Helping Kids Learn

My husband’s little sister was seven years old when I met her. Now 15 years old, I’ve watched her move through elementary and middle school. She’s a bright and talented girl, but studying and homework have been a point of tension between her, her parents, and teachers.

Helping a child learn and excel in school is a very time and labor intensive process. I’m not a parent myself, but I’ve learned through my experiences with my little sister that being a parent is a lot of work. Working and/or single parents especially need our help. If you’re a parent who needs some help, I encourage you to reach out to your friends, family and neighbors for support. Helping a child or teenager with homework and learning can be a challenging and rewarding learning experience for us, too!

Here are some tips from my own experience:

I encourage my little sis by checking in on her via Facebook. When she posted a status update about being worried about a project due date, I commented that she could call or send a Facebook message to a classmate with a reputation for always being on top of assignments. She did and got the assignment done on time.

I ask her about her grades and help her come up with concrete solutions when she’s struggling with specific subjects. Her brother and I asked her questions to help identify some of her stumbling blocks. She said she felt too tired to do her homework right after school and preferred to do it after dinner. So after dinner is her set homework time now. She was disorganized and kept losing completed assignments before she would turn them in. So we bought her some folders and gave her some tips on organizing. We check in with her regularly to make sure her new system is working.

I try to help her see the relevance of school subjects and homework to real life whenever possible. She loves science and animals, so we talk about the importance of math if she wants to pursue a science career. She struggles with foreign languages but excels at music (which uses the same part of the brain), so we discuss that and she can see how her ability as a musician gives her an advantage in Spanish if she applies herself.
And I encourage her to have fun with learning. When she was bored with Spanish, I suggested she practice having real conversations or even flirting in Spanish with her boyfriend (who was also in the class). Maybe that wasn’t part of her homework assignment, but if it helps generate some enthusiasm for the subject, it helps!
Here are some helpful resources for homework and learning:
Discovery Education
PBS Parents
Child Development Institute – Homework Tips

Weekly Legislative Update 1/28/11

Quite a bit of activity took place this week and several bills were passed to the House. Two bills that MCCOY is particularly interested in, SB 56 Child Care Regulation (Holdman, Grooms, Simpson) and SB 538 Bullying Prevention (Wyss, Rogers, Kruse) do not yet have hearings scheduled in their committees. Below is a recap of activity this week on the bills that we are following. To get more detailed information about each bill, please visit

SB 4 Suicide Prevention Training for School Personnel (Miller, Lawson, Landske, Rogers, Simpson, Taylor, Randolph, Wyss) – has been passed to the House and the co-sponsors are Rep. Noe and Rep. Charlie Brown.

SB 43 GPS Monitoring & Parole (Steele, Wyss, Buck) – 1/12/11 passed Corrections, Criminal & Civil Matters Committee; 1/25 Third Reading, passed to House and sponsor is Rep. Foley.

SB 61 School Board Elections (Lawson, Randolph, Delph) – 1/20/11 passed the Committee on Local Government; 1/25 Third Reading, passed to the House and the co-sponsors are Rep. Richardson & Rep. Frizzell.

SB 85 Study of Schools with Low Graduation Rates (Leising, Rogers, R. Young, Mrvan, Buck, Kruse, Breaux) – 1/20 passed Committee on Education & Career Development; 1/25 Third Reading, referred to House and sponsor is Rep. Behning.

SB 101 Driver Education Issues (Holdman, Wyss, Charbonneau, Arnold)- 1/18/11 passed the Homeland Security & Transportation & Veterans Affairs committee; 1/27/11 Third Reading.

SB 171 School Start Date & Calendar (Delph, Kruse, Schneider, Mrvan) – 1/20 passed Committee on Education & Career Development; 1/27 Third Reading.

SB 245 Prenatal Substance Abuse Commission (Kruse, Breaux, Miller) – 1/20/11 passed Health and Provider Services committee; 1/27/11 Third Reading.

SB 465 Department of Child Services (Lawson) – A hearing is scheduled for 2/2/11 at 9:00 a.m. in the Judiciary Committee.

SB 482 Adult Education (Kruse) – 2/2 Hearing Scheduled Education & Career Development Committee at 1:30 p.m.

HB 1002 Charter Schools (Bosma, Behning, Sullivan, Noe) – 1/25 passed Committee on Education.

HB 1019 Training for Child Suicide Prevention (C. Brown, Yarde, Porter) – 1/20/11 passed Committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs; 1/27/11 Third Reading.

HB 1083 Child Solicitation (Crouch, Lawson) – 1/27/11 passed Courts and Criminal Code Committee.

HB 1107 Preventative Programs for At-Risk Children (Richardson, Davisson, Bartlett) – 1/20/11 passed the Committee on Family, Children & Human Affairs; 1/27/11 Third reading.

HB 1340 Adult Education (Behning, Klinker) – 1/25/11 passed Committee on Education.

HB 1369 Pay to Performance Program for School Administrators (Soliday) – Hearing scheduled for 1/31/11 at 10:30 a.m. Committee on Education.

HB 1418 Child Protection Registry (McNamara, Turner, Welch) – 1/27/11 passed Committee on Family, Children & Human Affairs.

Spread Out Your Giving

Every year, most of us make charitable contributions to one or more non-profits. Maybe you give to your church, your alma mater, a social services organization, or one of the thousands of agencies of all sizes and descriptions in our country. We make these donations for many reasons.
One benefit of these contributions that we enjoy is that they are generally partially or fully deductible on our federal tax returns. Since many of us get around to thinking about taxes around the end of the year (if that early), oftentimes that means that many of our donations occur in the last week of the year.
Consider making your charitable contributions year round. The organizations that rely on your support make expenditures every day. It makes an agency’s planning more difficult if the preponderance of individual support happens once a year. How easy would it be for you to budget if a third of your income came at year end and you weren’t sure how much it was going to be?
Use a donation website like Network for Good to make your ongoing philanthropy easier. Instead of having to budget for most of your giving at year-end, spread it out over the year and make it part of your regular monthly expenses. It will make it easier and also make philanthropy seem more like something you do every day as part of your routine.

Poverty in America Awareness Month

Today, 37.3 million Americans live in poverty with 18% being children. To bring attention to this national crisis, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has designated January as “Poverty in America Awareness Month.”

The official poverty rate in 2009 was 14.3%, up from 13.2% in 2008. This was the second statistically significant annual increase in the poverty rate since 2004. In 2009, 43.6 million people were in poverty, up from 39.8 million in 2008, the third consecutive annual increase in the number of people in poverty. Between 2000-2008, the number of poor Americans grew by more than nine million. The number of people living in extreme poverty, that is, those with incomes below half the poverty line, rose to over 17 million people. That is the highest level on record since data first became available in 1975.
As defined by the government, the new poverty threshold for a family of four is $20,614; for a family of three, $16,079; and for a family of two, $13,167. However, most Americans believe it takes about $35,000 annually to adequately house, cloth and feed a family of four. Can we really expect a family to live on $20,000 a year? So what can you do? The first step to solving the problem is understanding and learning about it. Secondly, you can help increase awareness of poverty in your community. Thirdly, give. It can be your time, talents, money or resources. Just give!

Learning from our mistakes

What is it about us human beings that it takes tragedies like the shootings in Tucson to make us examine our ways of thinking and behaving? Most of us, from the time we are little, are encouraged by the important adults in our lives to monitor the way we act and to pay close attention to the words that we speak. But while we may heed that guidance when we are growing up, many times we get to adulthood and we tend to forget those basic lessons, especially when we find ourselves on opposite sides of an issue.

Instead of debating an issue, we personalize our arguments and attack, not a position, but an individual, somebody like us. We even use confrontational language to describe what we are doing: we have a”battle of wills” or a “war of words” and even “hostile debates”. We get so caught up in winning that we fail to recognize the damage we are doing to others–and ourselves. I know I have certainly been guilty of such thoughts and actions in my life and I am not at all proud of it.

It’s not just our political debates that need to be toned down; it’s all the ways we interact with each other on a daily basis. (Road rage, anyone? Courtesy in the checkout line?Our heightened sensitivity to being ‘disrepected’?) As adults, young people are looking to us not just to tell them how to act but to show them how to act by the way we live our own lives. We all could certainly find ways to be less “violent” in our lives. There are lots of ways we hurt and cripple others with our words and deeds that we can change.It would certainly show we had learned our lessons well if we can be positive examples of resolving differences as fellow human beings, not opponents on a battlefield.

State Legislation Update

Today marks the final day for legislation to be introduced. MCCOY will post frequent updates on the legislation relevant to youth issues that we are following, so please check back often or click to subscribe to ensure that you get the latest info!

Senate Bills
SB 4 Suicide Prevention Training for School Personnel (Miller, Lawson, Landske) – Requires school personnel be trained on how to recognize signs of child suicide for the purpose of prevention. 1/12 – Committee report; amend do pass, adopted

SB 56 Child Care Regulation (Holdman) – Ensures consistency among child care providers in certain health and safety requirements.

SB 85 Study of Schools with Low Graduation Rates (Leising, Mrvan) – Creates a high school graduation study committee to study the causes of low graduation rates in certain schools and how the graduation rates can be improved. 1/12 – Committee report

SB 143 Corporal Punishment by Parents (Randolph) – Clarifies the use of corporal punishment by parents on their children.

SB 317 Kindergarten (Head) – Adjusts the age that a student is required to start school from 7 to 6. Also adjusts age cut-0ffs for enrollment.

SB 408 Education Concerning Child Abuse (Rogers) – Requires the department of education, in collaboration with organizations that have expertise in child sexual abuse, to identify or develop model child sexual abuse education materials, response policies, and reporting policies.

SB 420 Weighted Student School Funding Formula (Kruse) – Amendment to code regarding teacher performance and accountability; annual evaluation of school principal performance.

SB 425 Prohibit Alcohol on School Property (Skinner) – Makes it a Class B misdemeanor for a person to knowingly or intentionally possess an alcoholic beverage on school property or on a school bus.

SB 428 Lottery Proceeds for Reggio Emilia Schools (Head) – Establishes the Reggio Emilia grant fund which requires $50000 of lottery revenue to go to the DOE for a grant program to assist the expansion and implementation of Reggio Emilia programs. Also allows for other early childhood and preschool programs to apply for grants.

SB 446 Use of Public School Property by Charter Schools (Schneider, Yoder) – Allows charter schools to use or have access to unused, closed, or unoccupied school buildings that are maintained by school corporations and are not being used for educational purposes.

SB 454 Programs Serving Vulnerable Individuals (Breaux) – Requires board for coordination of programs to develop 5-year plans to coordinate services to improve service delivery for children; in-home and out-of-home placements for youth in child welfare and juvenile justice systems; mechanisms to ensure flexible funding for youth services from multiple agencies.

House Bills
HB 1019 Training for Child Suicide Prevention (C. Brown) – Same as SB 4.

HB 1042 Dissemination of Sexual Material (L. Lawson and Foley) – Provides that schools may offer programs regarding the risks and consequences of “sexting” or sharing sexually suggestive materials via cell phones, social media or other digital media. Also includes a provision that schools must prohibit cyberbullying in their discipline codes.

HB 1101 Reporting Student Absence from School (Yarde) – Requires parents to notify the school when their child is absent.

HB 1107 – Preventative Programs for At-Risk Children (Richardson) – A juvenile court may create a preventative program for at-risk children and appoint program staff, a GAL or CASA to implement, coordinate and carry out the purposes of the program.

HB 1189 Bullying Prevention Task Force (Tyler) – Creates a school bullying prevention task force for students with disabilities.

HB 1226 Child Care Regulation (Lehman) – Same as SB 56.

HB 1279 Coordination of Programs for Youth (Crawford) Same as SB 454.

HB 1307 Parent Service at Schools (L. Lawson, Hinkle) – Requires that each school corporation’s discipline rules require a parent to provide at least 3 hours of service each semester at the student’s school.

HB 1316 Parental Reimbursement for Juvenile Services (Dermody) – Allows juvenile court to order a parent or guardian of a child committed to the Department of Correction to pay or reimburse the DOC for costs incurred.

HB 1322 Child Welfare Study (Riecken, Bacon) – Requires the IN Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations to study various matters regarding child welfare and to submit a report of the results of the study to the legislative council.

HB 1323 Study of Child Welfare Issues (Riecken, Bacon) – Requires the IN Child Custody and Support Advisory Committee to study and make recommendations regarding various child welfare matters.

HB 1331 School Counselors (Porter) – Establishes specific target counselor/student ratios to be used for the hiring of school counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists. Requires DOE to develop a uniform job description for school counselors.

HB 1337 Teacher Contracts (Behning, Frizzell) – Various provisions regarding teacher contracts and collective bargaining agreements.

MCCOY is also following other legislation regarding restricting the start and end dates of the school year, moving school board elections to the general rather than primary elections, bicycle helmet safety, school corporation dress codes and changes to the definitions of school property with regard to residences of parolees and offenders against children.

2011 Legislative Preview

Advocacy Update Written By: Mindi Goodpaster
Happy New Year and welcome to the Indiana General Assembly’s 2011 session.  The session officially started on January 5 and will prove to be an interesting on to say the least.  Being a budget session, which will last through April, many tough decisions will be on the agenda and MCCOY will be watching to see how those decisions will affect youth and families in Marion County and beyond.  Some key issues that the legislators will be grappling with include education reform, cuts to unemployment benefits, redistricting and balancing the budget while not raising taxes.
Some legislation that has been introduced that MCCOY will be following include:

• SB0004 – Suicide Prevention Training for School Personnel – introduced by Senator Miller

o Requires the Division of Mental Health and the Department of Education to develop programs for training teachers on how to recognize signs of child suicide for the purpose of prevention.

• SB0056 – Child Care Regulation – introduced by Senator Holdman

o Ensures consistency among child care providers in certain health and safety requirements.

• SB0085 – Study of Schools with Low Graduation Rates – introduced by Senator Leising

o Creates a high school graduation study committee to study the causes of low graduation rates in certain schools and how the graduation rates can be improved.

• HB1019 – Training for Child Suicide Prevention – introduced by Rep. Charlie Brown

o Same as SB0004

• HB1042 – Dissemination of Sexual Material – introduced by Reps. L. Lawson and Foley

o Provides that schools may offer programs regarding the risks and consequences of “sexting” or sharing sexually suggestive materials via cell phones, social media or other digital media. Also includes a provision that schools must prohibit cyberbullying in their discipline policies.

This list is not inclusive of all potential legislation, as more will be introduced. A few other bills to watch include:

• SB0143 – Corporal Punishment by Parents – introduced by Senator Randolph

o Specifies that parents have certain legal rights related to reasonable corporal punishment based on certain conditions.

• SB0061 – School Board Elections – introduced by Senator C. Lawson

o Provides that school board members be elected in the general elections instead of the primary elections.

MCCOY looks forward to providing you with regular legislative updates and will be creating a legislative alert e-mail with more in-depth information local, state and federal policies and legislation that pertain to youth and families. Stay tuned for how to sign up to receive this newsletter!

January: Everyday Champion

Everyday Champion:

Rebecca Linehan
Unit Director, Lilly Boys and Girls Club

Rebecca was nominated as the first Everyday Champion award winner of 2011 by John Brandon, President of MCCOY. John has had numerous positive interactions with Rebecca through work with Boys & Girls Clubs, youth initiatives, and The Journey Fellowship. He commends Rebecca for her willingness to always help and lend a hand in any way possible, and for her dedicated service to youth and their positive development.

“Rebecca has really gone above and beyond by helping to provide resources and time for many of MCCOY’s youth initiatives. Recently, she invited our staff to conduct a focus group with some of the teens at the Lilly Boys & Girls Club on the teen violence that occurred during the 2010 Indiana Black Expo. Her openness to work together to accomplish positive outcomes for the youth in our community is one that should be recognized and valued,” said John.

Rebecca has always had a strong passion for helping youth and volunteering in her community. In fact, she began volunteering for the Boys & Girls Club in Bloomington while attending school at Indiana University. She was able to volunteer and work with the youth, as well as receive relevant experience supporting her school courses. While in school, Rebecca completed her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish as well as a Certificate in Non-profit Management. After graduating, Rebecca decided that she loved working with youth and helping them develop their character so much that she began working at the club full-time. Rebecca moved to the Lilly Boys & Girls Club in September of 2008 to become Unit Director there. She has been an employee with the Boys & Girls Club Organization for more than ten years now, and plans to continue her path there as Director of Federal Programs for Boys & Girls Club of Indianapolis.

What is your profession?

As the Unit Director at the Lilly Boys & Girls Club, I wear many hats and have a variety of duties to ensure the success of the club. My main daily job duties include: ensuring the safety of our members, managing and developing staff, facilities management, resource development, marketing, outcome/evaluation assessments, and to interact and engage with the club’s family members.

How are you an Everyday Champion for Youth?

I’m passionate about working with youth to help create a brighter future for them. Working with youth is both challenging and rewarding at the same time and keeps me on my toes. I enjoy developing relationships with the young people in our club, and seeing day after day how incredible they are despite adversities they must overcome. Working with the families to connect them with resources in order to ensure a better family and home life is very important and valuable as well.

What impact do you hope to make on youth?

For many youth, I am one of the only safe adult figures they have to trust and confide in. I am with them from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. in the summer and from 3-7 p.m. during school, which in many instances is more than they see their families. As a positive role model for the youth attending Boys & Girls Club activities, I can help foster their growth through the very most important impressionable years. I can help support their growth through our education, career development, arts, healthy and lifestyle, and fitness and recreational programs.

What do you want to do next to support youth?

My role supporting youth in the future will change as my transition to the Director of Federal Programs takes place. I will have a significant impact on the youth of all of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis through my overseeing the AmeriCorps Program and attainment of federal funds to support program activities. I will also continue to be involved in The Journey Fellowship, which focuses on the renewal of youth workers.

Do you know an Everyday Champion? Nominate them here!

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Do something!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is next Monday January 17. I love that we take a day to honor this great American leader on his birthday. It’s important. It shows a national commitment to community service, justice, civic engagement, peace, and equality. Unfortunately, it also shows a national commitment to sleeping in, cleaning out closets, shopping, and indulgent television watching. If you are lucky enough to have an employer who honors this holiday by closing your office, I encourage you to honor this holiday by doing something in the memory of Dr. King.

Martin Luther King Day: “A Day On, Not A Day Off.” Brilliant, huh? I didn’t make it up, but I really like it.

Some resources for you:

The Office of Community Service at IUPUI is hosting a community service day. Monday the 17th. 8am

The Peace Learning Center is hosting its annual MLK Day Community Festival. Saturday the 15th. 11am at the Christian Theological Seminary

Check out this great national resource to search for other projects!

And if events aren’t your style, there are many other ways to celebrate the vision of Dr. King. Watch a documentary with your children about MLK. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway. Call your grandma and ask about her memories of the Civil Rights movement. Sign up to volunteer with a local nonprofit. Write your congressman. Thank your congressman. Sit down with your spouse and make your philanthropic giving plans for 2011. Take your mentee or little cousin to the Power of Children Exhibit at the Children’s Museum. Take your boyfriend to the Power of Children Exhibit (It’s really good!)

The possibilities are obviously endless. Don’t make this just another 3 day weekend. And please, tell us what you will be doing to honor Dr. King!

Free e-books from Kaplan University!

Because MCCOY’s Learning Network has a strategic partnership with Kaplan University, we and all of our partners have been offered, for a limited time to download eBooks at No Charge!!

Kaplan University’s commitment to education extends to this exciting new offer for prospective students.

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There is no catch. Use the books as you wish to help you succeed in school or excel at work.

When you are ready to take the next step in your academic or professional development, Kaplan University has more than 125 online degrees and programs designed to help you build your educational and career credentials.*

For a complete selection of Kaplan Publishing eBooks available at no charge, visit:

Take a few minutes and download your complimentary eBooks today.†

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†Offer expires January 10, 2011. While supplies last. Offer subject to change without notice. You do not have to fill out the sweepstakes form in order to download the complimentary eBooks.

Thanks Kaplan University!