Negative Discipline Isn’t Necessary

Elisha 9-13A donor requested that I address the issue of spanking. I know there are those who certainly don’t condone child abuse but who feel spanking is an appropriate form of punishment.

Like many people, I was spanked as a child. For me, it was always a last resort, and it was effective. Unfortunately, many well-intentioned parents lose control of their emotions in the heat of the moment, and things can get out of hand. Use of physical punishment with children is controversial, and the practice is opposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. There are better ways.

Negative discipline, such as spanking, hitting, sarcasm, verbal shaming or degrading remarks, can have detrimental effects on children’s emotional health and may result in children learning to hit or yell at other children, or in them lying to avoid getting caught instead of learning to correct behavior.

I am deliberately no longer a “yeller,” though I have had some impressive mom-fits through the years. In those moments, I was ineffective and felt horrible afterward. My kids admit that they just “tuned me out” at those times.

As parent educators, we at the Children & Family Resource Center discourage spanking or yelling as forms of discipline and work closely with parents and caregivers to learn very effective alternative tactics where they stay in control as adults and teach the lessons children most need to learn.

Parenting isn’t for the weak. Over the holidays, my 16-year-old daughter used her Christmas money to buy a guinea pig without permission. When I say “without permission,” I am telling you she knew without a doubt that if she had asked I would have said no, and she did it anyway.


Too Many Kids Fall Through The Cracks

Elisha 9-13My daughter turned 16 last week. While preparing for it, I thought about what I might say to you as I sat covered in glitter after spray-painting wooden letters and numbers that spell out “Sweet 16” to use as decorations.

While thinking about my daughter, I can’t quit reflecting on the life of another little girl I am reading about who grew up in Waynesville during the 1940s and 1950s. Her life is what I described to my friend as “wretched.”

She survived a life of extreme poverty and abuse, and throughout the book she mentions the constant hunger her family felt. She and her siblings were poorly clothed and went to school with no shoes, even in snow and ice. They lived in one shack after another, and on a daily basis she battled famine, filth, bullying, addiction and abuse of every kind. I read her story and can only try to imagine what it is to be that poor and live that type of life.

I’ve heard adults say, “We were poor, but we didn’t know it,” usually in admiration of parents who sheltered them from those realities and worked hard to provide the basics. This child knew she was poor, and though her father was an incredibly hard worker, his money was used to fuel his moonshine business and his addiction rather than feed and clothe his children.

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Kids Can Access Mental Health Services

Elisha 9-13As parents, we know the basics of making sure our children are physically healthy — nutritious food, shelter, warm clothes and regular checkups. Often, we miss making sure our children are mentally healthy.

A child who is struggling will not always make it obvious to a parent, especially as the child gets older. Good mental health is an essential part of a child’s overall health and has a direct impact on physical health and the ability to do well in school and later in life.

Part of our mission at the Children & Family Resource Center is to take leadership on issues affecting children in Henderson County. We do this by working with our community partners to regularly gather data and engage our residents to identify problems, come up with solutions, and work together to make them happen.

In 2007, at our first Speak Out for Kids event, residents came together to discuss the issues and to set priorities for children in Henderson County. The top health priority at that time was to “increase access to mental health for children in our schools.” We’ve done that! Today, our students have improved access to mental health services offered in a number of our local schools, right on campus during the week.

The following provides information about mental health services available to school-age children during the school day. Through these services, students can access counseling support in both group and individual formats:

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Every Child Deserves the Comfort of Home

I bought a house in March. It wasn’t the ideal time, with my son getting ready to graduate, and the thought of uprooting our little family in his last months before high school graduation was not something I wanted to do.

However, my landlords were listing the house I’d been renting, and an opportunity to purchase my own home landed in my lap.

During that time, my son barely paid attention as his mind was already on his future and his life in college. My daughter, on the other hand, looked over every inch of our new home with me. We’d walk through the empty house, and she’d talk about where our things could go and share ideas about how she and I would live (even what we’d eat) in our new home.

We fell in love with it together, and today — with big brother all moved out — she and I make terrific “roomies,” all set to enjoy her last couple of years at home.

Home. Every child should have the comfort of home, yet every child does not. In Henderson County, during the 2013-2014 school year, 314 students were counted as homeless. Of those, 86 are what we call “unaccompanied homeless youths,” or youths experiencing homelessness who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.

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City Faces Its Need For Affordable Housing

Safe, affordable housing continues to be an issue in Henderson County, where almost half of all renters and one-third of owners with mortgages spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing, according to a recent study.

The high costs force residents into the realm of the “cost burdened,” defined by HUD as a group that may struggle to afford life necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care.

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Child Study Provides a Road Map


Advocates for children who met Saturday for the Speak Out for Kids event have a more complete blueprint for where to target their efforts, thanks to a report issued last week.

The independent, nonprofit child advocacy group N.C. Child released the study Wednesday. It said Henderson County children have seen improvements in insurance coverage, dental care, teen pregnancy and high school graduation rates since 2007, but pointed to areas that need more work, including poverty and food insecurity for needy kids and families.

The percentage of Henderson County kids enrolled in public health insurance rose by 36.2 percent for Medicaid and 21.6 percent for

Henderson County has also seen “a significant increase in the quality rating of child care centers” and a decrease in the number of children entering kindergarten with untreated dental problems, says Betsy Alexander, interim director at the Henderson County Department of Public Health. She attributed this to more than a decade of funding through North Carolina’s Smart Start program. N.C. Health Choice between 2007 and 2012. That mirrored findings of a recent study by a local coalition of at least 30 agencies in the United Agenda for Children, which sponsored Saturday’s Speak Out For Kids event at Blue Ridge Community College. While it is good that more children are covered by insurance — and all should be — it is also a sign that more families meet low-income guidelines to qualify.

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Speak Out event picks $10,000 Promise winner

IdeaPuzzleRGBWebA community garden that will help train, socialize and mainstream children and adults with autism won the top prize in the Promise Competition during the wrap-up Saturday of the 2014 Speak Out for Kids campaign.  The working garden, proposed by the St. Gerard House and its Grotto School for the treatment and support of children with autism and their families, won a $10,000 grant that the school plans to use to buy supplies and other materials to plant the garden this spring.

The campaign was designed to draw attention to gaps in Henderson County in a set of “5 Promises” that research shows will help young people become successful adults — Be a Caring Adult, Provide Safe Places, Provide A Healthy Start, Deliver an Effective Education, and Provide Opportunities to Serve.

The effort involved recorded programs that identify gaps and successful strategies, “listening sessions” during which people listened to and responded to the sessions and Saturday’s wrap-up.

After the presentation of five proposals for the Promise grant, judges selected three finalists. Then the people who attended the Saturday morning event voted by text for the winner.  In a surprise, the runner-ups also won money.

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Speak Out (for Kids!)


When the Henderson County Youth Council received feedback from fellow teenagers that “there is nothing to do in Henderson County after dark,” they acted. They organized an open-mic night at Black Bear Coffee Company on December 6th. At least 50 people came out, with more than 15 teen performers, recalls HCYC advisor Sarah Hoffert. “People are really excited to see teens identifying what they need,” she says. “I think these are really movers and shakers, these students.”

The youth council will next lend their voices to “Speak Out,” a month-long virtual conference in February with a business plan competition that kicks off January 2nd. Sponsored by the Children & Family Resource Center, the campaign culminates in the “Speak Out for Kids Day” event on March 1st at Blue Ridge Community College.

Read more about the Henderson County Youth Council’s involvement at

Pardee Hospital and Pardee Hospital Foundation to be Conference Headline Sponsors

A GREAT BIG THANKS  to Pardee Hospital and Pardee Hospital Foundation for becoming our Headline Conference Sponsor for Speak Out for Kids 2014.  Thank you for helping us encourage citizens, and businesses to get involved and and reinforce the connection that a healthy, vibrant community is not only good for children, but also for business.

Pardee Hospital

Pardee Hospital Foundation

 Visit our Facebook page to stay tuned in to upcoming Speak Out For Kids events and ways to get involved.

A poverty, not education, crisis in U.S.

The latest results of the Program for International Student Assessment — which measures the knowledge and skills of 15-year-old students in math, reading and science — were released last week, and once again Finland is near the top. True, this time students in Asia claimed many of the top spots. But Finland’s system remains one of the world’s highest-performing, with its universal preschool program, site-based management and dislike of standardized testing often cited for its success.

By comparison, U.S. student scores remained in the middle of the pack. But the most telling difference between Finns and Americans when it comes to education is child poverty.

Poverty is the most relevant factor in determining the outcome of a person’s educational journey, and in Finland, the child poverty rate is about 5%. In the U.S., the rate is almost five times as high. Unlike us, the Finns calculate the rate of poverty afteraccounting for government aid, but the differences remain substantial.

As researchers Michael Rebell and Jessica Wolff of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University, have noted, there is no general education crisis in the United States. There is a child poverty crisis that is impacting education.

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