R.A.V.E.N. History


Alaska Attachment and Bonding Associates, AABA, founded in 1997, and Incorporated as a 501 © 3 in 2001, has gathered information from families over the past nine years from workshops, informal surveys, and advocacy work. AABA asked parents, “What do you need most when parenting traumatized children”. The answer was relief! So, AABA took on the enormous task of designing the first respite program in Alaska whose goal is to provide relief for parents raising traumatized children! Respite development began on August 18, 2006, when AABA became a site sponsor for Corporation of National and Community Service’s (NCCS) Ameri*Corps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), federal program, begun under President John F. Kennedy, to fight poverty in America.

People behind the scene

Without the dedication, perseverance, faith and hope of instrumental people involved in the development of this project; the collective dream to help parents who are raising traumatized children with attachment challenges, to find relief and hope through respite, this project would not be here today.

For their efforts, R.A.V.E.N. would like to acknowledge:

Bernadine Janzen

Bernadine (Bernie) Janzen has worked in the juvenile justice system of California. She has also been a group home foster parent, a group home counselor and a trainer in physical and mental wellness. She is an adoptive parent of two siblings from child welfare who experience breaks in their attachment. Ms. Janzen was a co-founder of and the Chief Executive Officer of the Alaska Attachment & Bonding Associates (AABA). She has her Masters of Science in Children Community Based Mental Health from Vermont College and South New Hampshire University and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Alaska. She is a registered clinician with the International Association for Treatment & Training of Attachment of Children (ATTACh). Ms. Janzen is a national speaker on issues of childhood attachment and the healing of the “new family” in, which this population of children come to live. She has provided consulting and contract work to Catholic Social Services of Alaska and to the Alaska Attachment & Bonding Associates. Ms. Janzen has worked for the last 8 years with families who children experience attachment disorders. She is currently expanding her practice to travel to families who live in rural areas of the United States who may not otherwise have access to attachment trained therapists.

Ms. Janzen believes that all families who provide homes for children with attachment challenges need specialized therapy. She understands that trained families, friends, professionals and communities are the key to support this population of children and their new families in the challenging work ahead.

Contact information: bsj@laguna.com.mx

Revised: 9-17-06

Melissa Jessup

In 2003, my family and I had a personal experience with what was described to us as Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I knew nothing of this disorder, and I found myself on a journey that would forever change not only my life, but also the lives of my family members.

It was while on my exploration of RAD, that I met Bernie Janzen, and Eleanor Oakley with Alaska Attachment & Bonding Associates (AABA) an Advocacy and Resource Agency for parents who are parenting traumatized children. I began to volunteer my time by helping at the office of AABA once a week. Soon after, I became a Parent Advisory Board Member.

What I soon learned as a parent dealing with this disorder, is the lack of knowledge surrounding the disorder in our state. Most importantly, because of this lack of knowledge, there is a huge gap in services available to families living with this population of children.

What I saw, was the need for respite, which is, sadly unavailable in this state. As with any system, the wheels of change move very slowly, and because of this need for respite, in August of 2005, Jan King began her journey to develop a respite program with support from AABA, and AmeriCorps*VISTA. Jan approached me 6 months later with an offer to step into her place as the R.A.V.E.N. Project Developer when she finished her year of service. I agreed, and volunteered for the next 6 months on the R.A.V.E.N. Respite Project, to learn and become familiar with the development process, as Jan completed her term of service. What I knew then and know now to be true, is that families are exhausted. They just need a break! This was the missing gap.

I am the current AmeriCorps*VISTA Member R.A.V.E.N. Respite Project Developer; a Parent/Advocate Member of ATTACh; member of the DEC (Drug Endangered Children) Education Committee, and facilitator and founder of Mom2Mom fun support group. Above that, I am a wife and mother, dedicated to helping find resources currently unavailable for families in need of respite. I will work to design a program that will give this“break” for these families, to help build stronger, healthier, family relationships, while also marketing to achieve a better understanding of this disorder and the need for respite among community members and State legislators.

Contact: melissa@ravenrespite.org

Updated: October 18, 2006

Alaska Attachment & Bonding Associates (AABA)

AABA has been advocating for the past ten years to help parents who are raising children that come from trauma and bring a suitcase full of problems. These new families who attended AABA workshops, information meetings, or participated in informal surveys, told AABA the most important service unavailable to them was respite! To quote, “sometime we just need a break!”

In 2004, AABA CEO, Eleanor Oakley, MS, a former foster parent, and AABA Advisory Board Member, Bernadine Janzen, MS, LPC, an adoptive parent and past foster parent, applied to the AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Program, a Federal Program, that recruits qualified persons to develop needed projects in low income -culture areas. It was their combined dream to find a way to provide this service to this population. On August, 18, 2006, the AmeriCorps* VISTA began working on the development of the Respite Project known as R.A.V.E.N.

The current VISTA, Melissa Jessup, and AABA will continue with the necessary steps to fulfill this dream.

Jan King

As the past AmeriCorps *VISTA member for this project, on a professional level, this was a very rewarding year. To have the opportunity to serve the community and the families in the community who are so desperate for this service, is indeed a great honor. On a personal level, I can more appreciate my own parenting as a “walk in the park”, compared to what these families experience.

I will continue to be involved in this project because, first, I believe respite is needed more than ever by these parents, their children, and our community; secondly I believe there is an enormous amount of educating to be done for the general public, other parents and family members, and to State and Local lawmakers, regarding the difference between “having a unruly child” and “a child who comes from trauma”!


The R.A.V.E.N. Respite Project would like to express gratefulness and appreciation for the help of parents, community volunteers and partners on this project!

"Volunteering is not something that's just nice to do, it's necessary to solve important community problems."