Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Legacy Book Projects

Click the image to expand.
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.

Legacy Books is an intergenerational project that brings Baltimore's young and old together to produce e-books. The older adults share their stories that student capture and put online.

"We find that the combination of youth with tech knowledge and elders with stories is a match made in heaven," said Beatrice Odom Scott, founder of the Legacy Books project and a digital publishing consultant. "We have a number of Legacy Book projects in Baltimore including the ZHAP program at the Zeta Center and at local schools."

Young and old working together to capture and share stories has been good for restoring dignity and self-value for many families, especially those from disadvantaged communities.

But Annette Saunders, of Baltimore Grandfamilies PTSA, noted that the project offers something else.

"The books have become family treasures," she explained. "Two of the grandparents [who participated] have died, and both families expressed how glad they are to have the story books."

Annette also cherishes her own.

"My husband and I made one for our first grandson," she explained, adding that the first grader enjoys reading their story from cover to cover.

Annette hopes to get funding for another group of grandfamilies - those from Sandtown, Park Heights and Poplar Grove - what she calls three of the cities "really challenging communities."

Annette sings the Legacy Book project's praises wherever she goes. Of her experience, she added: "It is so rewarding!"

Contact Beatrice O. Scott for more info on Legacy Books.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Family First Act Next Steps

Generations United is deeply disappointed that the Senate left for recess in September without passing the Family First Prevention Services Act.

While the bill didn’t pass, your voices have been heard. We had overwhelming participation and heroic engagement from you, especially in the last few weeks.

More than 400 organizations from every state in the nation urged their support for the groundbreaking legislation which would have fundamentally changed federal support for child welfare in this country, offering much-needed support for grandfamilies both inside and outside the child welfare system. 

Individuals and organizations supporting children, youth and caregivers in grandfamilies, birth parents, foster youth, doctors, judges, child welfare agencies, substance abuse treatment programs, and mental health providers joined together to speak up about the importance of keeping children with family and providing them with quality supports and services they need to help children thrive.

With such a showing of support, Congress will be hard- pressed to pass a major piece of child welfare legislation in the future that doesn’t include strong provisions for grandfamilies.

We will not give up. We will speak louder.

Please take time to thank the senators who cosponsored the bill and all members of the House of Representatives who passed the bill by unanimous consent in June. And urge them to continue to stand for grandfamilies.

Thank you for your incredible work and commitment to our children, caregivers and families.

Monday, October 03, 2016

TimeOut@UCLA - 2016 Programs of Distinction Designee

TimeOut@UCLA trains and mobilizes undergraduate students to interact and provide companionship to elders with early-stage Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia while providing respite for family caregivers. 

UCLA students, who are trained before the first session on how to appropriately interact with patients living with Alzheimer's and dementia, are recruited to meet with seniors at a senior center for three hours, twice a week. 

All students in the program are trained before the first session on how to appropriately interact with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

During a nine-month period, 50 students provided companionship for 26 seniors, totaling 1,593 hours of respite for caregivers. 

Activities are led by two activities coordinators (students) who are specially trained for this role. 

Some group activities include Bingo, dancing, and stretching. Individual activities include coloring, card games, paintings, scrabble, and conversation.

By pairing seniors and students based on similar interests, careers, and hobbies, TimeOut@UCLA provides a community-based intergenerational companionship and respite service that promotes positive views of working with the elderly among college students.

In addition, the seniors, who have many years of career experience,provide mentorship to the students. 

For example, a student who wants to be a physician can be matched up with a senior who formerly worked as a physician and can provide insight on different career paths in medicine or their experience working as a doctor.

Learn more about our 2016 Programs of Distinction designees!

Monday, September 26, 2016

P&J Beacon Buddies Program - 2016 Programs of Distinction Designee

The P&J Beacon Buddies Program provides supervised intergenerational activities, group discussions and community service.

The program also offers family engagement, and support services involving youth enrolled in Phipps Neighborhoods P&J Beacon (primarily middle school ages) and senior members/ residents in Throggs Neck, NY.

Activities include talent shows, games, mental skills-building exercises, vocational exploration, and service learning projects.

The mission of P&J Beacon Buddies Program is to foster a nurturing connection between youth and senior members of Throggs Neck that promotes awareness, appreciation and respect for all involved in the program.

Lutheran Home Intergenerational Program

The Lutheran Home has an infant through four-year-old child care center, an Adult Day program, skilled nursing units, short-term rehab and Memory Care Assisted Living.

Residents and participants at the Lutheran Home are lovingly called "grandfriends" by the children in our childcare.

Through the intergenerational program, grandfriends and children work together to take on new and creative roles that emphasize the strengths of the individuals as well as the group.

The programs enhance social skills, problem-solving and fine/gross motor development. With projects tailored for successful outcomes, the children and grandfriends can proudly take ownership of their finished work as well as their roles in the achievements.

Sages & Seekers - 2016 Programs of Distinction Designee

Sages & Seekers is a one-to-one, Senior-to-Student experiential learning program designed to
diminish ageism, as well as revitalize interpersonal interactions.

Meeting once a week over the course of the 8-week program, the participants are paired off to embark on a journey of social and emotional development through authentic, meaningful conversation.

Both age groups come away from the experience with an improved sense of self-esteem, a greater capacity for empathy, and recognition of the worth of others as well as their own personal value. 

This program deconstructs the barriers separating these two marginalized sections of our society while empowering the participants and building community.

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.