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February 27, 2017

This week’s family-related news included a look at the value of children reading to therapeutic pets, consideration of money issues in mid-life marriage, a deep dive into school politics in Denver, a personal account lamenting the lack of support for parents of teens, the lifting of administrative obstacles involving a student’s right to bring her service dog to school, information about an innovative program in Germany that actually teaches young kids how to safely start fires, the controversy over allowing the use of transgender bathrooms in schools and a story of a foster father who selflessly cares for only terminally ill children.

How Reading Aloud to Therapy Dogs Can Help Struggling Kids Juli Fraga, KQED, February 13, 2017 When children are struggling at home, it’s often harder for them to concentrate in school. And if kids experience trauma — such as the death of a family member, divorce or witnessing family or community violence — research shows that kids will have more difficulty tolerating frustration, controlling their impulses and managing their aggression. Therapy pets allow children to focus on the animal instead of feeling self-conscious themselves… [there is] a therapeutic distraction technique that relieves children of their worries, which helps their performance when reading.

6 Money Myths About Marrying After 50 Lisa Rabasca Roepe, Forbes, February 13, 2017 Marriage after age 50 is a wonderful thing, but it has some financial challenges, too. There is plenty to take into account, and plenty of money myths, if you plan to tie the knot in midlife — especially if your spouse-to-be has children from a first marriage.

The Mile High Promise, and Risk, of School Choice Eric Westervelt, NPR, February 20, 2017 There are still big gaps in access to quality schools; choice has done little to narrow achievement gaps by income and race; poorer families point to on-going transportation challenges; and choice in Denver includes some painful choices about re-booting and closing under-performing schools, mostly in neighborhoods with some of the most vulnerable students. Choice, first and foremost, should be about having a great school in your neighborhood and making sure that all of our schools serve all of our kids.

Parenting My Teen Feels Really Lonely Right Now Randi Olin, The Washington Post, February 21, 2017 Connection with other parents was a constant during the early years, maybe that’s why I am finding its absence so hard now. There was always somebody around who could relate to whatever problem I was having, on some level. But I haven’t had this luxury during the teen years.

Justices Rule in Favor of Michigan Girl in Dispute Over Service Dog Sam Hananel, Associated Press, February 22, 2017 The Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with a Michigan girl with cerebral palsy who wants to sue school officials over their refusal to let her bring a service dog to class. The justices ruled unanimously that federal disability laws might allow Ehlena Fry to pursue her case in court without first having to wade through a lengthy administrative process.” …The ruling could make it easier for disabled students to protect their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Teaching Children to Play with Fire Sara Zaske, The New York Times, February 23, 2017 Kain Karawahn, an artist, teaches young children in Germany how to set safe fires. Mr. Karawahn’s workshops aim to prevent tragedies caused by children playing with fire in secret. Alternatively, in the United States the avoidance approach has long been used by the fire protection association.

Bathroom Case Puts Transgender Student on National Stage Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times, February 23, 2017 With Mr. Trump’s decision this week to rescind protections for transgender students that allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, the next stop is the Supreme Court. At issue…is whether Title IX, a provision in a 1972 law that bans discrimination “on the basis of sex” in schools that receive federal money, also bans discrimination based on gender identity.

The Foster Father Who Cares When Terminally Ill Kids Have No One Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, PBS Newshour, February 24, 2017 In 1978, [Mohamed] Bzeek, then a former marathon runner, came to the U.S. from Libya to study engineering. He met his wife here in the U.S., and became a citizen in 1997. But, today, he is a different kind of champion…He is the only foster parent in this city of four million who cares solely for terminally ill children.

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