Friday, June 27, 2008

Children Unnecessarily Wait for Placement in Kinship Families

I want to pass on an article in today's New York Times by Erik Eckholm about the alarming amount of time children are waiting to be placed with kinship families while interstate background checks are performed.

The potential damage done by not placing foster children expeditiously with available relatives is too great to allow the current status quo to continue. Eckholm writes, “Minimizing moves and placing children with a qualified parent or relative are bedrock principles of child welfare.” The safety of a home should always be checked before placement, but holding children in care unnecessarily long could prove to be more damaging than originally thought. As I talked about in this blog earlier a few weeks ago, A new study, published in the June issue of the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine found substantial benefits for children placed in kinship care through increased stability and fewer behavioral problems. The research also revealed that these benefits diminished if the child waited substantial time before a placement with a relative. While states and the administration haggle over a fix they should not forget that their indecision places vulnerable children in additional jeopardy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Triumphant Day for Children, Grandparents and Other Relative Caregivers

Today the House of Representatives unanimously passed the bipartisan Fostering Connections to Success Act (HR 6307). The bill includes many of the valuable provisions of the Kinship Caregiver Support Act that support children being raised by grandparents and other relatives. These provisions will help children across the country exit foster care to a permanent home with a relative.

Chairman Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Ranking Member Jerry Weller (R-IL) deserve praise for their bipartisan work to pass the legislation. Additionally, I want to extend a special thank you to Representative Danny Davis (D-IL) and Tim Johnson (R-IL) for their leadership on the Kinship Caregiver Support Act. Lastly, the bill would not have passed without the exhaustive efforts of countless advocates and congressional staff.

Comparable legislation still needs to be passed on the Senate side, and the President will still need to lend his signature, but today is a big step forward towards that goal.

Thank you again to everyone for their hard work and we look forward to a signing-ceremony (cross your fingers).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fascinating IG story on NPR this morning

I want to alert everyone to a great story this morning on NPR about the Intergenerational School in Cleveland that utilizes volunteers of all ages to mentor children. The twist is that the school also has Alzheimer’s patients teach children to read. Despite losing their memory the older volunteers are still able to effectively teach children to read. The children at the school seem to cherish them, even if the volunteers don’t remember last week’s activity.

It turns out that it’s not just the children that benefit from the extra help around the classroom. The seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia are able to stay active and have increased cognitive activity. Researchers are studying the volunteers to see if their participation in the programs has health benefits, like decreased instances of depression. I can’t wait to see the results of the study and hope others will follow Cleveland Intergenerational School’s lead.

Congratulations are in order to Nancy and Peter Whitelaw for their pioneering work in Ohio. Well done!

Link to the story:

Monday, June 09, 2008

GU Honors Intergenerational Shared Sites

Hello from the Crescent City!

I’m in New Orleans at the moment for the Volunteers of America Conference, but I wanted the chance to blog about a fantastic GU event last week at the National Press Club. On Thursday morning GU had the opportunity to honor some of the real trailblazers in the intergenerational community and release the first national study on the cost savings of intergenerational shared sites.

The report identified significant cost savings for intergenerational shared sites in the area of personnel costs compared to similar facilities that only serve a single age group. The study should spur other facilities to consider becoming an intergenerational shared site considering much of their costs are tied up in personnel costs. In addition to the costs savings, there is research out there that children, youth, and seniors show cognitive and health benefits from intergenerational interactions.

After the event, the honored shared sites took their success stories to Capitol Hill and shared their story with congressional representatives.

Thank you to everyone who attended the event, especially our awardees and particularly Shannon Jarrott of Virginia Tech for her excellent job producing the report and Metlife Foundation for sponsoring the awards.

Here’s the full list of all our awardees. The following organizations have been selected as the first award winners:

The JEWEL Program - A Partnership between Mount Kisco Day Care Center and
My Second Home
Mount. Kisco, NY
Macklin Intergenerational Institute
Findlay, Ohio
Neighbors Growing Together: Virginia Tech Intergenerational Program
Blacksburg, VA
New Alternatives, Inc. - San Pasqual Academy Neighbors Program
Escondido, CA
United Retirement Center/Avera
Brookings, SD

GU is also pleased to recognize the following National Finalists from the competition:

· Grandma's House at Westminster Care
Orlando, FL
· Greene County Educational Service Center
Yellow Springs, OH
· Hesston Intergenerational Child Development Center
Hesston, KS
· St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care Milwaukee, WI · Under One Roof, Inc.