Child and Family Sciences – Children and Families in Crisis

May 8, 2001

Crises experienced by children and their families; separation, divorce, remarriage and the consequent formation of step-relationships, death, alcoholism and drug abuse, child abuse, disabilities, and other topics.

This class will provide you the opportunity to examine children and families in crisis. Unlike the typical university course, the content of this class, in some situations, may elicit strong emotional responses. The outcome of our exploration will be a deep understanding of the impact of crisis on the human experience and the ability to assist yourself and others ‘in coping with crisis. Specifically, the successful completion of this course will result in the following outcomes:

1. An increased understanding of the multi faceted nature of children and families.

2. Awareness of how your own belief system and assumptions of human behavior facilitate or interfere with understanding children and families in crisis.

3. The demonstration of crisis theory knowledge through discussion, written work, and exams. Comprehension of the nature and dynamics of crisis events and appropriate coping strategies as shown by the ability to select the most appropriate intervention in specific crisis situations.

4. Integration of a service experience to a specific community organization with the curriculum of the course so that it is evident how the activity enhanced your learning and how the learning of the course enhanced your service.


Attendance & Preparation:
Your presence in class is your most significant contribution to the class. Attendance is so vital that your final grade can be affected. If you complete the semester with a borderline grade (e.g., 89%) and have not missed any class sessions, you will receive the higher grade. Since each of the class periods is equal to one week·s classes, missing one or two sessions because of various circumstances is reasonable, however, each session you miss after two will reduce your overall course grade by 10 percentage points. Missing a third of the class meetings (5) will result in failing the class. Coming to class late or leaving early will be viewed as missing 1/2 of a class period.

Your preparation is the second most significant contribution you make to the class. To facilitate discussion, clarification, and learning, it is vital that all assignments be completed when due. This means having read appropriate chapters before the class period in which they will be discussed. Your involvement through being prepared to participate in discussions and answer questions based on the assigned readings will greatly enhance the course. Late assignments are accepted under only very special circumstances. In some cases where the circumstance was not extreme, I may accept the assignment and give partial credit. In the latter situation, each week late will reduce the grade by one letter. Any assignment received after two weeks from the due date will receive the maximum grade of “D.” No late assignments will be accepted during the last week of classes.

Service Learning 25%
“Education without social action is a one-sided value because it has no true power potential. Social action without education is a weak expression of pure energy. ” Martin Luther King Jr.

Often the deepest learning is accomplished through EXPERIENCE. One type of experience is found by giving in your community. In our consumption oriented and time-restricted world, this giving is too often limited to “token” amounts of money, e.g., buying a raffle ticket or going to a fund-raising dinner. The act of giving one’s time and energy as a service to others seems to have fallen out of fashion among many people. When service in our communities is organized in the context of the curriculum of a course so that the student’s learning is enhanced and the community benefits it is known as service-learning. CFS 13 3 -S is one of the service-learning courses on our campus.

The goals of the service-learning assignment are to facilitate the process of giving of yourself in a setting which is DIVERSE from your normal realms of experience and enhance the academic learning or the course curriculum through the community service. Another benefit of service learning is the insight you may gain into yourself and others as you explore unique territory. In addition, you may find your sense of interconnectedness with others is strengthened. In past semesters some students have suggested this is the most significant assignment of their college course work, perhaps it will be meaningful for you.

Your task is:
Complete a minimum of TEN hours of service in the community during the semester. The class will be divided and each group will complete the assignment by a given date in the semester. I have contacted a variety of community-based organizations who will work with you to make the experience meaningful. They include:

The Boys and Girls Club (Pete Sanchez), a variety of youth activities which promote fun and community building.
WRAMP (Holly Zuccarini) a reading program for middle school children.
Stone Soup, Helping a near CSUF community meet social needs of minority groups.
Chicano Youth Center Mr. Alfonso Hernandez
C.A.R.E. Mentor Program, (Judith Reynoso) At risk high-school students and helped through being a positive example and coaching.
The Sanctuary (Julie Agustin), a youth center and shelter which helps troubled adolescents.

Each of these organizations has provided the following information that is on file in my office:

a. The mission, philosophy, strengths, and needs of the organization.
b. Strengths of the people who use the services at the agency.
c. Needs/challenges of the people who use the services at the agency.
d. How the agency and I will maintain contact about your service.
e. The preparation (orientation and training) you will complete for the service.
Directions to the agency.
g. Activities in which you will engage.
h. Days and times service can occur.

During the first week of class I will highlight the above information to help in your selection. In addition, I am available during office hours or by arrangement to discuss placement with you. The quality of your service to the agency is so unimportant that it will be considered in your grade on this assignment. Issues such as attitude, punctuality, dedication, and notification to the agency, if you cannot keep a specific commitment to be there will be reported by your supervisor. If there are any problems that arise for you during this service, please talk to your supervisor and/or me. Also if any problems regarding the quality of your work occur, the supervisor will contact me. Throughout the semester you will be asked in class for brief feedback on the service-learning experience.

2. Collect a signed document (letterhead required or no credit will be given) that verifies your minimum volunteer hours. This verification will also include comments regarding the value of your work. Ask for a current brochure on the program and also hand this in.

3. Prepare a thank you letter to the agency. Include in this letter: appreciation for their help with this assignment, specific strengths and weaknesses of the experience, some comments as to the ways the service-learning experience related to the course and the overall benefits of the experience.

4. Prepare a 3-5 page paper using the three identifiable sections that follow

A. Service Description: Where the assignment was completed and the basis (WHY) for its selection. Some information regarding the HISTORY of the agency is appropriate in this section. Also consider what SOCIAL PROBLEM(s) the agency is working on and the specific INTERVENTIONS they use.

B. Reactions: In the context of self-exploration and self-discovery, complete a description of your FEELINGS, OBSERVATIONS, PERSONAL VALUES, ATTITUDES and even ETHICAL ISSUES related to the experience. You may consider your reactions to being at the site that is diverse from your normal experiences, any shifts in your attitude, as well as your INTENTIONS upon completing the assignment

C. Relation to Course Content: A DEPTH analysis of the experience in relation to at least FIVE NUMBERED SPECIFIC PRINCIPLES and CONCEPTS of the course. This section needs to identify specific elements of the course from lecture, text, discussion, videos which are amplified by your community service. The goal of this section is to illustrate that the accomplishment of service enhances your academic study and learning.

5. Submit the paper copy of thank you letter and signed documentation and evaluation with the attached page (at the end of the syllabus) as your cover sheet on the appropriate due date. Be prepared to discuss the experience.

Reaction Journal 25%:
Each week a reaction journal will be completed with three sections, one for that week·s reading assignment, another for the previous week’s class meeting and finally a question section. This journal will require about thirty to fifty minutes to write depending on the amount of material covered and your reflective writing skills. The process will become easier because your skills will improve by doing the assignment. All journals consist of three identified sections and follow this format:

Your Class Number_________Material Covered ______Jr1 Number_____________

SECTION 1: Reactions to the readings.
Did you share the author’s point of view? Why? Is your response based on your own experience, knowledge, values, or beliefs? Did you have any emotional reactions to the material, e.g., Warmth? Anger? Hurt? Appreciation? Others? Why? Take the time to become in touch with your inside self in relation to the ideas you have read. Please do NOT include a review of the material generally. This is not a book report. Include your reflection on the material and your self-discoveries that resulted from completing the reading. Look at the content as it relates to your goals in this class, does the material stimulate your is it valid? Reliable? Important?

SECTION 2: Reactions to the previous class period.
Using the same approach as section 1, focus on the previous class.

SECTION 3: Questions.

What significant questions occurred as a result of the reading and class period? What issues do you want to discuss with your fellow students?

A valuable part of the assignment is PEER FEEDBACK. The opportunity to read a classmate’s reaction journal presents the material to you in a new way. Each day your journal will be handed in and a classmate will pick it up for reading and feedback. The journal will be taken home and returned to you the next class period. When you receive your journal back if you feel the assignment was unfairly evaluated please ask me to look at it immediately. Save all your Journals in a tab folder. On the last day of class I will collect your folders and give an overall grade based on your completion of each assignment and the depth of your reflective introspection.

Exams 20%
The purposes of exams in this class include: 1.) to evaluate the effectiveness of my teaching, 2.) to access the strength and weaknesses of your learning, and 3.) to stimulate your study of the material. These exams will cover assigned readings and the in-class lecture/discussions. They will be true/false and multiple choice and will be taken on Scranton form 882 ES-LOVAS, which can be distinguished by blue bubbles.
No late exams will be given. Because study groups are often helpful to improve exam performance, I encourage you to form them early in the semester. I also suggest you meet in and out of class to better understand the material.

Paper 25%:
There are a variety of topics that may interest you within the subject matter of this class. Your task is to select an area of interest, notify me of your selection and then prepare a TOPICAL SUMMARY. This paper will present material on the topic in the format provided in another handout. You may find the topic you choose is related to the mission of your service-learning site. In this case required interviews for the paper may be conducted with the community-based organization’s professionals. The paper will be due the beginning of the two class periods. You cannot receive an “A” on this assignment unless both parts of the assignment are TOTALLY complete when due. Ten points will be deducted if you do not submit a first copy, 5-8 points will be deducted if the first copy is significantly incomplete and 24 points will be subtracted if the first copy is somewhat incomplete. You may be requested to share elements of your paper with the class.

Wrap up Paper/Celebration 5%
This 2-4 page paper will be due the last day of class and I encourage you to wait until the last week of class to complete it. The focus of this assignment is an overall reflection and celebration of what the course has been for you. Thinking about the following questions may help you complete the paper. What meant the most to you? How have you changed? What challenged you, stretched your mind? What aspect touched you emotionally? What elements will have a lasting impact? If we visit five or more years from now what will you still have as part of the class experience? Will your relationship with others be different? How? Is your feeling about yourself different? How? Are you different as a person ‘in some way? How? Notice your gratitude for your own life and others who’ve been part of this learning experience, those who have made the journey with you. Express this thankfulness and other emotions that are present as we conclude the class. I look forward to hearing any aspect of this paper you want to share during the final day of class. If you decide you do not want to share, I respect this too and know some things are best kept private.


Brenner, A., (1984). Helping Children Cope With Stress, Lexington, Massachusetts: Lexington Books
Brooks, B., Siegel, P., (1996) The Scared Child, New York, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Boss, P. (1988). Family Stress Management Newbury Park, CA: Sage
McWhirter, (1998). At-Risk Youth, Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole

You may note one of the required texts is rather old. Unfortunately, there is not a newer edition of this outstanding book. This text is written to describe and evaluate a variety of stressors and coping processes children from infancy to age twelve experiences. It is specifically oriented to teachers, which is the profession most of the students in this class are pursuing. Though many of the statistics will be updated as we discuss the book, the major themes remain timely. Please read with this in mind.

I hope this semester will include time to examine your integrity. While the pressure to improve your grade and the temptation to cheat is an issue for many students, oneself respect is also a constant issue. Most of us would violate our better selves, our integrity, if we cheat.

For clarification please read the following excerpts from the University policy on cheating and plagiarism. Cheating is “any or all actions by a student which are intended to gain an unearned academic advantage by fraudulent or deceptive means.”

“Since, proven cheating/plagiarism can result in severe penalties and consequences, students are expected to clarify with their instructors whether or not certain actions would or would not be acceptable in writing papers, taking examinations, doing homework, and other activities pertaining to any given class and/or laboratory. If a student observes one or more students cheating and/or plagiarizing, it would be appropriate for the student to confront those students directly and/or to notify the -instructor so that the instructor could take appropriate action.”

I am here to help you do the best you can in this class. If, for any reason, you have difficulty in the class, please come to my office for a visit. “Note: If you have special needs as addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and need course materials ‘in alternative formats, notify your course instructor immediately. Reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate your special needs.”

Professor: Richard D. Berrett, Ph.D.
Hours: TU: 1-2
W: 1-4
TH: 1-2 or by appointment



1/20 1 Introduction to Course
Video: Nine

1/27* 2 What is Service-Learning Helping Chapter 1& Handouts
Crisis Theory

2/3 3 Stress in One and Two Parent Families Helping Chapters 2 & 3 1
2/10 4 Stress in Multi-parent Families, Helping Chapter 4&Handouts 2
Video: Step Apart

2/17 5 Trauma and Death Scared Chapters 1-4; Handouts 3
Video: Who Can You Talk To EXAM ONE

2/24 6 Adoption, Death, Divorce Helping Chapters 5 & 7; Scared 4
Videos: On The Edge, Children and Divorce Chapters 5 & 8; Handouts

3/2* 7 Poverty, Illness and Injury, Natural Disasters Helping Chapter 6,Scared 7&9,
Video: Deadbeat Dads Handouts 5

3/9 8 Trauma by Proxy Scared Chapter 10 6

3/16 9 Family Violence and Abuse Helping Chapter 8-10 7
Sexual Abuse and Sexual Exploitation Scared Chapter 6
Videos: Bonding, The Trouble With Evan Handouts

3/23 10 Victimization Handouts 8
Video: Child of Rage
Videos: Spanking, Child Care

3/30 11 Alcoholism Helping Chapter 11 9
Video: Drunk or Sober Handouts


4/13* 13 Disabled Children Handouts; TOPICAL 10
The Difficult Child in the Classroom SUMMARY FINAL COPY

4/27 14 Healthy Families and Helping Strategies Helping Chapter 12, Handouts 11

5/4 15 Healing and Review JOURNAL FOLDER AND

The Final Exam will be EXAM THREE and will be held MAY 16TH FROM 3:30-5:30

CFS 133-S

Name ________Class meeting time ___________ Roll Number_________

Assigned grades are based on your paper and have the following meaning:

A: A superior assignment that includes and thoroughly addresses all aspects. Each section, Service Description, Reactions, and Relation to Course are covered in depth. Though it may have minor flaws, the paper is an outstanding examination of the experience that demonstrates penetrating understanding. It details agency information, personal exploration and clearly grounds community service to at least five specific concepts from the course. The thank you letter includes all aspects and the evaluation from the agency is very positive.

B: A very good assignment which is better than adequate as a response. It is somewhat less developed than the “A” paper and may slight elements of the assignment in one of the three areas. It may have minor problems with spelling or grammar, or it may have less information regarding the agency, self-discovery or integration with course material. The thank you letter includes all aspects but they may not be fully developed. The evaluation from the agency is positive.

C: A good assignment is an adequate or satisfactory response and completes the service portion of the assignment including a detailed discussion of the location you did your service. It may superficially touch on the agency, personal reactions and/or reaction to the course. The thank you letter includes some aspects and the evaluation from the agency is good.

D: A minimally acceptable assignment which does not meet all of the requirements. The paper may show problems in many areas and could reflect a lack of understanding of the assignment. You may have selected an inappropriate setting for the assignment or the paper does not include significant parts of the minimum assignment such as one or more of the three areas. The thank you letter might be missing or it may include few of the required aspects. The evaluation from the agency may be average or suggest problems.

F: A failing paper has major deficiencies and does not meet the minimum requirements of the assignment. You may have not have obtained and submitted evidence of your TEN hours of service on a letterhead. The evaluation from the agency might be negative or missing. Perhaps you did not complete essential elements of the paper.

School: California State University, Fresno
Professor: Richard D. Berrett, Ph.D.
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