By Elia Rocha
Limbs rigid, face pinched, wailing. Finn can’t sleep.
He came to us last December at 9-months-old, prenatally exposed to drugs and in foster care. At this point in his life and based on a whole host of factors we don’t know the full extent of (physical, developmental, psychological), he is unable to tune out external stimuli and regulate his body. The calm he needs to rest exists largely outside himself.
The learning curve was steep for the staff in the infant classroom as they figured out the right combination of actions that would allow him to sleep. How to hold him and at what angle, how to sway or rock him, how much pressure to apply to his body to keep him from flailing, when and whether to make eye contact, when to move him away from other babies going down to nap. And, most importantly, how to remain calm in the face of his agitation so that they could transmit their quiet to him. Sometimes these strategies worked well and Finn could sleep after a few minutes. Other times it was a longer struggle.
Circumstances like these highlight two key aspects of our work: communication and perseverance. Learning to read Finn's cues and responding to them consistently and appropriately was how the baby could effectively say, "this is what I need," and his caregivers could reply by meeting those needs. If Finn’s primary caregiver was struggling, she knew she could ask for help from a fellow teacher, from our social worker, or from our center director and they would step in. If Finn’s sleep was spotty on a given day, they’d try again the next, using what they’d learned thus far.
Communication and perseverance.
A few weeks ago, Finn was reunited with a relative and moved away. We know that his new school is struggling with these same sleep issues because his guardian has called and asked us for advice. We know that the school’s decision to keep Finn in their program will be a critical factor in his guardian’s ability to keep him in her home because she needs to work.
It’s all so tenuous.
If Finn somehow ends up back in Long Beach in foster care, we’ll take him. We’ll struggle along with him. We'll devise new strategies. We'll communicate with him and each other. We'll persevere just like he does.
You can can make the Holiday Season so much brighter for dozens of children and families by donating to Children Today's Holiday Store. Learn how you can get involved below or download the flyer here. And, thanks!
Take an #UNselfie for Giving Tuesday and show us why you support Children Today. We'd love to know! You can use the Children Today UNselfie template linked here or make your own! Here's more info on how to participate. And, thanks!
This past Friday, September 22nd, Children Today hosted a reception to honor the generous donors of our capital campaign. Their support made possible the purchase, design, and remodel of the Cherese Mari Laulhere EcoHouse. It is a beautiful, happy, one-of-a-kind space, and one we are so grateful to call home.
Countless individuals contributed their time, energy, talents, and resources to see this project realized. From all of us at Children Today - the children, families, staff, and board - thank you.
Yesterday, we had the honor of dedicating EcoHouse in loving memory of Cherese Mari Laulhere. Long-time supporters, Chris & Larry Laulhere, donated $1.5 million towards the EcoHouse capital campaign in honor of their beloved daughter who died tragically 21 years ago.
Through the Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation they support causes that were near and dear to Cherese, who had a passion for helping those in need, especially children and animals. We are so grateful to be among the many worthy organizations to be touched by Cherese and are proud to have her name on this building.
This is, without a doubt, one of our favorite traditions. Every year, to commemorate the birth of our co-founder, Jennifer Fitzgerald, friends and supporters Dennis & Leslie Smith treat all the kids in our program to a brand new pair of shoes.
It's a wonderful and welcome gift for our little ones and a fitting way to honor Jennifer. Thanks, Dennis & Leslie!
Andy Perez, Union Pacific's Director of Port Affairs in Long Beach delivered a check in the amount of $15,000 from their foundation to Tonya Burns. Union Pacific has been a long time supporter of Children Today, giving its first donation in 2009. This year's donation marks the 9th and largest amount awarded from the foundation. We are extremely grateful to Union Pacific and Andy Perez for their consistent support and annual giving to our organization.
Children Today is really fortunate to be embraced and supported by so many members of our community, and at no time is that generosity better evidenced than during the Holiday Season.
Every year, Children Today hosts a "Holiday Store" and invites current and alumni parents to select and wrap gifts for their children. We ask for and receive donations from dozens of individuals, businesses, and community groups and one of our truly awesome donors is Debra Patalano.
Debra spends a great deal of her time, talent, and resources to gift our children, families, and staff with beautiful and beautifully hand-made, one-of-a-kind creations. From scarves, to blankets, to dresses, to aprons (and more), each of these items exemplify her creativity and care. Thank you so much, Debra. We are all really touched.
“National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week” is held each year the week before Thanksgiving. This year, it is held on November 12th through the 20th. As we prepare for the Thanksgiving Holiday and think about all that we are thankful for, we are asking you to remember that some families have it harder than others. And worse, there are many families with very young children who are experiencing homelessness in America.
At Children Today, every year we serve more than 100 children and their families who are experiencing homelessness. Some families are living in shelters or are temporarily housed in motels. And, yes some families are currently living on the streets. This is difficult for most of us to imagine. Recently, we enrolled Taylor (not her real name) into our preschool program. She is two years old. Her parents are Mary and Nathan (not their real names). Mary told us that their family is currently living at the beach and sleeping wherever they can. She tried to make us feel better about her situation and assured us that she had lots of blankets and covers to stay warm at night. The family has been homeless since January when Mary lost her job. Mary is just like you and I. She is a very concerned and doting mother and she wants the best for her daughter. We connected them to the City of Long Beach’s Multi-Service Center for the Homeless. Here, Mary and Nathan will receive services from a collaboration of agencies that will help them to obtain housing and with other basic needs. In the meantime, Taylor is being cared for by our staff at Children Today. Our teachers provide her with social and emotional support and care, so that she feels safe and secure. As you can imagine, this is not easy for her, given her family’s housing situation.
In recognition of “National Hunger and Homelessness Week,” you can help families like the one described above by making a contribution to Children Today. Please make a tax deductible donation.
Donate to the Holiday Store and help make the season bright for dozens of children and their families. See below to learn how!
Various members of the Children Today staff contribute to these blog posts.