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Focus on Education

Educational Equality

Daniel Heimpel and Christine James-Brown on local TV show "Mass Appeal."

Christine James-Brown, CWLA CEO, was a panelist at a May town hall event on educational equality for foster youth hosted by Fostering Media Connections. Part of an initiative called "On the Road to Educational Equality," the town hall was one of three events in May, which all featured a panel of leaders from education, child welfare, and politics, as well as current and former foster youth. The panelists discussed states' positions in terms of providing educational stability and achievement for foster children and how that plays into the national education debate. Fostering Media Connections organized the events with an eye towards bringing the education community and others outside of the child welfare field into the conversation. Joining James-Brown on the panel for the first town hall were Gail Garinger, Child Advocate for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Russell Johnston, West Springfield Superintendent of Schools; and Lisa Famularo, Research Director at the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy.

Daniel Heimpel, project director of Fostering Media Connections and the 2010 winner of CWLA's Anna Quindlen Award, appeared with James-Brown on a local television news show before the event. They used the opportunity to outline the challenges foster youth face in the educational system for the general public. The video interview is available at www.wwlp.com/dpp/mass_appeal/family/foster-care-and-education.

Inspiring Graduates

YaMinco Varner receives an award from Howard University professors.

YaMinco Varner, a CWLA Policy Associate for Health, returned to her alma mater, Howard University, to speak to graduating master's of social work students at an end-of-the-year ceremony. She spoke about her journey since her own graduation. Though she celebrated each life skill and asset she helped her clients attain, the systemic barriers she encountered initiated her advocacy work for broader reform seeking social justice, which led her to CWLA. Varner was given an Excellence in Macro Practice Leadership Award at the ceremony. Before her remarks, she was introduced by Rashida Harris, a government affairs intern at CWLA and also a Howard student.

These Cuts Won't Heal Budget Webcasts

Congress is deciding whether to slash federal support for poor children and families, despite the fact that the child poverty rate is now at a 50-year high. CWLA's budget campaign, dubbed These Cuts Won't Heal, is an organized fight of its members in unified opposition to the harmful cuts that some in Congress are pushing. Your participation is essential in ensuring that CWLA remains an effective member leadership organization and in safeguarding our nation's vulnerable children and families.

Throughout budget negotiations for fiscal year 2011 and continuing as discussions turn to funding in FY 2012, the CWLA advocacy team has been leading a series of Monday webcasts for members to discuss new developments as part of the campaign. The webcasts will continue as long as there is a need and interest. Members can visit www2.gotomeeting.com/register/571080386 to find the next scheduled webinar and register to participate.

News from the Hill

Child Welfare and Child Care Working Together

The Administration for Children and Families, Administration for Children, Youth, and Families, and Office of Child Care in the Department of Health and Human Services have issued a letter with accompanying information to encourage states to better align child welfare and early childhood systems to meet the developmental needs of children from birth to age 8 in foster care and support educational success and well-being. Building on the educational requirements from the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, the collaboration encourages state agencies to similarly work together for young children's educational success. The accompanying resource, available at www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/ec-cw-tipsheet.pdf, is the first in a series of tip sheets to provide handy how-to information to policymakers and providers on creating successful collaboration across early childhood and child welfare systems. Read the letter here.

The offices also invite examples of policies and practices already in place that link child welfare and early childhood initiatives. Send examples of your policies and practices to govaffairs@cwla.org so CWLA can compile them and forward them along to the Administration for Children and Families. CWLA may also feature program examples in future issues of Children's Voice.

New User Portal on CWLA Website

The "CWLA user portal" is a section of the CWLA website meant to be interactive. Members and nonmembers alike can update contact information and purchase items. Members have other special privileges on this site, such as getting access to the member directory and receiving discounts on purchases. CWLA is developing this site to give users more web-accessible features. In the near future, members will be able to get committee information, download articles and other files, and obtain member- specific information using a username and password. Staff hosted two introductory webinars in April, and more are planned for the future. Visit www.cwla.org/conferences/teleconference-webinar.htm for updates.

Foster Care Appreciation Cards

For National Foster Care Month in May, CWLA introduced a collection of foster care appreciation cards as a way to recognize foster caregivers and workers who improve children's lives. The expressions of gratitude and celebration capture the feelings of foster care workers and agency leaders, as well as current and former foster youth.

The cards were available through donations to CWLA in May, but some designs are appropriate for saying thanks yearlong. Thank new foster parents for taking such a meaningful step and praise longtime foster parents for their continuing commitment. Kinship caregivers, mentors, and foster care social workers may especially appreciate recognition around the holidays. Cards are available in packages of 10 (single design) for $25. Visit www.cwla.org/pubs/fostercarecards.htm for more details and ordering information.

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

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