Kim Goldman is widely known as a local expert when it comes to support for youth and teens. Santa Clarita Women caught up with her recently, to find out more about SCV Youth Project.
SCW: What is something others may not know about SCV Youth Project?
KG: We have been in business for 12 years…and we are the brainchild behind the Sweet Charity Cake Auction, which everyone loves to attend! But, more importantly, we got started because the City of Santa Clarita determined that there was a shortage of services specifically designed to help our teens – pretty family-centric!!
SCW: How many students do you work with in the William S. Hart School District?
KG: On a direct service basis (one-on-one or support groups) – so far, close to 600 kids with more than 800 hours provided…and more than 1,000 kids so far with our outreach. The first semester is always slower than the second, so we expect to have a higher number, come May, 2013.
SCW: Do you work with adolescents who do not attend public school?
KG: We work with all teens in the Hart District and are starting to work with charter Schools as well (SCVi and Albert Einstein).
SCW: How many years has SCV Youth Project been established in the SCV?
KG: We opened in 2000 – so we are in our 13th year. NUTS!
SCW: How many years have you been with the organization?
KG: I started in 2005 – which is equally NUTS!
SCW: What changes are in the works?
KG: Right now, our goal is to maintain and sustain our current programs – we are working hard to stay on top of the current requests, with a limited budget. With all the cuts to the school budgets, everyone is working on a tighter shoe string – we lost funding from the Hart District – but we DID NOT lessen our services and, in fact, are seeing the same (if not more) students than when we were funded. My goal is to start working with the elementary students – we have a long way to go before I can be fully staffed on those campuses, but that is what I would love my legacy to be.
SCW: What occurs at a typical group?
KG: It depends on the group – typically staff starts with a check-in (determine if there are any crises to handle or if anyone has anything they would like to start with). Then they go from there – we have a curriculum and worksheets to use, if we get stuck – but mostly the groups are determined by the participants themselves. The group members help lead and process the issues that their peers are dealing with (with the guidance of my staff, of course). We deal with everything – divorce, anger, bullying, drugs/alcohol, abuse, depression, suicide, grief, trauma, general relationship issues, family issues, body image, confidence …grades, motivation…you name it. EVERYTHING COMES UP!
SCW: What kind of training/education do group leaders have?
KG: Our staff are first and/or second year interns from the Cal State Northridge masters of social work program. We are overseen by a LCSW (licensed clinical social worker), who helps to ensure that we are servicing our clients in the most appropriate and effective manner. We train our staff by role playing, debriefing, outside trainers, etc.
SCW: Is there a growing need for help with teens? If so, why?
KG: Kids are always in need – the degree with which they need support varies. All kids are at risk, if we turn our backs on them. They are all susceptible to falling through the cracks. Each youth deals with situations differently – there is no formula, no right or wrong – so we need to treat each teen uniquely, offering a safe, non-judgmental environment, allowing them to share their concerns, ask their questions, and be validated for their feelings.
SCW: What should the average SCV parent know or become aware of as their kids grow older?
KG: Stay connected – be involved, BE THEIR PARENT. This is not the time to be their friend. You can be open, honest, candid with your teen, while establishing healthy boundaries. Kids are dealing with so many outside influences, while they are also dealing with puberty, school and, not to mention, an under developed brain – so we can’t expect them to know how to deal with everything and to have it all “worked out.” Ask questions – listen to answers — don’t be afraid to seek outside support if you need it. There are lots of things that kids think about, that feel uncomfortable for a parent to address (sex, drugs, birth control, clothing style, etc.). Learn how to be an active listener, as opposed to shutting your child down for having a curiosity about something.
SCW: What do you think about the child-rearing atmosphere in the SCV?
KG: Hmm, I think we are a fairly family-focused community and I love that…part of the reason I moved here. But, that being said, we ALL have the ability to bury our heads in the sand when it gets tough…just because we live in a beautiful community, it doesn’t make us immune to dealing with peer pressure, bullying, violence, drugs, pregnancy, depression, suicide, etc. Our kids are working hard to make mom/dad proud and to be the best they can be…to achieve the highest grades, scores, points on the field, etc. But, they also need time to be kids, to explore, to create, to have fun…to fall in love, have a broken heart, etc. That is ALL part of the process…and it’s beautiful.
SCW: Why did you move here?
KG: At the time, I moved here because I could afford a new house without going broke. I was working out of the SCV at the time, and that was very stressful! Being a single parent here is hard sometimes, but I feel very connected and committed to the community where I live…I love the attention to youth, and the opportunities for family stuff…I feel safe and feel like I have built a nice life for my son and myself.