – they just know their child must be depressed and at risk of imploding. 

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Mental Health First Aid: Sometimes the Best First Aid Is You…

by Nina Henry, Addiction Specialist, Jewish Center for Addiction

At the scene of an accident many years ago, I was able to help a young woman who had been hit by a car. She had hit her head, fallen to the ground and began to have a seizure. I called 911 right away, and I shouted, “Clear the air!” when too many people began to crowd around. When people attempted to put something under her head and others said, “Put something in her mouth to keep her from swallowing her tongue,” I was able to swiftly say they should leave her alone. I had learned to do these things in a one-day first aid seminar at my workplace.

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Finding Your Shalom—Healing, Hope and Abundant Peace

by Elizabeth Siegel Cohen, Jewish Healing Network Coordinator

How do you heal after a loss? You may have heard the adage that time heals all wounds. But does it? I don’t believe time, alone, heals wounds; it is what you choose to do with the time. We offer many ways to address your loss; to find your Shalom (peace).

Nechama: To Comfort the Bereaved Among Us” are classes held in area synagogues for the newly bereaved. Nechama is an opportunity for you to join  with other mourners and learn hands-on tools and information about the grief and mourning process, as well as Jewish resources to support you on your journey.  

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On the Front Lines of Domestic Violence Prevention and Response

By Amy Rubin, Senior Director of Community Services

On August 10, Jewish Child & Family Services welcomed 16 domestic violence professionals to its Skokie office for the first Association of Jewish Family & Children Agencies (AJFCA) Domestic Violence Professionals Fly-In. The participants came from all across the country, including Los Angeles, Cincinnati, West Palm Beach, Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Washington D.C. and Detroit. As this passionate group of colleagues energetically shared ideas and described the breadth of programming that is being accomplished, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much has changed.

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Community Partnership: Bringing Services to Synagogues and Schools

By Molly Buckman

The Oak Park - River Forest has a thriving Jewish community. To better deliver the agency’s services to Oak Park, JCFS formed a Synagogue Community Partnership with two local synagogues and hired clinician Molly Buckman to work two days a week—not just in Oak Park and River Forest, but in the synagogues. Here’s Molly’s report about this groundbreaking program.

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Legal Advocacy Presentation to Become National Webinar Series

In January, Sande Shamash, Director of the Legal Advocacy Center (LAC), and LAC Staff Attorney, Marissa LaVette, submitted a paper for a presentation on childhood trauma and its impact on special education. Their presentation, “Recognizing Childhood Trauma: Identification, Implementation and Advocacy for Trauma Informed Approaches in Special Education” was one of the submissions selected to be featured at the 17th Annual 2015 Counsel of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) National Conference in San Diego. COPAA is a national organization that serves to protect the legal and civil rights of and secure excellence in education on behalf of the 6.4 million children with disabilities in the United States.

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Parenting and Girl Drama

Your 4th grade daughter comes home from school upset and crying. At first you don’t know what is happening. Then it becomes clearer; she is upset about something that some other girls said to her at school. Your mind swirls as feelings of helplessness, anger and protectiveness rise within you.

You are now in a parenting moment, desperately wishing for a book to tell you what to do. You certainly don’t have any magic answers for your daughter. You wonder…

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Become a Foster Parent and Help a Child with Special Needs

Jewish Child & Family Services works to find caring, qualified foster parents for Chicago-area children with special needs, supporting the families who welcome, love and guide these children…whether toward reunification with their families or adoption by new families.

Right now, the need for foster parents is greater than ever with nearly 400,000 children and youth who need stability, mentoring, love and care. There is no ideal profile of a foster parent--the demographics are broad and include single adults or coupled partners—and while the challenges are very real, the experience is also rewarding for both child and foster parent. But what exactly are "special needs" and what should a prospective foster parent know? The following are some frequently asked questions about parenting a child with special needs:

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Every Kid Healthy Week

by Dena Goldstein, Grants and Planning Associate

Bite-size fruit snacks, squishy Capri Sun juice packs and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes all fall under the category of delicious, “kid-friendly” foods that kids love. They are also utterly lacking in nutritional value. Typically high in sugar, salt and/or unhealthy fats, these pseudo-snacks and meals lure kids in with toys, animated mascots and easy-to-open packaging. In our fast-paced world, kids, parents and schools are often drawn to processed foods—they are fairly inexpensive; accessible at convenient stores, vending machines and gas stations; and don’t require time to make. Added to the dearth of nutrition in their snacks, children are also leading more sedentary lifestyles. On average, kids spend over seven hours in front of a computer or TV screen every day. Poor food choices coupled with minimal physical activity not only affect their physical health, but also academic success.

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A Reflection On Camp Firefly

by Julie Feldman, LCSW, Firefly Day Camp Director and Liz Robbin, Speech-Language Pathologist, Firefly Overnight Camp Director

We remember our first day of camp as if it was yesterday. Bashful glances and giggles from the children; watchful eyes and tearful goodbyes from parents. The sounds of luggage moving into cabins and young campers climbing into bunk beds; counselors chatting and smiling ear to ear.

Our first day at Camp Firefly changed our lives forever. As Camp Chi campers and staff alumni, we were thrilled to be back at camp in a different capacity. We returned to camp with skills from our professional backgrounds as well as everything we learned from our years of experience on staff at Chi. And while our studies and work experiences provided a solid foundation for what to expect, we were amazed from the start at the careful planning and preparation the staff undertook – no detail left unnoticed, no hour left unplanned. We saw firsthand how Camp Firefly provides a safe and nurturing camp experience for kids and teenagers with social disorders who often find the camp environment to be overwhelming. As anyone who has been to camp knows, it is a magical place where friendships are formed, new skills are developed and confidence is built.

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