• 03 Nov 2016 by Mimi Graham

    If babies could vote, they’d want more than a kiss on the cheek at a rally.  They’d want a voice in the issues that affect them.  What would babies tell us about the type of candidates they’d support?  Imagine what they’d tell us.

     

    First, they’d choose parents who love them, period.  Babies don’t care about their race, religion or sexual orientation.  Babies want to be born to parents who are ready to be devoted to their care, so they’d support leaders who make family planning easy so parents-to-be can make the serious choice of when parenthood responsibilities are right for them.  Unplanned parenthood means that too many of them are born to parents who are too young, too unstable, or too poor to take care of them.  More than 62 percent of births in Florida are paid for by Medicaid, because sometimes parents cannot afford even to pay for delivery.  That puts those babies way behind from the start when it comes to what they need to succeed.

     

    For the parents who get hooked on pills or struggle with drug addictions, babies would support leaders who recognize it as a public health crisis and offer therapeutic options rather than locking up their moms and dads, sometimes for years without seeing them.

     

    If babies could vote, they’d elect officials that support not just the minimum wage, but enough so that their moms and dads don’t have to work two jobs to make ends meet or have to make agonizing decisions about whether to pay the light bill or buy groceries and diapers.  They would want their candidates to support affordable health care for everyone so their parents don’t stress out because they can’t afford the doctors' bills.

     

    While their parents are busy at work, babies don’t want to be parked in front of television all day.  Their little brains are doing big work, especially in the first 1000 days of life when they are hard-wiring the foundation for all their future learning.  They would elect officials who understand that “bright futures” begin in the high chair, not on college campuses.  They’d support scholarships for high-quality early learning programs that teach their parents to sing, read, and talk to them at the time when their brains are most receptive to learning.  They’d know that programs that encourage play and getting along with others are equally important to teaching ABC’s.

     

    Babies would want their political candidates not to just give talk about leaving no child behind, but rather to make wise investments so that every child gets an even start, head start, or the jump start they need to be successful.  The success gap between rich and poor kids starts early, and once they fall behind, they can almost never catch up.  By their second birthday, there is a 6-month word gap between rich and poor kids.  By age 4 they’ve been exposed to 30 million fewer words.  By third grade their reading scores are way behind, and by high school they score 125 points lower on the SAT than their more advantaged peers.  Wise leaders know that early learning programs can prevent and narrow this gap.

     

    Babies would want their political leaders to ensure that the Magic Kingdom isn’t just in Orlando but that children everywhere experience the joy and innocence of childhood; that every child goes to bed with a full tummy; that every child gets a bedtime story and kissed goodnight and never has to cry themselves to sleep; and that monsters and nightmares in their homes are only figments of their imagination and not reality; that children don’t have to shoulder adult responsibilities or be exposed to an X-rated world. If babies could vote, they’d support candidates who had common sense gun regulations so that in our innocent curiosity, gun accidents didn’t continue to kill at least 1 kid every other day.  

     

    If babies could vote, they would choose leaders who take climate change seriously.  They know that in 50 years, the planet they inhabit will be drastically different.  Weather patterns will make earth less hospitable to humans, spreading droughts and disease epidemics.  Warming will swell the oceans so that much of Florida’s population who live and work on the coasts will be submerged.  Babies would want leaders who will act quickly and wisely to keep climate change from becoming a nightmare.

     

    Babies just want to come of age in a society that allows them to prosper in the nation’s wealth—not just the ones at the top.  They would want society to recognize our shared responsibility for the well-being of children; to get communities to rise up to care for the children who need them—children who have never celebrated a birthday, children who have never seen a dentist, children whose nightmares come in the daytime, children who have no safe blankets to cling to, children who don’t have any rooms to clean up, and children who have never known the safe embrace of a father or mother.  They would want a world where every child gets enough love to build a lifelong foundation of security so that they too can become nurturing, productive grownups who contribute to our nation’s economic growth.

     

    If babies could vote, they’d tell our leaders to “use their words” to find common sense solutions to big problems like the economy, health care, climate change, gun safety, violence, racism, addictions, child abuse, unplanned parenting, and criminal justice reforms.  Babies would build a HUGE bipartisan sandbox where there is plenty of room for everyone to play nicely together.  Then, not just the children would be singing “if you’re happy and you know it”—we’d all be clapping our hands.   So think of the babies when you go vote, because someday they will be the grown-ups.  Your future and theirs depend on it!

     

    Dr. Mimi Graham

    Director

    Florida State University Center for Prevention & Early Intervention Policy

    Tallahassee, FL 

    mgraham@fsu.edu

  • 05 Dec 2016 by Anne Hogan

    As we transition through the holidays toward the new year, it is always a good time to reflect on and express gratitude to important people in our lives. Sometimes, we overlook thanking people who have been such a part of our lives or endeavors for so long, it seems funny to keep saying “Thanks - again” over and over. There are still moments, however, when we still need to say it emphatically. 

    At the end of this year, Dr. Mimi Graham will be “term-limited” off the FAIMH Board as a member and Past-President. While I know many of you know of her considerable contributions to Florida and the field of Infant Mental Health, you may not be aware of her extraordinary Board service. 

    Mimi was the founding Vice-President back in 2002, and after serving as Wil Blechman’s Vice President, she became FAIMH’s second President in 2003-2004. She also served as Secretary (in 2010 when Peter Gorski was President), served as Treasurer (in 2011-2012 when Jamie McHale was President), served again as Vice-President (in 2013 when Allison Parish was President), and then served again as President in 2014. As director of the FSU Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy in Tallahassee, she has guaranteed FAIMH has had a secure home base through the years. 

    Mimi’s vision has included keeping us inclusive, solvent, and open to new ideas, as well as expanding FAIMH’s strong partnerships. For Mimi, “Eye on the Prize” has always meant we put children, families and strong relationships first, and get our message out as widely as possible. Over the years, she has consistently been a vocal advocate for all infants and toddlers, and has never let us forget about the extra supports our most vulnerable little ones deserve. She has worked to make sure that every system in Florida that addresses the needs of young children "gets" Infant Mental Health, and that our national and international colleagues are aware of FAIMH’s efforts. 

    As the individual who served as her Vice President, I have to add a more personal note of thanks. Mimi and I have been colleagues for a long time (actually off & on for about half our lives!), and as in all successful relationships – there must be give and take. I know that FAIMH’s continued success is extremely important to Mimi, and that of course there would be a bit of “Mama Bear” in her passion to protect our organization. I admire very much how she has supported FAIMH’s developmental trajectory both long-term and more recently as we move to strengthen our organization and keep moving ahead for our children, families and workforce.   

    Thank you Mimi – again – for the dedication you always bring, for the mentorship and support that have benefited so many, and the passion for vulnerable children and families you have shown that has kept FAIMH growing, thriving, visible and respected for so long.

  • 29 Aug 2016

    We are proud to announce that several FAIMH Leaders (Board Members and Advisors) are presenting at this year’s DCF Child Protection Summit in Orlando September 7-9, 2016.

     

    Mimi Graham will be part of two presentations: First 1000 Days: Ensuring the Best Start in Life and Breaking the Cycle of Maltreatment (an Advanced Training Workshop)  and Improving Early Care and Education for Young Children in Child Welfare

     

    Anne Hogan & Diane Koch will present Young Children's Emotions and Attachments: Development, Promotions and Repair

     

    Jeanine Evoli will present Help before Harm: Expanding the Family Services Initiative in Pinellas County

     

    Wil Blechman will present Effects of Early Maltreatment on Brain Development

     

    Kim Renk, Leslie Allen & Neil Boris will present Engaging Substance-Involved Parents through the Circle of Security Program

     

    Barbara White will lead a panel on Building Parenting Capacity Among Trafficked Youth Who Are Parents

     

    Visit here for more information about the DCF Child Protection Summit. Be sure to check the program for session detail.

    We all hope to see you there!