January 2024

Dear Reader,

THE TIME IS NOW!  No matter if you are an out-of-school time parent, provider, or supporter of WCK’s mission – we ask for your participation today.

Parents – If your child is currently attending any afterschool care somewhere in Washington County, please complete our parent survey
Providers – Please complete the training survey
Everyone – Join us at the Poster Showcase/Hillsboro Art Walk

This month, as we welcome our newest volunteer board member (please see Tina’s introduction below) I want to express my appreciation to every volunteer since 2009 who has helped get Washington County Kids to where it stands today!

Please enjoy the rest of our newsletter which includes opportunities and resources for the entire Washington County community.

Larry Crepeaux
Executive Director
larry@washingtoncountykids.org

Parents!  

Our first-ever survey of afterschool parents is live!

We need the help of all parents in Washington County to gather data about afterschool participation.  The survey responses will help strengthen our mission to increase funding and support for out-of-school-time programs that enable success for children and youth in Washington County.
The survey should take approximately 2 minutes to finish.

Providers!

Help guide our program for 2024!
We need your input on subjects relevant to OST provider needs and parents too! Please take a couple of minutes now to complete the short survey below.

Training Topic Input  

Next, please join the ZOOM conversation this Friday as we Focus on you!
Afterschool or summer providers, please consider joining any (or all) of our monthly Focus on Providers events!  These informal one-hour Zoom discussions about what Providers are facing and accomplishing in our county including networking, resource sharing, and community development opportunities.
Hosted by Larry Crepeaux, Executive Director

Art is cool!

Our 2024 Afterschool is Cool! Showcase is coming up on February 6th and we hope many of you will join us!

Artwork by finalists will be displayed at the Walters Cultural Center in Hillsboro on February 6th from 6pm-8pm. Winners in two categories, Elementary & Middle/High School will be announced at the event and will receive gift card prizes.  Judges for the contest are Washington County Commissioner Jerry Willey and local well-known artists, Elizabeth Higgins and Ed Labadie. 

The event is taking place during the Hillsboro Art Walk so come enjoy an artful evening!

NEW WCK BOARD MEMBER

WCK is excited and grateful to announce that Tina Bennett has joined our board of directors.  Her years of hands-on experience running the Beaverton-based afterschool The Student Stop will undoubtedly aid WCK in future planning.

Christina (Tina) Bennett
Executive Director, The Student Stop
School- Age Care Serving Beaverton and Portland Area Families Since 1992

A native Oregonian, Christina Bennett was born in Portland and raised in Corvallis.  During her teen years, she worked in childcare and preschools which sparked her interest in working with the youth population. She graduated from Oregon State University (Go Beavs!) and became the Assistant Director of the nonprofit Teen Parent Program called PEP. In the early nineties, she moved to Portland to become a case manager for White Shield, a group home for teen parents and their children. 

A single parent of one child, Christina desired employment that would enable her to spend more time with her elementary school-aged daughter. She left White Shield to take a “temporary” position with The Student Stop, School-Age Care Program. She fell in love with the work and is currently the Executive Director. She loves the support she has received from Washington County Kids and their mission and looks forward to collaborating with the team to achieve its goals. 

KATIE’S KORNER:  Katie Riley, President

OST Programs are Necessary but Receive Little Financial Support

In a recent Forbes article the author describes the importance of out of school time (OST) programs (afterschool and summer programs) for employers as well as for kids.  The article also notes that most people in the US embrace these programs:

“In 2020, parent respondents to the America After 3PM Survey favored the use of public funds to support afterschool programming, particularly in low-income communities, at a whopping 87% rate of approval. A 2023 Afterschool Alliance Issue Brief notes ‘8 in 10 voters say that afterschool programs are an absolute necessity for their community.’ These numbers reflect overwhelming bipartisan support, sending the message that OST programming can and should meet a clear community need.”

However, in Washington County we find that we are having a difficult time getting elected officials to obtain funding for these programs to support access for low-income families.

Recently we requested that the County fund a needs analysis for OST programs.  Currently, no one knows how many kids are served by OST programs and, more importantly, how many are not. 

Currently there is very little local, state, or national support for school-age kids, whereas there are programs that provide funding for early learning for low-income kids.

The PreKforAll group has launched a signature gathering effort to put an initiative on the ballot to establish a tax on high income earners in Washington County to fund pre-Kindergarten for 3 and 4 year olds. Although the initiative is called “PrekforAll,” it will not serve all 3 and 4 year olds.  In addition, it is not clear how the funds will be administered but it seems likely it will be similar to the Multnomah County initiative, which has experienced a very slow rollout and currently only serves 1,500 children.  They expect to add an additional 800 this year.  This is far short of the total number of 3 and 4 year olds in Multnomah County.  Why would advocates work for a replication of a program in Washington County that has yet to show promise of an effective roll-out in Multnomah County?  

We also question why they have been allowed to collect signatures for a funding initiative when we were told by County Counsel in 2015 that it would be illegal for us to do so because it is an administrative matter that only the County Commissioners can decide to act upon.  In addition, this effort seems to be short-sighted since it will only serve 3 and 4 year olds, whereas our initiative would focus on providing OST care to underserved kids from K-12 grades. Our proposal is similar to a successful program in Portland that provides afterschool and summer care and has been repeatedly passed by voters, the last time by 83%.  

We are not against having pre-Kindergarten programs; we just believe that a focus should be on underserved kids with a greater range in age.  Kids are only 3 and 4 for two years, yet they continue to need support throughout their academic lives.  

Katie
Board President & Founder
katie@washingtoncountykids.org

IMPROVING SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING

Helping your child build resilience to weather the onslaught of competing information and pressures is a difficult task.  No one is required to take a parenting class before they become a parent and often it is unclear how you can best guide your child to have good mental health.  Here are a few tips that might help smooth that process (National Afterschool Association).

Kids who can describe their feelings are often able to control them more easily.  It helps them have an “Emotional Vocabular.”  You can help a child or youth by encouraging them to name their feelings at the time.  You can also model that behavior yourself. If you are angry about something, you can say what is making you angry and what you are going to do about it.  If it is not appropriate to describe your feelings at the time due to the effect on yourself or others, you can take the child aside later and discuss what happened, how you felt, and why you decided to do what you did.  If the child or youth is not able to describe their feelings, you can offer a suggestion like, “It looks like you are pretty upset.  Can we talk about it?”

Another way to develop resilience is to encourage positive self-talk.  It is easy to get into a pattern of criticizing oneself and apologizing, even when there is no personal fault.  Praising a child or youth for positive actions and encouraging them to feel pride in what they do and who they are can help them feel good about themselves.  Having a positive self-image helps people bounce back when there are rough times.  If you can encourage a child or youth to find activities that make them feel positive toward themselves or can show their skills to others; it can make a huge difference in seeing themselves as worthy in the eyes of others.

The ”Reset and Relax” technique is recommended as a method to allow people to gather their thoughts, manage their feelings, and take appropriate positive action.  The technique is summarized as:

Reset: Determine what is truly bothering you.
Relax: Calm your mind and body

You can be instrumental in letting a child know that their feelings are normal and help them stop and think about the situation and how they feel about it. If they can take a few deep breaths, it can allow them the opportunity to calm down and think rationally about what has happened and how to frame it within their experience, what actions they can take, and the possible consequences of each action.  The ability to choose their next action calmly for a positive outcome is a very empowering experience.

Your guidance in helping a child or youth develop positive social-emotional learning can put them on the path to a rewarding future.

PARENTS:  Resources & Connections

$ Talking Money with Kids $
Need some help in getting your kids to be more financially responsible?  An excellent resource for parents is available through a YouTube video developed by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. They summarize the Key Takeaways:

  • Seize the moment to talk about money with kids from the car seat onwards. Financial literacy starts in the home and then school.
  • Every money conversation sends a message to kids about values. Frugality is fine but explain the reason and purpose.
  • Manage college expectations based on your family’s income. Start conversations early about your ability and willingness to pay.

Parent Supports
Need support paying for child care? Check out how to qualify for programs here.

Dad’s groups
Dads of young children have groups to share their experiences.

Health Coverage
Are you losing Oregon Health Plan coverage or need to update your eligibility?  Check out this information.

Your Kid and Substance Abuse
Do you think (or know) that your child is using substances that they shouldn’t be using?  A new article,  ‘Stepping in When your Child is Using Substances,” has some useful tips for parents and other caregivers to assess the situation and engage in helpful conversation to deter further use.  The Partnership to End Addiction has a step-by-step approach to answer questions and help you take action.  The article and other useful information are included in the
Resource section of our website.

Two new Resources for Parents/Guardians
We have added two new resources to the Washington County Kids website
Resource section for parents and guardians.  In the mental health section, an article from Harvard Graduate School of Education describes how parents can educate their teens about preventing negative thinking when they are on social media.  Another link in the substance use area provides great information from Washington County on Opioids and Overdose Prevention.  In addition, there are lots of other helpful resources on our website!

REMINDER:  ELECTION SEASON YOUTH OPPORTUNITIES

Student Mock Election Opportunity
by League of Women Voters of Oregon

Parents:  We hope you can share this civics education opportunity with the public, private, charter, and home-school educators of your children to encourage new and future voters to feel confident about making well-informed decisions when casting their ballot.  We invite families and their educators to enroll students in the League of Women Voters of Oregon Student Mock Election (OSME).  The League is a trusted, non-partisan voice in developing materials educators can use to teach students about the voting process.  All of us know how important civics education is in preparing our students to become engaged citizens.  Through participation in OSME, students recognize the real-world relevance of civics education and are encouraged to become lifelong voters.
  
The League of Women Voters of Oregon (LWVOR) has run Oregon Student Mock Elections for over two decades, winning five national awards and many friends, including our very own Oregon Department of Education.  As a nonpartisan organization, the League never supports or opposes any candidate or political party.

REGISTRATION IS FREE!
To participate in the May 2024 primary mock election, educators can register at  www.lwvor.org/mock-election.  Participating Oregon students will have the same opportunity as registered Oregon Primary Election voters to cast May primary votes for nonpartisan, statewide offices and ballot measures.  LWVOR will create mock ballots, forms for registering classes and reporting results, and curricular support materials. In response to teacher requests, LWVOR may be able to create customized ballots, including a local (county or city) ballot option.
Educators have year-round access to up-to-date LWVOR Civics Education curriculum materials, including two new lesson plans that are specific to the Oregon Primary Election. Schools and educators can choose their voting day between May 5th  and 10th.  Results will be released to the public on May 17, 2024.

To learn more, or dive into the award-winning curriculum and other civic resources available year-round, visit the League of Women Voters of Oregon website, www.lwvor.org/civics.

Thank you for teaching new and future Oregonian voters how to participate in their democracy!

The Oregon Student Mock Election Team
mockelection@lwvor.org

Temporary Employment Opportunity

The Washington County Elections Office is looking for temporary workers for the May and November 2024 elections.  This is a great opportunity for students as young as 16 and others to be employed in the election process.  Check out their website for further details.