Why it’s Important to Become a Child Advocate…

By: Tracy McDaniel, IUPUI Student Social Worker

I decided to become a Child Advocate in May of 2011. I was looking for a volunteer position that I could work with children and hopefully make a difference along the way. When I started my training, I didn’t realize how many children didn’t have an advocate. In Marion county alone their is a 500 child waiting list, which is not including surrounding counties.

Can you imagine not having a voice? It’s hard to comprehend not having your voice heard, exspecially when it comes to our children and teenagers. Every child that goes without an advocate loses the opportunity to have someone speak on their behalf. I’ve taken away many lessons from becoming a child advocate. The most important lesson is that as human beings and citizens we have a responsibility to advocate for our children and teenagers.

It’s not any easy responsibility, but the reward of knowing you are helping and giving a voice is a true blessing. I would encourage anyone interested to contact a child advocate agency in Indianapolis. I volunteer 6 hours a month, easy right? Each of us can prioritize our time to give a child 6 hours a month. It’s been such a blessing being able to give my time. I hope that by writing this blog you become curious about child advocacy.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” Nelson Mandela

Late elementary years, a vulnerable stage in life…

Kayleen Jones, Student Social Worker at IUPUI

Have you ever really thought about what it is like in child’s shoes on an everyday basis at school? A child from the ages of 6-12 can be a very vulnerable individual that will go through a lot of challenges while being in school. The time when children get into older elementary stage they start the “awkward” phase. This is when they feel like no one likes them such as friends, teachers, and family members. This period of their life is very important to receive love and encouragement from those around them. Children at this stage also see children from the other sex as “gross” or to have “cooties”. This is because they can relate better to the same sex so, they have all same sex friends. Also at this stage children start rebelling as a way to cope with feeling insecure and out of place. Even though we see rebelling as behavioral tendencies to get attention there might really be something wrong deep down. This is when they also begin to mock what their elders do and begin get values and morals from those around them. This stage of childhood is crucial to a child’s social development. The parents role in the child’s life is very important and they will begin to understand if and why a parent is not involved with their life. Children are our future and we need to help them develop into intelligent young adults to help them succeed in all that they will do.

Welcome to our new intern!

I am a senior at IUPUI studying Marketing and Supply Chain Management. I just started working here at MCCOY and I look forward to learning more about the art of fundraising and helping those in need. I have always wanted to work with a nonprofit organization. When I was given the opportunity to learn more about MCCOY, I was excited to be a part of such a wonderful organization. From the moment that started, I was greeted warmly with a smile. All of the staff has been extremely helpful and knowledgeable with all of my questions.
-Alex Plummer

Owning the Future

This summer, MCCOY launched the Own Yours campaign, which encourages young people to own their future and value their education. As I reflect on the significance of this message, I find myself wondering what it would look like to be a student who owns their future. One example of a student who truly exemplifies the Own Yours attitude is Chasstidy Hawkins.

Chasstidy is an eighth grader who attended the Coleman Academy Back to School Rally in August and won the Own Yours raffle prize ($100 gift card to use for school supplies), in which 67 students filled out Student Success Pledges. Chasstidy is truly a deserving winner! She plans to continue her academic success in high school, graduate from college with a degree in Criminology and become a Crime Scene Investigator. Chasstidy’s optimism and self-belief are evidenced in her words: “With my head held high and my mind focused on what I need to do to achieve my goals…I can make it and succeed with my future plans. I believe that you can do whatever you put your mind to.” Chasstidy, who has all A’s and 1 B+ so far this year, is well on her way to accomplishing her goals inside and outside of the classroom. I’m glad that the Own Yours campaign has reached so many inspiring young people! I wish Chasstidy the best of luck with her academic pursuits!

Election Day is Next Month – Are You Informed?

Election day is less than a month away and, while this isn’t a presidential election year, it is no less important. For voters who live in Marion County, the mayoral race is heating up and could potentially be historic for Indianapolis if Melina Kennedy is elected as the first female mayor for the city. This is also a municipal election year and many seats on the City/County Council are up for grabs as are other council seats in surrounding counties.

These smaller municipal elections tend to have lower voter turnout than the years with presidential elections, but they are no less important. The candidates for whom you are voting have direct control over your city, town, or neighborhood. They make decisions on public safety, on parks and planning, and on the budget. The impact that these policy makers have affect your daily life in ways greater than the president or your federal legislators.

So, why is turnout so low? Well, there’s typically less campaigning and therefore less visibility of the candidates. The budgets are smaller and public appearances happen on a smaller scale. This leads many voters to not even know who is running in their district and not feel invested in the election. Many figure that these local seats have less significance because of lower profile of the candidates.

As a U.S. citizen, our democracy gives every adult the right to vote. We are fighting wars in other countries to promote democracy, but it’s interesting that we don’t utilize that right to it’s fullest potential. Particularly in these contentious political and economic times, we need to ensure that we are paying attention and are informed about the politicians whom we are electing into office. And, if we don’t like the job that they are doing, making that known at election time.

The Indianapolis Star has posted an interactive voter’s guide to the local candidates. You can search the candidates in your district, learn about their stances and backgrounds, and even print out your sample ballot so that you don’t forget your selections by the time you get to the polls. I highly recommend that you check it out.


MCCOY reads about llamas

Last week, MCCOY staff participated in Jumpstart’s Read for the Record Day. This campaign highlights the early education achievement gap and seeks to provide low-income students with high-quality educational experiences. MCCOY staff traveled to the city’s newest Center for Inquiry school, IPS #27 Charity Dye.

What a fantastic school, right in heart of Indianapolis! The school was full of great energy and the students were so bright. We divided into pairs and read Llama Llama Red Pajama to groups of kindergarteners. As a part of the campaign, each student got to take home their very own copy of the book. It was definitely the highlight of MY week. Perhaps in a few months, we can visit again and read Llama Llama Holiday Drama.

Whose Helping Who

Written by: Tyler Perrott, Student at IUPUI School of Social Work

I have had a different life compared to most people. I have grown up with a twin sister who has fairly severe Cerebral Palsy. On top of that, I have worked and volunteered for several years with people who have special needs. These opportunities have given me a unique insight into living with people who have a multitude of physical and mental disabilities. People often ask me how do I approach this group of people or how do I talk and not offend them. These individuals are often well intended and have hopes of being friendly and getting accepted by people with developmental disabilities. I often just smile back and say treat them like you would want to be treated. People who are deemed “normal” by societal standards struggle with the fear of upsetting these people, hurting their feelings, not getting a response, etc. Everyone I know has dealt with this fear at some point or another. This fear in turn translates into the way that we treat this unique group of people. I have learned from my experience that maybe us “normal” people could stand to learn a thing or two from the so-called “disabled” of society.

First off I am going to give you my observational viewpoint from watching the “normal” people in society and their behavior towards the “disabled”. One day I was in Wal-Mart with my sister shopping and several different times people I knew and who knew my sister or at least knew of her came up and only spoke to me and didn’t even acknowledge my sister. Again, I don’t think it was the people’s intentions but it still happened nonetheless. In that same trip two people came up to my sister with developmental disabilities and the second question they asked after seeing how my sister was doing was directed towards me. It was what’s your name and how are you doing? The manner in which they treat and view people is completely different. There are a multitude of times that I have seen this play out. I think that many “normal” people are just ignorant to the fact that they are even doing it. I don’t think they are intentionally blowing these people off or wanting to pretend they don’t exist but that again doesn’t negate the fact that IT DOES happen. Now if we flip the perspective and look at how people with “disabilities” view others you don’t see this happening. They have the greatest natural ability to see people for exactly what they are, people.

In conclusion, the point of this blog was not to condemn people for this but merely give them an opportunity to learn from fellow human beings. This people group has an amazing ability to treat everyone with equality and without a bias. I have learned so much from them and I will continue to be learning things from them. I know a majority of people will still have a fear of these people but don’t let this fear cripple you from learning and walking life with this extraordinary group of individuals.

Ready for the Future

According to a recent survey required of incoming freshmen at Ball State University, 37 percent said they were unclear about why they were in college. BSU’s Career Center staff will be reaching out to these students who are called “vocationally at risk” to help them put together a career action plan. Without such intervention and support, these students would likely change majors at least once, prolonging the time they spend in college and increasing the likelihood they would enter a career that was unsatisfying and unfulfilling.

I think it is great that Ball State is taking a proactive role to help its students find the right career path; but I can’t help but wonder why such thoughtful and supportive measures didn’t happen sooner in these students’ academic journey. After all, they spent the last four years in high school taking the various coursework that would prepare them to successfully apply and be accepted into an institution of higher learning. At what point along that road might a caring and perceptive adult have paused to ask each student: “Exactly what is it that you would like to do with your life? What career do you aspire to? What sort of higher education is going to be necessary for you to pursue in order to meet your goal?”

Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer counselors in our high schools; and the ones remaining are overwhelmed with all the duties that fall upon them. The American School Counselors Association recommends a ratio of 250 students to 1 counselor. In 2008-2009, the national average was actually 457 to 1; and in Indiana, it was even worse at 540 to 1. With diminishing state education dollars, it is not likely those numbers will change anytime soon. That is why is so important that the other caring adults in young people’s lives—parents, mentors, youth workers, pastors, coaches, and extended family to name a few–step up and pose those important career questions to the young people they care about. Posing those questions may be the first step in helping a young person identify their future–and helping them get on the right path that will lead them to success in college, work, and life.

Help MCCOY Prevent Child Sexual Abuse!

One in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18. What does this mean for you as a community member?

It means…
• … that Indiana spends nearly $48 million for the direct and immediate costs of child sexual abuse
• … that the long-term costs and losses are over $500 million dollars annually.

Except for murder, child sexual abuse is the most expensive victim crime in the U.S.

Let’s stop child sexual abuse before it happens!
• It only costs $10.53 to train an adult to improve their child-protective behaviors.
• Research suggests that the average trained adult will better protect at least ten children from sexual abuse in the years after training.
• The money saved by preventing just one substantiated case of child sexual abuse would pay for prevention training for 1,362 adults.
• That training would result in 13,620 children better protected from abuse.

Please help MCCOY train 500 adults for FREE through Stewards of Children. Stewards of Children is a sexual abuse prevention program that educates adults to prevent, recognize, react responsibly and take courageous action against child sexual abuse.

If you are interested in attending a training, scheduling a training for your staff, clients, family members, church members, or other adults please contact Shanna Martin at [email protected] or 317-921-1233.

Here is what attendees have said about the training:
“Loved it! I think it was very informative. I learned a lot and plan to advocate to see this training done in my organization.”
“Very well done and I’m very thankful this was offered at no charge.”
“Great info. Very eye-opening.”
“I will use the tools and become even more of an advocate for children and be a resource for my staff as they work with children.”

** MCCOY has committed to being a “Partner in Prevention” by training 90% of our staff in Stewards of Children. Please contact Shanna to learn more about how you can become a “Partner in Prevention” site as well.**

Reframing Reforms?

I just finished reading an interesting article written by Drs. Jonathan Plucker and David Rutkowski from the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy (CEEP) at Indiana University entitled “Running A Race Against Ourselves”. I will include a link so that readers can review the entire piece themselves but, in a nutshell, these two researchers conclude that “most education reforms are not effective” because they aim too broadly and thus miss the mark.

Their article is certainly thought-provoking and worthy of being read by all who are engaged in efforts to improve the educational experience of children in our community. From my perspective, the authors are inviting well-meaning people from all backgrounds to set aside their agendas and ideologies and put the focus where it needs to be: on the individual student. In our efforts to find ways to reform the larger “educational system” we seem to be losing sight of the child or young person in the seat, each of whom has their own challenges and barriers that get in the way of them achieving academic success.

I invite you to read the article and let us know what you think.