6.30.2018


Yes, we can be grateful and depressed at the same.
Yes, we can be angry, yet still grateful.
Yes, we can simultaneously hold both faith and fear.

6.19.2018

When Children Lose Caregivers

I don’t know anything about border policies, however, I’ve been working with children separated from their parents, caregivers, and loved ones for 38 years. I know institutional settings well, working in social services and the local San Diego receiving center for children. 
When children are taken out of the home for a variety of reasons, let’s say, in the middle of the night for a domestic violence incident, or a parent is arrested driving under the influence, the child/children are placed in a local receiving center.
It’s very unusual for a child to remain in this unfamiliar place for any length of time (seven days would be on the outside, unless the child is becoming a ward of the state), as social workers and specially trained counselors and advocates, aka case management, will aggressively attempt to remediate placement and relocation as soon as possible - this child is now considered to be residing in institutional care and at this point, now costing the state (taxpayers) a substantial amount of money.
In other words, case workers will find someone who is willing to step up, even if it's a distant relative. In the least desirable situation, the child is placed with complete strangers, aka, a foster or group home: some place that has been vetted and trained for just this type of scenario - then the courts kick into action and decisions are made. 
We scientifically understand that the more caregivers a child experiences the worse it is for child development, which is why our social services work so very hard to provide families treatment, education, and tools to preserve the family unit, such as it is (aka family reunification).
Let’s take another example, a homeless parent/grandparent/caregiver with young children. Most homeless shelters, transitional housing, resource centers, crisis, and abuse shelters will separate boys at the age of 13 on up from sibs and girls, with the premise that a male adolescent coming out of a hostile environment is not a complementary fit for vulnerable women and small children; and many shelters will not accept boys over the age of 13 whatsoever. 
In this situation, we are typically talking about a 30-day safe structure with anywhere from six families topping out at 30 families. Again, on hand, are well-trained staff, front line counselors, social workers, psychologists, and seasoned administrators. 
None of the situations I’ve described above are designed for mass-casualty incoming, on par with say, earthquakes survivors abandoning a building. 
Let me reiterate: The cost of care for the above child is astronomical. A child raised "in the system" is often referred to as a million dollar baby. I spent two and a half years facilitating a women's therapy group at Las Colinas Maximum Detention Facility - many of these adult women came up inside an institutional setting: with their children now doing the same.
The best sociological example, and how most of the world learned about human development and the powerful connection to an attached caregiver, came in the form of worst-case-scenario, as it often does.

"Above all, the eastern European orphans have become Exhibit A in the emotional debate over the body of thought known as attachment theory."




Institutional rearing negatively impacts children’s biology, as consistently shown by studies from the Bucharest project. Children left in institutions have altered stress physiology, including abnormal stress-hormone responses during challenging tasks in a laboratory setting. Compared to children who were assigned to foster care, institutionalized children have more abnormalities in the white matter structure of the brain, which refers to the fiber pathways that facilitate communication between brain regions. They have blunted brain responses to pictures of faces. They exhibit atypical patterns of oscillatory activity in the electroencephalogram, the measurement of electrical activity in the brain.
Even chromosomes inside the cells of the body are affected by institutionalization. Telomeres are protective portions on the ends of strands of DNA, and they are known to diminish with normal aging. High levels of chronic stress have been associated with greater diminishment of telomeres, suggesting that stress speeds aging at the cellular level.  
Crammed Shelters 

Institutionalization is another example of an adverse early rearing environment that may negatively impact the development of face perception. Institutional care is characterized by psychosocial deprivation; sensory and cognitive stimulation are lacking, and high child‐to‐caregiver ratios (in some institutions, nearly 20:1) leave children with little social stimulation and almost no opportunity to form stable, emotional attachments to caregivers (Smyke et al., 2007; Zeanah et al., 2003). A wealth of previous research has documented poor physical, cognitive, social, and neurologic outcomes in previously institutionalized children (Fisher, Ames, Chisholm, &; Savoie, 1997; Gunnar, 2001; O’Connor, Bredenkamp, &; Rutter, 1999; O’Connor & Rutter, 2000; O’Connor, Rutter, Beckett, Keaveney, &; Kreppner, 2000), the persistence and severity of which are related to the timing and duration of the institutional experience (Beckett et al., 2006; Rutter et al., 2007).         



6.12.2018

On Suicide

The complete loss of hope is a dangerous emotional place. Therefore, finding a way to share our hope with someone in that space is the beginning - and starting that conversation may be the hardest piece of all. The brain that is seriously contemplating suicide has created a ledger, and the cons outweigh the pros of living, with negative perceptions continuing to add to that ledger in a convincing fashion.
Peer to peer support is often even more helpful than the professional to patient relationship. If you know someone struggling, do not be afraid to ask, "Are you thinking of hurting yourself?" "Are you imagining taking your life?" You will not plant the seed of suicide. Research shows that many people who complete their suicide had actually shared with somebody their intentions, perhaps at a subtle level.
Signs may include increased or decreased sleep, increased or decreased appetite, sudden excitement, giving away personal belongings, experiencing a simultaneous series of setbacks i.e. a break up, financial loss, job loss, physical injury.
70% of people who attempt suicide never attempt again.

Questions for your loved ones: Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, War fighters and Marines..."What do you need?"

6.10.2018


Kim Wallace, of MBS Precision Pilates, was introduced to Turning Point here, one year ago, at this beautiful dinner. In one year, a lot can happen. Magic and miracles can happen. And they did. Kim, a Philadelphia native, had long dreamed of a California life. Those dreams included owning and operating a fitness studio. Fifteen years ago, as a single mom, she came to California and single handedly made her dreams come true.  Her pilates studio in North County has made a phenomenal impact on the lives of women in Turning Point. In 2017, as a Turning Point mentor, she graduated four women through her Teacher Training Program. They are now employed as Pilates teachers. In the next two months, three additional women will graduate as Pilates Teachers - give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime
Kim Wallace in the middle
Kim's humble heart and fierce passion lie with the women of Turning Point. She is a mighty mite, sharing her love for physical and emotional well-being with our residents as they begin a new life, perhaps a new career with financial independence and self-supporting confidence. A great example of how one person can be so very powerful. An ordinary person doing extraordinary things. Tonight, she was awarded the Judy B Award for her devotion to Turning Point. Turning Point has been on the front line of alcohol rehabilitation for women since 1970.
Judy B Award
Once a year, an elegant dinner is held as their primary annual fundraiser at the Bay View Restaurant (uniquely located at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot) - emceed by Tim Lucey Board President (and Retired US Marine) in all of his casual and humble glory. Each year, I bring a new guest in the hopes that they will find their pilot light lit - and be reminded of the grass-roots efforts that strengthen our community ties and frankly, make life worth living.