It has been some time since I have updated this letter, but major changes are coming to GrandFamilies Of America in the near future and we want to make you are aware of them.
Our Vice-President, Sharon Olson and myself have seen the landscape for the population of relative caregivers of children in the United States change drastically over the last 10 years on many levels. When Sharon and I began our journey of becoming recycled parents many years ago, there were virtually no resources for us to access. In fact the bottom line was that the limited resources that were available, were not readily made available to those seeking them. We were routinely either ignored or seen as the enemy by the child welfare establishment. We have come from being the best last kept secret in American society to becoming a permanent part of legislative agendas in every state and in our federal legislative process. This has come about from the passion and hard work of grassroots advocates across our country along with some very dedicated and loyal organizations who have stood shoulder to shoulder with us on our journey to bring recognition to the population of over 3.5 relative caregivers who are providing permanency and safety to over 7 million children in America today. We brought the passion to the table and they provided us with a national voice. Most relative caregivers will never know their names or the part they have played in educating those not walking our walk, about the obstacles and barriers that we face 24/7 trying to keep our kids safe and protect their heritage for future generations. Those are Generations United, Child Focus, CLASP (Center For Law And Social Policy), The American Bar Association, The Children’s Defense Fund, and AARP. Also, please take a few minutes to preview our revised resource link. It is our hope, that those seeking assistance from this site will be able to access information that will empower them to become educated in the various steps they need to, proceed on their own journey. The tools now contained on this site, would not have been available to any of us 10 years ago. The information being made available on this site has been developed entirely by relatives raising relative children through their experiences in traveling their own personal journeys.
Relative caregivers of relative children across the country reaped the rewards of these partnerships on October 8, 2008, when then President Bush signed the first legislation dealing with kinship into law to ever be enacted in the United States. One of the components of that legislation was the notification law. This was/is a federal mandate to all states, to search for and give priority placement to relatives when a child comes into care. The bill is entitled Fostering Connections To Success and Increasing Adoptions Act and does many other wonderful things for children in relative care. To learn more about this precedent setting legislation, go to our link on this site devoted to making this precedent setting legislation easy to understand. www.fosteringconnections.org . www.childfocuspartners.com also has an amazing power point, which helps one understand this precedent setting legislation.
We have listed our contact information, but we would urge everyone using our site to read over the information on the site first, before calling, so you will have some preliminary information on what type of resources we provide. We look forward to working with you in the future.
Sharon and I have attempted through the various changes on this site, to provide you with some very innovative tools to use in your advocacy or personal relative caregiver journey. These tools combined with the information contained on our resource page guiding you to the sites of our advocacy collaborators, Generations United, Child Focus, CLASP (Center For Law And Social Policy), The American Bar Association, The Children’s Defense Fund, and AARP hopefully will provide all with a complete overview of the realities of kinship care and tools to navigate the system. Our advocate collaborators will have provided a short tutorial guiding you directly through the kinship sections of their individual web sites. We believe this will provide you with a unique comprehensive overview of resources for those seeking information/assistance for relatives caring for relative children, those with concerns about their relative children, and for those professionals wanting to learn to assist those in the relative caregiver population. You will still be able to contact GrandFamilies Of America directly as always if necessary, but we urge you to familiarize yourselves with the contents of this site first. Should you wish to contact us, but do not have long distance, just send us a brief e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org and we will call you back.
Pat Owens – President/CEO GrandFamilies Of America
Sharon Olson – Vice-President GrandFamilies Of America