Fourth grade was a tough year for Susana. Try as she might, she could not keep up with reading. Last year, when her mother was arrested, charged with a crime, and sentenced to a year in jail, Susana was traumatized. She started to have behavioral issues in class and in her afterschool program. She missed her mother terribly, and found herself distracted by difficult thoughts about life at home. Even though she and her siblings were living with their extended family, it wasn’t the same.
Recognizing Susana’s need for support, Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) San Diego partnered with Susana’s family, school principal and teachers to create a plan for positive behavior change. This plan included SAY San Diego’s provision of an adult to serve as a one-on-one aide for success to allow Susana to remain in the afterschool program without being disruptive.
Throughout the ups and downs, SAY San Diego’s team supported Susana and her family to express and resolve challenging emotions in a constructive manner. Upon release from incarceration, Susana’s mother participated in all the meetings and plans for Susana and soon regained her standing as the reliable head of the household. Susana is once again thriving in school and has positive relationships with her peers and the adults in her life.
Susana’s story is not an isolated one. More than 10,000 children in San Diego County have an incarcerated parent; tens of thousands of others are involuntarily separated from their parents due to changing parental relationships, military deployment, protective custody, and other major family disruptions. Each of these circumstances can set a child back – sometimes irreparably. For example, students who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade can lose ground in educational achievement into the years ahead without extra academic and social support.
SAY San Diego provides support by forming close connections with families, using trauma-informed approaches, and offering effective parent-child support, counseling and educational practices. In these ways, SAY ensures that hardships like Susana’s are mitigated and precious developmental time is not lost. SAY San Diego supports the Live Well San Diego initiative through its numerous family support programs including educational enrichment, substance abuse prevention and community coalitions.
To help raise funds to support its programs and services, SAY San Diego is hosting its annual Play 4 SAY event on September 18, 2014. The event will take place at Liberty Station’s Ingram Plaza from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Play 4 SAY gives caring adults a chance to “be kids” themselves by playing lawn games while supporting tens of thousands of San Diego kids and families. Team participants and spectators can also enjoy food and beverages and a prize drawing.