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Relative Caregivers Rock!

Posted: October 18, 2011

National Grandparents Day celebrations in Philadelphia. From the 15th Annual Grandparents Day Dinner held by Grands as Parents to a Legislative Roundtable with Senator Anthony H. Williams hosted by Turning Points for Children.
State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, left, and Lillian Hentz Photo by Robert Mendelsohn

State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, left, and Lillian Hentz Photo by Robert Mendelsohn

By Brenda Rich, Director of Quality and Training, The Kinship Institute at Turning Points for Children

“I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim September 11, 2011, as National Grandparents Day. I call upon all Americans to take the time to honor their own grandparents and those in their community.”

So proclaimed our President, honoring Grandparents nationwide! Numerous events on behalf of Grandparents and other Relative Caregivers have occurred throughout September.

National Grandparents Day was celebrated in style in Philadelphia as Grands As Parents held their 15th Annual Grandparents Day Dinner. Vice-President Ms. Jean Hackney reported that it was a wonderful occasion, where special guests included State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas; Philadelphia City Councilman Darrell L. Clarke; David Oh, Republican Ward Leader; State Rep. Michelle S. Brownlee; Aissia L. Richardson, president of the African American United Fund; and Shariff Street, member of the Philadelphia Bar Association. Ms. Hackney was pleased to hear public commitment to funding the grandparent housing development.

Another special event in support of Relative Caregivers included a Legislative Luncheon on Monday, September 12. Turning Points for Children hosted a Legislative Roundtable with State Senator Anthony H. Williams as Moderator. The purpose was to develop a plan for implementing legislation that will positively enhance the quality of life for “intergenerational caregivers.” Senator Williams highlighted the components of Senate Bill 119, in Support of Grandparents and Other Kinship Caregiver Raising Children. Also known as the Intergenerational Family Care Act, Senate Bill 119 would establish a pilot program to assist families in which children are being raised by grandparents or other older relatives. The provisions would include rental assistance, day care assistance, and other supports.

Participants in the Legislative Roundtable included Dr. David Rubin, pediatrician from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, with researcher Christina Kang-Yi, who have studied outcomes of children living with relatives compared to children outcomes of children in foster care with non-relatives. The conclusion makes utter sense: Children do so much better overall when living with relatives, than in non-relative foster care. Also present at the Roundtable were: Rep. Ron Waters; Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown; Rep. Kenyatta Johnson; Sean McCray, for Senator LeAnna Washington; Anne Marie Ambrose, Commissioner, DHS; Alma Jean Taylor, for Commissioner Arthur Evans; Estella Hyde and Joi Hopkins from AARP; Chartan Nelson, Grand Central, Inc; Richelle Phillips, Grand Family Resource Center; Jamie Johns, Salvation Army; Ms. Jean Hackney, Grands As Parents; Mike Vogel, CEO Turning Points for Children; and Timika Lane, Marlene Henkin and Desaree Jones from the Senator’s office.

Senator Williams concluded by summarizing intent to keep this issue in front of lawmakers until it gets the attention needed for the countless grandparents across the country who need such supports.

Finally, on Thursday, September 15, the 4th National Grand Rally took place in Washington DC, on the West Lawn of the Capitol. Jointly sponsored by AARP, CWLA, Children’s Defense Fund, Generations United, and the National Committee of Grandparents for Children’s Rights, the Grand Rally let our legislators know that grandparents raising children WILL BE HEARD! In order to contact your representatives from Congress, Dial 1-800-928-8084 and follow the prompts to enter your zip code. Then press "1" to connect to your first Senator's/Representative's office. The message to promote with our lawmakers is to “Protect Social Security and other critical federal programs that support vulnerable children and families, including grand- families (grandparents and relatives raising children) from budget cuts.” For further information, view the website: www.grandrally.org.