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COVID-19 Updates from the Executive Director of Kids' Turn San Diego
Last updated 9/30/2020
A Letter from the Executive Director as COVID-19 Continues
With fall officially upon us, I encourage you to look back six months to the beginning of spring — our freeways covered in pink, white and yellow flowers; breezy days with warmer sun; and suddenly a mysterious virus called COVID-19 arrived and we were told to stay at home. As I left the Kids’ Turn San Diego office in mid-March, I anticipated returning in a couple months, or by July at the latest. And here we are!
It is hard to imagine that summer is behind us, children are back in school and face masks have become our new normal. Where did the time go?
We’re hearing from children in our Family Workshop programs that school is challenging, and even more than that, we are hearing that they want to spend time doing free things with their parents. They liked the beginning of quarantine — playing board games, playing hide and go seek in the house, listening to music and having dance parties. They liked learning how to cook and bake, and even burning the first batch of cookies was fun. They liked laughing with their families and they liked going from one house to the other. They enjoyed the change of scenery and playing different games, and cooking with their other parent made them happy.
But the novelty of being home has worn off. For many, school has become a haven of something new, and for others, it has lead to anxiety and stress. Many parents continue working from home and are learning the balance of working, teaching their children and managing their home and family responsibilities. And for many parents who are divorced, there is a new challenge: “Why is their other parent engaging our children in high risk COVID-19 activities?” This continues to be an area of conflict and stress.
We remind you, you have no control over what happens in your co-parent’s home! You can only control what happens in your home.
So, what can you do? Control what you can. Teach your children about the importance of wearing face coverings and washing their hands. Buy them face masks or engage them in mask-making activities to create masks that they would like to wear. Purchase hand sanitizing gel and put it in their backpack or whatever they carry with them. Encourage them to wear their masks, wash their hands, to use the gel often and to keep their hands away from their face and out of their eyes. YOU have prepared them for being safe and healthy, and that’s all you can do!
That said, you do control what happens in your home. Talk with your children and create a fun routine of what to do when they get home from their other parent’s home, like changing their clothes right away and putting clothes right into the laundry to be washed. Or maybe everyone takes a shower/bath or washes their hands well. What happens in your house is what you have control over, so get creative. Focus on what you have control over, instead of what you do not. Your children may not like it, but you may find that they are more likely to follow your house’s COVID-19 prevention rules even when you’re not around. Also, as a quick reminder, there is no need to ask your children who they saw or what they did when at their other parent’s home. That is their time with their other parent and they deserve to have that time without you questioning them about it, whether COVID exists or not.
Another takeaway from listening to the children in our programs is that they want and need structure. Having a schedule and routine reduces anxiety and stress and helps them know what to expect. It is easier for children to adapt to change when there is a regular routine and when they are given a heads-up about upcoming changes.
As I think about it being the end of September, I reflect and look ahead. It looks like remote learning and working is going to continue for a while. We encourage you to create a schedule, focus on things you can control and let go of things you cannot. Take time everyday to stop and really listen to your children. A five year old may want you to listen to a story book, while an 8 year old may want to tell you about the cool science project their teacher did on Zoom. A 15 year old may like it if you sit quietly with them to watch their favorite show, cook something together or listen to their music. Listening doesn’t always mean talking; sometimes it is simply being present.
Thank you for listening!
Cindy Grossman, LCSW
Kids' Turn San Diego
Celebrating 24 Years of Helping Families!
Kids’ Turn San Diego is celebrating 24 years of service today!
It’s an incredible milestone to celebrate 24 years of service as an established non-profit organization. We must thank our Founder Shari Delisle and our founding board members. We must thank each and every parent and child who participated in our programs and entrusted their families to us. Over these 24 years, we have touched the lives of over 20,000 family members!
We’ve helped a lot of families and changed a lot of lives. But, as a community we’re currently facing uncharted territories. We’re slowly watching our communities re-open, hoping that COVID-19 cases do not increase. We’ve experienced the loss of an innocent man and now our county and city leaders are joining peaceful protests and attemtping to change policing laws. As the Executive Director of Kids’ Turn San Diego, I’ve asked our staff to take a minute to reflect and share what is keeping them positive.
Bailey, our Client Services Outreach Specialist, shared, “During these difficult times, I am grateful that I get to wake up every day and help out individuals and families. There are a lot of different issues going on in the world right now, and I’m glad that I’m able to make a positive impact/contribution with my job at KTSD. The other day, I talked with a parent who was sobbing on the phone, as he is in the earliest stages of separation, not knowing what to say to his children or how to even file for divorce and begin this process. After about 30 minutes, the parent told me I helped put his mind a little more at ease by listening to him and he appreciated learning about our programs and hearing about the resources. Calls like these help motivate me to get up in the morning, knowing that each day, I have the opportunity to make a positive impact by being there to listen. It’s nice to know that I can make someone’s day a little brighter!”
From the words of our Program Director Beth, “Being with KTSD for a long time, it is incredibly rewarding to see the positive impact our programs have on children. The notes they give to their parents during our programs, their drawings and the discussions they have with the children in their groups is oftentimes miraculous. Immediately learning that other children in their group have two houses just like them is such a calming, cathartic moment for them and the supportive environment we provide allows the positive growth to start right away. Over the years, we have had several (now) young adults send emails, letters and even speak at our events, sharing how much going through our program was truly life changing when their family became separated or divorced. We are helping to bring comfort and hope at such a critical time and we truly are creating happier childhoods for hundreds of children every year!”
Sue has been a Group Leader of the Family Workshop Parent Group almost since the beginning. “Helping children and parents through a difficult time and seeing the positive results Kids’ Turn San Diego Workshops make on the families, keeps me motivated to continue working with the program.” Our Client Outreach Specialist, Cristina, also shared, “I am grateful to wake up everyday knowing that we are getting to help individuals and families navigate through this difficult time of uncertainty. There are so many things they are unsure of and they often sound hurt and angry when we talk to them because of those uncertainties. We are able to provide them with some hope that there is something out there to help them and their family during this transition.”
Rochelle has been a Group Leader of the Family Workshop 8-11 year old group for almost 20 years. “In all the years that I have been involved with Kids’ Turn San Diego, I have seen big changes in the children as they open up and learn to become advocates for their needs. They leave the program with feelings that they are not alone, strategies to deal with their problems while living in a home going through divorce, and hope for a better future for themselves.” Another Group Leader, Sylvia, shared, “What keeps me going with KTSD these last 15 years are the children. I cannot describe to anyone how important it is to give children a healthy environment in which to grow, thrive, feel safe, and loved. My dedication to Kids’ Turn is giving the best of myself for these children.”
Our newest team member is our Program Manager Chris. “It was difficult for me to get out of bed yesterday. Upon waking, the emotional weight of all that we are going through as a country and community was the first thing that came into my consciousness. Everyone I know is hurting. Hurting from a broken justice system. Hurting from social isolation. Hurting for our neighbors and family members who are the targets of racial violence. It felt overwhelming. I am only one individual among a citizenry that must find its way forward. The task of being an agent for real change seemed insurmountable in that moment. How can my contribution to the world help in any real way? The next thing I felt, engulfed me like an unexpected wave breaking on me as my back was turned to the ocean. Gratitude. I get to come to work every day to help families repair fraying or broken relationships. I get to hear teenagers say thank you to Group Leaders, because that professional said something to their parents that inspired a change or provided some insight that made life for their family easier by reducing unproductive conflict. I get to help parents that are marginalized by poverty have access to this transformative experience. Working for Kids’ Turn San Diego is a gift for me every single day. It is a gift that enriches my life, because what we do enriches the lives of others.”
On a personal note, I’m incredibly proud of being the Executive Director of an organization that employs staff with such passion and dedication. I’m motivated at every Family Workshop when a child writes a “Feeling Gram” to their parents that says, “I feel happy because you stopped yelling at each other, please keep it up” or when a teen says, “I learned what problems are mine and which ones are not. I also learned how to communicate with my parents and to tell them how I feel.” I’m motivated when a parent tells us that they cannot afford our program and we’re able to provide a Tuition Reduction Scholarship and they attend, and then their child tells us, “My parents are being nicer to each other and getting along and I’m so happy now!”
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and for helping us change the world one child and one family at a time! Behind the scenes at KTSD, we have an amazing team of individuals that are over-the-top committed to fulfilling our mission of promoting, supporting and securing the well-being of children experiencing family separations.
As we celebrate 24 years of service today, we look back and forward. It has been our honor to assist so many children and families these past 24 years. Whether we offer in-person programs or virtual ones, one thing will never change; Kids’ Turn San Diego will be here to help children and families transition through family breakups and separations, well into the future!
Thank you for being part of our journey!
Cindy Grossman, LCSW
First 100% Virtual
Family Workshop Is a Success!
Only a short time ago, no one would have ever imagined that they would be sheltered in their homes, only leaving for essential items like food and toiletries. What a whirlwind of changes we have all endured these past six weeks!
I wanted to share with you that nothing has stopped Kids’ Turn San Diego! We are working remotely and have transitioned our Family Workshop for Separated and Divorced Families to a 100% virtual program for April, May and June.
The April program just graduated this past Saturday, and we are very proud of all the parents and children who participated. Every week, 44 parents and 12 teens logged into Zoom meetings and fully participated in the program. And almost all of the 5-7 and 8-11 year olds watched the videos provided by their Group Leaders. To make this happen, Kids’ Turn San Diego was creative and innovative and moved at light speed! While we all managed the transition, we kept our promise of helping to change family relationships in positive ways!
During the program graduation, a parent shared: “I learned I can’t control my co-parent — I can only control myself, and I learned to now take my kids’ feelings and opinions into consideration. Without this class, I would’ve never done that, because I’ve never done that before.” Several other parents made comments such as: “I realized all the things I’ve been doing wrong, and my kids are telling me how much they noticed that I’m changing. This program taught me how to do things the right way with my kids and my co-parent.”
Our first ever 100% virtual Family Workshop for Separated and Divorced Families was a huge success! And we’re ready to get started again this coming Saturday, May 2nd. Click here to register or learn more about the program.
As we begin the May program on Saturday, we have lots of available space for families, parents and children. Courts may be closed, but we are fully operational! As a matter of fact, in addition to our virtual Family Workshops, we just launched new Self-Care Classes for parents. These classes are open to anyone and focus on taking care of yourself, normalizing what you are thinking and feeling, and promoting strategies for pleasant communications with one’s co-parent. Check out the classes here!
We appreciate everyone doing their part to flatten the curve! Please, stay home, wash your hands frequently, and stay healthy!
Cindy Grossman, LCSW
P.S. Wishing you could help others during this time? Consider a donation to “Help Kids’ Turn San Diego Continue to Serve Children and Families.” Every donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
SDSU COVID-19 Resource
Dear Supporters and Friends,
Please see this resource guide from San Diego State University for a variety of support resources available during the coronavirus outbreak, including:
- financial assistance
- employment assistance
- food resources
- public utilities
- cable, internet and Wi-Fi
- mental health
- resources for veterans
- academic accommodations
- and more!
Though some of the material is specific to SDSU, the resource guide is a wealth of information and resources to help you and your family weather this challenging time.
Cindy Grossman, LCSW
Kids' Turn San Diego Programs Go Online
Dear Friends and Supporters,
As we all adjust to the new reality of a pandemic, Kids’ Turn San Diego has gone virtual. We are currently working remotely and offering our programs through virtual meeting platforms.
For example, children who are receiving counseling are now engaging with their counselors through virtual meetings. To ensure we protect the children and families, we purchased a system so our services are offered with HIPPA compliance.
Our March Family Workshop had two face-to-face meetings, and weeks 3 and 4 have shifted to virtual programming. We had minor technology challenges on week 3 but are confident they have all be resolved going into this week.
We are running three virtual groups including two parent groups and one teen group. The teens in this group are amazing. Not only did they choose to participate, but they also worked together on an art project for the graduation through an online design system.
In addition to the two parent groups, we are providing Spanish translation for this Workshop. Our incredible translator listens to one of the Parent Group Leaders and then translates our program into Spanish on a separate virtual meeting for our parents who requested these translation services.
It doesn’t stop there! For the children ages 5-7 and 8-11, since these children are too young to actively participate in virtual programming, our staff created videos that can be watched by the children and parents together. We want to ensure that all children learn that their parents’ divorce is not their fault, that they are not alone because there are lots of other children living in divorced families, and how to identify and share their feelings.
We are so fortunate to have such adaptable and flexible people on our team!
Looking ahead, our April Family Workshop will be offered virtually. Almost 50 parents are scheduled to attend! We will be running Parent and Teen Groups and will be providing weekly videos for children ages 5-7 and 8-11. Co-parenting is sometimes challenging and it has never been more challenging than now. This is a time where Kids’ Turn San Diego must step up and share our expertise!
Starting in April, we will be offering a virtual series of weekly classes for parents. Class topics will include “Managing the Coronavirus Together as Co-Parents,” “Managing Your Children at Home ALL the Time,” and “Taking Care of Yourself During this Time of the Pandemic.” The final class topic is in the development stage and more information will be released soon.
Many of the parents attending the April Family Workshop are temporarily unemployed due to the “Stay at Home” order. They are worried about paying their April rent and monthly bills and do not have the funds to attend our program. Yet they desperately need our program to help them transition through their family separation and divorce. Their children need our program to know that they are not to blame and that they are loved by both their parents, regardless of how many houses they live in. Family Workshop tuition is $400 per parent, and there are no additional costs for children.
Kids’ Turn San Diego is incurring extra costs to run our programs virtually. These extra costs include purchasing technology that is HIPPA-compliant and protects confidentiality; mailing program materials to parents and their children; and hours of dedicated staff time to create program videos for the children. However, our program tuition remains the same for our participants.
YOU can help families attend our program by making a gift today. Every gift of $300 will ensure that a family is able to attend our program for just $100. Larger gifts will ease the financial fears of parents even more!
Imagine being in Blanca’s position. Blanca lives paycheck to paycheck. She has a nice apartment and meets all of her children’s needs. But Blanca is terrified. She lost her job due to the coronavirus. She was told that she is eligible for unemployment assistance but won’t see a check for weeks or even a month. She is terrified that she will be unable to pay her rent or buy food for her two children. She recently divorced and is registered for the April Family Workshop. Our program policy is that every parent must pay something.
Will you please help Blanca and many families like hers by making a gift today of $375? This would enable Blanca to attend the program for $25 so she is able to put food on her table and a roof over her children’s head.
Please contact us if you have any questions. As we are currently working remotely, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a same-day response or leave a message at 858-521-0027 if you are able to wait a few days to hear back from us.
We realize this situation remains very dynamic as information continues to change from one day to the next. Please continue to check our website for updates. We are committed to serving families through virtual programming while ensuring the highest quality service with as little disruption as possible.
Our commitment to San Diego families experiencing separation and divorce remains the same. Through participation in Kids’ Turn San Diego programs, parents will gain insight into their words, actions and behaviors while learning new coping and communication skills and strategies that ultimately result in better parent-child relationships, more effective co-parenting relationships and happier children.
Wash your hands and stay healthy!
Cindy Grossman, LCSW
A Letter From the Executive Director
on KTSD Programs and COVID-19
Dear Friends and Supporters,
At Kids’ Turn San Diego, the health and safety of the families we serve, our staff and the community are our utmost priority as we experience the public health pandemic of the Corona Virus: COVID-19 together. This is uncharted territory for all of us and to ensure that we are following all the current CDC guidelines, our Counseling program has currently put a hold on accepting new clients and our Family Workshop Program scheduled for April 2020 will be offered virtually.
We piloted this virtual program model with the current Family Workshop on March 18th and are happy to report that this model worked effectively. As predicted, there were a few technological challenges, but we were ready and prepared and everyone was able to participate in our virtual program. While we’re still learning, we will be fully operational with virtual programming for the April Family Workshop for Separated and Divorced Families that begins on April 4th. Decisions about future Workshops will be determined and communicated as available. We are taking this situation one day at a time.
These decisions were not easy for Kids’ Turn San Diego, as we understand challenges related to separation, divorce and co-parenting. At the same time, we are obligated to ensure the health and safety of you, your children, our staff and community. Although offering virtual programming has never been a consideration of Kids’ Turn San Diego in the past, we want to ensure that you are able to learn skills, strategies and techniques by completing our program.
At this time, Family Court Services are closed. If you are registered for our April program and, for any reason, would prefer to transfer to a future Workshop, we are happy to provide the transfer.
We are currently working in our offices with a smaller than usual staff, maintaining all CDC guidelines and are prepared to transition to remote operations if this is required. If you need anything, please email first at email@example.com or call 858-521-0027.
We realize this situation remains very dynamic, as information continues to change day-to-day. We will provide updates, as available, to families registered for our programs. We are committed to serving you and your family through virtual programming while ensuring the highest quality service with as little disruption as possible.
Our commitment to the San Diego community of families experiencing separation and divorce remains the same – through participation in Kids’ Turn San Diego programs, parents will gain insight into their words, actions and behaviors while learning new coping and communication skills and strategies that ultimately result in better parent-child relationships, more effective co-parenting relationships and happier children.
If you have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 858-521-0027. For tips about explaining the Coronavirus to your children, please check out our blog, featuring a helpful video to watch as a family.
Wash your hands and stay healthy!
Cindy Grossman, LCSW