Newspaper article "Paid Parental Leave Benefits Whole Family"

Newspaper article from the Idaho Statesman by our Executive Director, Roger Sherman:

Guest Opinion: Paid Parental Leave Benefits Whole Family

Posted: November 9, 2016

By Roger Sherman

Who knew?  Paid parental leave may be the most effective policy to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome, or what is more properly called Abusive Head Trauma (AHT). In a study published in the journal Injury Prevention comparing rates of AHT between California and seven other states, California’s rate was substantially lower than the national average.  And why?  It appears that providing paid parental leave to workers who are new parents, is the primary reason.  According to the study, giving new mothers time with their newborns reduces stress and maternal depression, major risk factors for child abuse. 

So kudos then, to Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya and the Chobani Yogurt Company for their announcement last month that they will be providing six weeks of paid parental leave to its 2000 employees nationwide including its Idaho-based workforce.  Mr. Ulukaya, who became a father earlier this year, was quoted in Fortune Magazine.  “Being a dad is … the hardest job I’ve ever had. It started a lot of conversations with folks about how we can better support new parents here at Chobani.”

Mr. Ulukaya learned what we all learn when we are new parents:  babies cry, sometimes a lot, they need our attention, and boy, is it stressful to get them ready, get them to child care and get to work on time.  Not to mention that it’s tough to get a good night’s sleep. For most of us that means being irritable and not our best selves.  Adding stress to exhaustion, coupled with incessant crying, increases the risk of AHT.  No one plans to shake their baby; it occurs most often when a caregiver can no longer cope with the crying and “loses it”.

No doubt crying would continue to be frustrating but it appears that having more time, being more rested, and being able to focus attention on the baby makes a big difference.  California’s experience bears that out. 

"We found that California's 2004 paid family leave policy was associated with decreased rates of AHT admissions in children under two years old compared to the states without this policy," Joanne Klevens, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was quoted as saying in the magazine, Fit Pregnancy. The policy was associated with a fall of 5.1 cases per 100,000 children under one (the national average is 50 per 100,000 children, according to Dr. Klevens). "This is important because AHT is a leading cause of fatal child maltreatment among young children, and current prevention efforts have not been proven to be consistently effective," she says.

While in Idaho, we have adopted strategies like the Crying Plan ( that are effective in helping parents calm their babies and most importantly calm themselves, those strategies would be even more effective if parents had the time to spend with their babies in those first critical weeks without having to worry about their financial well-being.   Chobani’s decision is important for its Idaho workers but even more so for Idaho’s children.  

Newspaper article "Knowledge of parenting and development"

Newspaper article from the Post Register by our Grant Manager, Taryn Yates:


Guest column: Knowledge of parenting and development

By Taryn Yates

Knowledge of child development is one protective factors that strengthens families, writes Taryn Yates.

My son is almost two years old. A few months back I noticed that he was getting more…how shall I say it? Challenging? He began fighting diaper changes and arching his back whenever I tried to get him dressed. And even though I let him practice feeding himself with a spoon since he was a year old, he now aggressively defends independent eating- getting annoyed with me when I step in to cut food or open up an applesauce pouch. It can be frustrating to say the least; however my knowledge of parenting and child development has helped me cope.

Knowledge of parenting and child development is one of the five protective factors that strengthens families and helps prevent child maltreatment. When a parent understands what is happening with their child developmentally, it helps them deal more positively with difficult behaviors. For example, did you know that young children are actually incapable of controlling their emotions? Their nervous systems are not mature enough to handle the confusing mix of anger, disappointment, and frustration that comes with being a toddler. As their minds grow, they want to be more independent than their language and motor skills are capable of- which is incredibly frustrating. This frustration often leads to anger and tantrums- leading to the well-known phase and phrase: the “terrible twos”.

As difficult as this time is for parents, it’s also challenging for the children themselves. Think of the last time you were really angry and what it felt like. Heat flooded your face and your heart pounded. You may have wanted to throw something or yell. It’s not a pleasant feeling. Were you able to calm yourself down? You may have used soothing self-talk or taken deep breaths. Maybe you were able to calm down through a process that is so automatic now you can’t actually say how you do it. At some point you mentally identified your emotion and what was causing it. For example, you may have thought, “my spouse is playing video games while I am cleaning! It’s so unfair! I’m tired and need a break too!” The ability to name emotion and calm yourself came with practice whether you realize it or not. You weren’t born able to do it.

As a parent, you have the opportunity to teach and role model your coping skills to your toddler. Once you understand them, you can take a step back, empathize, and keep your reactions calm. Teach them how to name their emotions. For example, say “I understand you are angry,” “That must be frustrating”, or “I bet that hurt your feelings”. Speak to them calmly, but sincerely. You can also teach them techniques like taking deep breaths or hugging a blanket or pillow.

Just as toddlers aren’t born knowing how to calm themselves, parents aren’t born knowing all these tricks. As your child’s parent, you know them better than anyone else, which is a great place to start! With a little extra knowledge, you can take your parenting game up a notch and make life easier for both you and your child. Understanding your child’s developmental stage, empathizing with their experience, and teaching them how to cope is an approach that works on children of all ages and helps to strengthen your family’s resilience and ability to deal with stress. There are several parenting resources near you: Eastern Idaho Public Health, Madison Cares in Rexburg, and many local school districts offer parenting classes or for general information, the Center for Disease Control has parenting tips for every stage:

Give Your Child the Gift of You



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Our grants manager, Taryn Yates, recently wrote a great article that was published in the Idaho Statesman- read it HERE!

SFTI 2018 Save the Date!

Save the date for the next Strengthening Families Training Institute on March 6-7, 2018 at the Riverside Hotel in Boise......

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