Wednesday, November 29, 2006

On Air

I had the very great pleasure of joining Mark Steiner of WYPR in Baltimore for his flagship public affairs program yesterday. The show should be available in his archive soon. We talked about grandfamilies – specifically grandparents raising grandchildren. 2.4 million children are being raised solely by their grandparents or other relatives. These grandparents are keeping families together and deserve our full support. Dr. Fred Strieder, who directs Baltimore's Family Connections, and two wonderful grandmothers from his program were featured on the show. They all did a terrific job of shedding light on the sacrifices grandparent caregivers make and the love they surround their grandchildren with. It was an honor to be on the show and a privilege to share the microphones with some wonderful partners.

While I was on my way to Baltimore, Jaia was speaking at a conference on subsidized guardianship and other help for grandparents raising grandchildren in Hartford, CT, co-sponsored by GU, AARP Connecticut and the Connecticut Commission on Children. The conference was incredibly well attended, and well organized by AARP Connecticut. This great preview in the Hartford Courant also meant that some extra relative caregivers showed up on the day to learn more and make those all important connections with others in similar situations.

Let us know if you are holding an intergenerational event, and I’ll mention it in our electronic newsletter or in this blog!

Monday, November 27, 2006

After the Election

I hope you’ve all had a chance to digest the mid-term election results. In case you missed it (!) NPR has a great election special. I know some people are already looking past the “lame duck” session to next year, when the 110th Congress is sworn in. But there’s still a lot of work to be done in the 109th!

During the “lame duck” session, there are tax-reliefs to extend and programs to pay for. It’s looking likely that Congress will pass a short continuing resolution, allowing federal programs to continue through the holiday season. The continuing resolutions are vital: without them, federal program funding would simply stop. (It’s not likely to happen. No-one wants to see families go without during the holiday season.) The so-called tax extenders are also important, although they’ve gotten less press coverage than the spending measures: they include the deductibility of state and local sales taxes, college tuition and fees, and classroom supplies.

While the 109th Congress winds down, we need to thank some of our good friends – friends like Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio, who lost his seat November 7th. Senator DeWine has been an incredible supporter of children and grandfamilies, and we’ll miss him and his terrific aide Karla Carpenter. He was, along with Senators Kennedy, Mikulski and Jeffords, one of the key reasons grandfamilies are included in the National Family Caregiver Support Program. I wish him, and his nine grandchildren, all the very best for the future. I’d also like to wish Senator Jim Jeffords the very best: he is retiring from the United States Congress in which he served Vermont for 32 years, 14 in the House and 18 in the Senate.

We look forward to welcoming some new friends, as well as welcoming longtime friends to new roles, when Congress reconvenes in January. I was delighted to read in the Washington Post that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was more concerned about the birth of her sixth grandchild, than a congratulatory call from the White House. Congratulations also go to Senator Kent Conrad, who was raised by his grandparents, and has been selected to chair the Senate Budget Committee.

This was a very close election in many districts. One race was won by only 91 votes. It shows how important it is that we all let our voices be heard and vote. What do you think?