Monthly Archives: August 2013

My angel

The two guest posts below are by Shelly Schrett and Jordan. Shelly and her husband, Mike, adopted Jordan at age 15. Jordan’s adoption is one of 3,353 finalized in the past year, including 421 teens.  The Schrett’s are a part of Eckerd Community Alternatives

Shelly’s story:

This picture of Mike, Jordan and me was taken while vacationing in Michigan this summer. My son is growing into a awesome young man. He is in the Athletic Leadership Program at the YMCA where he mentors and coaches preschool basketball. He is also in the ROTC program at Alanso High School and has a A in that class. Jordan has plans for college and then would like to join the military. Jordan’s goofy happy nature makes me smile daily. When he kisses me on the cheek to tell me good morning and that he loves me, I remember that Jordan is a gift from God and my angel!

Jordan’s story:

In this picture with my Mom and Dad I am smiling, but it wasn’t always that way. When I first became a part of their family, I wasn’t very open to accepting them as my parents. I was standoffish and reserved, not wanting to fully open myself up to the love they had to offer. I was scared more than anything – not wanting to be rejected and still having so many questions.

My parents made me go to family therapy and eventually I had the courage to say to them – how come everyone knows about my past except me!?! You can all talk about my life and give reasons for how I am feeling/acting but no one is clueing me into any of this. Now that I know who I am and where I came from, it is easier for me to accept where I am.

My parents stuck with me through this and gave me the time I needed to process through my past and become content with where I am. Now, I can’t imagine my life any other way. Because of my parents, I am going on great vacations like the one in the photo of us in Michigan this summer. I have also become involved in lots of activities and am excited about all I want to accomplish in the future. I even got to be an usher at my new cousin’s wedding this summer! Belonging to a family is something all kids need, no matter how old.

This is tough for me to admit but every morning I wake up; I give my mom a kiss on the cheek and tell her I love her. My family has changed my life and I am so thankful my parents helped me get to where I am today.

If you are interested in opening your heart and home to a child, please visit

A Hero

Guest post by Pam Buckham, Safety Program Manager in the DCF Northeast Region, Office of Child Care Regulation & Background Screening.

Taki Starkes receiving an award from DCF Northeast Region Regional Director Dave Abramowitz for her quick action to protect her students.

Taki Starkes receiving an award from DCF Northeast Region Regional Director Dave Abramowitz for her quick action to protect her students.

Taki Starkes, owner of Juzt Kidz Learning Center in Jacksonville noticed a strange and disconcerting smell in her child care center. She acted immediately and followed the steps in her emergency evacuation plan by first calling 911 and then taking her children outside to safety. When the fire department arrived shortly after, they determined that there were dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in the building. Luckily, given Ms. Starkes’ short response time, all of the children survived the incident. Several of the children exhibited symptoms typical of carbon monoxide poisoning, which could have been much more life-threatening had they stayed in the building any longer.

Juzt Kidz Learning Center is located in a strip mall that includes three other child care centers. Two of those centers also had dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide and were evacuated. Upon inspection, the fire department determined that a construction crew in an adjoining suite had left generators running indoors and the carbon monoxide had spread through the air ducts.

Ms. Starkes was honored by DCF Regional Director, Dave Abramowitz and given a certificate of appreciation for being a hero. Mr. Abramowitz told the children at Juzt Kidz that “sometimes good people turn out to be a hero because they do something extra special to help someone else.”

Situations like these remind everyone from homeowners to child care providers to perform routine check-ups of our carbon monoxide detectors and also reeducate ourselves on the symptoms characteristic of carbon monoxide exposure. Initial symptoms include; headache, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath or dizziness. Severe symptoms include; mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness and ultimately death.

To prevent carbon monoxide leaks, make sure all appliances in your home or office building are installed properly and according to a manufacturer’s instructions, check your carbon monoxide alarm every six months — replacing the battery as needed, and never operate a portable generator in an enclosed area or leave a car running in a garage.

Need tips on how to find the perfect child care facility for your child? Check out our recent blog post. We wish you a wonderful 2013-2014 school year!

Mother and father in one

Guest post by Hannah, a single mom to a beautiful 4-year-old boy, as well as a blogger for Direct4tv.

Being a single mom or dad is no easy feat. Juggling between a full-time job, your child, household responsibilities and a modest social life only leaves you more exhausted and strained. At a low point in your life (we all have them) you may have asked yourself “what am I going to do?” There is no one answer for this question, or resolving the issues and stress you may encounter on your parental journey, but realizing that you have the strength to do it is the first step.

Here are three reminders and tips to help you navigate the job of both mother and father in one.   

1. Ask for help.

Sounds easy, right? Not so much. When it comes to our children, we feel as though we should be able to handle everything they need. Reality is its hard taking care of a child, especially on your own. Everyday tasks like errands and cleaning seem impossible to complete at the end of a long work day, while also trying to have time with your child. If you have family around, ask them for help. Chances are they just want the best for you and your child and are more than willing to help you. You don’t have to struggle with all of life’s duties on your own. Talk to your boss about altering your work schedule. Have your groceries delivered. You’ll be less stressed and happier overall, and so will your child.

2.  Get your “me” time.

This is more important than you may realize, and much more difficult to get than you know. Having your personal “me” time to do whatever it is you love is like recharging your batteries. This is where asking for help comes in. Ask a grandparent, other relative or friend to watch your child for a few hours so you can hang out with a friend, go to a movie or get a pedicure. Try to get some “me” time to do whatever it is that makes you feel like you at least every few weeks. It’s so important to take care of yourself so you can properly take care of your child.

3. Minimize your life.

That’s right, cut out everything that is unnecessary or that gives you a headache. If you commute too far for work to have any quality time with your child, try looking for a job closer to you or adjusting your work schedule to get more time, if you can.  If chores give you a daily headache, balance them out over the week and ask your child to help. In addition to that, you need to know your limits. Focus on what you can do and go from there. It’s not always easy, but you will be glad you live a simpler life, being a good, single parent.

Single parenthood is the hardest job you will ever have. It’s difficult, tiring and sometimes sad. Keep your head up and remember to ask for help, minimize your life and have “me” time when you need it. A child is precious gift; they need you more than anything else. If you are managing the role of both mother and father, know that life is always changing, but right now you are all your child needs.

If you are in need of help, dial 2-1-1 for resources in your area.

The author works with Eddie D. Shackleford, Editor of Direct4tv; you can follow him at @Eddie20Ford.