Written by Foundling Guest Blogger, Stephanie Kearns, Vice President of Business Operations.

 

In recognition of National Special Needs Month I’ll be sharing a series of blog postings about special needs and severe allergies with the help of peer parents who live with these fears or challenges every day.

 

Last weekend my family and I explored the local street fair for some weekend fun and tasty treats. As the day went on I noticed my daughter was covered in angry red hives triggered by an unknown cause. My stomach jumped into my throat as I tried to remain calm for her sake and run through the checklist of things to do when your child has an allergic reaction. After rushing her home to shower her off and administer an antihistamine, the hives faded away and she went on with her merry day. It ended up being a minor allergic reaction but that split second of fear is a moment I’ll never forget like all moments when you feel helpless as a parent. This is nothing compared to the life threatening reality of severe food allergies.

 

My first interview was conducted with Kristen Rutter whose own child, Giuliana (age 4) is severely allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. Kristen is an attorney turned Stay-at-Home Mom.

 

When was your child diagnosed and how did you discover the diagnosis?

She was diagnosed right after her second birthday. She had an anaphylactic reaction within minutes of eating her first bite of peanut butter. We immediately dialed 911 and she was transported via ambulance to the hospital, where she stayed for observation for five hours after the initial reaction. She was given a shot of epinephrine, a shot of anti-histamines and was sent home with a week’s worth of steroids. Knowing what I know now about food allergies, I consider us very lucky. We are so thankful we knew enough about food allergies that we dialed 911 right away. We had follow-up appointments with her pediatrician and a board certified pediatric allergist for further food allergy testing right away. 

 

What lifestyle changes have you made to adapt to living and raising a child with this condition?

Food allergies affect every aspect of our lives. The changes we have made are too numerous to list. The most obvious change is that we don’t keep any peanuts or tree nuts in our house. We also don’t purchase or use any products that may contain nuts or that are manufactured with nuts. We read every label of every product that we provide to our daughter and we have a strict non-sharing policy regarding food and drinks. We are very careful about where we eat out. We take our own food to many places and events including birthday parties, holiday parties, sporting events, the movies, school events and fieldtrips, etc. I make Giuliana’s lunch to take to school every single day. We have Epi-Pens in various locations including our home, grandparents’ houses, school, and a two pack in my purse at all times.

 

What are your biggest fears related to this condition and how do you cope?

My biggest fear is unmentionable. Food allergies are life threatening. There is no way to predict how severe a reaction will be. Every reaction has the potential to be life threatening. I am fearful that she may be bullied or made fun of because of her allergies. I am fearful that as she gets older, she might engage in risky behavior with unsafe foods because she wants to fit in. I am scared that she may not always carry her Epi-Pens with her when she starts to self-carry. My fears and concerns will change throughout her life as she enters and exits stages and ages. But my biggest fear will always remain the same. I am scared that one day, one bite could take her life.

 

How do you communicate the condition to other parents and caregivers, namely those parents in the child’s class or activity spaces (i.e. extracurricular activities)

I always tell teachers, instructors and other parents about her allergy and that she absolutely cannot eat or share any food or drinks with anyone. The rule is that she eats what we bring and that’s it. I will make an exception if I have spoken to a teacher or parent in advance and they have purchased and brought something that I know for a fact is safe for her, but all of that research and those conversations are conducted in advance. The rules are always clear-cut and we don’t make last minute or spur of the moment decisions. I talk about the signs of an allergic reaction and make sure that anyone who is supervising her knows what to look for, knows where her Epi-Pens are located, and knows how to administer them and what to do in the event of a reaction.

 

With all of the parties, celebrations, going away, welcome events, how do you ensure they are free of the allergen in question and do you take any measures to check?

The most important thing I do is call and speak to the host/hostess well in advance of the party or event. I learned to do that the hard way. There have been two occasions that I forgot to call in advance and one was a baby shower that, unbeknownst to me, was candy themed, and another was a birthday party that had PB&J sandwiches for all the kids. Both were very difficult situations to deal with. Now, I ALWAYS call the host/hostess before any event, no matter how big or small, to ask what is being served or if there is a party theme, etc. That way I make sure Giuliana has options that are safe and that make her feel included. If an event is being catered or is at a restaurant, I call the catering company or restaurant and ask them questions. I often make all of our own desserts for events and parties.

 

Do you have any limitations on what your child can or can’t do as a precaution from preventing an encounter with this trigger?

We do our absolute best to make sure Giuliana is included and able to participate with her family and friends in activities, events, fieldtrips, and whatever else she may be interested in. There really isn’t anything she can’t do without a little preparation, research and maybe some substitution. With planning, we have successfully managed parties, trips to the movies, play dates, school lunches, picnics, eating out, traveling, and even plane trips. We have gotten a lot of support from family and friends along the way.

 

Tell me an experience you have had, if any, with an uncooperative or dismissive parent who excluded your child’s from an event or activity due to her allergy?

I have heard nightmarish stories but I must say, we have never had a downright bad experience. Most uncomfortable or difficult situations have stemmed from my lack of planning in the past or from another parent’s misunderstanding or lack of knowledge regarding the severity of food allergies. I have not yet had (and hopefully will never have) an encounter with another parent who has blatantly disregarded the safety of my child or been dismissive and excluded her from something. We consider ourselves to be very compassionate people and try our best to surround ourselves with others who are compassionate and strive for the safety and inclusion of all children. 

 

What are the common misconceptions or misunderstandings about children with serious allergic conditions? Include any inaccurate vocabulary or derogatory words.

I think there is a definite lack of understanding regarding food allergies. Even I don’t know it all! Some people don’t understand that food allergies can kill. They think that a child might just get a stomachache, or a rash when exposed to their allergen. Many people don’t understand that food allergies are different from food intolerances. I will say it again, food allergies are life threatening.

 

A lot of people think that the amount of the allergen eaten has a direct affect on how severe a reaction will be. For example, someone might think that putting sugar cookies on a plate next to peanut butter cookies is okay because the sugar cookies don’t contain peanuts and how could one crumb kill someone? But it’s true, even the smallest trace amount of a person’s allergen could cause a reaction. That is why you hear talk about avoiding products that don’t even contain nuts but are just manufactured on the same lines as another product that does. Also, food proteins are sticky! Using hand sanitizer will not remove peanut residue from your hands. That is also a common misconception. Proper hand washing is a must. That also goes for cleaning surfaces, dishes and utensils, as well.

 

What are the top 3 goodies that a parent can produce at lunches, parties, or events that ensure your child doesn’t encounter these triggers?

Non-food favors! With any treats or edible food and drink, definitely talk to the child’s parent. What I would consider safe is not necessarily what another parent would consider safe based on their child’s needs and restrictions. Non-food favors/goodies are a great way to ensure every child is safely included. Pinterest is a great resource for finding different favor/craft/party ideas based on the celebration, whether it be a birthday party or holiday. Aside from talking directly to the child’s parent in advance and including non-edible goodies, look for brands that are top-8 allergen free, like Enjoy Life Foods. And then talk to the parent about providing something like that. Did I mention, talk to the child’s parents?

 

What about travelling? How do you go on plane trips, hotels, or even restaurant outings and ensure your child is safe?

It takes a lot of planning but we have done all of the above successfully! We try to be as prepared as possible. I always carry safe snacks in my purse so that we are never in a bind. We take a lot of our own food. With restaurants and resorts/hotels, I call in advance and talk to a manager about their food prep practices and feel out their level of knowledge regarding food allergies. When we fly, we take wipes and ask to board planes early to wipe down the seats we are assigned to. Sometimes the flight attendants will make an announcement regarding having a passenger with a severe allergy on board and sometimes they won’t. We have experienced both scenarios. We always have two Epi-Pens with us at all times.

 

What are the top 3 tips you would tell parents who do not have a child with a serious allergic trigger to best accommodate a child who does?

  1. Talk to the child’s parent. Find out what the child is allergic to and what their family rules are regarding food and drink. Ask how you can help safely include them.

 

  1. Try new products and substitutions! There are so many substitutions for things these days, like SunButter instead of peanut butter, or rice milk instead of cow’s milk. Introduce some of these products to your non-allergic children and explain why you are doing so. Children are naturally compassionate and want to keep their friends safe. You may also find that they love a certain product that is safe for their friend with food allergies. Everybody wins.

 

  1. Do your best to safely include children with food allergies. A few weeks ago, my daughter had her blood drawn for her annual food allergy testing. It was a very rough morning and a difficult blood draw. We left the lab in tears and she was so sad, disheartened and down. Giuliana had swimming lessons afterward and when we got to the pool, a friend of ours who was there with her three boys had brought some nut-free fruit gummy snacks for the kids for after the lesson. When Giuliana asked if she could partake in the after swim treat and the other mom told her they were nut-free (and I verified of course), her whole demeanor changed. Something as simple as another mom bringing nut-free fruit gummies for the kids turned her entire day around. When you safely include a child with food allergies, you do more than just keep them safe. You make them feel loved, included and accepted.

 

Lastly, what are your expectations from other parents when it comes to packing lunches, carpooling, and field trips? Do you restrict your child’s attendance or blast communication and confirm everyone got the message?

I don’t expect anything. I have hope that other parents will be mindful and considerate when packing lunches. The most important thing I can do is maintain open, honest and respectful communication with other parents so that I am better able to prepare for and ensure my child’s safety in any given set of circumstances or in any given environment. So actually, yes, I suppose I do expect that: open, honest and respectful communication

 

*Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The New York Foundling, its funders, regulators, donors and/or employees.

 

The information contained within this article is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only.

The Foundling offers dynamic, progressive and evidence-based services and programs to 30,000 children and families each year. What makes our programs so unique and successful are our dedicated and committed employees and staff. Get to know the people inside our organization by reading our blog each week as we highlight a new staff member.  We’ll ask them questions about their role at The Foundling, what their passions and hobbies are outside of the office, and recognize their achievements and accomplishments.

 

What are your major responsibilities at The Foundling?

My department’s main goal is to hire exceptional employees that will go above and beyond to serve children, families and individuals. As a Human Resources Generalist at the Foundling, my major responsibilities include recruiting and being our employee’s main point of contact for any issues and concern that they may have. The best part of my job is the ability to meet so many different people who are so inspired by what The Foundling does, and who want to become a part of our organization.

 

What inspires you most about working at The Foundling?

The Foundling serves so many different communities—from foster children to young moms to individuals with developmental disabilities. Simply knowing that in some small way, my involvement with how our clients are ultimately taken care of inspires me!

 

What has driven you to be where you are today?

My parents have driven me to be where I am today. They have always showed me unconditional support in whatever it was that I wanted to do. They have always told me to follow my heart and I will succeed, and I have to say so far they have been 100 percent right!

 

Who is your role model and what do you admire about them?

My role model is my mother. She is the well-oiled machine that keeps my family going. She is one of the most loving, caring, and humble people I have ever met. I hope one day that I can be half the mother and wife that my mom is to me, my father and brother.

 

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I have been fortunate enough throughout my life to travel to many beautiful places, both domestic and abroad. If I could take a trip anywhere in the world, I would want to go to Turks and Caicos. I have always wanted to go here, because it is an absolutely beautiful island and would be an amazing place to just relax and unwind. 

 

Tell us about the latest book you’re reading, or recently read?

I have recently finally finished “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. I have not allowed myself to see the movie because I was in the middle of the book. I am excited that I have finally finished it, simply for the fact that I can now watch the movie.

 

What is your spirit animal and why?

I would say that my spirit animal is a bear. Bears are playful and tough, as well as maternal and nurturing to their young. I believe I’m fun and can be tough when needed, and I am certainly the “mom” of my group of friends.

 

Want to learn about other Foundling staff?

You can meet some of our other employees on TheMuse.com.

Written by Foundling Friend and Guest Blogger Celia McGee

 

What Pet Should I Get?

By Dr. Seuss (Random House Children’s Books)

Ages: Pre-K-7 and the grownups who will enjoying reading to this to kids in their care!

 

As if one surprise publishing find and hoop-la of the year–Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman–weren’t enough, out pounces What Pet Should I Get? No deep shelter under a bright-blue rock or torrent of blinding snowflakes could have kept anyone from the news of this new Dr. Seuss release!

 

The sight and sound of the title alone represent inescapable hints that this is an addition to some of children’s top-of-the-pops favorites. With the return of the brother and sister from One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish of 1960, bells and whistles will go off for parents and grandparents.

 

Younger readers may not be capable or willing to notice, unless subliminally, that the gist and “Should” of this book by Dr. Seuss’s creator and alter-ego, Theodor Geisel, also reinforces the quiet strong-arming of a parental presence, which stealthily has the last word or admonishment in much of his oeuvre.

 

What Pet Should I Get?  is Seussiana in milder form. This trip to a pet store is devoid of pranks and barely-averted disasters. It’s to choose one new animal family member—strong quandary alert for sibling shoppers who amount to more than one. Its subjects include the difficulty of decision-making, weighing options, pros and cons, and taking measured mental notes to prevent too much agony of choice.

 

Most of the pets on offer are as well of this reasonably everyday world, though rendered in Seussian-world colors and quirky details that any child can’t help but love. And, oh, how glorious the few pages where Dr. Seuss’s rather goody-goody duo let loose their imaginations, concocting entirely preposterous and vibrantly conceived animals of non-existent species, un-encountered outside the Seussiverse.

 

The Cat in the Hat isn’t exactly back. Still, to what creature do those eyes belong, peeping out from the dark of the covered basket our boy balances on his head on the way home, and on the final, open-ended page?

 

Interested in purchasing this book? Make sure to shop on Amazon Smile and select The New York Foundling as your charity of choice!

 

 

September is Baby Safety Month and serves as an important reminder for parents and caregivers to freshen up on some very important skills to create the safest possible environment for a child in their care. Below are five safety tips for parents and caregivers, courtesy of Baby Safety Zone and WebMD.

 

  • Keep furniture secure. The leading cause of injury to children is tripping and knocking furniture over, so be sure to secure all furniture to the floor or walls to avoid any harm.
  • Care safety. Never allow a child to sit in the front seat of a car or on your lap. Instead, securely place young children in an approved car seat. Make sure that the car seat is designed for your child’s age and that it passes all safety regulations.
  • Install (and test) smoke alarms. Make sure that there is a fully functioning smoke alarm on each floor of your home, and that the batteries in the alarm are changed frequently, about every six months.
  • Choking hazards. Check that all of the toys your baby is playing with are bigger than the size of their mouth so they do not accidentally ingest anything that could be harmful.
  • Emergency numbers. Create a list of emergency numbers and keep it nearby (at home and saved in your cell phone). Some of these numbers should include: your child’s pediatrician, the police department, the fire department, and poison control. The number for the national poison control center is 800-222-1222.

 

The New York Foundling offers a safe place to bring a child for up to three weeks, while parents can respond to short-term crises that could otherwise turn into a disaster. This haven is called the Crisis Nursery, and it is the only city-licensed emergency respite care facility of its kind.

 

Special thanks to Amanda E., summer intern at The Foundling, for researching and writing this blog post.

Internships present a great opportunity for students and young adults to learn about working at a nonprofit. This summer, a group of interns from across New York City had the chance to see our work in action, collaborate with staff and make a difference in the lives of the people and communities we serve. Below is our final intern profile for the summer.

 

Where do you go to school?

 

I attend Bennett College, an all-girls school in Greensboro, North Carolina.

 

What is your favorite subject?

 

One of my favorite subjects is writing. Writing allows me to tell stories I know and hold closest to me. It also allows me to voice my opinion on different subjects.

 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

 

In five years from now, I see myself still in school, possibly getting a Master’s Degree.  

 

Who is your role model and why?

 

For many years I have been surrounded by amazing women. One woman that has stood out to me for many years has been my cousin Terrenda White. She is the first in my family to graduate with a PhD. This means a lot to me because I was able to watch how much work she put in during this process. Seeing how dedicated she was meant so much to me.

 

What project did you work on while at The Foundling?

 

 

During my internship I helped the Human Resources Department create information packets that explain the different benefits available to staff at The New York Foundling. The packets included information about health insurance, the organization’s Wellness Program, and how to obtain an employee ID card.

 

What will you take away from your experience at The Foundling?

 

During my time at The Foundling, I have learned that working well with others helps things run smoothly and that The New York Foundling cares about all employees no matter how long you’ve been there.

 

What piece of advice would you tell future Foundling Interns?

 

Come well rested and ready to work.

 

What is your spirit animal and why?

 

I would say my spirit animal is a bear. A bear is strong and confident. I see myself as a born leader, helpful and often in charge. Bears also like to rest and have alone time.  

 

If you could take a trip anywhere, where would you go and why?

 

I would like to visit Mvezo, South Africa. This was the place Nelson Mandela was born.

 

What is the last book you read, what are you reading now?

 

The last book I read was “Piece of Cake” by Cupcake Brown and my current book is “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin.

 

Written by Foundling Guest Blogger, Stephanie Kearns, Director of Business Operations

 

Earlier this year I wrote a post about 2 recipe suggestions for picky toddlers. As a result of that post, I was prompted to write a broader post on the approach to feeding strategy and more meal and snacking options. Nutrition is one of my top priorities when it comes to my family, especially my child. I love food. It is the one area of my life where I splurge. I’m not a clotheshorse, I’m not a world traveler, and I don’t collect stuff. I want to enjoy everything I eat and listen to my body’s needs to fuel my day and keep my energy up for an active family. I know it is not easy to encourage healthy eating with a new human who has discovered sugar and salt but I tell moms that you should feed yourself what you want your child to consume. This is a hard change but I promise it will change the way you feel and how you value your health. I defer to my trusty colleague Carlye Waxman, Director of Food and Nutrition to provide specifics about what children should eat and in what portions but I’m here to provide you with a road map for making the experience less stressful and shortcuts to provide health snacks easily.

 

The Picky Toddler – just say after me, “my toddler can’t break me, my toddler can’t break me!” But they try! Whew – my little girl once protested for an hour over requiring a cheddar cracker in lieu of her mashed sweet potatoes. But you have to stick with it. They will eventually follow your lead and you will break the cycle. It requires time and patience, both of which parents have very little of but once successful it feels awesome.

 

 

  • We use reading to keep our child entertained when mealtime is a struggle. Too much stimulus in the house can keep a child from settling down and focusing on eating. Choose a meal time book that they can focus on while eating. Use this tool to get in a groove and then slowly replace this with conversation about the meal, preparation, family stories and questions about his or her day.

     

  • Hiding nutrients – best trick in the book and I have mentioned this is past posts. Your blender or food processor is your best friend. Steam and finely chop any veggie and toss in whatever sauce you serve with pasta, chicken or spread on toast.

     

  • Having a family meal – sit with your child while they eat. If you are doing something else they will always think that is more exciting than eating the meal before them.

     

  • Rename foods to be more relatable to your child. Broccoli = Trees, Cauliflower = Snow Trees etc.

     

  • Out of sight, out of mind. Hide your indulgent snacks like cookies or candy so you don’t tempt your little one. If it’s there, they will want it.

     

 

The Travelling Toddler – This is a big one for me. You are always running around when you have a child, whether to school or play date or family visit. It is SUPER easy to grab pre-packaged snacks but they are usually loaded with sugar and sodium. Here are my favorite homemade or store bought healthy and kid friendly options:

 

 

  • Homemade trail mix – raisins, cashews, almonds, low sodium no sugar cereal tossed together. Give your child the baggie and they can enjoy the special treat! Don’t forget to be sensitive when providing snacks in environments where there might be nut allergies.

     

  • GoGo Squeez applesauce pouches. These can be for parents and kids. No sodium and no added sugar.

     

  • Mini muffins – I love to bake and Lillian loves muffins. You can make super healthy options. I use coconut oil in place of butter and very little brown sugar in my zucchini apple mini muffins. I also make cauliflower “muffins”. The shape sells it. Easy to pack in a hard shell travel container to keep from smashing.

     

  • Baby carrots or graspable chopped carrots. These are sweet, mess free and easy to pack.

     

  • Steamed and roasted string beans. “Green fries”|

     

 

The Daycare or Preschool Toddler – we are about to move from a daycare that provided all meals and snacks to one where we provide it all. Here are some packing tips to make it easier on your toddler and teacher!

 

  • Shop around for good quality food storage containers that your child can easily handle. The best and cheapest I have found are at The Container Store. The brand is Cool Gear.
  • They have freezable lunch bags to keep the meal cool in transit. This is a great product for travel as well. Here is my favorite option with lots of fun colors and designs: PackIt Personal Cooler
  • Don’t introduce new food options in school, especially in the beginning. Serve up their favorite choices when they first start so there are some comforts of home.
  • I advise against too many tricks when it comes to food. Once you start cutting sandwiches in the shape of their initials, you’ve gone too far. There is no going back so don’t make packing lunches a production – instead include a sticker in every other meal pack as a surprise that will be special to your child.

     

 

As your child grows older, limit the differences in your meal vs. his or hers. Start now if you can! This will encourage you to eat healthier and better define the quality time you need to connect with family. Bon appetit!

Written by Foundling Guest Blogger, Stephanie Kearns, Director of Business Operations

 

A couple of weekends ago, I was frantically looking for the spout piece to match the lid of the pink and yellow cup before heading out for our play date. It must have fallen into a black hole because still today, I can’t find that piece. It’s like case of the missing sock in the dryer. Every mom and dad has a story about the hundreds of parts and pieces of the stuff that our kids accumulate but nothing is quite as maddening as the toddler cup epidemic.

 

I took this photo (attached) to showcase the myriad options that one can choose as a Sippy Cup. This is my own collection pared down.

 

Below is my personal experience of the best and worst options to help save you the headache and wasted money finding just the right one.

 

I’ve divided the options into 3 categories; spout, straw and sip and based my review on three key factors: ease of cleaning, ease of assembling, effectiveness.

 

The spout is your traditional lid with a defined spout with little holes to dispense water when your kiddo tilts the cup back. The straw is the built-in straw sucking mechanism that allows the child to hold the cup upright. Lastly the sip option which mimics the idea of an adult cup by using a lid that, when you tilt back to drink requires soft pressure of your child’s mouth to release water with slower flow than regular drinking speed.

 

Sip – this was the loser for me. The parts are extremely tough to install and if one piece isn’t in place the water dumps all over your child. With at least 4 parts on average, the likelihood of using this cup more than the first time is rare. Thumbs down!

sippy cup

Straw – if I had to pick a 2nd place, this would be it. There are various types of straw cups and some are better than others. The cup with the straw that retracts when you fold over a closing apparatus is the worst kind due to the very difficult installation of weaving the straw through a tiny opening every time you dismantle and clean. But the hard straw option that folds over can be pretty good as long as you keep a watchful eye on your little one since there is usually no flow stopper.

sippy cup 2

Spout-

This is the winner for me. The spout teaches your child to use a cup the way it is intended so the transition to a real cup is easier. This version also has the least amount of parts with typically 2 or 3 maximum so it is easier to take apart, clean and store parts. The downside to this version is the flow control pieces. Sometimes the removable parts that control how fast or slow the water can come out are too tight and make it hard for the child to get any water and others are too fast and cause the child to choke on water. The Playtex Playtime version has been the most successful option for my little one.

sippy cup 3

 

A few last thoughts…

 

Don’t count on the “spill proof” promise. Nothing is spill proof when it comes to a toddler! Lastly, the best piece of advice I can give you is don’t collect too many versions of cups. It is tough to remember the matching of parts and cups. You end up relying on the one cup out of twenty because you can’t match the pieces!

 

Happy sipping!

Written by Foundling Guest Blogger, Stephanie Kearns, Director of Business Operations

 

As our family gears up for our 4th trip and the first of the upcoming holiday season with our not quite 2 year old, I’ve learned a lot of lessons about traveling with a young one. I’ve heard every secret in the book to keep kids calm, distracted, and even asleep while traveling on a plane. These tips below apply no matter how you travel but some are tailored to a plane trip specifically as this is the most limiting way of travel and no parent is ever quite ready for what might ensue on your adventures!

 

Activities – I’ve chosen to limit the amount of screen time my child has while in transit to any destination and at home. I’m overly sensitive to the idea that a young child’s brain hasn’t quite developed to properly process the screen defined activities available. However, this is absolutely the easiest and fastest way to calm and distract a child so many parents rely on this in a pinch and I’m one of them. I want to offer some alternatives that give you similar levels of kid satisfaction without the guilt.

 

  • Stickers. Listen, I don’t know what it is about stickers but they are pretty much the best thing in the universe according to kids. Our house is proudly littered with (easily removable) stickers. They are easy to pack too. Bring a small composition book and pack of stickers and count on your little one being occupied for a while. Create adventures on each page using different themed stickers. Don’t splurge for the $5 pack of 12 stickers at Container Store, grab the bulk options at a party supply store or the clearance bin at Target.

     

 

  • Silly putty – unlike playdough which can be too sticky and fall apart more quickly. Silly putty is sturdy and easier to hold. You can make shapes and stand the newly created objects up on the tray table or car seat tray.

     

 

  • Books – don’t underestimate the power of books in transit. Board books are usually easier to carry and there is less chance of a page being ripped out. Toddlers are in the development phase where the idea of repeating the same book over and over again is exciting for them as they recognize the next page before they see it. This can be exhausting on parents to re-read the same book 100 times but stick with it, try voices and sounds and prompt your child to fill in the blank with words so they can contribute to the story telling.

 

Products – There is no perfect travel product collection but there are some pretty great options out there to make things a little easier. I’ve travelled with and without my husband and when I was without him, some of these items were lifesavers! I have personally used all of these products.

 

  • Ok this first one is a little pricey but if you are a regular traveler you will not want to live without this! Sit n Stroll car seat http://lillygold.com/ This is a super easy stroller with retractable wheels that easily store inside the unit with one handed action. This is most appropriate for 0-1.5 but I know they are coming out with upgraded designs for a little older and new colors. The cushioned material is easily washable, and the option of being able to pop your baby out of the rental car while fast asleep so you can run into a restaurant and grab a bite adds some extra adult time to your trip! You can also install in a plane seat if you can swing the extra ticket price – splurge if you are flying solo with a kiddo.

     

 

  • The is my favorite option for kids between 22-44 lbs. It is a seat belt mechanism that is used with the existing seat belts in plane seats (THIS IS NOT FOR CARS!) http://store.kidsflysafe.com/ Bonus: they have a separate product to serve children and adults with special needs. Super reasonable and with the frequent Buy Buy Baby 20% off coupons, it’s a steal!

     

 

  • Portable high chair. I recommend 2 different options. One that stands alone and another that fastens to any dining chair. This first is the Ciao Baby Portable Highchair, it works like the foldable park chairs that you can buy at your local bodega during the summertime. The other is the Munchkin travel booster seat. The second one gets mixed reviews online but I found it to be the best of the options with a 3 point harness and storage compartment in the seat giving it double use when not being used as a chair.

 

Planning – Try not to drive yourself or your loved one crazy. If you’ve decided to travel with a child, embrace it and get to a place where you feel relatively comfortable so you can reduce your and your family’s stress. Just own that you WILL forget something but as long as it is not your child or significant other you can pretty much buy anything you could possibly need!

 

  • Booking travel at the right time, on the right day for the right price is daunting! Here’s the thing: You will not get the perfect plan in place so stop agonizing and save yourself some cash to use for a special treat at your destination by booking the cheapest at a reasonable hour! Traveling can dramatically change the nap hours of your child so don’t count on the perfect hour on the plane where they will drift into sleep. This happened once for us but due to all of the other travel discomforts she was cranky the rest of the day!

 

  • Airport arrival time: check in and load up do require more precise planning on the day. You don’t want to arrive too early as you’ll be sitting in the airport for too long. Just go with the average suggestion time by the airport. Print your boarding passes before you get to the airport. Airport security are usually a little more lax when you have a kid cause they can see you coming a mile away and want you to get through fast. Have your stuff in hand before getting in line and take a deep breath. It is just travel with a kid, not the bar exam. Note: airlines don’t let parents with small children board early anymore but if you have to install one of the devices above, talk to the attendant and they usually allow you to board early.

 

  • Hotel stay – try to find a room that mimics your set up at home. If your child sleeps in a separate room attempt to locate a hotel that has a door separating rooms to establish the same patterns. I recommend a hotel with guest laundry – no matter how much you pack, puke, spills, messes are even more frequent on vacation. Murphy’s law.

 

HAVE FUN!

 

Embrace the mess, love the mistakes and support each other. Happy travelling!

Internships present a great opportunity for students and young adults to learn about working at a nonprofit. This summer, a group of interns from across New York City had the chance to see our work in action, collaborate with staff and make a difference in the lives of the people and communities we serve. Each week this summer, we will highlight one of our interns, sharing what makes them special, and recognizing their accomplishments and achievements.

 

Where do you go to school?

 

I have an associate degree in Business Administration and this fall I am transferring to City Tech as a Hospitality major.

 

What is your favorite subject in school to study?

 

My favorite subject is math—I’m good with numbers, it has always come easy to me.

 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

 

In five years I would love to own my own soul food restaurant. Ideally, I would like to open the restaurant somewhere where it’s hot, like Miami. I love hot weather. My back up plan is to manage a hotel.

 

Who is your role model and why?

 

My older cousin is my role model because she had a rough childhood and was still able to graduate not only high school, but go onto college as well. She is now a nurse and is always helping others and me. Just because you have a rough childhood doesn’t mean you can’t be someone.


What project did you work on while working at The Foundling?

 

 

One of the projects I valued the most was researching advertising space for National Adoption Month. Adoption is very important to me as my sister was adopted. I am happy I was able to help spread the word about adoption and make it a more popularized issue.

 

What will you take away from your experience at The Foundling?

 

I’ve learned to be detail oriented and that more information is always better.

 

What piece of advice would you tell future Foundling Interns?

 

While you’re at The Foundling you’re going to learn a lot, so just soak it up. Everyone at The Foundling is friendly, and they are happy to give you advice and help you out. Also, the 99¢ Pizza place near the West 4th subway stop is pretty good.

 

What is your spirit animal and why?

 

I’m cat because I’m quite and observant.

 

If you could take a trip anywhere, where would you go and why?

 

I would love to take a trip somewhere in Africa so I could help children in need. I would also like to see Dubai.

 

What is the last book you read?

 

The last book I read was “A Child Called It: One Child’s Courage to Survive” by Dave Pelzer but I also recently read “Oedipus” by Sophocles which was really interesting and different from anything I have ever read before.

By Bill Baccaglini, President and CEO,

The New York Foundling

 

One of the most pressing education policy challenges our country currently faces is the persistently huge disparity in academic achievement between children growing up in poor, underserved communities and children in communities with the resources to meet their educational and recreational needs. That education gap is even wider for children who are also members of our most fragile student population: those in the child welfare system.

 

The New York Foundling is one of New York’s oldest and largest child welfare organizations and several years ago, we began an effort to develop an educational model that provided these children with the array of services they need and that incorporated our knowledge of child welfare into their school day.  Seven years ago, we launched Mott Haven Academy, a K-5 charter school in one of the nation’s most disadvantaged communities. Two-thirds of our students are in the child welfare system, with the remaining third from the surrounding community.

 

State test results just in show strong evidence that our approach is working. 

 

  • Overall, in both English and Math, the percentage of students with passing scores at Haven Academy was triple the percentage in the surrounding community school district.

 

  • Our students’ performance also exceeded the averages for New York City, New York State and other charter schools.

     

 

Most telling, even child welfare children at Haven Academy outperformed students in the community school district – students who may or may not have encountered the child welfare system.

 

  • In English, the percentage of child welfare students at Haven who passed the exam was double the percentage in the school district as a whole.

 

  • In Math, the percentage passing was two and a half times that in the school district and exceeded the overall City and State averages.

 

What are we doing to achieve these results?

 

We’ve found that children do better when educators and child welfare professionals work together, providing critical and comprehensive care to students. This collaboration enables us to develop and implement intervention plans in a timely manner.

 

For example, when a student is absent, the teacher notifies the school social worker who, based on the student’s history, determines if a child’s caseworker should be notified. This follow-up often includes home visits by school personnel and case workers. And since we offer health and dental services on the premises, if a child needs these services, we can integrate the visits into the school day, so the student doesn’t need to miss a day of school every time there’s an appointment. 

 

We also utilize a trauma-sensitive model, giving students access to advanced counseling services and a school culture designed to educate them academically and to teach them how to perform socially and cope with whatever trauma they may experience. 

 

This requires that teachers and staff receive intensive training on how to interact with children. For example, they recognize that when students are sensitive to physical touch, it may be because of a history of abuse – and that they need to engage students without physical contact. Teachers and staff are also very intentional about the language, habits, routines and interactions they exhibit.

 

By emphasizing the rewarding of positive behaviors, leveraging student strengths to curb unproductive behaviors and creating a consistent adult climate, we can encourage children to make responsible decisions based on outcomes they can predict. Traditional public education models are built to educate the majority of students.  They aren’t equipped, and understandably so, to address the special needs and circumstances of students in the child welfare system – many of whom have experienced trauma, been physically or sexually abused or seriously neglected.  Creating a model that reaches these children is crucial – without it, they are far more likely to struggle with unplanned pregnancies, drug abuse, incarceration and long-term dependence on government-funded services for food, healthcare and housing in the future.

 

We believe that in bridging the gap between educators and child welfare professionals to create trauma-sensitive schools, we can also bridge the education gap between at-risk youth and students of the general population nationwide. Our experience at Haven Academy is showing that it can work.

 

Please visit The Foundling’s Mott Haven Academy by Clicking Here