Thursday, December 31, 2009

Generations United: 2009 Year in Review

Happy New Year to you and yours from Generations United! As we welcome 2010, we’re taking a look back at 2009. Here are some major moments in 2009 for GU. How was 2009 for you? Did you celebrate any major milestones? Challenges? Adventures? Share them in the comments below!

January – A Grandmother in the White House
We began the year with exciting news – a multigenerational family at America’s most famous address! Marian Robinson, mother of First Lady Michelle Obama, moved into 1600 Pennyslvania Avenue this month. Mrs. Robinson plays a vital role in raising the family’s two young daughters and is a wonderful role model for grandparents everywhere.

February – Intergenerational Solutions for National Needs
As the 111th session of Congress convened in Washington, we were finalizing GU’s public policy agenda. Our top priorities: giving priority to communities building facilities that serve both young and old; ensuring that grandfamilies benefit from the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which became law in 2008; and promoting intergenerational civic engagement and multigenerational activities.

March – Generations Band Together in Tough Economic Times
It was a tough month for the economy, as the Dow fell to its lowest point in a decade. The increased unemployment meant that families were increasingly reliant on each other for help. GU was a resource for an April 4 article by the Wall Street Journal about the unique stress on grandfamilies in the weakening economy.

April – Fostering Connections Act Takes Another Step
Former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius was confirmed this month as the President’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. States waiting to fully implement the Fostering Connections Act – created to assist children being raised by grandparents and other relatives – could move forward in the journey from policy to reality.

May – Who Supports Early Childhood Education?
Active, engaged older adults who see the value of giving all children the benefit of a quality start! May was Older Americans Month, the perfect month for GU to spotlight our initiative Seniors4Kids – a civic engagement program that began in 2005, calling attention to the sometimes-overlooked fact that some of the most passionate advocates for pre-kindergarten education are 50+.

June – Up, Up And Away!
June saw the nation carried away by Up, the Pixar animated film about a 78-year-old man who ties balloons to his house and flies away – with an 8-year-old stowaway on board. This hit movie was critically acclaimed and highlighted how the young and the old can learn so much from one another. 2009 was a great year for stories in other media, as well, with GU’s resources, expertise and commentary featured in dozens of national and local newspapers, magazines and broadcast outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Baltimore Sun, Ladies’ Home Journal and Philanthropy News Digest.

July – The Beat of an Intergenerational Drum
GU’s 15th International Conference brought together experts, educators, advocates and speakers who enlightened us all on the “Why,” the “What” and the “How” of intergenerational work. The conference kicked off with a fabulous intergenerational drum circle. Mark your calendar – our next conference will be July 25-29, 2011 in Washington DC. In July, GU also launched a Best Practices Designation for Intergenerational Programs.

August – Losing a Champion in Our Nation’s Capital
Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s passing meant the loss of one of America’s most passionate and effective advocates for children, seniors and families. Edward M. Kennedy might have lost his yearlong fight with brain cancer, but he will leave over five decades of victories for the most vulnerable members of our society. All generations, past, present, and future will benefit from his legislative legacy and owe him a debt of gratitude. Thank you, Senator Kennedy.

September – Honoring a Senator’s Memory With Service
In the spirit of Senator Kennedy’s strong support for service and the Serve America Act passed in April that honors his legacy, September 11 provided an opportunity for people of all generations to take part in the first National Day of Service and Remembrance. September also marked celebrations for National Grandparents Day and the 50th anniversary of the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program. Thanks to LEGACY Intergenerational Housing provisions that GU’s members helped make possible, some 202 funds are now being used to develop housing for grandfamilies.

October – Tweeting, Blogging and Facebooking
We strengthened our online presence this year by launching a Facebook page and joined the Tweetosphere later in the year with a Twitter feed. If you’re not our fan on Facebook (or follower on Twitter), start now – it’s a quick way to update you on all we’ve been doing (and find out what you’re up to as well). Donna’s blog saw more posts and more readers as well.

November – Giving Thanks
GU gave thanks this month for all of our diverse and valued members, who come together because they realize the value of a supportive, mutually beneficial agenda. We celebrated the amazing work happening at our 2009 MetLife/GU Intergenerational Shared Site Excellence awards winners, and solicited entries for the 2010 awards. Most of all, we were grateful for the children, youth, families and seniors who show us every day the benefits of viewing life through an intergenerational lens.

December – Grandparents In Our Nation’s Capital
On Christmas Eve, the United States Senate followed the House’s lead and passed its version of health care reform – extending care to millions of uninsured children, families, and older adults. And on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, GU’s year came full circle. Grandparents were once again highlighted in the White House, this time on the Christmas tree! Donna had the opportunity to attend a holiday reception hosted by the President and First Lady and was delighted to see the tree decorated with ornaments created by people around the country – including GU grandfamilies partners from Arizona and Maryland.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Holidays From Our House to Yours!

Wishing you a joy-filled, peaceful, and intergenerational 2010! Your friends at Generations United

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

GU in the New York Times

Carol Scott here, the new Communications Coordinator at Generations United. I'm thrilled to be a part of the great work going on at GU and am excited about this chance to virtually interact with members, advocates and friends of GU! Please don't hesitate to contact me with story ideas, feedback or communications ideas.

As we dug ourselves out of the snow that blanketed the DC area this weekend, we unearthed great news: GU was featured on the New York Times Web site on Monday! The NYT's “New Old Age” blog featured a warm, witty story about a California grandfamily, including context and background from GU’s executive director Donna Butts on the benefit of intergenerational community.

They watch Dodgers games together and go shopping for clothes, and Marjorie Marsh welcomes Laura Marsh’s friends for birthday parties and other festivities.

Marjorie and Laura are two roommates -- and also grandmother and granddaughter. Later in the article, Donna adds GU's take on this mutually beneficial arrangement:

We know that millions of American children are being raised and nurtured by grandparents; we don’t know how often adult grandchildren return the favor. But Donna Butts, who heads the intergenerational advocacy group Generations United, told me, “We’ve become a lot more aware of it, particularly with the economy and the amount of time it takes young people to find a job after college.”


Such arrangements can help grandparents age in place, give young adults a sense of responsibility and allow elders to pass along family traditions. “We think it has a lot of value,” Ms. Butts said.

Read the entire story here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas at the White House

Monday I had the honor of attending a holiday reception hosted by the President and Mrs. Obama at the White House. It was beautiful. One tree in particular caught my attention. It was huge decorated with yellow ribbons and ornaments created by people around the country...including some of our very own grandfamilies partners from Arizona and Maryland! I'm sharing a picture of the tree and a link to a story and pictures of the ornaments that came from Arizona. Also joining me in the picture is GU board member Bob Blancato.

I've also included a photo of me with Valerie Jarrett, who heads up public engagement for the President, in front of the tree. I told her we were so delighted that grandparents could be represented on the tree.

And I couldn't resist sharing the photo below. It's a wonderful white chocolate model of the White House including a dark chocolate Bo the dog sitting in front near Mrs. Obama's garden.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Three Things Robert Samuelson Missed in today’s column

Three Things Robert Samuelson Missed in today’s column

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Robert Samuelson would try and foment intergenerational conflict – I have blogged about his misguided views before. Samuelson continually tries to swim upstream by inventing imaginary cleavages between the generations. Samuelson recycles some of those arguments in today’s Washington Post and I could quarrel with most of what he writes, but I thought I would highlight three specific points that Samuelson misses:

1. Young people currently benefit from Social Security and Medicaid and will continue to enjoy its benefits when they get older. Samuelson mistakenly labels entitlement spending as a payout to today’s seniors. Social Security pays benefits to more children than any other federal program. Six and half million children receive assistance through Social Security from its survivors benefits program. Crucially, 98% of the children in the US are covered through the program if they were to lose a parent. The program provides vital financial security for our nation’s children. Additionally, the vast number of Medicaid recipients are children. Yes, the majority of Medicaid money goes toward paying the long-term care costs of our seniors, but it is still a critical program for our nation’s poorest children. Of course, it goes without saying (unless you are Robert Samuelson) that today’s children will eventually grow old and will continue to benefit from these programs.

2. The current insurance market is not working. Samuelson takes issue with the House and Senate bills because they limit the ability of insurance companies to charge different rates based on your age. Samuelson wants to defend the status quo on the health insurance market when it clearly isn’t working. Debt from medical care is the single biggest reason for bankruptcy in the US. The current market makes it very difficult and prohibitively expensive for older adults to purchase insurance in the individual market. Yes, younger Americans will be subsidizing older Americans to a degree, but that’s the only way to make sure everyone is covered. Not having health insurance is different from car insurance and homeowners insurance. The stakes are higher when it comes to your health. The country cannot continue to tolerate millions of uninsured citizens (young or old).

3. Young people are the most enthusiastic supporters of health insurance reform. Samuelson frequently cries out for young people to get mad at their grandparents’ generation for perceived political injustices. Once again, young people are ignoring his battle call; because they realize the need for reform – many of them witnessed their parents go without insurance. Millennials, like the grandparent's generation are drawn to the call to service and realize that our nation’s problems require shared sacrifices from everyone.

-Terence Kane

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Gerson off Target

Michael Gerson has distinguished himself in the past as a protector of the vulnerable in society. However, he seems to have lost sight of his own ideals in his column today in the Washington Post. Instead of commending young people in this country for recognizing the importance of shared rights and responsibilities, Gerson tries to pit the young and old against each other.

One of the big goals of health care reform is to provide insurance to those that cannot afford coverage in the current market – this includes children and older adults under 65. In order to extend coverage to the uninsured, you have to spread the risk of becoming sick across society. Gerson also confuses mandating coverage for the young working population with providing supports to children. Children, like seniors often are priced out of the insurance market (they have trouble adding to their parents income). One of the best provisions of the House health care bill is to extend Medicaid eligibility to 150% of the federal poverty limit. The provision will help ensure children uninsured and those currently in CHIP are covered.

Budget and deficit hawks continually quack (or whatever sound a hawk makes), “Would someone please think of the grandchildren.” In reality, they rarely propose an actual increase in benefits for children and grandchildren. Their Maude Flanders-like-retort is often just a smoke screen for a trying to reduce public spending for everyone. They also routinely mistake entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicaid as simply a payout to senior voters, but they are much more. Over six million children receive a cash benefit from Social Security and Medicaid provides essential medical care to the poorest children in society.

In 1983, Bill Bradley called Social Security, “the best expression of community that we have in this country today.” If you want to provide supports for our country’s children and grandchildren, the best way to do so is to support programs that broadly spread risks and supports across society like health care reform.

-Terence Kane

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The follies of age-segregation

Yesterday morning, the Today program featured a distressing story of a Florida community that is trying to evict Kimberly Broffman, a 6-year-old grandchild living with her grandparents in an age-segregated community. Like millions of other children across the country, Kimberly’s grandparents are caring for her, because her own birth parents are unable to do so. The grandparents have agreed to move out of the +55 community, but can’t sell their house in the collapsed Floridian housing market. The local neighborhood association is hoping a judge will order an eviction and the sheriff will remove Kimberly. The most likely result is that she would be placed in foster care.

The retirement community in Largo Florida needs to withdraw the eviction request and allow the family the chance to sell their home. It’s astonishing that the homeowners association could subvert what basic human decency demands in the name of upholding the homeowners association rules. More broadly, however, age-segregated communities across the country should use the recession as opportunity to reengage themselves as a resource for children and the community. Age-segregated housing keeps seniors, who are an invaluable resource to our children isolated and underutilized.

Fortunately, in contrast to the community in Largo there are already some innovative senior housing models for children whose parents can’t care for them. The neighborhood of Hope Meadows in Illinois is a converted decommissioned Air Force base where seniors get reduced rent in exchange for assisting foster or adoptive parents raising children by being mentors, tutors, and volunteer grandparents. Seniors and children benefit enormously from the community.

It’s easy to caricaturize this one incident and extrapolate it to the way all Floridians, or all seniors feel about children, but there are an abundance of instances where seniors come together in support of children. A few years ago, older adult voters over in Miami overwhelmingly approved a record billion-dollar education bond issue. Most of these older voters approved the bond issue despite the fact that their own grandchildren didn’t live in Miami.

America might have been able to afford a degree of age isolation in the past, but that now seems wasteful and improvident. Investments and resources are never as effectively used when they are aimed at a narrow age group than when they are leveraged between age cohorts and generations. The homeowners association in Largo are making a mistake trying to evict Kimberly Broffman, but there’s also missing an even larger opportunity to use their accumulated talents to serve as a resource for children.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Investing Over the Life Course

A new friend of GU's, Jack Rowe, recently shared a piece he wrote along with Lisa Berkman that appreared in the Huffington Post over the summer. I wanted to share it because it discusses the importance of investing across the life span verses pitting generations against each other.

Jack has an amazing history and is currently chairing the MacArthur Foundation's Aging Society Network. Using an intergenerational lens will strengthen the work that eventually results from the network's deliberations. Thanks Jack, all of us at GU look forward to doing all we can to contribute the intergenerational perspective to your efforts!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy 202 Anniversary!

Yesterday I joined our friends and colleagues at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program. To quote HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, "Today there are 8,000 Section 202 developments across the country providing quality, affordable living to over a quarter million elderly households."

It's a great program that has increased the quality of life for so many seniors. Now, because of LEGACY Intergenerational Housing provisions that many of you helped us get passed, some 202 funds are being used to develop housing for grandfamilies.

We're proud of our partnership with HUD and the opportunities we've had to education housing experts about these families and their unique situations. In particular I want to commend Willie Spearman, Aretha Williams, Claire Trivedi and Vyllora Evens for their hard work and commitment. Congratulations and we look forward to working with you over the next 50 years!

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th

Like everyone, GU is remembering the victims of 9/11 and all those touched by the tragic events of that day.

After September 11th, 2001 we wrote a piece on some suggested intergenerational responses to the tragedy. There is an important role that intergenerational approaches can play in helping our country heal while preparing for the future.

Click here for September 11th: the Intergenerational Response

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Question of National Character

President Obama called a joint session of Congress last night to renew his call for health care reform. I was pleased he took the opportunity to dispel the myth that our nation’s seniors will be subject to “death panels.” I also think he made the point effectively that the status quo in our health care system is unsustainable for the uninsured and underinsured. Critics of reform have made the point that we will be unduly burdening our grandchildren with debt if we expand health insurance, but there is greater danger that our grandchildren will never grow up to be healthy, productive adults if we don’t invest in them and their caregivers now. We’ve provided insurance for every older American over 65, it’s time to do the same children and their parents.

One last thought, what is it about South Carolina politicians lately playing out on the national media scene as philanderers and foul-mouthed? Our children and grandchildren deserve better examples of civility and self-control.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Champion for Children and Seniors

This week the country lost one of its most passionate and effective advocates for children, seniors, and families. Edward M. Kennedy might have lost his yearlong fight with brain cancer, but he will leave over five decades of victories for the most vulnerable members of our society.

Despite being born into privilege, he possessed a deeply ingrained sense of justice. Whether it was Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or the recently signed Serve America Act that bears his name, he sought to build a country that values all generations. It was a commitment that he never gave up on; just this past year Senator Kennedy introduced the innovative Keeping PACE Act to connect schools and communities together.

All generations, past, present, and future will benefit from his legislative legacy and owe him a debt of gratitude. Thank you Senator Kennedy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

End of Summer

What a summer we've had at GU! In June I had the joy of chairing the program for a regional grantmakers forum hosted by Grantmakers in Aging (GIA). Juan Williams, a good friend of GU, keynoted. He's becoming a wonderful champion of intergenerational practices and very generous with his time and insights. I'm pictured here at the event with Juan and Carol Farquhar, the head of GIA and a terrific colleague.

Many of you were able to join us in July for our 15th international conference. What a warm learning community we created and celebrated! The awards dinner was among our most moving and the honorees were an amazing group of younger and older extrodinary people.

As August winds down we are beginning to wind up for an exciting fall. Team policy is focused on Fostering Connections implementation and supporting intergenerational shared site legislation that's been introduced. Our shared sites team is about to name five new recipients of our MetLife Foundation Technical Assistance grants and Seniors4Kids is gearing up for grassroots advocacy supporting early education opportunities for children as they head back to school. Life is never dull at GU! We all hope you've had a wonderful summer and we look forward to connecting with you this fall. You know why...because we are stronger together! Enjoy! Donna

Monday, August 17, 2009

Generational Fiction in Times Op-Ed

Richard Dooling, a successful novelist, tries his hand at health policy in a provocative, though ultimately misguided, op-ed today’s New York Times.

It’s the job of any novelist to make his narrative stimulating and interesting, but the picture Dooling paints of greedy seniors selfishly milking away the earnings of grandchildren while they receive unnecessary medical treatment is farcical. Dooling creates a false choice between funding unnecessary and expensive surgeries for terminal patients and funding preventive care for children:
[…] shouldn’t we instantly cut some of the money spent on exorbitant intensive-care medicine for dying, elderly people and redirect it to pediatricians and obstetricians offering preventive care for children and mothers?

The source of the rising cost doesn’t come from seniors’ desire to rip off their grandchildren, as Dooling suggests, it comes from a poorly structured Medicare reimbursement system that pays for procedures and not health outcomes. Healthcare reform is not about denying care for seniors, it’s about changing the incentives of Medicare payments so that seniors get better outcomes. The Mayo Clinic is able to bill Medicare significantly less than other hospital systems, yet delivers excellent care. Medicare needs to reward healthcare systems like the Mayo Clinic and pay for progress, not process.

Dooling is correct that healthcare reform is also about extending healthcare coverage to the 8 million uninsured and underinsured children in America, but grandchildren don’t want to get healthcare if it means taking away their grandparents’ arthritis medication (especially since about 4.5 million children are being raised by grandparents). Our country has provided healthcare to all seniors; it’s now time to extend that benefit to all children. Threatening generational warfare may not be a novel technique in public policy debates; it is, however, tired and worn. We are not a country of isolated self-interested generations, but of connected and interdependent families and communities.

-Terence Kane
Note: The following is published from The Hill's Pundits Blog.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Intergenerational Drumming Sessions Bangs the Conference to a Start

We had a great start to the morning today with an intergenerational drumming circle, which led to our opening plenary speech by author Marc Freidman. Marc, as always delivered a fantastic speech. Marc just released a new book, Encore: Finding Works that Matters in the Second Half of Life on the possibilities of service careers for the nation’s baby boomers.

You can order Marc’s book at Next up: the Janet Sainer Networking Lunch.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Generations United Conference is Underway

The Generations United conference kicked off with two great pre-conferences on grandfamilies and intergenerational programming. It was so wonderful to see so many friendly faces, both first time conference attendees and veterans of the GU conference.

We began the day with a great presentation from Shirley Sagawa on successful non-profits. Later, we heard from Michael Marcus from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation about building support for your intergenerational program. I’d like to say a special thank you to all the speakers and presenters today for making the first day such a success.

Tomorrow, we are going to Capitol Hill to help spread the message about the value of intergenerational policies and practices. Visit
to get our new Public Policy Agenda for the 111th Conference.

As a reminder, we’ll be providing updates all week on the GU blog and our new pages on Twitter at and Facebook at

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

GU Conference Countdown!

Generations United's 15th international conference is right around the corner and I hope you're planning to join us! I so looking forward to greeting our members and friends as we learn and celebrate together. Times are tough for us all and we really value the extra effort it has taken to travel to Washington, DC this year. But these are also the times that intergenerational approaches make even more sense. Communities, towns and states are all looking for ways to make limited resource reach further. A program or building the serves and engages all generations maximizes scarce dollars while building bridges between ages. Join us for or part of the conference events happening between July 27-31 and gather innovative ideas you can plant back home. For more info go to And until I begin to get photos from this year, here's one from 2007. Enjoy!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Secretary Sebelius Sworn in as HHS Secretary

UPDATED: Kathleen Sebelius has now officially been confirmed by the Senate and sworn into office. I had the opportunity see Secretary Sebelius in New Orleans for the jazz and heritage festival at the rock n bowl and so glad she came back in time to be confirmed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Governor Sebelius' Confirmation for HHS Secretary

As many of you are aware, President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas remains unconfirmed, which is hampering the ability of the administration to act in a number of key areas. States are waiting for guidance from HHS to fully implement the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 and assist children being raised by grandparents and other relatives.

I was pleased to read from Governor Sebelius' confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Finance Committee that both the Finance Committee and the Governor view implementing the Fostering Connections Act as an important priority. Both Senators Baucus and Rockefeller choose to use some of their time to ask Governor Sebelius about the new law. Let's hope that she can get to work quickly.

I have attached some of the highlights for you:

Senator Baucus: Last year, Senator Grassley and I worked together, along with other members of this committee, to pass the ―Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act. Implementation of that bill will require your immediate attention. Are you prepared to begin the implementation of this landmark piece of legislation? How should we interpret the constant rate of entries into foster care? What policies can reduce entries into foster care?

Governor Sebelius: I applaud your leadership and vision in enacting the Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act. If I am confirmed, implementing this landmark legislation will be a high priority for me, and for my team at HHS. Consistent with the goals of safety, permanency, and well-being, it will be vital to invest in up-front services to strengthen families and avoid foster care placements where possible. These early services will need to link closely with family and other community-based supports for vulnerable families.

Senator Baucus: Do you see the need for the development of age-specific and culturally appropriate approaches to prevention of abuse and neglect and/or prevention of entry to foster care? What should HHS‘ role be in developing such approaches and/or tailoring existing programs to improve age-specific, developmentally, and culturally appropriate services? How do you see HHS‘ role in addressing parental "risk factors"? Are risk factors most appropriately addressed in child welfare policy or in other ways – for example, income security or via broader based mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence related services?

Governor Sebelius: If confirmed as Secretary of HHS, I intend to look closely at evidence-based approaches for preventing abuse and neglect and/or foster care placement. Parental ―risk factors should be addressed through both the broader-based approaches you mentioned and child welfare policy. It would seem very reasonable to examine tailored strategies that have proven effective in particular settings. HHS has an important role to play in promoting public health, including mental health, and in working with state, local, and tribal partners to provide direct services that support individual at-risk families.

Senator Rockefeller: Last fall, Congress passed a bipartisan bill that I was pleased to work on with Chairman Baucus and Senator Grassley called the Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act. HHS will need to implement this historic legislation to increase adoptions and allow states the option to help grandparents raising their grandchildren by guardianship.

Adoption and child welfare don‘t dominate the news, but having a safe permanent home is essential for a child‘s healthy development and future. We hope to work with you on strong implementation. I would appreciate hearing you views on adoption and child welfare issues

Governor Sebelius: I applaud your steadfast leadership on the issue of child welfare reform and advocacy, and I appreciate your central role in passing the Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act. I recognize that the Department of Health and Human Services has a special responsibility to our most vulnerable people, and that children who suffer abuse and neglect deserve our attention even if their plight does not dominate the news. If confirmed, I look forward to working with you to identify other opportunities to improve outcomes for children served by the child welfare system, and to increase adoptions so that more children receive the benefit of a safe, loving, and permanent home.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

GU Is New on Facebook

Generations United is increasing its presence on the web. We have launced our own fan page on facebook! You can become a fan of Generations United and stay in touch with all the developments from GU and connect with others in the intergenerational field. Look forward to seeing everyone there.

Here's our link:

Monday, April 06, 2009

'Grandfamilies' Come Under Pressure (Wall Street Journal)

Saturday's Wall Street Journal included a very thoughtful story on the hardship grandfamilies are facing in the economic downturn. The article reports that older workers often have greater trouble in finding new employment after losing their jobs. Extended unemployment can present unique risks for grandfamilies. Additionally, as our own Ken Bryson points out in the article, the rate of grandfamilies continues to grow in the country.

Despite the difficulties grandfamilies may be facing, it's heartening to know that children being raised by grandparents and other relatives have a loving grandparent committed to their future. These grandparents have made great sacrifices to make sure our nation's children stay out of the foster care system (at great benefit for taxpayers) and deserve our support.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Generations United Conference Registration Now Open!

Team GU is hard at work with our terrific conference planning committee gearing up for our 15th Intergenerational Conference. How exciting! Registration is now open and available to you on line at register online . The conference will take place July 27 – 31, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, DC and promises to be one of our best yet. I saw Marc Freedman, GU board member and President of Civic Ventures, last week and he told me he is so looking forward to giving the keynote at the opening plenary session that when he recently lost his calendar, the first thing he added to his new datebook was the Generations United Conference. So, take the lead from one of the premier social entrepreneurs in the country and hurry up and register to join us this summer!

We’re planning to host over 400 innovators, leaders, experts, administrators, managers, academics, and advocates in a variety of youth and aging fields who will come together to explore intergenerational topics and issues. Over 75 workshops, roundtables, poster sessions and discussion groups are scheduled covering a wide-range of intergenerational practices, research and public policy initiatives.

We are also offering a tour of the outstanding new Easter Seals intergenerational shared site, preconference intensives on grandfamilies and intergenerational programs, along with our crowd-pleasing awards dinner and day on Capitol Hill. We only throw a party in WDC every other year so join us, you won’t be disappointed!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

President Calls for a New Era of Innovation

In last night’s address to a joint-session of Congress, President Obama called for a new era of innovation to lead the country out of the recession. It was an unprecedented call for reform and comprehensive action across almost all sectors of economy and all segments of society. It’s been a long time since the nation has been asked to act this boldly.

Meeting this call to action will require engaging both young and old. For all three of the major policy initiatives identified by the President last night (education, healthcare, and energy) there are proven models that engage all generations in creative solutions.

In President Obama’s call for education reform, he indicated how important early childhood education is to the recovery and long-term growth of the country. One of the best ways to promote early childhood education is to engage our senior population to mentor our children in schools and Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Generations United is calling for Congress to incentivize the construction of intergenerational shared sites so children and seniors are more easily connected. Additionally, the success of Generations United’s Seniors4Kids initiative (seniors advocating for universal and high-quality Pre-K) in states like Florida, New York, and Kentucky proves early childhood education is an effective intergenerational cause.

President Obama also called for school reform so that we are providing innovative schools and motivated teachers for our students. The Intergenerational School in Cleveland, Ohio is a perfect example of an innovative charter school. The school, which has been one of the most high-performing schools in the Cleveland school district, utilizes senior mentors in the curriculum. The administration should also consider expanding successful teacher mentoring programs that pair retired teachers with current teachers.

The second major initiative President Obama addressed was health care reform. It was encouraging to hear the President say that he wants to pass comprehensive health care reform this year. Not enough children and families have health insurance and those that do have insurance pay too much for inefficient and incomplete coverage.

President Obama also called on for Energy reform and innovation. Leaving a healthy and thriving planet for future generations is an idea shared by the original Americans – Native Americans. "Seven Generations” refers to a core philosophical value of American Indians, which states that for the well being of future generations, the responsibility rests on every generation that comes before them. If we act and make decisions that have the best interest of the Seventh Generation, our unborn generation, we will ensure healthy future generations. In even as complex an issue as energy reform, intergenerational programs can play a helpful role. An example is one volunteer program in Florida has young people to help seniors make their homes more energy efficient.

Regardless of the policy initiative, intergenerational solutions have shown to be exactly the kind of innovation President Obama called for last night. Lastly, let me add that I was inspired to hear the President’s call to pass the Kennedy-Hatch Serve America Act. Some of the best examples of intergenerational service, such as Senior Corps and AmeriCorps, are strengthened by this bill. These programs are part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is long-over due for reform that can match the capacity of this country’s desire to serve.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Applauding SCHIP and Staying Vigilant on Economic Recovery Act

Legislation is moving at a fast place on Capitol Hill and each day brings its own opportunities and challenges.

Yesterday, a vital expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program was signed into law by the President Obama. The new law will provide health insurance to four million uninsured and vulnerable children. This is a crucial victory for children and the country, particularly during this economic downturn. During the signing-ceremony President Obama said providing health care for children was the, “duty of any decent society.” I couldn’t agree more.

Today, the news was decidedly different. The Senate is debating the economic recovery plan to kick start the economy and provide for long-term investments that will grow our economy for years to come. While no bill is perfect, especially one that has almost a trillion dollars of spending in it, I believe that funding initiatives like Head Start and school construction are the epitome of what Congress should be trying to pass. These initiatives provide tremendous intergenerational opportunities that should be promoted rather than pared.

Friday, January 30, 2009


I’m thrilled to report that yesterday the Senate approved legislation for SCHIP, which will provide health insurance to 11 million low-income children.

With President Obama on board, more children will have a chance to get the health coverage they so deserve. Mr. Obama has promised to provide coverage to every American child.

As the President said in a statement, "Providing health care to more than ten million children through the Children's Health Insurance Program will serve as a down payment on my commitment to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care."

In the current economy, that health care will be invaluable for every child to have an opportunity for the success they deserve.

To find out more about SCHIP and learn about the Policy’s work on the legislation, go to

Friday, January 09, 2009

It's Official: White House to be Multi-Generational!

There is already some exciting news to share with you in the new year. The New York Times is reporting that Mrs. Obama's office has confirmed that Marian Robinson, mother of the incoming first lady will be living in the White House. Mrs. Robinson, as you can read below has been a big help in raising the Obama's two young daughters and is a wonderful role-model for grandparents everywhere.