Children's Voice Jan/Feb 2007

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Eye on CWLA

NPT's Power & Influence 2006 Top 50
Bilchik Recognized for "Power and Influence"

For the fourth time, industry magazine NonProfit Times (NPT) has included CWLA's outgoing President and CEO Shay Bilchik on its Power and Influence Top 50 List, issued last August. The magazine selected individuals whom it described as having gone through rain, fire, pestilence, civil unrest, pandemics, and gloom of night, all the while trying to keep up with a need for services when bringing in new funding sources is increasingly more difficult.

The 2006 report described Bilchik as a "top lobbyist who heads the 900-member CWLA, which educates legislators that protecting vulnerable children is a family matter," and cited CWLA's Framework for Community Action as a blueprint for those in the nonprofit sector and elected officials to use.

"The NonProfit Times is a leading business publication for nonprofit management," says CWLA Board Chair George Swan. "This is a very prestigious honor for Shay and indeed recognizes his hard work and dedication in behalf of CWLA and our 900 member agencies, as well as his national leadership role."

Bilchik was the only leader of a national child welfare organization to make the list; however, several leaders in human services were also honored, including Israel L. Gaither, National Commander of the Salvation Army; Brian Gallagher, President and CEO of United Way of America; Charles Gould, President, Volunteers of America; David R. Jones, President and CEO of the Community Service Society of New York; Irv Katz, President of the National Human Services Assembly; and Jill Schumann, President & CEO, Lutheran Services in America. In addition to Bilchik, the two standouts in the area of children's services included Roy L. Williams, Chief Scout Executive, Boy Scouts of America, and Roxanne Spillett, President of Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Publication Highlights Information from LGBTQ Listening Forums

CWLA and Lambda Legal have launched a new publication to serve as a guide for helping the child welfare system better meet the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in care.

Out of the Margins: A Report on Regional Listening Forums Highlighting the Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Youth in Care is a compilation of the experiences of LGBTQ youth in care, along with concrete solutions to end the problems they face in the foster care, juvenile justice, and homeless or transitional living systems. The information was gathered during 13 listening forums in 2003 and 2004, attended by more than 500 people from 22 states, including social workers, service providers, administrators, caregivers, and LGBTQ youth who are or were in care.

"This report offers concrete recommendations for policymakers and practitioners who want to make a difference in the lives of LGBTQ youth," says CWLA LGBTQ Program Director Rob Woronoff. "The experiences and practical solutions in this report come directly from the people who are most affected--the youth and their advocates, caregivers, and service providers."

Out of the Margins builds on Lambda Legal's 2001 publication, Youth in the Margins, a tool aimed at providing child welfare administrators with recommendations on policies, training, and services to better meet the needs of LGBTQ youth in care.

"We held listening forums in every region of the country and found that the needs of LGBTQ youth in care are by and large the same no matter where they live," says Rudy Estrada, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal's Foster Care Project. "From large urban cities to small rural towns, not enough is being done to keep these young people safe. That kind of coast-to-coast consensus makes this book applicable to child welfare services everywhere."

Out of the Margins is available free on CWLA's website. Download as a PDF, or order a print version ($6.95 per copy for shipping and handling applies).

Lambda Legal, in partnership with CWLA, also recently published a toolkit to help child welfare professionals at all levels ensure LGBTQ young people in out-of-home care receive the support and services they deserve. Getting Down to Basics: Tools for Working with LGBTQ Youth in Care offers practical tips and information on an array of subjects of importance for LGBTQ youth and the adults and organizations who care for them. The toolkit can be ordered free from www.cwla.org or www.lambdalegal.org.

CWLA Voices Concern Over New Child Abuse Registries

The President signed into law last July the new Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. The law expands the national sex offender registry by integrating the information in state sex offender registry systems and ensuring that law enforcement has access to the same information nationwide.

The law, named for the late child of John Walsh, television host of America's Most Wanted, also strengthens federal penalties for crimes against children and authorizes new regional Internet Crimes Against Children task forces that will provide funding and training to help state and local law enforcement combat sexual exploitation of minors on the Internet. Additionally, the law creates a new national child abuse registry that requires investigators to perform background checks of adoptive and foster parents before they are approved to take custody of a child.

CWLA has expressed concerns about some parts of the new law that were added late in the legislative process, particularly over the child abuse registry. CWLA signed onto a letter to lawmakers last summer from the National Child Abuse Coalition, which stated, "The Coalition recognizes that not all states maintain the same registry information; some states no longer maintain registries at all. Most tribes, which are included in the proposed bill, maintain no registries at all." The Coalition also recommended the child abuse registry comply with the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, as the bill stipulates.

CWLA also expressed reservations about another of the bill's provisions that would prohibit California, New York, and several other states from continuing the way they address background checks of foster and adoptive parents.

A final concern is that the legislation mandates that juveniles be included on the national sex offender registry if they are an adjudicated delinquent of aggravated sexual assault and are age 14 or older. CWLA joined with many other organizations in calling on Congress to abide by established principles of confidentiality concerning juveniles, noting that without careful risk assessments and judicial review for juvenile sex offenders, youth who pose no future risk to public safety will have their own safety jeopardized and their futures inevitably compromised by their inclusion in the registry.

New Regional Directors Welcomed to South, Midwest, and New England

In 2006, CWLA welcomed three new directors to its regional offices--Adrianne Humes Lewis as director of the Southern Region, Louise Richmond as head of the New England Region, and Cindy Ryman Yost as the Mountain Plains Region director.

Before coming to CWLA, Humes Lewis served as Deputy Director of the Maryland Association of Resources for Families and Youth, and as a Governor's Policy Fellow with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and the Department of Juvenile Justice. Humes Lewis is not a new face at CWLA, having served as a public policy intern for the League in the past. She is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and can be reached at 704/392-8041.

Richmond has worked as a child welfare professional for more than 25 years, much of that time with CWLA member agencies in Massachusetts. Most recently, she served as the Assistant Executive Director at Saint Vincent's Home in Fall River, Massachusetts. She is working from CWLA's office in Quincy, Massachusetts, and can be contacted at 617/770-3008.

Ryman Yost is former Chief Operating Officer for CEDARS Youth Services, a CWLA member agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. She has also served as President of the Nebraska Association of Homes and Services for Children. Most recently, she was the Executive Director of the Lincoln Children's Museum in Nebraska. Ryman Yost is based in Lincoln, and can be reached at 402/730-9275.


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