Grandparents Step Up, Save Families

Strong coverage by CNN  as part of their “Hero” profiles: André de Toledo, who’s daughter Nikki de Toledo, after years of struggling with depression, killed herself with a prescription drug overdose when she was 27. Nikki didn’t leave a suicide note, but she did leave her 8-year-old son, Kevin.

Ginette and André, Kevin’s grandparents, immediately took over custody, because Kevin’s father lived abroad and had never been a part of his life. And they were not alone: It’s often the grandparents who step up when a parent dies or is unable to take care of a child for other reasons, such as incarceration, abuse or mental illness. In 2011, there were at least 2.7 million grandparents raising a grandchild in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Now, more than a quarter-century later, the nonprofit she founded to help others in similar circumstances,, is a leader among 20 support groups across Los Angeles, and the nonprofit works with more than 3,000 families a year, providing them with financial assistance, legal advice and emotional support. More than 90% of the caregivers are grandparents, but the nonprofit also assists aunts, uncles, siblings and close friends who have stepped up to care for children when their biological parents can’t.

Quoting from the CNN profile: De Toledo said her group has kept thousands of children from entering the foster care system, and they’ve also kept siblings from being separated. “We’ve literally saved families,” she said. But the true heroes, she said, are the caregivers. “It’s really the grandparents and the relatives who are doing this that deserve the recognition for putting their own lives on hold,” she said. “I just was able to plant a seed with something that happened in my own family. … “From a family tragedy, something wonderful has happened.”

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CNN Reports: Number Of Grandparents Raising Grandkids Skyrockets

CNN, citing recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureaureports that in the past two decades, the number of children living with a grandparent has risen 64%.

The figures, taken from the latest household relationship module of the Survey of Income and Program Participation, paint a picture that varies widely among races and cultures. White grandparents caring for their grandchildren account for the smallest numbers overall, but have shown the biggest increase.

In 1991, 15% of black children, 12% of Hispanic children and 5% of white kids lived with at least one grandparent. By 2009, 17% of black and 14% of Hispanic children lived with at least one grandparent, a slight increase. Nine percent of white children lived with at least one grandparent, “a significant change,” the census report said.

You can read the report here.

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More Child Left Behind…

Pathetic and scary information via the Washington Post Local website blog: a list of the  forty-three education programsincluding those that promote literacy, teacher development and dropout prevention — that have have been targeted for elimination in a Republican-sponsored bill in the House as a first step toward rewriting the law known as “No Child Left Behind.”

Titled, ironically, the “Setting New Priorities In Education Spending Act,” it was introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-CA., chairman of the subcommitee that oversees preK-12 policy, and praised by Rep. John Kline, R-MN, chairman of the House Education & The Workforce Committee. Check out the blog post for an extensive breakdown of the programs and categories via the link indicated above, or hereOr read the self-serving Republican-produced Summary here.

You know, there are days when words just fail us.

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May is National Foster Care Month

May is National Foster Care Month, a time designed to raise awareness about what foster parents do and why they’re needed. According to statistics from the Florida Department of Children and Families, there are just under 19,000 children in out-of-home care in Florida. The 2010 Annual Report on the status of  children in out-of-home care that was issued by DCF on May 1, 2011, can be found here. Back to the issue at hand, foster care – who needs it, who should be a foster parent, what training is required and where to get it are all addressed in an interesting article in the Jacksonville News. You can read that article here.

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Honor Moms Around the World

This Mother’s Day, and beyond, you can honor the Moms of the world as part of the “To Mama With Love” campaign. Check out the action on Twitter at #tomamawithlove, or join their love bomb team by creating a heartspace in honor of a Mom (or Moms!) here.

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Nothing to Smile About

Latest evidence of Florida’s callous disregard for the health and well-being of its children: Florida ranks last in the country in providing dental care for children on Medicaid.

In 2008only 23.5 percent of those enrolled in the program, ages 18 and under, saw a dentist. Story link here, or you can find the full report by The Pew Center on the States, as well as related reports, here.

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We Agree: Put Your (Membership) Money Where Your Advocacy Is

Much thanks to our friends @ End Childhood Hunger for allowing us to reprint from their blog site a recent post on the membership campaign at the Children’s Movement of Florida:

We’ve written about them a lot, but this is important: The major objective of the citizen-led, non-partisan Children’s Movement of Florida is to inform political, business and civic leaders, and the parents and people of this state, that the well-being and education of our children in Florida must be the highest priority of government, business, non-profit institutions and families – and to encourage them to make the well-being and education of our children our highest priority, including in the way we invest our public resources.

We buy into that. And now you can step up and participate in their membership campaign, and help support their efforts. You can join by making a donation (of any amount, but don’t be shy – it’s the kids we are talking about here!) via this link.

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