Thursday, August 21, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff



Introducing Amie C.

Belinda @ Kids Matter

After interviewing Amie, I can assure you the picture above represents her very well. Amie, a Claims Specialist serving all of Kentucky, has been employed by the CCC since July 1, 2009. She said she got her start in child care assistance when a former coworker told her of an opening while she was working for a pallet company and a home improvement store. She said, “I quit my job at the pallet company, and eventually quit my other part-time job to work for CCAP and another social services organization part time. I had the opportunity to move to Covington, in 2009, and work in the Kenton County office. I moved up there, only knowing a handful of people but, decided I needed a fresh start. I lived there for a year and a half, and then moved down to Lexington to work at our central office.”

When asked about her job she replied, “The one thing I love about my job, well, is really everything! I like how the CCC is like a family. We are a huge family now; we just keep growing! I like how management takes an interest in your personal life, asks how you and your family are doing, and they know you by name. We aren’t just another employee to them. They care about our well-being and it shows every day. If I weren’t working in CCAP, I would want to be a speech pathologist. I have always wanted to learn and teach sign language.”

Amie has a twin sister, Jamie, who is also employed with the CCC. She told me a funny story about when they were in middle school that I just have to share. “We were in 7th grade, I think. Everyone had just gotten their yearbooks and I wanted to see both of our pictures. Well… whoever worked on the yearbook that year, evidently couldn’t tell us apart, and they used the same picture for both of us!” She said there are many more funny stories like that!

Amie grew up in Paris, KY. Her family moved to Mt. Sterling, KY when she was 10 years old, then moved to Owingsville, KY when she was 14. She graduated from Bath County High School in 1997 then graduated from Morehead State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. She was trying to fulfill her dream of becoming a radio DJ. She was a member of the Delta Zeta sorority and made many friends who she still remains in contact with today.

When Amie is not working, you can usually find her at home running around in gym shorts, T-shirt, and flip flops. She stated she absolutely hates closed toe shoes. She lives with her girlfriend, also named Amy, and they spend quality time traveling, camping, attending concerts, and yes, even meeting celebrities such as Wynonna Judd, Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum, Kelly Clarkson, and Sophia Bush. Amie is an avid sports enthusiast supporting the UK Wildcats and the Cincinnati Bengals. She laughed when she said, “I usually have no clue what is going on, but I do like to cheer for the teams.”

Amie has a funny, sweet, and understanding personality; she contributes her mother with being who she has become at this point in her life. She says her mom has, “…taught me strength, courage, and how to stay strong during any situation.” Amie has two sisters, two brothers, three nephews, one niece and another niece on the way. Since she doesn’t plan to have children of her own, she plans on doing everything she can to spoil those nieces and nephews.
I asked about her most favorite vacation. She replied, “I went to Myrtle Beach this past May for my girlfriend’s 40th birthday; it was probably one of the most relaxing vacations ever. We had an ocean front view and the beach wasn’t very crowded.  It was just nice to get away for a week.” The picture above is from that vacation. As you can see, she had a great time. We should all just get away once in a while. Wouldn’t that be so relaxing?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Parenting in the Tech Age



Parenting in the Tech Age

Julia @ Kids Matter

          As a child who grew up in the 80’s, I am always fascinated by the behaviors of kids today. I guess I understand now, why my grandfather would shake his head in disgust at my torn jeans and Pink Floyd T-shirt. I’m starting to understand his way of thinking as the torches are passed to the children of the “Gen Xers” generation.
           Last time I wrote to you about “#LookUp”, so it is only natural that this blog would follow that course. My blog is in response to the tragedy in Wisconsin; two 12 year old girls attempted to murder their “friend” in order to be accepted into a fantasy website.

          I am not going to give you the gory details of this gruesome and morbid tale. What I will talk about though, is how we as people, in one of the most technologically advanced societies in the world, can work to not let something like this happen. To keep children from being engrossed and lost in a website that is FAR above their emotional and mental capabilities.
          I have to wonder if technology, social media, and accessibility are making us lazy. (We don’t have to work hard for anything.) Kids don’t ask what a word means anymore, they simply “Google it”. They use search engines instead of adults as a source of information.

          Do you ever think about what our grandparents went through compared to what we go through? Our grandparents starved during the Great Depression. They faced throat ripping dogs and fire hoses to keep them from a “whites only” drinking fountain. They fought in WWII and brought a tyrant to his knees. What can we take from our grandparents and their struggles? What would our grandparents say about how parenting has changed? Are there ways to plug in their teachings and parenting today? Absolutely!
          First, take control; our grandparents were always in control. You are paying for the internet and electricity, so you make the rules. Kids despise but require rules, so stick to your guns no matter how they protest. Don’t let your kids have a computer in their bedroom. Have a family computer in a neutral zone of your home. Work with computer experts on how to monitor your child’s online activities. Sit near your child while they do homework on the computer.  

          Ask them what they are working on and discuss it. When I was in school, my mother and I would talk every day about my history class. We talked about Watergate, The Gettysburg Address, Vietnam, ‘One if by land, two if by sea’, and where she was on November 22, 1963. By engaging with your children during homework and computer time, you are finding out more about their lives and what struggles they go through with school work, as well as the cruel politics that are school life.
          Stay involved, ask hard questions, expect shocking answers, require honesty at all costs, build trust, keep and respect space, and most importantly, remember they are curious. They are designed to be inquisitive about everything. It’s up to us to talk to them about their curiosities and the consequences. Ask them their opinion of what happened in Wisconsin. What do they think about what happened? What do they think should happen now? Listen. Discuss. Learn. That is life at its zenith and worst. Avoid the horrors those three poor families are facing today.   Do your best to prevent having to one day say, “If only I had known, asked, or listened.”

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff



Introducing Natasha H.

Belinda @ Kids Matter

Meet Natasha, the person working behind the Eligibility Specialist desk for the past year; serving the counties of Bell, Harlan, and Letcher. She said, “When I got hired on with the CCC, I went into training not having much of a clue what the job consisted of. I just knew it was something I wanted to give a try. I had seen the job posted on our local job search page and I applied. I am very thankful I did. I love my job. I love being able to be a help to families. I once heard that if you love your job, you will never work a day in your life. I feel like that’s where I am with the Child Care Council. I LOVE MY JOB!!”

Natasha has a beautiful, caring, and nurturing soul. I was in awe of her as she told me her life’s story. She is very family oriented and comes from a big family on her mom’s side. Her Mom has three sisters and three brothers who all have kids. When they all get together, which happens very often, “… there is never a dull moment”. She has four little cousins ages 2-7 that keep her on her toes along with her two nieces, Addison (5), and Elizabeth (2), and nephew Henry who is an infant.

She graduated high school and enrolled in Southeast Community College where she graduated in 2009 with an Associate’s Degree in Arts as well as an Associate’s Degree in Science. She said, “Probably one of the most proud moments of my life, was walking across that stage, getting my diploma. I felt like for once, I accomplished something that most don’t get to”.

When she graduated high school, she moved in with her Mamaw. After the passing of her grandfather, her Mamaw needed someone to help her out and Natasha quickly filled that role. She said, “I still live with her and take care of her. We had a scare in March and thought we were going to lose her, but the Lord spared her, and let us keep her a while longer. She and I are close; it’s like having two moms.”

Natasha says she is who she is, “…because growing up, I watched people I care about struggle. I grew up not knowing my biological dad. Never in my life have I met him and I’m 26 now. I know who he is, and I know his family. But, he lives in Chicago and never made an attempt to meet me until I was older. I decided not to meet him. Sometimes, I think it’s something I may want to do now that I am grown. But… I have mixed feelings about it. I have a step-dad, who has been in my life since I was a newborn. Growing up, I felt different because of that. It made me want to push myself so that when people would look at me, they couldn’t blame my life on my circumstances. I have a father who may not be blood related but he sure filled the father role. My Mom has always been there for me and did a very good job providing for me growing up. She fulfilled all of my needs, and most of my wants.”

When not at work what does Natasha do? She said she absolutely loves to cook and she gets a lot of her ideas from Pinterest. She is a Pinterest addict. I think many of us can relate to that. She also takes every opportunity she can to experience that care-free feeling in life. She loves the ocean and says, “There isn’t anything like the sand beneath your feet and the smell of salt water in the air”.

She said, “I would rather have a few best friends rather than lots of friends. There is a huge difference in my opinion. In fact, we are planning a get together soon. There isn’t anything like going to one of our houses after church, having some good food, and enjoying some night swimming. We act like kids when we are together and that care-free feeling is the best feeling in the world. It’s like for a couple hours… all of life’s problems just melt away.

Natasha loves children. She told me of a time when, after college, she got to go back to Wallin Elementary, her childhood school, as a substitute teacher. She said, “I learned, while working with kids, that some of them have a rough home life. I always hugged my school babies because most kids went without that at home. Hugs make kids feel safe; I learned that real fast. I would always take extra snacks to school for those who didn’t have a snack at recess. One thing I learned about teaching was that it wasn’t about the pay; it is about making a difference in those kids’ lives. When I’m around children, I encourage them. The sky is the limit. Go for what you want in life.”
I want to close this interview with a very powerful and touching quote from Natasha. I hope it touches your heart as much as it did mine. “Life is better when you are laughing. Make the best of what you have and be thankful… because, there are some that would be pleased with just a little of what you and I have.”

Monday, August 11, 2014

Kids in Cars



Kids in Cars

Robin @ Kids Matter

Cars are an integral tool in our busy lives. But as important as they are, they can still be dangerous. With a little information and a few simple steps, you can keep your children safe and sound in your car from the time they're in their first car seat to the time they get behind the wheel.

The hard facts

Road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the United States. When correctly used, child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71%. Seat belts saved more than 69,000 lives from 2006 to 2010. Despite this fact, teenagers have the lowest rate of seat belt use. Only 54% of high school students reported always wearing a seat belt when riding with someone else.

Top Tips

•Before you hit the road, check your car seat. 73% of car seats are not used or installed properly. Check out our safety tips below for more information.

•Buy a used car seat only if you know its full crash history. You can buy used car seats from friends and family members, but never from the internet or thrift stores. Once a car seat has been in a crash, it needs to be replaced.

Never leave your child alone in the car, not even for a minute. The temperature in your car can rise more than 20°and cause heatstroke in the time it takes you to run in and out of the store.

•According to Kentucky law, any child less than 40 inches tall must be in a child or infant seat and any child under age 7, and between 40 and 50 inches, must be in a booster seat. All children over 7 years of age, and over 50 inches tall, must be secured in a seat belt.

Learn more

§  Countdown2Drive: a unique program aimed at creating a conversation between parent and teens with the goal of creating safer passengers today, hopefully resulting in better drivers tomorrow. Call the Safe Kids office at 859-323-1153 if you would like to learn more about this program.

§  Car Seat Inspection Stations: Offered monthly by appointment. Parents and caregivers are paired with a Child Passenger Safety Technician to receive hands-on training and education on the best way to transport children in a car. Contact the Safe Kids office, at 859-323-1153, for additional information or to reserve a time slot.

 

To learn more about safety tips, check out more literature provided by Safe Kids Fayette County.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff



Introducing Belinda D.

Robin @ Kids Matter

“I’m compassionate and giving, but not always patient,” was Belinda’s reply when asked what she most wants people to know about her.  Meet, Belinda, Eligibility Specialist for Henderson, Union, and Webster counties.  She has been working in the CCAP program since 2008.  She said, “I left the corporate world to get into a field where I could help my community.  I wanted to use what I’d learned in college and my previous work, to give something back.”  However, her work has also given her value in life.  She said, “I’ve met a lot of wonderful people who share their lives with me.  I get something from them, even from a few minutes in my office, and I hope that I’m giving something back to them.” What a positive way to look at work!

As a child, Belinda said one of the many things she got in trouble for, was protecting her brother and sister, who were three and five years younger than her.  They often got picked on, and she wound up fighting to protect them.  She said, “Sometimes I think my brother would do something to get picked on, on purpose, just so I would fight.”  How funny!   As a teen, her extra-curricular activities were singing in choir and riding motorcycles.  Belinda said, “We had strict rules, and were not allowed to go far from home.  I had a moped, which I rode up and down the road at 35 MPH (the fastest it would chug) doing tricks like standing on the seat, no hands, and etc.”  I asked for a re-enactment, but sadly she no longer has a moped.  Throughout school, Belinda received honors for having high grades and perfect attendance. 

Her college career started in 2006, after her second oldest child finished high school, which was a 25 year difference between her going to high school and college.  Belinda received a BA in Business Administration with a concentration in Project Management.  Other than her career skills, she said she learned that, “no matter how much you attend school or take classes, there is always more you can learn.  And, the more you want to learn, the happier you will be.  I’m still a strong believer in continued education.”

Belinda said, “I live in a four generation household with a 10 generation cat farm. “ She and her husband, Gary, have been married for almost 18 years.  They have six children and are expecting their 14th grandchild in January.  To add some spice to the mix, Belinda’s father-in-law, Jerry, a retired Navy veteran, has recently moved in with them.  (Plus they have 8 cats, 3 dogs, and a rabbit.) Wow, she’s a busy woman!  I asked if she has any regrets about how she’s lived her life.  Belinda said, “There was a period of time when I pulled away from family.  I wouldn’t do that if I could relive that time.  Family is only there for a limited time.  Separation causes you to miss that and lose out on lessons you would have learned.  People need guidance and help!”

Gary and Belinda met when she was working as a waitress.  He worked for the restaurant owner’s husband and came in to the restaurant for lunch every day.  She said it was love at first sight for her.  They got married at a small country church and her oldest son, “gave her away”.  Belinda told of the special ways Gary shows her that she’s loved.  “…he does little things for me all the time.  Not grandiose gifts or actions, he’s not into those big romantic gestures!  It’s in the small things, like buying popcorn for me just because he knows that I like it. He does things like that for me almost every day.”  How sweet! 

Belinda told a funny story, “I was driving home with my three year old grandson, Bubba, in my husband’s old junky truck.  I started hearing a clicking noise and I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.  When I slowed down, it stopped, and when I started moving again, the noise started too.  I thought something serious was wrong, so I pulled over on the side of the road.  I asked Bubba if he heard it and he said yes, but didn’t know where the sound was coming from either. So, this slowing down and speeding up lasted for about 15 minutes. Turns out, it was Bubba making the noise all along.  He was playing with me.”  Bubba is a character.  Belinda said Bubba is probably her biggest fan. “He often tells me that I am the best Nana ever… we have so many good times together.”

How will people remember her later? “I like to think that I’m leaving footprints for others to follow; teaching and helping people.  Always remember that even in your darkest moment there is laughter.  I love to laugh and believe that there is great humor in life. Without it, it’s pretty dreary out there.”  So, some good advice… remember to laugh, and as Belinda has told me several times, it’s especially important to remember to laugh at yourself!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Children




Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Children

Belinda @ Kids Matter

“During the last decade, pediatric Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) has reached epidemic proportions, becoming one of the most frequent chronic liver diseases in the global child population,” says MedScape. “Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is now the most common cause of chronic liver disease in the U.S.,” reports WebMD.

Just when you thought you were doing everything you could to protect your child… BAM… out comes another disease and you have to re-evaluate your child’s medical needs. NAFLD is NOT a new disease. It is a GROWING disease. Why? Because, childhood obesity is at an all-time high. It has now reached a critical level and we, as parents, grandparents, and custodians, must take back control. We must insist on healthy diets and physical activity. Unless you plan to donate your liver or wait patiently as your child sits on the liver transplant waiting list, you must realize that the time to act is NOW. To get information on liver transplants please visit the American Liver Foundation.

What is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?

As defined by the Mayo Clinic, “NAFLD is a term used to describe the accumulation of fat in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol. In some people with NAFLD, the fat that accumulates can cause inflammation and scarring in the liver. This more serious form of NAFLD is sometimes called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. At its most severe, NAFLD can progress to liver failure.” “NAFLD occurs when the liver is overloaded with more sugar than it can process. When this happens, the process of de novo lipogenesis starts – the conversion of carbohydrates into ‘new fat’, also known as triglycerides. As you may be aware, elevated triglycerides are not a good sign, and when this chronically happens at the liver, it can lead to hepatic cirrhosis (scarring of the liver),” says Evolutionary Health Systems.

Who is at risk?

·       The overweight – Check your child’s weight/height ratio using the appropriate graph found on About.com.

·       Those with high blood fat levels, either triglycerides or LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

·       Those with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

·       Those with high blood pressure.

·       Those with a family history of fatty liver disease.

How is it diagnosed?

·       Through blood tests that check the liver enzymes for fat content.

·       Through an ultrasound of the liver.

·       Through a liver biopsy. (Inserting a needle into your child’s liver and withdrawing tissue.)

How is it treated?

At this time there is no cure for fatty liver disease. The good news is, however, that with proper diet and exercise you may be able to reverse the condition in your child.

·       Losing weight and eating healthy.

·       Lowering your cholesterol and triglycerides.

·       Controlling your diabetes.

·       At least 60 minutes a day of physical activity.

How do we prevent it?

·       Take back control over all the electronic devices.

·       Prepare healthy meals and encourage better eating habits. Lead by example.

·       Encourage in, and participate in, physical activities with your child.

·       Limit television and gaming activities.

·       Take your child for an annual physical.
Now that you know what fatty liver disease is and understand that it is quickly becoming an epidemic in our children; you are armed with the information you need to fight this disease. Protect your child now! A medical waiting list is never where you want to see your child’s name.