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Conference Recap

The State of Children and Families: Building an Effective National Voice, CWLA's 2011 national conference covered several key messages March 27-30. Sunday's professional institutes focused in-depth on developing issues in the field, including kinship care. Monday's opening session with Dr. T. Berry Brazelton and Dr. Joshua Sparrow helped attendees get grounded in research, with discussion of child development and early prevention of adverse outcomes. Tuesday was about leadership and advocacy; CWLA staff introduced this year's Legislative Agenda, available here, and through the These Cuts Won't Health campaign reiterated the message that severe budget cuts will harm vulnerable children and families for years to come. Wednesday's town hall event and keynote speech from Commissioner Bryan Samuels inspired listeners with perspectives on the future of child welfare.

Year of the Grandparent

At the Congressional Reception March 29, CWLA announced its new Year of the Grandparent: Keeping Kin Connected initiative. As part of a growing movement, kinship caregivers are helping to keep children out of the foster care system and increase children's odds of growing up great. Throughout 2011, CWLA is paying tribute to those grandparents and other kin helping children have a brighter future. Learn more at www.cwla.org/yog.htm, and look for an article about the initiative in the next issue of Children's Voice.

Awards

CWLA presented several awards throughout the national conference, including:

  • David Roth Leadership Award: Robert McMahon
  • Dr. Alexander Gralnick Award: Dr. Nitin Gogtay
  • Anna Quindlen Award for Excellence in Journalism: Marjie Lundstrom and Noelle Conti
  • National Champion for Children Award: Robert "Bob" Danzig
  • Fostering Connections to Success Award: The Independence Bound Program, ECC
  • Congressional Advocates of the Year: Senators Mary Landrieu and Charles Grassley
  • National Corporate Advocate Award: WilmerHale
  • National Corporate Friend of Children: Century 21-Morrison Realty

News from the Hill

Encourage Senators to Join Caucuses Focused on Children

Recently Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) formed the Senate Healthy Kids Caucus to facilitate a dialogue to promote awareness and interest in children's physical, developmental, and environmental health. It is CWLA's hope that this caucus will compliment the ongoing work of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, chaired by Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Both of these caucuses are currently seeking additional Senate members.

Senator Frang Lautenberg (D-NJ) spoke with young constituents who joined hundreds of conference attendees in visiting Capitol Hill for Advocacy Day.

Lautenberg and Snowe hope to use the Healthy Kids Caucus as an educational tool to inform senators and others about the latest research and news related to children's health as well as to organize supporters around policy solutions. Notably, one of the primary focuses will also be child welfare issues. Thus far, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have joined as members. Considering the current debates around the future of the child welfare system, the structure and funding levels for Medicaid, and investment in early learning, among others, the caucus is being formed at a critical time. In addition, Grassley and Landrieu are committed to continuing the important work of the Caucus on Foster Youth. These caucuses will provide a powerful vehicle to address critical issues on Capitol Hill.

If your senators are not listed above as part of these caucuses, consider reaching out to them and encouraging them to join. Click here for contact information for all current U.S. senators.

For Your Bookshelf

CWLA CEO Christine James-Brown holds up a copy of the book and congratulates Kathleen Belanger, one of its editors, on the publication.

Why are youth of some racial and ethnic backgrounds overrepresented in the child welfare system? What are the consequences? How can it be prevented? CWLA's new textbook, Challenging Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare: Research, Policy, and Practice seeks to answer these questions. Readers can explore nuances within the far-reaching issue of disproportionality section by section. Chapters discuss racial disproportionality and outcome disparity, what happens to children who face these obstacles, and how child welfare can partner with other systems to build organizational and community-based supports to address disproportionality and reduce disparity.

Deborah K. Green, Kathleen Belanger, Ruth G. McRoy, and Lloyd Bullard edited the book, which grew out of interest following the publication of a special issue of Child Welfare on the topic in 2008. For an excerpt, see page 14. Find an online Table of Contents and order the book here.

To comment on this article, e-mail voice@cwla.org.

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