DCFS Cook County Permanency Enhancement Project Steering Committee

In August of 2014, Angelo Militello of the JCFS Skokie Office was asked to co-chair the DCFS Cook County Permanency Enhancement Project Steering Committee. This committee meets The Illinois Permanency Enhancement Project (PEP) began in 2007 as a partnership between IDCFS, the African American Family Commission, the IDCFS African American Advisory Council and Illinois State University, School of Social Work/Center for Adoption Studies. The goal of the initiative is to improve permanency outcomes and reduce racial disproportionality within the child welfare system, through local, community-driven solutions. Community “Action Teams” made up of child welfare service consumers, human service professionals, educators, judicial officers, and concerned citizens, meet on a monthly basis to develop programs, policies, and collaborative initiatives aimed at improving permanency outcomes for children.

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Meeting the Needs of Children, Families and Adults: Where They Live, Work, Worship and Learn

Life presents challenging situations, whether it’s raising a family, searching for a job, locating an appropriate social activity for a child or adult with a disability, coping with the advanced illness of a loved one or facing an unexpected financial or emotional crisis. Jewish Child & Family Services (JCFS) helps children, couples and adults develop positive strategies and solutions to these challenges while strengthening connections to their families and communities.

JCFS brings its programs and services to people where they live, work, worship and learn, making it that much easier for people to access and benefit from its expertise and resources and those of its affiliate, JVS Chicago.

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Technology and the Orthodox Community

Everywhere you look, people’s eyes are glued to the screens of their smartphones, iPods and tablets. Commuters on the El or customers waiting in line with their shopping carts at their local Jewel-Osco are scrolling and tapping their hand-held devices—texting, surfing, emailing, gaming, posting and shopping. The Orthodox Jewish community is by no means immune to this digital invasion and it is grappling with how to adhere to Jewish laws in the ubiquitous landscape of technology.

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Ask a Clinician: Developmental Benefits of Yoga for Kids (ages 4 to 6)

Beginning this Winter, the Integrated Pediatric Interventions Program at JCFS is offering Yoga for Kids for children ages 4 to 6. Come join Occupational Therapist, Melissa Lorin, in a fun, child-centered environment that merges age-appropriate yoga practices including breathing techniques and animal poses with other play, art and social game experiences. This class encourages exploration of early yoga practices while building your child’s gross motor skills, coordination and body awareness.

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5 Things to Help Toddlers and Preschoolers Develop Language

Last August a study from the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) in Seattle  said that babies as young as seven months old are mentally working out the mechanics of how to form words with their mouths; In October the New York Times ran an article emphasizing the importance of the quality of words spoken to children , beyond just the quantity of words.  And, in late November NPR’s Science Friday  interviewed Fred Genesee of McGill University in Montreal, about his study that suggested that “early impressions of language are much more durable than scientists predicted.”

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Adoption and the Jewish Family

November is National Adoption Month , intended to raise awareness of foster care adoption and a time to celebrate all families created through adoption.  Not that we have to wait for November – we can celebrate the diversity of Jewish families created through adoption throughout the year! 

Adoption is an honored way to create or add to a family.  Our Jewish text and traditions support this: As stated in the Talmud, “He who brings up a child is to be called its father, not he who gave birth” (Exodus Rabbah 46:5). “Whoever raises a child in his home, it is as if he had begotten him…Whoever teaches Torah to the son of his companion, Scripture considers it as if he begat him.” (Sanhedrin 19b)

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Teen Transgender Film Sheds Light on LGBTQ Movement

A grandmother shared with Jewish parents, families and community members that she and her family are grappling with questions about whether or not their grandchild may someday identify as transgender; her 11-year-old granddaughter has connected with traditional masculine traits and behaviors since age four.

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Teasing vs. Bullying, and Why It's More Serious Today

When I speak to parents and members of our community about bullying, I most often am asked the following question:  “What’s the big deal?  Bullying happened when we were kids and we all survived!”

Flashback some 35-40 years ago and yes, bullying happened – on the playground, walking home, on the school bus, in the locker room.  Some of us were teased (“four-eyes,” “uni-brow,” “brown-nose”).  And yes, teasing is quite different from bullying.  How so, you may ask?

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Connections: Relationships Rule in a New Manual for Early Childhood Professionals

Connections: A Relationship-Based Phase Model is a just-published manual for early childhood professionals—those who run preschools, Head Start programs and other activities for pre-schoolers  aged 2‒6 years old—promoting social and emotional health in young children.

The book is a product of the Virginia Frank Child Development Center (VFCDC) , a program of Jewish Child & Family Services that operates a therapeutic preschool, trains early childhood professionals and consults with schools and organizations that engage pre-schoolers. All of its authors—Joni Crounse, MA, M.Ed, Kathy Ham, LCSW, Joanne Kestenbaum, LCSW, Wendy Guyer, MA, LCSW, Linnet Mendez, LCPC and Laura Sheridan, MA, LCSW—work at the Center and helped to develop the “relationship based phase model.”

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The 12 Steps of the Days of Awe

People actively working a Recovery Program already know the worth and power of the well-known 12 Steps.  But I have always believed that everyone should work a program – there is so much wisdom within these sensible steps that can help all people struggling with challenges.

At the Jewish Center for Addiction , we try to connect the spirituality and practices of Judaism to the Steps and addiction-recovery year round.  The Jewish Days of Awe, often known as the “High Holidays,” offer us the chance to reflect and integrate the Steps with the larger spiritual messages embedded in these special days. 

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