CWLA is fast approaching its 90th anniversary, and as we look back over the organization's lifespan, it's safe to say the world has greatly changed since we first opened our doors. The issues concerning children and families are larger and more complex, and budgets are tight. These factors call for changing how we do our work. Since assuming leadership of CWLA, I've been working to clarify how we do this as a league so that we increase our ability to make a positive difference in the lives of children and families. What has become clear to me through conversations with members, donors, and staff is that our core mission must be to change the public will as it relates to better serving kids and families. Everything else we do--sponsoring conferences, offering consultation services, producing publications, and so on--merely supports this core mission.
I believe, deep in their hearts, people in this country are appalled at the fact that as a nation we are not doing enough for our children, and they desire change. This means our job, as a league of child welfare agencies, is to tap into that desire and translate it into action so we can move forward. CWLA's 2008 National Conference is our most visible and powerful means for doing just that.
The conference, February 25-27, comes at an important point in time. We have a new administration at the League, including a new Board chair and new President and CEO, and we have a new administration coming in shortly at the federal level. We are also approaching nearly a century of service at CWLA. This year's National Conference will reflect a new understanding of our leadership responsibilities as they've grown and changed over the years. We are encouraging CWLA members to become more involved in organizing the conference and to rally their agency leaders and staff to attend.
One of the most visible changes to this year's conference will be around our legislative outreach. In the past, we've devoted one day out of the three-day conference to boarding buses and heading to Capitol Hill for one-on-one meetings with lawmakers. Known in the past as Hill Day, it has been our chance to come together and demonstrate our commitment and passion around our mission to the leaders who sponsor and fund the policies that directly affect children's lives.
This year we are doing the same, but under a new banner--Advocacy Day. We are expanding our efforts to involve more of you, whether it means speaking up for local legislation, introducing an agency to Washington, or engaging local press.
To gear up CWLA members and others for this event, an article in this issue of Children's Voice is devoted to the issue of advocacy. "Adding Advocacy to Mission" not only provides more details about Advocacy Day 2008, it explains how child advocates nationwide can significantly affect public policy at all levels of government, whether or not they have the funds and resources to do so. The article also cites research showing that now more than ever we need to build public will around children's issues because of the many other issues--such as Iraq, terrorism, and the economy--competing for the nation's attention.
It is along these lines that I'm calling on all members and other child advocates to join us in February in Washington, DC, not as just another task on your to-do list, but as a necessary outgrowth of our overall mission to serve vulnerable families. Bring your staff. Bring your volunteers. As a united membership and child advocacy community, we will show we've accepted the challenge to improve the lives of children and their families, and we will extend that challenge to our nation's leaders. Through leading by example, we will show the country how they should and could make children a national priority.
We welcome all CWLA members and friends of children to visit www.cwla.org/conferences and register to attend.
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