A Word from the Program Director
Hello Everyone!

Starting July 6, 2021 all of our Children’s Service Society: GRANDfamilies offices will be open to the public. Even though our offices are scheduled to be open during our regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), we strongly encourage that you call the office in your area and schedule an appointment. Each office will have limited staff each day, and in our smaller offices you may find that the doors are locked due to staff not physically being present in the office while performing other job related duties.

Over the past few months we have experienced some changes within the GRANDfamilies program; some of those changes were discussed in our prior newsletter. Although some of the changes caught some of us off guard, overall things are going very well, and many of the changes have been positive.

After working closely with our Executive Director, Board of Directors, and the GRANDfamilies team we have made some exciting changes/additions to the GRANDfamilies program…

Please join me in congratulating Alyssa Craven to the newly created position of Assistant Program Director of GRANDfamilies. Alyssa has been with Children’s Service Society of Utah for over six years. She worked closely with Bacall and helped to make the GRANDfamilies program what it is today. Alyssa has a passion for the program, and she is going to continue to do amazing things! The GRANDfamilies team has added two additional positions: Support Services Specialist (Becky Davis) and Clinical Kinship Adoption Specialist (Mindy Newsome). Becky has been with Children’s Service Society since 1998. Becky created the Connections Program (part of the Adoption Program here at Children’s Service Society). Becky continues to run the Connections Program in addition to serving as the Support Services Specialist. Mindy has several years of clinical and adoption related experience, including having worked as a Clinical Expectant Parent Specialist on the Children’s Service Society: Adoption team. Additionally, I, Rich Johnston, have accepted the permanent position of being the GRANDfamilies Program Director, in addition to being the Adoption Program Director.

Thank you all for your patience as we have worked through all of these changes, and thank you for your commitment to the relative children that you care for. GRANDfamilies would not exist if it were not for all of your hard work!

Rich Johnston, CMHC
Adoption Program Director/GRANDfamilies Program Director 
September is Kinship Care Month
Last year the Utah Kinship Coalition hosted a virtual town hall, with a panel of kinship caregivers and youth. We also held a social media campaign throughout the month, in which our goal was to raise awareness of kinship care. Since that town hall, we have been able to support the guardianship amendment bill, HB358, through its passage earlier this year to benefit kinship caregivers seeking guardianship of children in their care.
We are excited to be preparing for another great town hall in September. Details will be provided at a later date. We hope that you will join along on our social media pages @cssutah and help us in advocating for and raising awareness around kinship care.
We look forward to celebrating kinship families around Utah, and hope that you will too!
The Last Three Months, GRANDfamilies Completed...
Upcoming at GRANDfamilies!
The Therapist Corner (Shauna)
How to Talk to Children about Parental Addiction

How to talk to children about a parent’s addiction is something that comes up often with the kinship caregivers I work with. Many wonder if they should be honest with the children in their care about it, and my answer to that question is always yes. Honesty is truly the best policy when it comes to parental addiction. Knowing the truth can open up discussions that lead to hope and healing for not only the children, but for the entire family as well. Often caregivers think they are protecting the children by keeping the truth from them, but kids are very perceptive and already know that something is up. If they don’t know all the details, they will fill in the blanks themselves. This can lead a child to thinking something even worse than the truth, such as their parents have chosen not to take care of them because they do not love them or because they are not a good enough kid. This incorrect self-blame can lead to the child acting out with anger, aggression, withdrawing and/or causing low self-esteem. Often I hear caregivers telling the children that their parents are “sick”. While addiction is an illness, simply saying they’re sick without more information and context can leave kids feeling confused as to why their friend’s mom is sick but still manages to care for them, or associate being sick with going away, which can make them fearful if they or their caregiver becomes sick.

When talking to a child about addiction, there are age appropriate ways to do so, as a four-year-old does not need to know all the details that a ten-year-old could understand. You must gauge your child’s developmental maturity and decide how much information they will be able to understand and emotionally process. No matter their age it is important to tell them that their parents addiction is not their fault. In our Children’s Support group, we teach kids the 7 C’s Seven Cs of Addiction: “I didn’t cause it. I can’t cure it. I can’t control it. I can care for myself by communicating my feelings, making healthy choices, and by celebrating myself”. When having this tough conversation, it is extremely important to validate the child’s feelings and experiences around their parent’s addiction and to make sure that communication is open, safe and nonjudgmental.
Here are some resources that have some more great tips if you need further help getting the conversation started:

By Shauna Ferrell
GRANDfamilies Family Advocate/Therapist
Thank You to our Donors!
When everything in our world feels so uncertain, our children should feel SAFE at home. Unfortunately for many, that’s not the case. We need your help to keep Utah’s children SAFE. You can donate to GRANDfamilies today by clicking here.
Community Partner Spotlight
The U.S. Dream Academy helps children reach for their dreams through academic, social, and values enrichment, they empower those children most at risk of incarceration to believe in themselves and to succeed. Millions of young people living in high crime and high poverty communities and fear that they may not live to be an adult. For those young people who also have a parent that is incarcerated, the future may be even more bleak. The Dream Academy is committed to stopping this vicious cycle by using their innovative afterschool and mentoring programs. Their research-based programs challenge young people and engage them in active learning through one-on-one mentoring, strong academics, and technology-driven activities and curricula.

Their mission is simple – to ensure that all children, no matter their start in life, can pursue their own special dreams. 
What Have We Been Up To?
GRANDfamilies Outreach Booth
JUNE - Outdoor Movie Night
APRIL - Easter Basket Giveaway
MAY - Pot Painting & Flower Planting
How to Prepare for Back-to-School
Going back to school can have its ups and downs for children and adults alike. The excitement of having a new classroom and new friends, along with the unknowns and changes can create some anxiety. Here are some tips to help you and your kids no matter their age, prepare to calmly go back to school.

1.      Talk About It
The unknown about a new situation can sometimes create apprehension and tension in some children. Sometimes kids can get a lot of anxiety when it is not clear as to what changes are coming or if changes come too abruptly. When it comes to going back to school, start talking about it early. Bring it up briefly in passing and have open discussions about what school might look like. Often, children in kinship care are faced with a lot of questions at school from peers about where their mom and dad are and why are they living with grandma and grandpa, or “why doesn’t your mom pick you up from school?” etc. Talking openly about your situation with the child at an age-appropriate level can help them trust you. It can also help them have more confidence in their situation and help them know what to say in those moments of questioning. Help them find friends who are in kinship families to help normalize their situation and ease the anxiety of being considered “different”. Everyone is different in their own way, and you have the ability to empower your child by discussing the beauty in their uniqueness with them.  So talk it about and ask your children if they have questions.

2.      Make a Plan
Part of talking about the new changes that come with a new year of school is talking about a plan. Try asking yourself a few questions like, “how will my child handle a new school year? 
Are there things emotionally we need to prepare for (i.e. separation anxiety)? Do they have all the supplies that they need? Have they met their teacher? How will they handle peer pressure? How will they feel about being asked about their kinship situation?” By asking questions like this, we can better plan for the school year ahead. Role playing and having open discussion about your or your child’s concerns can help you make a plan together as a family. A family plan can be very valuable for everyone involved and can help the children feel a sense of ownership in how issues are addressed. 

3.      Set Up and Practice a Routine
When planning, be sure to get a school schedule routine set in place. Clear expectations for what time children need to be up, what they need to get done before and after school and when can all help the transition back into school smooth and successful. Some families find it helpful to have a morning chart an after-school chart, and an evening chart to help children visually keep track of the school week schedule. Let the kids help with the planning (with some guidance, of course). Involving them in the planning will make them more likely to want to follow the routine because they chose the routine. Planning some fun in there is always helpful too! 

There is not one right or wrong way to prepare a child for school but talking through it, being available to listen and making a plan and routine can help the child feel comfortable coming to you when challenges do arise. The most important thing a child can have during transitioning periods is a trusted adult whom they can be open and comfortable with.
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GRANDfamilies at Children's Service Society of Utah
www.cssutah.org | 801-355-7444