October, 2022


Change the future. Invest in our kids.


Adolescents in Crisis

By Katie Riley, Ed.D.

Adolescents are expected to do well in school, get along with everyone, and prepare for the future.   In the meantime, they are watching the news, seeing the environment on fire or flooded, politicians fighting and not addressing problems, illustrating an inability of the adults pictured providing knowledgeable guidance or setting examples of problem solving. To top it all off, adolescence is a time of normal identity exploration, awkwardness, and impulsiveness.  The result is a mishmash of some positive activities, rebellion (quiet or loud), peer activity, loneliness, and attention to peer behavior and opinions.  Sadly, youth suicides are up, and test scores are down.

Solutions have been proposed.  A recent opinion article in the Oregonian (J. Gecler & D. Lovan, Youth Mental Health in Crisis. Are schools doing enough?, Oregonian, 10/20/22) proclaimed that schools needed to have more counselors and relaxation areas to help middle and high school students.  Another article stated that students should have tutors, free lunch, and more instructional time (A. Saultz, Invest in proven strategies to reverse educational setbacks, Oregonian, 9-28-22).  These approaches would help but they demand more staff in schools and they are expensive.  Schools cannot be expected to resolve all problems.  Plus, with multiple distractions in their lives, students’ attention before the pandemic was waning, and they have largely returned to mostly outdated curriculum content and delivery as before.  Adolescents need positive adult or young adult role models and positive activities where they can find support and outlets for creative energies. Unstructured time before and especially, after-school leaves a majority of young adults unsupervised and in front of a TV or video game, or just “hanging out.”  If they are involved in sports, band, music, or some other activity, that makes a difference.  Not every kid likes or can do sports.  Often, kids who are from low-economic families cannot afford these activities or have transportation problems either getting to the activity or getting home from it.

At the same time, parents are feeling pressure—to keep their jobs, make sure their kids are safe and keeping up in school.  During the pandemic, they often had the added burden of doing their job while making sure their kids were positively occupied.  Many parents have told me about the impossibility of carrying out job responsibilities while their kids were fighting in the background or “photo-bombing” their important Zoom meetings.  Many of those parents are still working from home and are relieved their kids are in school but are still dealing with the challenges of having their kids home after school lets out. For parents who work retail or other in-person jobs during odd hours, they are left to wonder if their kids are doing their homework or playing video games or experimenting with some other negative behavior while they’re at work.

One proven solution has not been mentioned in newspaper articles – more opportunities for afterschool and summer programs (not just more school).  We know these programs make a huge difference in academic and lifetime success. Kids who attend these programs have the opportunity for homework help, having fun, exposure to new ideas, and  planning and carrying out activities and service to others as a team. Many articles proclaim the benefits or return on investment (ROI) of early childhood programs (Heckman, Intergenerational and intragenerational externalities of the Perry Preschool Project, 2019) but additional research shows that there is added benefit to offering programs for elementary, middle, and high school students (Vandell D.L., 2020) (CS Mott Foundation, 2021).  Portland has the Portland Children’s Levy that funds afterschool programs and Multnomah County has the PreK4ll program serving a limited number of 3 and 4 year-olds initially, but these programs do not exist elsewhere in the state.  Yes, it would be terrific for all 3 and 4 year olds to have pre-kindergarten. (Free programs are being proposed.) Sliding scale opportunities could be offered  for elementary students and more “club-style” programs for middle and high school students.  Having kids feel supported and purposeful at all ages would make a huge difference in their mental health, school performance, and future well-being for both adolescents and the community. We need comprehensive planning and programs for kids of all ages.

Calling all Dads!

Parenting Together Washington County (PTWC) has new groups for dads of young children!  Are you a Dad, Stepdad, Grandpa or Uncle or do you know or support an important man who is helping raise kids between 0-6 years old? Join Parenting Together on the second Wednesday of each month starting November 9th from 7:00-8:00pm for a group designed just for you.  Sign-up, details, and a downloadable flyer can be found here on the PTWC Events Calendar.  Space is limited so connect a dad or if you are interested sign-up soon!

Saturday, December 3 the same committed group will begin a Dads Play and Learn for fathers and father figures and children 2 – 6 years of age.  They plan to meet monthly through Winter and Spring.  Sign-up, details, and a downloadable flyer can be found here on the PTWC Events Calendar. Space is limited so connect a dad or if you are interested sign-up soon!

Mark Your Calendar

Board and Steering Committee meeting:

11/21 @ 5:30 pm
Check website for details

Support WCK

Volunteer with WCK!
Interested in lending your skills to support our mission? We could use assistance in any of the following areas:
–Writer: Help us share stories about people, programs, and the need for out-of-school time programs
–Graphic arts
–Technical support for eventsEmail to discuss details.

Donate to WCK


Show your support with our growing collection of branded products.

Quote Totes! 
Meaningful quotes that remind us why WCK exists. We chose this favorite to use on our first quote tote:

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
–Benjamin Franklin 

Art Totes!
Two to choose from, artwork images provided by Katie Riley!

Other ways to support WCK

Fred Meyer Rewards:  Visit this website to link your Fred Meyer Rewards Card to WCK account #EG761. You receive the same rewards as usual and Fred Meyer makes a small donation to WCK.

Benevity: Give through your company!

Shop AND donate! Click HERE to sign up for AmazonSmile and select WCK as your preferred charity. They will donate to WCK at no cost to you.


Día de Los Muertos

Don’t miss out on an upcoming cultural event hosted by Centro Cultural! Centro will be celebrating Día de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, on November 2 from 5:30pm – 8pm, at the Centro Cultural campus. The event is free and open to all ages. There will be performances, family activities, food, and health and wellness resources. Día de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a holiday to remember and pay respects to family members and friends who have since passed away. This day is celebrated by creating an altar with pictures of the departed, and including their favorite food and beverages. Celebrate and learn more about Día de Los Muertos with Centro Cultural.

Do you have news you’d like us to share?

If you are a part of our OST provider network and/or have been invited to submit a story or item of interest to Washington County families, teachers, or care providers, email your content before 5 pm on the 3rd Friday of the month (up to 400 words for stories, 75 words for events or other special requests; include cropped jpg or png image). Submission is not a guarantee of inclusion. Include name and email of person we can contact with questions.

Newsletter Editor: Michael Coiner