Monday, November 12, 2007
The numbers and percentages of children with grandparents and relatives speak for themselves. In New York 17% of foster children were living with a relative on average between 2001 and 2003. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, almost six million children across the country were living in households headed by grandparents and other relatives.
Just remember… Kids age out of a system. They don’t age out of a family.
Friday, October 12, 2007
When it comes to Social Security reform, it is important to remember that any changes to Social Security must preserve the funding integrity of the program. Social Security is not just an old age pension program; it is also an intricate intergenerational social safety net. Thirty percent of recipients of Social Security are not elderly; they are children and families that receive support through the disability and survivors benefits that keep them out of threatening reach of poverty.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Anyway, I’m grabbing this chance before my computer gets covered in bubble-wrap to give you some more news from GU’s conference. Our conference opening on Thursday morning was incredibly impressive and moving. The session was opened by Waki (which is a Lakota name meaning Little Thunder) and his three children. They danced up a storm before our first panel. The panel was made up of three incredibly learned American Indian women: Commissioner Quanah Stamps (Administration on Native Americans), Dr Carol Locust (University of Arizona), and Regina Siqueiros (American Indian Language Development Institute). They talked about the importance of intergenerational connections in helping at-risk youth, maintaining community cohesion, and passing on stories and traditions. Discussion of these themes, which are relevant to every community, was a great foundation for the whole conference.
We broke for workshops before returning to the ballroom at lunchtime to hear from LeAnn Thieman, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul and six other chicken soup books. LeAnn was inspirational! She encouraged us all to follow our dreams and reach for lofty goals. She spoke not just to the caregivers in the audience, but to the heart and soul of Generations United. I want to give LeAnn my heartfelt thanks for her incredibly generous decision to donate the proceeds of conference sales of Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul to GU.
Well, the movers are coming in just a few hours, so this will have to suffice for now. More – including pictures – to follow!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
More than 70 conference attendees toured the Capitol building (and some of us even got to see Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she welcomed new Congressional Pages to the building). Then we headed over to the Rayburn House Office Building for a crash course in advocacy and legislation. I had some worries that between the Capitol Building, three House office buildings and three Senate office buildings, we would lose some of our valuable advocates... I'm pretty sure everyone got safely home (although with over 400 conference attendees it can be a little difficult to tell...) but I know that we had at least one Hill Day casualty. One passionate advocate (who shall remain nameless) ripped his shirt in an 0ver-enthusiastic gesticulation disaster!
We had some really good reports back from meetings with Representatives and Senators. It sounds as though we will have some new co-sponsors for the Kinship Caregiver Support Act, as well as some great support for multigenerational opportunites under the Older Americans Act too.
Anyway - more later...!
Friday, July 20, 2007
Now that GU has special consultative status with the UN, we discussed meeting to discuss potential collaboration with the aging and children's divisions. That could be really exciting.
In the meantime all of us at GU are buzzing getting ready for our conference which begins next week. I hope we'll be able to welcome you and celebrate our growing field together. We'll be blogging from the conference all week so stay tuned!
Friday, June 15, 2007
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Janet's involvement in the intergenerational field began with her career as a social worker in New York in the early 1950s. She joined the Community Service Society of New York, where she began engaging seniors as resources, based on her hypothesis that many seniors would volunteer to do valuable service if given the opportunity. In 1965, Janet developed a program called Serve and Enrich Retirement by Volunteer Experience (SERVE). Recruiting volunteers for her program from nearby senior centers on Staten Island, NY, Janet began introducing older adults to people with developmental disabilities.
Janet's book, "SERVE" documented the success of her program and served as the platform on which she testified before Congress to get funding for paid staff to develop volunteer programs. SERVE grew into the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and Janet is often referred to as the grandmother of RSVP, which now exists in over 700 sites across the U.S.
Janet's work brought her to the attention of the Mayor. When Ed Koch was elected Mayor of New York City, he appointed Janet to serve as Commissioner of the New York City Department for the Aging, a position she held from 1978-1990. During her tenure, Janet was responsible for starting and expanding many critical programs and services for seniors. She established the New York City Alzheimer’s Resource Center, the first municipal center in the nation to provide free counseling and referral services for Alzheimer’s Disease patients and families, and initiated the annual Mayoral Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease, which continues to this day. She also created new linkages among the public, private, and voluntary sectors through the nationally known Citymeals-on-Wheels program, which provides additional meals for the elderly homebound on weekends and holidays. In addition, she developed the Stay-Well health promotion program, minority enhancement services, and a number of intergenerational programs.
Most recently, Janet was a Special Consultant to the Brookdale Foundation, a relationship which began during her years with the City. She focused primarily on the issue of grandparents and other relatives raising children.
Generations United has had the good fortune of partnering with Janet and Brookdale since the mid-nineties, when the issue of grandparents and other relatives raising children began to gain national attention. To the staff of GU, Janet has become more that just a partner, she has become a wonderful friend and part of the GU family. It has been an honor for all of us to work with such an amazing woman and pioneer in the intergenerational field.
She is our hero.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
For more information on what the St. Ann Center has to offer, including a video of the site, go to www.Stanncenter.org .
Friday, April 06, 2007
Monday, April 02, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
Check out this UNA faculty member’s blog for the heartbreaking story of Big Mama, a grandparent caregiver. The university is having a Social Work Day and Dr Stanfield is showing the Academy Award winning documentary about Big Mama’s struggle to raise her orphaned grandson.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I had the pleasure of moderating this special event in our nation’s capital. Accompanied by speakers from the Pew Charitable Trusts, The Center on Children and Family Research, and four special people who shared their personal stories, this briefing was moving and inspiring in equal measure. Special thanks to Brian and Melissa Rote, JJ Hitch, and Harlen Sponaugle who touched the hearts and minds of the audience with their moving, personal stories of trial and triumph. We thank you for standing up and speaking on behalf of the many whose stories go untold.
We were delighted by an unexpected visitor! Pictured on the right are Brian and Melissa Rote with Senator Grassley (R-IA), who dropped by to say hello to his fellow Iowans. GU would like to thank Senator Grassley for attending on such short notice, Senators Clinton and Snowe for providing GU with a great briefing room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, and all of our cosponsors for their partnership on this important issue. You might remember that Senators Clinton and Snowe introduced S. 661 earlier this month. Chelsea Maughan from Sen. Clinton’s office stopped by to talk about this legislation so we thank her too.
Let us know if you have any questions about the briefing and click here to access materials!
Friday, March 16, 2007
My concern is that the reports tread a barren path. Talking about the needs of children while pointing to rising expenditure on Social Security and Medicare raises the specter of intergenerational conflict. We must recognize that the generations are interdependent. Each new generation can expect to learn, earn and age, all the while standing on the shoulders of the giants who came before them.
Nowhere is this clearer than in family life. One in twelve children lives with a grandparent, and 2.5 million of these children don’t have a parent present in the home. The older generation can also be among the most passionate advocates for children and youth. In Florida, older adults have campaigned for quality pre-K for all children – even when they knew their tax bills could rise to pay for it.
At some time in our lives, all of us will need the support of those around us. Children need our support, our societal investment in their health, education and well-being. And we will all benefit from the investments we make in our children. Older adults may find themselves caught in the twin traps of poverty and ill-health. The older generation has served and paid and earned and saved, and we owe them dignity in return. These twin claims do not compete: we are one society, one family. Our allegiance should not lie with just one generation, but with all those who need a little extra help.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Actually, the whole visit was incredibly exciting. It was like hanging out with a rock star! Of course, the Senator is often followed by the press, and she has Secret Service protection as well as her staff. People started to gather outside the center when they saw the cars and cameras and someone started a chant: “Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!” She signed photographs and stopped to talk to the crowd: it really was quite an experience!
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Friday, February 09, 2007
Rhoi gives Americans a unique opportunity to help by adopting an African grandparent family struggling to care for their grandchildren orphaned by HIV and AIDS. The grandparents helped by the Adopt a Grandparent program are caring for an average of five orphans, but some have as many as eighteen children relying on them for their most basic needs.
The Ark Foundation specializes in helping people to help themselves. Another program, Teens Against Aids, trains young orphans as peer educators and gives them the resources they need to go out into the community as educators, as helpers, as friends. Teens Against Aids are acting as mentors to kids whose parents have died. They also help the grandparents raising those kids. Just as in the US, grandparents raising grandchildren can become isolated: a Teens Against Aids volunteer can watch their grandchildren so they can have the time to see their friends or go to the church. A volunteer can help around the home too – just doing the washing for seven children by hand is a daunting task for many older grandparents.
If you want to hear more about this amazing organization, and Rhoi’s work, look at http://www.arkafrica.org/, or go to http://www.tsehaipublishers.com/ to buy her book – ‘Africa, AIDS Orphans and their Grandparents’.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
A very brave lady named Charlotte spoke at a briefing we held on the Hill last year, and explained how meth had affected her family, and how it could contaminate homes, as well as lives. She had been jailed for methamphetamine use. Her ex-husband was supposed to be caring for their children, April and Ashley. When the police arrested him for manufacturing meth, the girls got tested too. Ashley, the eldest, had meth in her body. It seeps into everything – furniture, wall paper, carpets, books, everything. And then it seeps into everyone who lives in the house. Her children had to leave behind everything they owned, because everything was contaminated with meth. So when Charlotte’s mother took her granddaughters in, they had nothing – no clothes, no toys, no books… no parents. Grandfamilies like this one know just how important the research proposed in the Act could be.
Charlotte has been clean for three years now, and has her daughters back with her. She is incredibly grateful to her mother for caring for the girls when she wasn’t able to. Now she travels the country telling her story, warning youth groups, supporting prisoners and talking in schools.
Of course, it’s not just meth that can tear a family apart this way – there are as many causes as there are families in need. If you have a story of intergenerational triumph in adversity that you’d like to share, e-mail me.