A Personal Reflection on Leadership

Written by: Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer, National Safe Place Network & RHYTTAC

Writing about leadership is bizarre. If you write about something, you should know what you are writing about. If you profess to know a lot about leadership – or at least enough to write about it – does that mean that you are holding yourself out as a role model? In trying to determine the most accurate, though totally subjective, answer to my own question, I decided to think about the leaders I know or have known in my life. First, there was my mom. She led through a balance of compassion and control. My father led through years of hard work followed by years of stories of what he learned by working so hard. My first pastor, Brother Fred, was a Native American leading a small Christian church in rural Mississippi. He led by demonstrating that words of kindness may soothe but never eradicate the pain caused by words of hate. My high school English teacher led by gentle challenges to all of his students that you are never as accomplished today as you could be tomorrow. An early social work supervisor led by showing patience, persistence and passion – all while working with the kids rather than hanging out in the office. Each of these souls imprinted their form of leadership on the way I feel and think about the world. So, I wonder. Is this leadership? Is it impacting another in such a way that the other person is forever changed by the encounter? If so, can there be negative leaders? Surely, there are. If not, many of the warnings I received as a child were simply scare tactics meant to keep me on the straight and narrow (I think they worked to well.) I believe there are leaders who lead without ever realizing people are paying attention. I know there are leaders who use their skills and personal characteristics to gain more for themselves than they ever help others achieve. I think there are leaders who believe that they should be followed and who criticize those individuals who refuse to follow them. Luckily, I don’t work with these people. I don’t see any of these leaders in partnering organizations or in our membership. I haven’t spotted these leaders at our workshops or conferences. In our world, I see the other leaders. The ones who understand that a simple gesture of good will, an act of patience, a sharing of resources, a hug of support or a nod of validation can be critical. These leaders don’t look for THE moment to make a difference because they realize that EVERY moment is an opportunity to create change. John Quincy Adams said, “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”. Our social service field is filled with leaders at all levels. Youth, professional youth care workers, managers, clinicians, executives, administrative staff, drivers, volunteers, cooks and receptionists - each spread ripples of positive impact in the streams in which they swim. I guess maybe the most often missed characteristics of leadership are humility and gratitude. I am learning to be a leader. Thanks to all of you who are learning with me.

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Back to School

Written by: Shauna Stubbs, RHYTTAC Principal Investigator, National Safe Place Network

Some young people approach the beginning of a new school year with excitement and anticipation.  Perhaps they see this as a fresh start - an opportunity to experiment with identity development.  Maybe they have a sense of confidence from previous experience that their desirable position in the social hierarchy of school is secure.  Some could be finely tuned toward academic pursuits, eager to continue learning with the intention to avoid all the drama.

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"Doing" Ethics

Written by: Katie Carter, Director of Research, Education & Public Policy, National Safe Place Network

When was the last time you discussed ethics with someone?

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Part Two of our "Brain Development" Series: The Brain and Crisis Situations

By: Robin Donaldson, Chief Operating Officer, Indiana Youth Services Association & NSPN Advisory Board member

What determines the individual responses in times of crisis? Why do some freeze and become incapable of responding while others seem to thrive and rise to the challenge in the face of threat? We can look to genetics and a person’s upbringing to determine the neural pathways established in the brain that dictate the varied ranges of response to crises.

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Avoiding Sparks: On the Road to Independence

By: April Carthorn, RHYTTAC General Specialist, National Safe Place Network

Homelessness is not a choice. Too often a young person’s decision to leave home is the healthiest (and only) option available to them. Some have no choice as they are forced from their homes at the hands of their guardians. Many flee because of issues such as family conflict, sexual orientation, poverty, abuse and neglect, while others may become entangled in substance abuse, gangs, and addiction problems.

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Part One of our "Brain Development" Series: General Brain Development

By: Robin Donaldson, Chief Operating Officer, Indiana Youth Services Association & NSPN Advisory Board member

The human brain is a beautiful thing. Nothing matches a healthy brain in efficient, creative, and effective functioning. Normal brain development follows predictable patterns mirroring the mastery of developmental skills at different stages of life. It is important to understand, however, that brain development is strongly influenced by environment. An enriched, supportive environment facilitates healthy brain development; a deprived, harmful, or stressful environment greatly inhibits normal brain development.

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Welcome to the NSPN Kitchen - Summer Edition

It's summertime and folks are getting ready for some summer treats! Get ready to open wide for the NPSN Kitchen Cookbook! The staff at NSPN put together a yummy set of summertime beverages, snacks, starters, entrees, sides, and desserts just for you!  We hope you have fun recreating these tasty treats, but most of all, we hope you enjoy EATING them! Happy Cooking!

Access the NSPN Kitchen Cookbook here:  https://nspn.memberclicks.net/assets/docs/NSPN/nspn%20cook%20book.pdf 

Launched Today: Voices of Youth Count

NSPN is pleased to announce the launch of Voices of Youth Count - http://www.voicesofyouthcount.org/.

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Pride Isn't an End. It's a Beginning.

By: Jama Shelton, LMSW, PhD, Deputy Executive Director for True Colors Fund

Pride Month is not only an opportunity for homeless youth programs to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) young people with whom they work, it’s also a time for youth-serving agencies to come out as visible allies of all young people. Sometimes youth serving organizations may not celebrate Pride Month if they think it isn’t relevant to the youth within their programs. Even if you aren’t aware of any LGBT identified youth (or youth who may be questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity) within your programs, chances are, they’re there! In fact, 99% of the service providers we surveyed for our Serving Our Youth Report said they work with LGBT youth in their homeless youth programs. Less than one percent reported not working with LGBT youth. Pride Month is a perfect opportunity to let these young people know that you see them, stand with them, and support them.

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Helpful Resources from Polaris Project

Polaris Project, an organization leading the global fight to end modern slavery and restore freedom to survivors, posted an article on their website intended to help enhance services provided for LGBTQ human trafficking victims.

Breaking Barriers: Improving Services for LGBTQ Human Trafficking Victims

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Why YOU Should be Teaching Online Safety

By: Jenna Ryckebusch, Senior Programs Coordinator, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

For the past 31 years, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) has been the leading nonprofit organization serving as the national clearinghouse and resource center for families, law enforcement and the public to help find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation and prevent future victimization. As part of the services and resources we provide to educators, families, children and the public, NCMEC has made available and delivered thousands of Internet safety presentations to parents, young children, teens and youth-serving professionals. NCMEC’s presentations cover issues ranging from sexting to cyberbullying to being a good digital citizen. After several of our presentations, teens have approached NCMEC staff members looking for help because they were experiencing one of the issues we discussed.

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What is a father?

By: Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events for National Safe Place Network

What is a father?  I did a quick search on the internet to see how “father” was defined and found “a man in relation to his natural child or children.”  I think I’m among great company when I say “it takes much more than being a man in relation to his natural child or children to be a father”.  I’ve asked around to see what being a father means.  To some, a father is a type of superhero because of their “special powers” and the protection they provide.  To others, fathers are also known to simply instill determination, courage, and integrity into the lives of their children.

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Preparing for Summer: Youth-Friendly Activities

By: Danielle White, Executive Administrative Assistant, National Safe Place Network

As the school year draws to a close, it’s time to find opportunities for keeping youth engaged during the summer months. As we all know, relaxation can be fun, but it’s only a matter of time before boredom kicks in. Chase away the mid-summer boredom blues with some of the activities listed below and be sure to let us know how much fun you have!

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The Sustainability Puzzle

By: Shauna Stubbs, RHYTTAC Principal Investigator for National Safe Place Network 

Sustainability is more than fund development and capacity building.  It is not only easy to over-simplify the idea but to completely mis-characterize it.  We think about how our agency or program can win funding from competitors.  But in truth, sustainability is collective, cooperative, and collaborative.  Here are a few pieces of the puzzle to help you consider applying a philosophy of sustainability in your organization.

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National Prevention Week: May 17-23

Dear Colleagues,

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NSPN and the Academy for Competent Youth Work Team Up to Help Advance the Youth Services Field

In honor of 2015 International Child and Youth Care Workers’ Week last week (May 3-9), NSPN is pleased to announce a partnership with the Academy for Competent Youth Work to provide Child and Youth Care certification training. The Academy for Competent Youth Work is effectively transforming the practice of child and youth care by focusing on these core goals: 1) Prepare a competent international youth care workforce; 2) Help youth care organizations develop and implement research-based best practices; 3) Advocate for quality services for children, youth and families; and 4) Advocate on behalf of Child and Youth Care Practitioners. NSPN is proud to be the exclusive national partner with the Academy for Competent Youth Work for complete access to training. This partnership provides the opportunity for NSPN to offer this certification training: “Child and Youth Care Foundations Course” and certification exam. Participants may pursue certification at the Basic and Associate levels (national certification) or the Professional level (international certification).

There are many benefits to becoming a certified youth care worker:

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Mother's Day

I am currently at home scrubbing unmentionables out of my son’s Spiderman underwear while my other two-year-old screams incessantly in my ear because he wants grapes. My six-year-old is outside kicking a ball against the wall waiting for his dad to get home from work. During times like this, I constantly think…how do our residents do it?

The I remember some inspirational words. The staff at Home Start’s Maternity Shelter Program asked our 23 residents to provide us with one word that meant something to them in order to create a custom painting. The word could be inspirational, something that got them through a tough time, a mantra, or a word that reminded them of something positive. Their words were:

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Breaking Down Barriers: Working with Children, Youth, and Families Impacted by “Disabilities”

We all have a “disability” of sorts.  I wear glasses.  Without them I would be lost in this world.  Glasses are basically my accommodation to help me better access my environment.  They help me be the best that I can be!

That is the purpose of any accommodation for someone that learns, processes, or accesses the world in a different way.  If we could think of “disabilities” as mere differences, rather than a weakness, then we have made the first step to break down a barrier for our clients.

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Alleviating Stress

Quiz time!

I know you are probably thinking, “What can one more quiz tell me about myself? Haven’t I already learned everything I could possibly need to know about myself from Facebook?” I’m confident you already know what breed of dog you are, what your Smurf name is, and what your spirit animal is…but indulge me and take a moment to answer the following questions:

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NSPN Supports #40toNoneDay – Here’s Why You Should, Too

It’s a statistic that may shock you, but that doesn’t make it any less true: Approximately 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), while about 7% of the general youth population does the same. The discrepancy is outrageous. And it’s impossible to ignore.

On Wednesday, April 29, 2015 NSPN will join people across the country – including national advocacy organizations, elected officials, service providers, celebrities, LGBT youth, and community members – to support the first ever #40toNoneDay.

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