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CWLA Launches Campaign For White House Conference On Children and Youth

For more information, contact
Joyce Johnson
Phone: 804/492-4519
Cell: 703/980-7641

White House Conference on Child Welfare in 2010 September 18, 2007, Arlington, VA -- Today the Child Welfare League of America launched a campaign for a White House Conference on Children and Youth to take place in 2010. The focus of the Conference will be on the issues of child abuse and neglect.

"The world has changed and the strategies from nearly forty years ago are insufficient. Imagine the fate of a young child named Maggie born in 2000, the year of hope and renewal for our country. Yet at age seven, Maggie is still in our foster care system and just getting by on the strength of her own resolve. It shouldn't be that way, but it is because we have failed her as a nation in so many ways," said Christine James-Brown, President/CEO of CWLA, on why she feels a White House conference is urgently needed.

The call is for all organizations and partners advocating on behalf of children to join in this effort for Congress and the next President to authorize and support this White House Conference. This Conference offers the chance to help the thousands of children like Maggie living in neighborhoods across America.

A White House conference would examine the greatest needs, set forth recommended legislative fixes to Congress and establish a plan to set the country on a path of reform. The commitment of the President and the power of the White House are needed to-once again-make vulnerable children a national priority and point the way to significant reform and improvements.

The first Conference was called by President Theodore Roosevelt with a conference held every ten years. No conference has been held since 1970. Previous conferences made significant contributions to establishing priorities for protecting and supporting children in need. In 1909, the conference for the first time committed the nation to oppose the institutionalization of dependent children. The 1919 White House Conference on Standards of Child Welfare produced the first significant report on child health and welfare standards. The next Conference, in 1929 created the most comprehensive report on the needs of children ever written, and resulted in the issuance of a national Children's Charter. The last Conference, in 1970, the White House Conference on Children and Youth, strived to strengthen the individuality and identity of children through the support of healthy personality development. CWLA has posted a brief history of the conferences on its  website.

Ms. James-Brown emphasized that Congress needs to assume leadership on this issue and set the tone with a mandate to the White House and the nation to aggressively focus on reforming the child welfare system as it currently exists. She noted that the reforms instituted following previous White House Conferences were heralded as groundbreaking for that specific time in history. We need similar new ideas and a new approach to protecting and nurturing children and "reinstating the Conference is a means to that end," James-Brown explains.

"Each day in this country, television and newspapers report stories of abuse and neglect. The numbers speak volumes; annually there are approximately 3 million reports of abuse/neglect, more than 500,000 in foster care, and more than 100,000 waiting to be adopted. Clearly we have let down children like Maggie who languish in the foster care system. We cannot afford to lose the contributions of Maggie and others like her. We have to make things better for Maggie, and future generations that follow her," said James-Brown.

Since 1920, the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) has been the nation's pre-eminent organization dedicated to ensuring that disadvantaged and vulnerable children are protected from harm and have the tools and resources they need to grow into the healthy and happy adults we want them to become. CWLA is the trusted authority for professionals who work with children and the only national organization with members from both public and private agencies, providing unique access and influence to all sectors of the children's services field.

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