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"Year of the Grandparent" Launched to Highlight Impact of Kin on Foster Care

Campaign Also Stresses Need for Continued Investments in Vulnerable Children For more information, contact
Shawn Flaherty

WASHINGTON, DC - The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) is marking the next year as the Year of the Grandparent: Keeping Kin Connected. A year of educational and informational activities--culminating with a grandparent award ceremony--comprise this important initiative, which highlights the growth in kinship care and showcases the improvements in child welfare policy and practice that have helped more children stay with family in lieu of entering foster care.

"Child welfare changes that make it easier for relatives to care for their kin are a key factor in recent progress in shrinking the foster care system. The Year of the Grandparent celebrates these noble efforts to keep kin connected, but it also underscores the continued attention to child welfare to ensure that more children are protected and have options beyond foster care," explained Christine James-Brown, CEO CWLA. "Since we are launching the initiative amid an uncertain budget climate, we hope the successes we highlight will help avert cuts that could derail recent advances."

Through the Year of the Grandparent, CWLA will pay tribute to those grandparents and other kin who are helping children face a brighter future. Grandparents are unsung heroes and symbols of a growing movement of relative caregivers who are altering their life's plan to help raise their extended families. With support from the child welfare profession, more than 2.6 million grandparents--and many more relatives--are raising their grandkids and kin, helping keep children out of the foster care system and increasing their odds of growing up great.

Key components of the year-long campaign include: 2011 CWLA National Conference (March 27-31) with designated sessions about kinship care; Advocacy Day and Reception (March 29); Year of the Grandparent Award Program in 2012 to honor grandparents and kinship providers selected by their respective Congressional delegations; a variety of convenings and communications throughout the year that highlight great grandparents and the issue, and a Year of the Grandparent Major Giving Initiative to support CWLA's efforts to promote best practices.

The Year of the Grandparent is being guided by CWLA and its Kinship Care Committee, made up of child welfare leaders and experts from around the nation. In addition, a number of members of Congress are lending their support as campaign Honorary Chairs, including: Sen. Tim Johnson, Sen. Mary Landrieu, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Rep. Susan Davis, Rep. Diana DeGette, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Al Green, Rep. David Loebsack, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard. Also a number of partnerships are being formed with other nonprofits such as AARP and Generations United to further highlight this positive trend.

The grandparent campaign was announced at CWLA's Congressional Reception during its National Conference--the largest gathering of its kind that brings child welfare professionals to DC to discuss pressing issues facing the nation's most vulnerable children. The reception followed Advocacy Day when more than 500 conference attendees went to Capitol Hill to make a case for protecting vulnerable children. A key feature of the Advocacy Day visit was to underscore the significant impact of budget cuts on children being raised by their grandparents and other kin as well as all other vulnerable children. The phrase, These Cuts Won't Heal, was coined as a rallying cry for CWLA's efforts to reduce the considerable and potentially lasting impact that the budget cuts will have on the nation's most fragile citizens especially those touched by the child welfare system.

About CWLA CWLA is a powerful coalition of hundreds of private and public agencies serving vulnerable children and families since 1920. Through its programs, publications, conferences, professional development, and consultation, CWLA speaks with authority and candor about the status and the needs of American children, young people, and families. As the nationally recognized standard-setter for child welfare services, CWLA provides direct support to agencies that serve children and families, improving the quality of the services they provide to more than nine million children every year.

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