Great Things: Three Stories

Andrea Vasquez

Andrea joined Child & Family Resources' Youth Empowered for Success (YES) as a student in high school. She participated as an active member of the group, until she assumed a leadership role as a Youth Mentor, helping to lead her school and team members in community building projects. 

Now, she is actively pursuing a degree in social work at Arizona State University. Read ASU's article about her -- including the role YES played in her career decisions: Dreamer Proves Hard Work Pays Off. 

>> Learn more about YES

Kathy and Katia

Katia's birth took an unexpected turn -- already diagnosed with a heart murmur, Katia's heart beat slowed dangerously during delivery and doctors rushed Kathy into emergency C-section. Katia was born with facial palsy, a heart murmur, deafness, and  breathing challenges to due to issues with her trachea . It was nothing like what she and her husband had imagined, but Kathy says, "She was perfect for us." Katia was a feisty baby, showing a strong will to thrive, and she grew into a little girl who loved to dance, dress up, and put on makeup. 

Kathy and family joined Child & Family Resources' Healthy Families program, when Katia was a baby. Roxanne, their Family Support Specialist, was there to encourage them all to do well, and guide the family through normal stages of development. She even helped Kathy guide Katia through potty training. 

Kathy and Katia graduated from Healthy Families. Last year, Katia started school where she continues to shine. Healthy Families will always be a part of their experience. ""Roxanne is a friend," Kathy said, "I loved working with her."

>> Learn more about Healthy Families

Quality Early Care

We already know that one of the great barriers to employment is finding quality child care, but it's not as commonly acknowledged as a barrier to education, as well (although, there is some gaining acknowledgement of the issue). Yet, at Child & Family Resources, we know that one of the big reasons that young mothers fail to complete education is because of a lack of access to quality child care.

Child & Family Resources' Maricopa Center for Adolescent Parents (MCAP) has eliminated that barrier, providing a free, on-site, accredited, and four-star rated, on-site Early Learning Center. The Early Learning Center is directly across the hall from the classrooms, allowing mother the opportunity to check in on her child and participate in special projects or festivities, like Halloween! While mothers pursue their High School Equivalency, their children are getting a head start on their education, because highly skilled teachers are providing an environment that will lay a strong foundation for all of their future learning. 

>> Learn more about MCAP
>> Learn more about Quality Child Care

Guest Blog: Advice to Parents from a Teen

Our guest blogger today is Kelsey Bender, a Cienga student and Youth Mentor with her school's YES Team. January 25-29th is National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Drug Fact Week. Our YES teams around Tucson worked to increase awareness with their peers, families and community members about underage drinking and drug use. We invited Kelsey to give us a teen's perspective on the issue of drugs and parents. 

I have met a lot of parents, on both a casual and a professional level, but, no matter the circumstance, the concerns hardly vary. “How do I know if my child is using/abusing drugs? What do I do?” And honestly, it is hard to say, even as a double agent. 

Children of all ages begin for a plethora of reasons, many I could not name, and it all depends on them. With who? With what? Where? How? While all are undeniably valuable questions, not one is more vital than “Why?” In order to understand such a question, a good place to start is becoming aware of the general signs of use, these could include anything from increase/decrease of social activity to mood swings or withdrawal. Also: sudden carelessness about personal hygiene, disinterest in hobbies, change in sleeping patterns, red/glassy eyes, and a sniffly nose. Then, by reaching the root of the issue, we can better nurture health and recovery. 

Some adolescents who suffer from mental illnesses (such as anxiety or depression) turn to drugs as a coping method, while others do it as a result of peer pressure - primarily from close friends.

In this case, the solution isn’t always forcing them to be under your constant supervision, or smothering them in general. 

In lieu of that, it is important to remember that bad choices do not make anyone a bad person; in fact, it is best to treat this situation with the utmost care, and approach your child in a manner than makes them feel safe and comfortable. 

It is impossible to force someone to share (especially the truth), there has to be legitimate willingness to do so, and making your child feel like they’re on trial usually will not elicit those kinds of feelings! And be open with your child about the dangers of drug use, simultaneously while being honest yet not over-exaggerating; there are a variety of ways you can go about this, starting with a simple family meeting to attending awareness seminars!

All of these are viable options, and will hopefully educate your child on the dangers of these activities, while also encouraging your child to view you as someone they can rely on in times of need.

If you are a teenager seeking support for your drug or alcohol problems, please visit the National Helpline. If you are a parent seeking support for your child, please visit Talk. They Hear You.

More about your Guest Blogger!

Kelsey Bender.JPG

Kelsey Bender has been a member of the Cienega YES Club for three years, and a Youth Mentor for one! She graduates in 2017. She takes her coffee half and half, her favorite animal is a deer, she speaks fluent gibberish, and she can list 26 countries in alphabetical order. After graduation, she plans to study art education on the elementary level. 

Child & Family Resources recognized by the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities

On Thursday, October 15th, President & C.E.O. Eric Schindler accepted 2015 Alliance Commitments Award for Engaging All Voices for Child & Family Resources' program Youth Empowered for Success. 

The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities is a national membership organization located in Washington, D.C., that is dedicated to achieving a vision of a healthy society and strong communities for all children, adults, and families. They are leading an effort to provide a blueprint for building paths to true community impact. In their own words, "Impact is not about what you do—how many people you serve, how long you’ve been in existence, or how far your service area reaches. It’s about the positive change you achieve and whether or not it lasts."  

Recognizing how many of our efforts and value aligned with the commitments of The Alliance, Child & Family Resources has signed on to grow and learn along all dimensions of service delivery to ensure that we are truly a High-Impact Organization

We were very honored to be recognized by The Alliance for outstanding work in the Commitment for Engaging All Voices. We have long been deeply committed to inviting, appreciating, and advocating for the viewpoints of individuals who are unrepresented or underrepresented in most community, organizational, and policy settings. Perhaps nowhere is this commitment better exemplified than through the work of our Youth Empowered for Success (YES) program. YES is an initiative in Pima County that, for over a decade, has worked to mobilize the power of youth to create conditions for success in schools and communities. YES involves teams from area high schools in a leadership effort that benefits schools and neighborhoods by raising youth voices in messages about community, healthy living, achievement, and striving for an alcohol and drug free teen life.

YES program impacts communities

YES team members are also deeply involved in local neighborhood and community coalitions, bringing youth voice and leadership to the broader community. In partnership with a variety of coalitions, a Community Needs Assessment informs issues that are addressed. Again, working hand in hand with adults, a variety of projects and interventions, including community town hall meetings, are implemented in communities across Pima County. These projects and initiatives are focused at every level of the socio-ecological model, involving the youth, their families, the schools, and the local communities.

Recently, the Office of the Governor recognized the work of the YES program with a Volunteer Service Award for their involvement in, and service to the community. Through these activities, youth develop a sense of competence, usefulness, power, and belonging. These serve as the basis of protective factors against youth engaging in risky behaviors, and make it more likely that they will achieve in school, pursue higher education, demonstrate leadership, and become active, productive citizens in their communities.

Learn more!

Learn more about how to become involved with the YES Program

Learn more about the The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities' Commitment of High-Impact Organizations.

Visit the official award announcement here.