2016 Year in Review

2016 was a big year for CLDR!  

…but to be honest, we have been saying that same thing for the past several years.

This all started as a lofty dream; an idea that we knew would meet a substantial need and have a huge impact.  We were committed to the cause, but I’m not sure we truly thought it would come to much- or at least not this much this quickly.  As each year passes, we look at each other and laugh in amazement at all that has been accomplished.  This continues to be exactly what we hoped for and much more than we expected.

2016 Recap:

We continued to solidify a strong partnership with Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) for local and national deployments in the US. In January, Katie Nees, Director of CLDR and Kathy Fry-Miller, Associate Director of CDS met with a group of child life specialists in Florida due to a need for more disaster responders in the Gulf Coast.  Two child life specialists took on leadership roles within CDS and became CDS Regional Coordinators, Erin Silber (Tampa, FL) and Heather Storey (Cincinnati, OH).  Numerous other child life specialists engaged in CDS and CLDR local efforts in their own cities – Kristy Woodwyk (Kalamazoo, MI), Lindsey Murphy (Columbia, MO), Erin Silber (Tampa, FL), and Heather Storey (Cincinnati, OH).  In September, the Florida Association of Child Life Professionals (FACLP) hosted a CDS training in Tampa specifically for 40 child life specialists, students, and music/art/rec therapists.  In October, Kristy Woodwyk, a CCLS at Bronson Children’s Hospital, hosted a training in Kalamazoo and in December, the Pacific Northwest Child Life Association (PNCLA) hosted a two-day CDS training in Seattle.  Several other CDS trainings took place around the country with a number of child life specialists at each.  At the end of 2016, a total 255 Child Life Specialists and students from 33 different states had been trained with CDS.

We deployed 8 out of 12 months this past year responding to 6 different disasters with CDS including the numerous Louisiana floods, the Missouri flooding, the California wildfires, the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting, and Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina.  A total of 14 Child life specialist/students deployed including: Corinne Joplin, Lindsey Murphy, Sandy Bruner, Erin Silber (deployed twice), Gail Klayman, Tiffany Heinz, Katie Nees, Brianna Pastewski, Paula Hampel, Kelsey Loftus, Heather Storey, Crystal Baker, and Jessica Huerta.  A special thanks to each of them, their colleagues, families, and their employers for the support they so graciously offered prior to, during, and after their deployments.

Katie Nees presented with Kathy Fry-Miller, Associate Director of CDS at the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) Annual Conference.   Lindsey Murphy, CLDR Associate Director, and Heather Storey, CLDR Director of Community Relations, presented research on role-transferability and barriers to child life specialists deploying during disasters at the Mountain West Child Life Association (MWCLA) Conference.

CDS facilitated a Critical Response Training for experienced CDS volunteers.  This training focused on man-made disasters (including acts of terrorism, mass shootings, and major airplane/train accidents).  This group of specially trained CDS volunteers will be called upon for future man-made disaster deployments.  Six child life specialists were invited and attended this training alongside 40+ other experienced CDS volunteers.   Katie Nees presented at this training on helping children cope with traumatic grief and loss and offered many specific strategies that could be utilized with children during these critical responses.

We established our Board of Directors and became an official non-profit, obtaining 501(c)(3) status.  M. Anne Longo, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC accepted our invitation for CLDR Board Member.  Dr. Longo has been an innovator, educator, and leader in pediatrics for 30+ years and provides an invaluable perspective for our continued growth.

We developed Task Forces to accomplish specific large-scale tasks for our organization:

Research Task Force

Lead by Lindsey Murphy and includes Elise Huntley, Rachel Schmelzer, Megan Cassani, and Cassie Weisz.

This group is working on publishing data collected from child life specialists on the barriers related to deploying to disasters and on the transferability of child life skills to disasters.  Future projects are lined up and additional research teams will be formed in 2017.

Resources Task Force

Lead by Katie Nees and Lois Pearson and includes Paula Hampel, Maria Sherry, and Caleb Tait.

This group is working on collecting, reviewing, and choosing resources that will be vetted by CLDR as accurate and appropriate resources for CLS’s and the general public.  These will be organized by type of disaster on the CLDR website under the resources tab.  The groups plans on identifying gaps in available resources and developing a plan for meeting those resource needs.

Local Expansion Task Force

Lead by Heather Storey and Gail Klayman with Erin Silber.

This group is working on trouble-shooting ways for CLS’s to become integrated in disaster services within their local communities. Their goal is to work alongside our national partner, CDS to continue their local expansion efforts as well as increase the ways CLS’s can contribute locally to disaster relief efforts.  They are organizing documents and resources including letters and PowerPoints that can be utilized by CLS’s in any area of the country.  They have been collaborating with one local group that has incorporated CLS’s successfully to determine how to implement similar processes in other areas of the country.  This task force will be expanding soon by invitation to CLS’s who have already been working to integrate themselves locally.

International Exploration Task Force

Lead by Caralyn Perlee and includes Lindsay Borel, Rachael Heyns, Liz Hines, Jill Meyers, and Mizuho “Millie” Uyehama.

This group is researching various organizations in the international disaster relief community that might potentially be interested in and a good fit for a partnership.  They have begun building a database of organizations based on their research as well as their pre-existing networks and are looking towards developing the best plan of action for forging future potential partnerships.

Thank you to all of you who have joined us to make this a reality!  We anticipate 2017 being an even bigger year than 2016 and already have some major new developments in progress.  Click here for the announcement of our first international partnership.

Please take this time to update your contact information, address, and child life certification status by emailing us at [email protected].

Happy New Year to you all!
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