Monday, September 19, 2016

Coalition of Foster Youth, Family Advocates and Human Services Leaders Urge Action on the Family First Prevention Services Act

For Immediate Release:                                                                                                                                 
September 19, 2016

Media Contact:
Manny Rivera

Coalition of Foster Youth, Family Advocates and Human Services Leaders Urge Action on the Family First Prevention Services Act
Groups Call on Senate to Embrace Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to Reorient the Nation’s Child Welfare System

Washington, DC- Today, a coalition of foster youth, family advocates and health and human services leaders issued a joint statement urging immediate action on the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 (“Family First Act”), a bipartisan, revenue-neutral bill that would help orient the nation’s child welfare system toward keeping families together and give new tools to improve the lives of millions of children and their families. Children and their families deserve these life changing improvements. The Family First Act would put families first by:

·         Keeping children safely in their families by investing in evidence-based programs and promising practices, such as parental substance abuse treatment, mental health services, and in-home training, that can prevent child abuse and neglect.
·         Supporting extended family members caring for children who would otherwise go into foster care.
·         Prioritizing placement of children with families and ensuring that children receive the most appropriate clinical services to help them heal and thrive.

The Family First Act passed unanimously in the U.S. House of Representatives and has the support of over 400 agencies and nonprofit organizations across the child welfare and family support space. Additionally, hundreds of foster youth and alumni of foster care, along with advocates for children and families, have expressed their strong support. However, despite overwhelming bi-partisan and bi-cameral support, with less than a week before Congress recesses for the fall, the Senate has yet to consider this landmark and transformative piece of legislation.

Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, FosterClub, Generations United and The National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds issued the following joint statement supporting the Family First Act and urgently calling for action in the Senate:

“For the first time in generations, we have an unprecedented opportunity to re-orient our child welfare system to be more proactive and preventative. Unfortunately, that opportunity will evaporate by the end of this month if Congress fails to take action before leaving for fall recess.

“The Family First Act would usher in a new era of child welfare: one that youth and families have been urging for decades where we invest resources to keep families together, whenever possible, rather than tear them apart. Hearing these cries from those served by the child welfare system led to the overwhelmingly bipartisan Family First Act. The act will address a critical flaw in our current federal child welfare financing system by prioritizing services that help children remain safely with their families. By supporting families facing challenges, such as drug addiction and mental health issues, we can address problems earlier and prevent the need to place children in foster care with unrelated persons. By providing critical resources for more birth parents and extended families to care for children, we can ensure children have the stability they need for healthy brain development.
“Continuing the status quo is unacceptable.  In the three months since the House of Representatives unanimously approved the Family First Act, more than 33,000 children have been removed from their families and placed into foster care. Due to developments in neuroscience, we now know that the trauma suffered by children removed from their families has life-long ripple effects on brain development. The Family First Act would provide supportive services to children, parents and caregivers in their home, ensuring thousands of children could remain safely with their families.  The time is now to align federal child welfare spending with what we know is best for kids.
“Critics point out that the Family First Act does not include every provision we had hoped for. The reality is no bill is ever perfect. The work of Congress is incremental.  Each child welfare bill Congress passes builds on the next in our nation’s journey to meet the needs of our children.    The Family First Act is about breaking ground and laying the foundation for a critical culture shift. The Family First Act will provide the biggest step forward in federal child welfare policy since we abandoned orphanages decades ago, and we have a moral obligation to not squander this opportunity. If Congress does not act now to strengthen and invest in our nation’s families, we will lose the best opportunity in a generation to improve the safety and success of millions of vulnerable children. We owe it to our nation’s children and their families to do everything we can to ensure they receive the tools and resources they need to strengthen and keep families together. The opportunity to act is now.”

The funding that would make the Family First Act possible will become unavailable after September 30th. If Congress does not act before reaching agreement on the Continuing Resolution to keep the government open, $400 million of the bill’s funding will be allocated elsewhere. Additional funding will be unavailable during a lame duck session, and even if it were available, the Congressional Budget Office would have to re-score the legislation next year, resulting in significant delays.

Supporters across the board believe the Family First Act actively upholds our country’s value of putting families first. With the fall Congressional recess set to begin as early as the end of this week, the time to act is now.

To learn more about the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016, click here.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Easter Seals Intergenerational Program – 2016 Programs of Distinction Designee

Easter Seals Serving DC|MD|VA Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Inter-generational Center has created an intergenerational program, in keeping with community mission, that is impactful, innovative and educational.

When opposite generations engage, people are able to have more enriching experiences of autonomy, tolerance, acceptance, patience, caring and nurturing.

All participants are given the opportunity to improve their cognitive ability. The activities help them work on social and emotional, language, literacy and behavioral skills.

More overtly, the program creates lasting friendship.

Their Center improves the quality of life for participants of all age by providing an opportunity for intergenerational engagement.

Learn more about our 2016 Programs of Distinction designees!

Bridges Program Curriculum Suite – 2016 Programs of Distinction Designee

The award-winning, evidence-based Bridges Program Curricula Suite unites older adults and children in their communities for shared experiences and cooperative learning.

Adults (generally aged 60+) volunteer in a classroom, library or community center once a week for several weeks. Under the guidance of the teacher or trained staff, the volunteers work in pairs to facilitate small groups of students for meaningful discussion and fun activities.

The Bridges Program Curricula Suite includes four programs for preschoolers through high schoolers that support the Common Core standards.

Over the past 25 years, nearly 15,000 members of bookend generations have been impacted by Bridges.

Learn more about our 2016 Programs of Distinction designees!

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

3 Great Reasons To Record Your Stories This Grandparents Day

by Chris Cummings, Founder of Pass It Down

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ~Philip Pullman

Thirty-eight years ago, President Carter signed the proclamation to declare the first Sunday after Labor Day National Grandparents Day. National Grandparents Day, which is observed by millions around the country, stands for three purposes: 1) to honor grandparents, 2) to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and 3) to help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer.

There is no better way to fulfill the mission behind National Grandparents Day than through recording your family stories.

Here are three reasons why recording your family stories using Pass It Down fulfills the mission of National Grandparents Day:

1. Storytelling honors grandparents by capturing their legacy

Storytelling honors grandparents by commemorating the important moments of their lives. Every person has a story worth telling and preserving both for themselves and their family. By capturing your grandparent’s stories you are honoring their legacy and preserving it for all time. There is no greater loss than a story that is not captured.

2. A grandparent capturing their memories is the greatest gift they can leave their grandchildren

A grandparent capturing their stories is showing the ultimate love for their grandchildren by passing down all the lessons they have learned throughout their lives. Every once in a while I meet someone who says, “I don’t have a story worth sharing.” Yes you do. Every person has a story worth telling and even the memories that may seem small and trivial to you will be incredibly valuable and important to your grandchildren someday. When a grandparent captures their stories, they are setting up their grandchildren and future generations for success through the sharing of their life lessons.

3. Stories are the best way to reach children today

Sitting down and sharing family stories is one of the best things you can do to bring your family closer together. In a world of smartphones, kids today are often too busy focusing on Snapchat, instagram, or the latest videogame to spend time with their families. By taking the time to tell stories with your grandchildren, you can break through the tech barrier and unite your family. Kids crave stories and a grandparent sharing their life experiences is a wonderful way to spark your grandchild’s imagination and inspire them to want to know more about their roots.

Share your story today using Pass It Down at We are a free storytelling
platform that makes it simple and fun to capture your family stories.

About the author: Imagine if you could go back and hear and see your loved ones speak about their life. Chris Cummings, Founder & CEO, established Pass It Down to help people capture their family stories after his mother developed early on-set dementia at the age of 48. Pass It Down is an award-winning digital storytelling platform that is the best way for people everywhere to capture their life stories and share those with friends, family and the world.

You can reach Chris at

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

All The Difference

by Monique McIntyre

This year, on Sept. 12, PBS will air All The Difference, a documentary from Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Tod Lending, Joy Thomas Moore and Wes Moore.

(Check your local listing.)

The documentary follows the stories of Robert Henderson and Krishaun Branch as they fight to survive in the Englewood section on the South Side of Chicago. It shows the ups and downs of each young man’s education, as well as the powerful impact of one grandmother’s support.

For Robert, his fight started early. When he was just 17 months old, his father killed his mother. In that crucial time, his grandmother, Ona Mae Gooch, became his lifeline. 

However, at 62, Ona was tired. With only the last four of her 17 children at home, she had just finally started to see a slower life for herself. She worried about having to start over with such young children, but she knew Robert and his six siblings needed her. 

She knew she would do whatever it took to provide a good life for her family. As such, she decided to take them in and help grow their lives.

Raising her grandchildren was going to be a challenge, but she knew she could handle it. Ona was no stranger to hardship. 

She grew up as a sharecropper in Mississippi, where she picked cotton and had to leave school in the 5th grade. Around 30, Ona decided to leave her abusive husband and move with her children to Chicago. 

Once there, she continued to farm on any patch of land she could find. She tended, supported, nourished and helped her garden thrive, much in the way she did with her family. In particular, her strength and effort helped Robert succeed.

After graduating from an all-male college prep high school, Robert went on to pursue secondary education at Lake Forrest College. During one semester, he struggled in a chemistry class and sought out help from his professor. 

In one meeting the professor told Robert the hardest part of his success would be staying motivated. Robert quickly jumped in and told her his “motivation isn’t the problem. I won’t give up,” he said. “My grandmother didn’t give up on me… so why should I give up on myself?”

Robert's drive, which his grandmother instilled in him, helped push him to finish college.

Ona has been there for all of Robert’s accomplishments. Towards the beginning of the film, he and Ona are shown sitting at the kitchen table while she goes through a box of old items. 
“Look at this junk I’ve got,” Ona says, handing Robert a piece of browned paper. 
“That’s not junk,” Robert chuckles.
She had handed him his kindergarten diploma. 
“I keep this stuff for you to show your children one day,” Ona says.
As a high school and now college graduate who’s teaching math in middle school in Colorado, Robert has a lot of “junk” to show his future children. And he owes a lot of that success to his grandmother, Ona, who made a difference in his life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Camp Pickett

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week, we feature intergenerational program ideas that were tried and successful. This series is a tool to highlight various age-optimized programs and practices. The program descriptions are provided by representatives of the programs. Inclusion in this series does not imply Generations United’s endorsement or recommendation, but rather encourages ideas to inspire other programs.

Pickett Care and Rehabilitation Center
This week's cool idea is Camp Pickett, a program of the Pickett Care and Rehabilitation Center in Byrdstown, TN. Through learning circles and other team activities, this summer camp nurtures relationships between children who attend the camp and Pickett Care's elder residents.

(Check our archives for parts 1-83 | non-archived: 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6 and 7)

Serving as an alternative child care service to help offset expenses for Pickett Care's employees, Camp Pickett started in 2008 to help enhance quality of life for the elders in the home.

The program was featured in McKnight's Long-term Care News article, "Driving out loneliness through intergenerational relationships," from which this excerpt was pulled.

As the summer progressed, something magical happened: elders and children taught each other great things.

Elders passed down their wisdom in gardening, farming, and other things on to the children, while the children were able to teach the Elders how to use the Nintendo Wii and text on a cell phone.

Camp Pickett morphed into a community all its own. In the first summer alone, elders, who were previously depressed and refused to come out of their room, were living a new lifestyle of purpose and enhanced well-being overall.

Staff members saved over $18,000 in childcare expenses, and the home logged the equivalent of over $5,000 in volunteer hours. Not only was Camp Pickett a success, it was a new standard for intergenerational relationships for the entire company.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Share the inspiration. You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!