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Being a Veteran in the RHY Field

By: TC Cassidy, MPA, M.Div., CYC-P, Director of Technical Assistance / HTR3 Project Director, RHYTTAC / National Safe Place Network

When I was asked to write this blog as a veteran of the United States military and the RHY field, I struggled to find a balance between recognizing military veterans and recognizing veterans of the RHY field.

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November is National Runaway Prevention Month

As we begin gearing up for the holiday season in November, many of us are prompted to reflect on all the things for which we are thankful. Unfortunately, while many of us will be counting our blessings, an overwhelming number of young people across the country will be trying to figure out where they will be sleeping that night or where they can get their next meal.

To raise the visibility of these young people - runaway, throwaway, homeless, at-risk, or otherwise unstably housed - National Safe Place Network is participating in National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM) 2015. NRPM is spearheaded each year by the National Runaway Safeline (NRS) and National Network for Youth (NN4Y). The goals of NRPM are two-fold:

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NSPN's "Together We Can" Networking Tips

One of the key elements of business events, including conferences and other training sessions, is networking. Networking is essential to youth and family service providers as it connects peers to information and resources. Networking is a core component of NSPN and drives the “Your needs. Your network. Together we can!” motto.

Because networking is critical, we’ve provided ten networking tips below. If you’d like to discuss more ways to network with others, connect with us at [email protected].

  1. Be authentic.  Sometimes individuals use networking as a means to develop business connections.  NSPN believes networking should be about developing relationships. Relationships are deeper connections you create when you actually care about the success of each other and not just using each other as a “business connection."
  2. Know who you are. When someone asks about your organization, do you know how to answer this question – quickly? Work with your supervisor or marketing team to learn your organization’s elevator pitch. This pitch offers cues to individuals and encourages them to invest their time in you.
  3. Re-connect. Sometimes, it’s easier to start connecting by re-connecting. If you see a familiar face or someone you know and haven’t seen since last year – say hi. Get caught up with what you’ve both been up to.  Make sure to jot their number down and check in from time to time.
  4. Own your awkwardness.  If you’re awkward, own it. You’re not the only one that can sense you’re uncomfortable. Say it out loud, “I’m sorry, I’m so awkward at this! But I really want to connect with you because we have this in common – do you have a second?” Owning your awkwardness lightens the conversation early so everyone can focus on what’s actually important. Chances are – they're uncomfortable with networking too and you both will be relieved.
  5. Small talk is OK. Sometimes, it’s easier to have some conversation starters ready. It’s as easy as just saying hello, talking about the weather, or offering a compliment. Asking for advice opens the door for great conversation as well.
  6. Communicate.  “Is that your final answer?” There’s a ton of information out there! Don’t accept yes or no as a final answer. Ask open-ended questions. By doing so, someone has the opportunity to share new information you may find useful. Keep in mind; it’s important to be able to quickly articulate what information you’re interested in.
  7. Share and Receive.  Networking is a two-way street. Working together by sharing and listening will result in more effective conversations and results.
  8. Don’t leave empty-handed. When you meet someone, ask for their business card or contact information. Make a note on the back about the person you met so you can use it to build your relationship. Don’t forget to ask for their social media handle! Social networking is an easy way to keep in touch.
  9. Plan for the future. Don’t just say “nice knowing you.” Identify some ways you can help each other and plan a call or an email in the future to follow-through on supporting each other.
  10. Thank you. Showing appreciation for someone’s time and discussion goes a long way.  Relationships are built on support and respect.

Halloween Safety

By: Danielle White, Executive Administrative Assistant, National Safe Place Network / RHYTTAC

As Halloween approaches, many people seek out the seasonal thrills and chills. For some, however, the scariest part of Halloween is not the ghosts and goblins. Children are twice as likely to be hit by cars on Halloween, according to national statistics. Additionally, costumes and decorations can create tripping and fire hazards, while candy and other Halloween goodies can pose health risks.

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month

By: Hillary Ladig, Communications Coordinator, National Safe Place Network

October is upon us - a month many associate with the start of the fall season, cooler temperatures, Halloween and pumpkins. In addition to these common themes, the month also brings to light the topic of bullying prevention. October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a time when communities unite to raise awareness of bullying prevention through events, activities, outreach and education.

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September is National Suicide Prevention Month

Written by: Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer, National Safe Place Network & RHYTTAC

Although I had learned about suicide and had even been a peer educator in high school, I had not personally been impacted by a completed act until my freshman year in college. I was serving as a resident advisor and was called into the head resident counselor’s office to hear the news. The boyfriend of a friend of mine had shot himself in the woods on campus. I was sad for my friend, angry at the young man and confused about what had happened. I had been trained to look for signs. Everyone had seen this young man many times and although we knew he had a temper, it always seemed to be directed at others. Like the other individuals involved, we waded through the rivers of grief and found that the depth of the waters differed from person to person. Feelings of guilt, anxiety, depression and anger were common and yet, like most moving waters – the rivers flowed and we found renewed energy to continue our life journeys – even though his was complete.

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Part Three of our "Brain Development" Series: Creating a Brain-Based Environment for Youth

By: Robin Donaldson, Chief Operating Officer, Indiana Youth Services Association & NSPN Advisory Board member

Adolescence is defined as the transition from childhood to adulthood and encompasses the broad developmental tasks of establishing a unique identity and developing one’s own autonomy and independence. Brain development also undergoes unique changes during adolescence that can explain many behaviors specific to this developmental period.

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Labor of Love

Written by: Laurie Jackson, President / CEO, National Safe Place Network

For nearly thirty years I have been working with and advocating for youth who have runaway, are homeless, or otherwise in crisis. I find it gratifying to remember the successes of the work: the families who were reunited after a tough crisis created a separation. Even when a separation is only for a brief time it may create angst for the family. I also recall the times that sadness overwhelmed my head and heart when, despite all efforts, a divide remained following service. The trials and tribulations of youth work provides an emotional sense that is a high crest on the wave and the opposite - the crash of the same wave and the ripple effect it leaves in its wake.

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TXT 4 HELP Q&A

With: Maria Huebner, MSW, LCSW, Follow-Up Programs Manager, Behavioral Health Response (BHR)

*This piece was originally published in the Winter 2013 version of National Safe Place's newsletter, "The Connection"

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A Personal Reflection on Leadership

Written by: Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer, National Safe Place Network & RHYTTAC

Writing about leadership is bizarre. If you write about something, you should know what you are writing about. If you profess to know a lot about leadership – or at least enough to write about it – does that mean that you are holding yourself out as a role model? In trying to determine the most accurate, though totally subjective, answer to my own question, I decided to think about the leaders I know or have known in my life. First, there was my mom. She led through a balance of compassion and control. My father led through years of hard work followed by years of stories of what he learned by working so hard. My first pastor, Brother Fred, was a Native American leading a small Christian church in rural Mississippi. He led by demonstrating that words of kindness may soothe but never eradicate the pain caused by words of hate. My high school English teacher led by gentle challenges to all of his students that you are never as accomplished today as you could be tomorrow. An early social work supervisor led by showing patience, persistence and passion – all while working with the kids rather than hanging out in the office. Each of these souls imprinted their form of leadership on the way I feel and think about the world. So, I wonder. Is this leadership? Is it impacting another in such a way that the other person is forever changed by the encounter? If so, can there be negative leaders? Surely, there are. If not, many of the warnings I received as a child were simply scare tactics meant to keep me on the straight and narrow (I think they worked to well.) I believe there are leaders who lead without ever realizing people are paying attention. I know there are leaders who use their skills and personal characteristics to gain more for themselves than they ever help others achieve. I think there are leaders who believe that they should be followed and who criticize those individuals who refuse to follow them. Luckily, I don’t work with these people. I don’t see any of these leaders in partnering organizations or in our membership. I haven’t spotted these leaders at our workshops or conferences. In our world, I see the other leaders. The ones who understand that a simple gesture of good will, an act of patience, a sharing of resources, a hug of support or a nod of validation can be critical. These leaders don’t look for THE moment to make a difference because they realize that EVERY moment is an opportunity to create change. John Quincy Adams said, “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”. Our social service field is filled with leaders at all levels. Youth, professional youth care workers, managers, clinicians, executives, administrative staff, drivers, volunteers, cooks and receptionists - each spread ripples of positive impact in the streams in which they swim. I guess maybe the most often missed characteristics of leadership are humility and gratitude. I am learning to be a leader. Thanks to all of you who are learning with me.

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Back to School

Written by: Shauna Stubbs, RHYTTAC Principal Investigator, National Safe Place Network

Some young people approach the beginning of a new school year with excitement and anticipation.  Perhaps they see this as a fresh start - an opportunity to experiment with identity development.  Maybe they have a sense of confidence from previous experience that their desirable position in the social hierarchy of school is secure.  Some could be finely tuned toward academic pursuits, eager to continue learning with the intention to avoid all the drama.

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"Doing" Ethics

Written by: Katie Carter, Director of Research, Education & Public Policy, National Safe Place Network

When was the last time you discussed ethics with someone?

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Part Two of our "Brain Development" Series: The Brain and Crisis Situations

By: Robin Donaldson, Chief Operating Officer, Indiana Youth Services Association & NSPN Advisory Board member

What determines the individual responses in times of crisis? Why do some freeze and become incapable of responding while others seem to thrive and rise to the challenge in the face of threat? We can look to genetics and a person’s upbringing to determine the neural pathways established in the brain that dictate the varied ranges of response to crises.

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Avoiding Sparks: On the Road to Independence

By: April Carthorn, RHYTTAC General Specialist, National Safe Place Network

Homelessness is not a choice. Too often a young person’s decision to leave home is the healthiest (and only) option available to them. Some have no choice as they are forced from their homes at the hands of their guardians. Many flee because of issues such as family conflict, sexual orientation, poverty, abuse and neglect, while others may become entangled in substance abuse, gangs, and addiction problems.

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Part One of our "Brain Development" Series: General Brain Development

By: Robin Donaldson, Chief Operating Officer, Indiana Youth Services Association & NSPN Advisory Board member

The human brain is a beautiful thing. Nothing matches a healthy brain in efficient, creative, and effective functioning. Normal brain development follows predictable patterns mirroring the mastery of developmental skills at different stages of life. It is important to understand, however, that brain development is strongly influenced by environment. An enriched, supportive environment facilitates healthy brain development; a deprived, harmful, or stressful environment greatly inhibits normal brain development.

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Welcome to the NSPN Kitchen - Summer Edition

It's summertime and folks are getting ready for some summer treats! Get ready to open wide for the NPSN Kitchen Cookbook! The staff at NSPN put together a yummy set of summertime beverages, snacks, starters, entrees, sides, and desserts just for you!  We hope you have fun recreating these tasty treats, but most of all, we hope you enjoy EATING them! Happy Cooking!

Access the NSPN Kitchen Cookbook here:  https://nspn.memberclicks.net/assets/docs/NSPN/nspn%20cook%20book.pdf 

Launched Today: Voices of Youth Count

NSPN is pleased to announce the launch of Voices of Youth Count - http://www.voicesofyouthcount.org/.

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Pride Isn't an End. It's a Beginning.

By: Jama Shelton, LMSW, PhD, Deputy Executive Director for True Colors Fund

Pride Month is not only an opportunity for homeless youth programs to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) young people with whom they work, it’s also a time for youth-serving agencies to come out as visible allies of all young people. Sometimes youth serving organizations may not celebrate Pride Month if they think it isn’t relevant to the youth within their programs. Even if you aren’t aware of any LGBT identified youth (or youth who may be questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity) within your programs, chances are, they’re there! In fact, 99% of the service providers we surveyed for our Serving Our Youth Report said they work with LGBT youth in their homeless youth programs. Less than one percent reported not working with LGBT youth. Pride Month is a perfect opportunity to let these young people know that you see them, stand with them, and support them.

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Helpful Resources from Polaris Project

Polaris Project, an organization leading the global fight to end modern slavery and restore freedom to survivors, posted an article on their website intended to help enhance services provided for LGBTQ human trafficking victims.

Breaking Barriers: Improving Services for LGBTQ Human Trafficking Victims

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Why YOU Should be Teaching Online Safety

By: Jenna Ryckebusch, Senior Programs Coordinator, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

For the past 31 years, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) has been the leading nonprofit organization serving as the national clearinghouse and resource center for families, law enforcement and the public to help find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation and prevent future victimization. As part of the services and resources we provide to educators, families, children and the public, NCMEC has made available and delivered thousands of Internet safety presentations to parents, young children, teens and youth-serving professionals. NCMEC’s presentations cover issues ranging from sexting to cyberbullying to being a good digital citizen. After several of our presentations, teens have approached NCMEC staff members looking for help because they were experiencing one of the issues we discussed.

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