A Fairy Tale Ending

Over the past two and a half years, I have had the privilege to work with 44 teen parents through our Teen Parent Outreach Program at Bridges of Hope. As the program comes to an end, I am saddened to not continue to work with such wonderful people; however, I am so grateful that our amazing community partner, Crow Wing County Community Services, will continue their great work with teen parents in our community. I’d like to share with you a story written by my counterpart and “good witch”–you’ll understand after reading the story (Kaylo Brooks, MFIP Outreach Worker at Crow Wing County). This story was shared at a graduation celebration for one of our teen dads, James, and is used with his permission:

James and Cat

James & His Girlfriend Catherine

Once upon a time a long, long time ago (well, okay, 8 months ago) in a village far far away (well, actually just in Brainerd) there lived a boy who had the magical superpowers of, um, playing video games. This boy was really skilled at “gaming” and could do it day in and day out, even in the nighttime! This boy was very bright, well-mannered, had a very kind heart, and was adored by all who knew him. This boy had a beautiful baby with fiery red hair and eyes like the ocean who was the center of his universe and he of hers. When you saw them together you knew that theirs was a bond that would forever remain. He also had a spectacular girlfriend who cheered him on and gave him courage and encouragement and knew all along in her heart that his potential was limitless.

But alas, as always in stories such as this, there comes along a witch–or in this case, three. They wrote a book of spells (also known as a Social Service Case Plan) which encouraged the boy to go to school and look for work and do good in the world. The boy, overcome by the persuasive witches, decided to follow the path the witches laid out in front of him. He took one step down the path, and then another, and another. The path was curvy, bumpy and often uphill, but before long the boy was sprinting down the path–fiery haired baby in one hand and holding his girlfriend’s hand in the other.

James and workers (4)

James & His Three “Witches”

Despite their broomsticks and cauldrons, even the witches couldn’t keep up with the boy! He graduated high school months earlier than the school said was possible, he earned awards at school for perfect attendance, and he was the Area Education Center Student of the Month in May. He missed one day–and one day only–when the blizzard wizard created a snow storm so deep that even the good witch, Kaylo, could not keep her broomstick on the road and therefore could not get the boy to school. He was loved by teachers and staff alike. One teacher told the witches that in all her years of teaching she has never seen a boy with such tenacity, perseverance, or work ethic. She said that above all that he is one of the nicest kids she has ever worked with, and with tears in her eyes, she said she was so very proud of him.

The path also brought the boy to a job at Target where he sometimes walks eight miles round trip to keep his job. (Yes, really!!) And most importantly, on this path, he has committed to his daughter by attending weekly classes at TCC for parenting skills: not because he isn’t good dad, but because he is willing to do whatever it takes to be a great dad.

And so here we are today, at the end of the boy’s path but certainly not the end of his journey. And without any hocus pocus, magic wands or fire breathing dragons, the boy and hero of our story, right before our eyes, has turned into a man.  

PicMonkey Collage

What an amazing honor it has been to be a small part of Cat & James (and many others’) paths!

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  • Financially support our work with children & families in the Lakes Area.
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When can I leave my child home alone?


Summer is in full swing and many parents may be wondering: When can I leave my child home alone?  As a parent, I remember wondering when it is okay to leave my children home by themselves and for how long. I found it was helpful to ask these questions.home

  • Is my child old enough and mature enough to be home alone?
  • Does my child know what to do if there is any emergency?
  • What are the legal guidelines in Crow Wing County?

Here are two resources that will be very helpful as you make this important decision for your child(ren).

  1. The Minnesota Child Maltreatment Screening Guidelines, Minnesota statute 626.556
  2. A Parent’s Guide to Leaving Children Home Alone, Childcare Aware of Minnesota

It is important to remember to think about each child’s maturity and their ability to handle themselves in all situations. Here are a few questions to consider from A Parent’s Guide to Leaving Children Home Alone as you think about whether your child is ready to stay home alone:

  • Does your child know when and how to call 9-1-1?
  • Can your child say and dial your home phone number and does she or he know your home address?
  • Does your child know how to reach you or other responsible adults by phone? Do you have a list of important and emergency phone numbers near the phone and within your child’s reach?
  • Has your child shown an interest in staying home alone? Would your child feel safe if home alone? Test this out by “practicing” with the children while you are still at home. Act out or talk through a few challenging situations that may arise while children are on their own.
  • Have you created a plan for your child’s day or time at home?

(For a full list of questions, check out: A Parent’s Guide to Leaving Children Home Alone) If you are unsure how to answer a question or the answer is ‘no’ be sure to use this as an area for discussion or planning within your family. Always include your child in the decision making process.

Minnesota Child Maltreatment Screening Guidelines are used by child protection agencies in determining if a report regarding lack of supervision needs to be assessed by a social worker. Minnesota statute 626.556 addresses the issue of failure to provide necessary supervision or child care arrangements. Reports alleging inadequate child care arrangements may be screened in for a child protection response according to the following guidelines:

  • Children age 7 and under who are left alone for any period of time.
  • Children ages 8 to 10 who are left alone for more than three hours.
  • Children ages 11 to 13 who are left alone for more than 12 hours.
  • Children ages 14 to 15 who are left alone for more than 24 hours.
  • Children ages 16 to 17 may be left home alone for more than 24 hours with a plan in place concerning how to handle an emergency.
  • Children under the age of 11 should not provide child care.
  • Children ages 11 to 13 who are placed in a child care role may not do so for more than 12 hours.
  • Children ages 14 to 15 who are placed in a child care role may not do for more than 24 hours.

School-aged (K-6th gr.) child care programs available in our area:

  • Brainerd: Fun “n” Friends ISD 181 (218-454-6920)
  • Cosby–Ironton: Summer Kidz Kamp, Hallett Center (218-546-2616)
  • Pillager: Fun Stop (218-746-2192)
  • Staples-Motley: Staples Summer Time Adventures (218-894-2497)
  • Pequot Lakes: Kids Konnection (218-562-6109)

 If you or someone you know could benefit from additional support, click here to learn more about our programs, or call us at 218-825-7682.