Now, keep up to date
with daily feeds of newly posted stories
about America's Seniors...click on the box
Grandparents and other relatives raising children urge Congress to
support their efforts; Hundreds of Grandparents, relatives From
across country stage Capitol Hill rally seeking help to keep
families together, children safe
WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 /U.S.
Newswire/ -- Hundreds of grandparents and other relative caregivers
from across the nation converged on Capitol Hill today to urge
Congress to recognize and support their efforts to keep their
families together and keep the children safe.
"In the United States today, there
are more than six million children living in households headed by
grandparents or other relatives," said Donna Butts, Executive
Director of Generations United and GrandRally speaker. "Yet, many of
these caregivers lack access to the basic supports and resources
needed to fulfill the critical responsibility of raising these
children. The GrandRally celebrates the essential role these
caregivers play for the children they are raising. "
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.),
Congressman Danny Davis (D- Ill.) and Congressman Jim McDemottt
(D-Wash.) spoke at the GrandRally and offered support to the
Grandparents, other relatives and
children traveled from about 41 states including California,
Indiana, Texas, Minnesota and Oklahoma. Busloads of grandparents
traveled from New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Virginia and
Maryland. Others flew from Florida, Colorado, Ohio and Louisiana.
Many stayed with friends, relatives and fellow caregivers. "The
GrandRally provides these caregivers with an opportunity to raise
awareness about the challenges they face, and to share their
concerns with each other and with members of Congress," said Lola
Bailey, President of the National Committee of Grandparents for
Jointly sponsored by AARP, the
Child Welfare League of America, Children's Defense Fund,
Generations United and the National Committee of Grandparents for
Children's Rights, this second National GrandRally featured speeches
by grandparents, relative caregivers and the children they have
raised, in addition to participation by members of Congress, and
representatives of the sponsoring organizations.
Illinois grandparent Adrienne
Charniak attended the first GrandRally in 2003, and traveled to
today's event with her 84 year old mother. "It was the first place I
found peace," she recalls of her experience at the first Rally.
"This is where I learned that the needs of other caregivers were
much greater than my own. I learned so much that I had no choice but
to become an advocate for others."
"The stories shared at the
GrandRally, and those of the millions of grandparents and other
relatives raising children, powerfully illustrate the fact that
these families must often struggle to get the supports and services
they need for the children in their care," stated Marian Wright
Edelman, Founder and CEO of the Children's Defense Fund. "Many face
barriers to getting financial, legal, educational, and housing
assistance, and health and mental health care."
"We should not be asking
grandparents raising grandchildren to choose between buying medicine
for themselves or food for their children; or ask an aunt raising
her nephews to have to take on a second job in order to pay for
child care, but these are the compromises relative caregivers face
everyday," said Shay Bilchik, President and CEO of CWLA. "Congress
can help assist these caregivers in accessing the services and
supports they need to perform their vital responsibility."
After the GrandRally, the
grandparents and other relative caregivers and children descended on
Congress to call on their representatives and urge them to become
aware of the issues they face and to find ways to help them.
"I hope that by explaining the
challenges I face every day to my members of Congress they will
understand why people like me need help," said Opal Bufford, a
grandparent from South Bend, Indiana who is raising her two
Grandparents and other relative
caregivers not in attendance are being encouraged to make their
voices heard and participate in these efforts by contacting their
members of Congress. A toll- free number has been established by
AARP, active from September 13 through September 15, which will
connect callers directly with their member of Congress. The
toll-free number can be found on the GrandRally website
"We want every member of Congress
to know that there are grandparents and other relative caregivers in
their own districts that need help as they carry out the heroic task
of raising children," said Lee Hammond, an AARP board member who
spoke at the rally.