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Karen is 17 years old and has been in and out of treatment services since she was 7 years old. She came to us while living with relatives in Anchorage, until she became too difficult for them and she was admitted to Treatment Foster Care. She was perpetually in crisis and almost constantly in interpersonal conflicts that proved exhausting for her care givers. Her Mother had a serious mental illness and problems with substance abuse and her father was not involved.

Recently I was invited to a Chanukah Party put on by one of our Therapeutic Foster Parents. It was also a birthday celebration for the youth in their home. As a former Case Manager this young man and his brothers were on my caseload.

In recent days at AK Child & Family, we have had several conversations regarding the meaning of the 12 days of Christmas. When does it start? When does it end? And, how might we celebrate the healing work we do through the framework of this old carol?

As I write this, we have just finished our winter solstice labyrinth walk. It was a time of silence, candlelight and peace.

Last Friday we had our annual Christmas Party and Appreciation Dinner for our treatment foster parents. We know that being a foster parent isn’t always easy. While there is no doubt in my mind that they do this work because they care so much about children in need, the work that they do is very taxing.

With the seminal study of “ACEs” or Adverse Childhood Experiences in the late 1990s, came the long overdue recognition that experiences of abuse and neglect in childhood increase risk, in later life, of a wide variety of health problems...

Since I left AK Child & Family in 2006, I have had a passion for the agency! Whether it be checking in with current employees, browsing the site for any current job openings, seeing past students out and about in Anchorage, or coincidentally driving by the JL Campus, it’s a place that I have always held close to my heart.

AK Child & Family recently hosted an Open House. The Open House was created to not only get our agency’s name out there but to recruit Treatment Foster Parents and employees.

Last week, twenty lucky AK Child & Family students and staff had the privilege of attending Aurora Tales courtesy of the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra.

It is Thanksgiving week – and here in this place of healing called AK Child & Family – we are filled with gratitude for many things.

The Foster Family-based Treatment Association (FFTA) is an association of 423 Treatment Foster Care (TFC) agencies that provides research, program standards, networking support, an annual conference and public policy advocacy. I have had the privilege of serving on the board of directors for the past 4 years, with obligations that include participation on the membership and public policy committee and chair of the cultural diversity committee.

It’s that time of year again. The holiday season is quickly approaching and all the kids of the world are getting their wish lists assembled.

This past flag day we were honored to have the Rev David Fison read the Benny Benson story. Rev Fison was the first chaplain to begin a new era of ministry at our agency. That evening at Flag Day, a photo was taken of Rev Fison, his wife Aleen and our current Director of Spiritual Life Kelli Williams. Our CAO Rob Morris, who took the photo, suggested that a blog be written to tell about the beginnings of our current our Spiritual Life program.

We are excited to be hosting an open house next week. We are inviting any and all who are interested in making a difference and helping others. If you are wondering what ways you can help make a difference, please stop by our open house.

At the beginning of October, our organization went through a Joint Commission survey to establish our renewal of accreditation for the next 3 years. This triennial survey was an opportunity to have a national surveyor with extensive experience reviewing behavioral health agencies visit us and assess our processes and adherence to standards.

Victoria Barnes, an Activity Therapist from Community Programs, approached me over the summer with an idea for increasing community cohesion among the campuses at AK Child & Family.

I had the opportunity to fly to Kodiak last week to spend Thursday and Friday attending the Fall Meeting of the American Baptist Churches of Alaska. You most likely know that the American Baptist Church is one of the founding organizations of AK Child & Family and remains a strong supporter of ours to this day.

Thanks to the generosity of the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, several of our youth were given the opportunity to attend Disney in Concert: Tale as Old as Time. AK Child & Family staff member, Alvin, said, “It was great for the kids and our program to be able to attend such an amazing musical event in the community.”

Help us to celebrate one of the most powerful components of our Spiritual Life program through this fundraiser!

Two amazing things happened this past weekend. We start and end our prayer time in every chapel with the Taize chant “Your Prayer is My Prayer Too.” Those are the only words to the song and the meaning of it seems pretty self-explanatory to those of us who lead it each week.

I am a twelve-year old boy in Gaylor cottage at the Jesse Lee campus. I and another staff were given a ticket to go to the Anchorage Symphony’s open night, on September 27.

At AK Child & Family we began in earnest working towards integrating a trauma informed system of care into our services several years ago.

It's mid-way through September and our Jesse Lee garden is packed with several varieties of cabbage, kale, carrots, turnips, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, lavender, mint, peas, squash, and towering sunflowers to name just some of the horticultural projects.

Why treatment with kids and families should not be like repairing your refrigerator.

I was enjoying the sun on Sunday and recalling our most recent Flag Day a day that holds a reputation of always being sunny, a day that you never have to worry about rain. This year’s Flag Day was a great success.

The first meeting of Kevin and the students interested in guitar lessons was a great experience. He was interested in hearing what kind of music interested them and they were excited to tell him.

Here at AK Child & Family, we have a talented, creative, and generous bunch of staff. In early August, when we got together for our monthly “all-staff” gathering, we harnessed some of that talent, creativity & generosity in a roundtable-style workshop where staff shared ideas and resources for working with our students.

This was sent from a 12 year old girl in Treatment Foster Care. Camp Kushtaka is a camp on Kenai Lake run by Camp Fire of Alaska.

The conference title: Happily Ever After? was an interesting choice for a conference held at Disney World, “the happiest place on earth.” It is also a sharp contrast to the people and lives we interact with daily to find their happiness; a critical reminder of the important nature of our work.

The weeks before heading back to school can be exciting AND hectic for your kids and YOU! Make it a little easier by starting to think about everything you need to do a little earlier ... ok, right NOW!

At AK Child & Family we feel that increasing knowledge base, education, and celebrating knowledge is very valuable. Earlier this summer, we recognized our staff that graduated this year.

What a win-win, double-blessing it is when mission teams come to serve with us! Young people from all over the country get the chance-of-a-lifetime to visit our beautiful state and to be God’s ambassadors in so many different ways.

I’ve had the opportunity to work in the behavioral health field for nearly three decades and in that time have had the honor of working with many people; many who courageously confronted and overcame adversity.

Most of the buildings on the campuses of AK Child & Family are named after people who were a part of our history. Below is a story of one of those individuals:

John Ben “Benny” Benson was born in Chignik, Alaska in 1913. His mother, Tatiana Schebolein, was a Russian-Aleut and his father, John Benson, was a Swedish seaman and fisherman. After his mother’s death in 1926, he and his brother Carl were taken to the Jesse Lee Home in Unalaska. Benny and Carl moved to Seward with the home when it relocated in 1926.

On June 19th I flew up to Kalskag to address this year’s Tribal Gathering in Lower Kalskag. While not knowing what to expect and since many of the people in the village rely on the salmon run for subsistence, I wasn’t sure how many people would be at the gathering.

On Friday, May 23, 6 girls from Maplewood Cottages began voice lessons with a professional instructor, Ms. Peggy Monahan, of Arctic Siren Productions.

This past weekend, under the watchful eye of Sue Brogan, United Way hosted a number of volunteers for a Day of Action at AK Child & Family.

Every year, it’s a joy and a privilege to participate in our supporting denomination annual meetings.

June brings us National Safety Month, and with it a reminder to focus on safety issues whether they are at home, on the roads, out in nature, or in the workplace.

May was foster parent appreciation month and we at AK Child & Family celebrate the patience, understanding, care and commitment that our Treatment Foster Parent’s provide every day.

The Spiritual Life department prepares every year, x2 a retreat at Birchwood camp for students in the agency. Since I started working here I have experienced this amazing and fun opportunity of connecting with God through the beauty of his creation in this beautiful place.

One of the things all the young people we treat have in common, sadly, is they have all experienced significant trauma in their young lives.

Many stories happen every day here at AK Child & Family. Some of them become legend.

Employees at AK Child & Family are highly conscious of the importance of personal and professional development, and for all of us there are plenty of opportunities for learning and growth within the agency.

Four staff from AK Child & Family traveled to Bethel to attend a four day workshop on Healthy Families.

On February 12th, our staff and students had the pleasure of meeting 4 former U.S. Olympians: James Southam (Cross Country Skiing), Wendy Wagner (Cross Country Skiing), Lars Flora (Cross Country Skiing), and Pam Dreyer (Women’s Hockey).

Recently I had the honor and privilege of being invited to be the keynote speaker at the American Baptist Churches of Nebraska Mission Festival.

AK Child & Family’s Director of Admission, Allison Layman, is leaving us this week to spend more time with her family and we couldn’t be happier for her in part because of the fantastic manner in which she started the transition process.

April Fool’s Day came and went and so too did my favorite Rotary International mug. So how do we turn a distinctly un-Shakespearean tragedy into a beneficial outcome you may ask?

Mindfulness as a practice is originally rooted in Buddhist philosophy, but its secular use has become more and more popular in our culture over the last few decades as researchers continue to discover the overwhelming benefits of mindfulness to our social, emotional and physical well-being.

Treasures and traps, conveniences and con-artists; the internet brings it all to our doors. Last week a group of about 20 staff at AK Child & Family – new orientees and seasoned veterans alike– got together to join in a live webinar on “TIP & Trauma Informed Care.”

The Foster Family-based Treatment Association is the only membership association in North America that supports treatment foster care agencies through research, public policy, networking, standards development, dissemination of best practices and an annually sponsored conference.

Thanks to our generous virtual book drive donors, 6 boxes weighing 195 lbs and holding over 200 books arrived at AK Child & Family last week.

Alaska has always challenged residents with extreme variations of climate, maybe never so much as this current winter season. Fortunately, we have students and staff with equally extreme resilience and willingness to overcome adverse challenges!

Nine artists, all students from AK Child & Family Community Programs, committed to sharing their talents for five weeks in order to create a gift for Community Programs.

I participated in two job fairs recently and the momentum is just picking up. There is a Mat-Su job Expo on March 11th I will be attending as well as Wayland Baptist University’s Career Enrichment Conference on March 29th.

On a quiet Anchorage street, in an unassuming family home, the Charlie Elder House group home for teen boys offers Alaska's young men a safe place to gain independent living skills while learning to manage emotional or behavioral issues.


The first hint that this would be an interesting journey to Juneau came while I was checking my bag at Ted Stevens International Airport. I was told that “you might just end up in Seattle because the fog in Juneau hadn’t lifted all weekend.”

Tonier Cain (Neen) had a childhood that was plagued with abandonment, parental neglect, alcoholism, sexual abuse, poverty, chaos and violence. As is sometimes the case with survivors of childhood trauma, the pathway to adulthood wasn’t any easier.

Approximately six years ago I knew very little about Alaska Children’s Services, now AK Child & Family, when I was called by a fellow member of my congregation and asked if I would entertain serving on the Board of Directors.

The Community Role Model (CRM) Program was created several years ago. After about a 2 year hiatus, we are in the process of restarting the program and we hope to host our next event in February or March.

Many of you may already know the importance of donations to the children in our care, but do you also realize the ways in which these gifts, given by so many generous people, may also touch or influence the receiver's / buyers life? Here is just one example...

Today we celebrate the life, legacy, message and ministry of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In the field of mental health, there has been an increased demand for accountability and examination of the services being provided by programs that serve communities.

If I learned one thing from my past time working as a Psychiatric Treatment Counselor, it is that good leadership is a key component in running a smooth shift.

The start of the New Year in Alaska brings on barrage of emails, advertisements and articles about PICK.CLICK.GIVE. and AK Child & Family will not be out done.

Survivor II Group at Community Programs participated in this year’s Jingle Bell Run / Walk as an opportunity to practice world citizenship and to give back to the community.