December 1997 to May 2013
In late 1997 two mothers (parents) came together to discuss the difficulties each was having in parenting children who had been labeled as having attachment disorders. The idea came about when the mothers decided to use their respective knowledge and resources. One mother came from an educational background while the other mother came from a correctional planning of exercise/crafts/recreation of prison populations. They decided to form an organization where other parents with similar problems and experiences could come and find the much-needed help to cope with these difficult children.
Soon other interested individuals come together and a Board of Directors was established. All board members volunteered their time and talents toward the effort. AABA’s vision Statement, Mission Statement, Policies and Procedures were adopted. On January 12, 1998, Alaska Attachment & Bonding Associates (AABA) became the organization’s official name with a 501(c)(3) status. Currently AABA is comprised of volunteers, professionals and families who come to care for children through kinship care, adoption, guardianship and foster care. We are the only family driven organization of its type in Alaska .
AABA’s area of focus that was adopted:
Prevention – Placement - Treatment – Training
- Keeping children out of foster care is essential for the health of children while developing safe and nurturing family environments.
- Safe and nurturing families are essential for healthy attachments and affect how an individual sees society throughout his/her life.
- Treatment for children of abuse and neglect must address attachment in the 0-3 years of life to be successful.
- Training professionals from the state level to the community level is key for understanding system development, creating a more efficient and effective use of money. AABA is committed to workshops on attachment issues.
AABA is continuing to work toward:
- POLICY CHANGES: The opportunity to teach legislators and state division personnel about attachment and bonding issues.
- NEWSLETTERS: AABA’s newsletter is published bi-monthly and is distributed to parents, social workers, educators, Legislators, law and medical personnel. AABA’s statewide mailing list consists of over 2000 people and continues to grow.
- TRAINING: AABA offers workshops, two or three times a years. As funding is available.
- STATE AND LOCAL PARTICIPATION: family members are encouraged to be part of local meetings to promote education.
- COLLABORATION: Local and National groups AABA affiliates with are:
- International Association for Treatment & Training of the Attachment of Children (ATTACh)
- The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (FFCMH), a statewide parent group
- PARENTS, Inc
- National Alliance for the Mentally III (NAMI) statewide
- Alaska Young Family Network (AYFN)
- Mat-Su Agency Partnership (MAP)
- LINKS/Parent Resource Center
- Alaska Center for resource families
- Co-Occurring Disorders Institute (CoDI)
- CCS Early Learning
- Bricks 4 Kids
- Alaska Assistance Dogs
- Presbyterian Hospitality House
- AABA collaborated with the Division of Foster Care & Adoption, Public Health, Medical Assistance, Mental Health & Disabilities, Foster Parent Training Center and other state agencies.
- AABA volunteers have attended Special Education Conferences, Early Childhood Conference, Pathways Conference and the Weaving a Circle of Care Conference. These conferences have brought national speakers to Alaska .
- EDUCATION: AABA provides education through its bi-monthly newsletter. AABA offers workshops on attachment issues two to three times each year.
- SUPPORT: Currently AABA provides telephone/email support, referral/resource information, parent support group and Raven lending library to family members and professionals seeking direction. AABA has developed a web site: www.akattachment.org.
- ACTION COMMITTEES: Action committee work meets a volunteer’s personal and professional agenda, as well as the opportunity to carry out their interests which include: FAS/FAE, Family-to-Family Mentoring. Youth Independent Living Skills, Out-of-State Residential Treatment Resources and work on a State-Wide Bring the Kids Home committee.
- CONTRIBUTIONS: Much needed support and donations have come from the business community, in addition to board member contributions, as well as several small grants. AABA has been successful in obtaining administrative support through the Mature Alaskans Seeking Skills Training (MASST).
The evolution of AABA continued in its mission of advocacy and education as a non-profit, volunteer, family-driven organization. AABA continues to listen to parents who express the needs of their children. AABA with the assistance of VISTA Volunteers has developed a Respite Program for parents. AABA is working toward collaboration with an agency that will provide personnel to provide the Respite. AABA will provide the training.
AABA’s 2 P’s (Prevention and Placement) and 2 T’s (Treatment and Training) are constantly in the forefront of AABA’s thinking. We have continued to make progress with this work.
- In the area of prevention AABA has continued to coordinate and cooperate with groups throughout the state who are working towards prevention of attachment disorder.
- AABA began dialogue in 2003 with several agencies discussing how AABA can assist in placement of Alaska ’s children.
- Treatment has been a primary concern for those families who contact AABA. AABA is still working on a plan for the making of a treatment center in Alaska that will meet the needs of families throughout Alaska.
- AABA has a clinical therapist who is trained, willing and able to work with these families.
- In the training area, AABA has increased workshop presentations locally and in the anchorage area on Attachment Sign & Symptoms and Assessment & Treatment of Attachment Disorders.
AABA’s costs have remained low. AABA maintains an office in Wasilla. The only expense AABA incurred to date has been that of hiring an Administrative Assistant, and contracted bookkeeper. The Administrative Assistant runs the office and lending library. She applies for grants and seeks donations. She maintains the grant paperwork. The bookkeeper works between 1-2 hours a month in maintaining AABA records for accountability and provides monthly profit and loss statements along with an annual review of expenses. The volunteer CEO and board members provide additional administrative oversight for the projects.
AABA continues to receive grants for sustainability and marketing.
AABA has solicited donations from business people in the community.
In December 2007, AABA moved its office to City Center Business Park in Wasilla. The lending library was moved to the site, catalogued to put on the web-site. Under the leadership and direction of the new CEO (Karen Howes) and the Board members, the challenge for 2013, 2014 and etc. is for AABA to continue to grow, become stronger in the community and continue the much-needed work of family advocacy and promoting healthy families.