Archive | April 2012

Why are more and more grandparents raising their grandchildren?

More and more grandparents are raising their grandchildren due to poverty, abuse, and neglect. In the United States, child abuse and/or neglect are growing public health issues. The few cases of abuse and/or neglect which appear in the press are only a small part of this pressing public health issue. Many assert that a notable portion of the child abuse cases are not reported to police or social service agencies. What we do know about the prevalence of child abuse is as follows:
• 1,740 children died in the United States in 2008 from abuse and neglect.1
• 772,000 children were found to be victims of maltreatment by child protective services in 2008.1

In response to concerns regarding abandonment, abuse, and or neglect of their grandchildren, a growing number of grandparents have become full-time caregivers for their grandchildren. The 2000 United States Census indicates that 4.5 million of our nation’s poorest children reside in grandparent-headed households and that number is escalating rapidly. Data indicates that approximately one-third of these children have no parent present in the home. The number of children in grandparent-headed households has increased 30 percent since 1990.

Research data indicates that in New York, there are 297,239 children living in grandparent-headed households which constitutes 6.3% of all the children in that state. Twenty-eight (28) percent of these grandparents live in households without the children’s parents present. The literature on this phenomenon suggests that there are probably many more children in informal care arrangements residing with their grandparents than the data can capture.

AARP indicates that the majority of grandparents rearing grandchildren are between ages 55 and 64. Approximately 20 to 25 percent are 65 or older. While grandparent-headed families cross all socio-economic levels, these grandparents are more likely to live in poverty than are other grandparents. AARP materials also state that there are eight times more children in grandparent-headed homes than in the foster care system.

Although the phenomenon of grandparents raising grandchildren is neither novel nor new, this emerging social issue is garnering a great deal of national attention due to its impact on the welfare of an ever increasing number of our nation’s children. The rise in the number of grandparent headed households is due to serious family problems. The reasons for the increase in grandparent headed households include but are not limited to: abandonment, child abuse and neglect, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, death, divorce, incarceration, AIDS, and the parent’s lack of employment.

Caring for their grandchildren can have life altering consequences for the grandparents. Many grandparents have not planned to raise a second family or may be retired and living on a fixed income. Having sufficient income or resources to provide housing, food, clothing, medicine, and school supplies for their grandchildren may be of critical concern. Research indicates that children raised by their grandparents are more likely than children in traditional foster care to live in poverty, to have special health and educational needs, and to lack access to health care.

While grandparents have played a significant role in the lives of their grandchildren for generations, the increasing numbers of grandparents with responsibility for their grandchildren and the rise in social factors necessitating this arrangement have created millions of vulnerable families with unique needs. For further information on the topic of grandparents raising grandchildren or to get help, please call or visit the website of: AARP’s Grandparent Information Center: 202-434-2296; and Generation’s United: 202-289-3979.

Sources: Children’s Defense Fund website, AARP’s Grandparent Information Center website, US Census Bureau, Generations United website, Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, Child Welfare League of America, Center for Disease Control & Prevention, National Child Abuse Hotline, Child Welfare Information Gateway, FRIENDS National Resource Center, and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child.

1. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families. Child Maltreatment 2008 [online]. Washington (DC): Government Printing Office; 2010. [cited 2010 Apr 8]. Available from:
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Senate Reauthorizes Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

This week, the US Senate voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Here is how the VAWA reauthorization vote went in the US Senate: sixty-eight (68) in favor, thirty-one (31) against.  Each of the thirty-one (31) senators who voted against it were Republican men. It should be noted that these thirty-one (31) men are the only senators to ever cast a vote against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. Previously, the Senate reauthorized VAWA unanimously twice.

As has been stated on countless occasions by leaders of the Democratic Party, the Republican Party of today is a different breed altogether. If it comes down to scoring points with the GOP base or protecting women, they are going to choose their base every time as stated by the Chairperson of the Democratic Party.

Next, this important piece of legislation goes to the House.  It has been reported that the House GOP is planning on introducing a bill with the same name, but their version of the Violence Against Women Act will likely strip out the very provisions protecting Native Americans, undocumented immigrants, and LGBT Americans that the Democrats just fought for. Before the House votes on the bill, before the GOP even introduces it, Democrats are launching campaigns designed to inform the public about who is really fighting for women.


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Connecticut Abolishes the Death Penalty

On Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, the state of Connecticut abolished the death penalty. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill into law Wednesday that abolishes the death penalty, making his state the 17th in the nation to abandon capital punishment and the fifth in five years to usher in a repeal. The law is effective immediately, though prospective in nature, meaning that it would not apply to those already sentenced to death. It replaces the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of release as the state’s highest form of punishment.

“Although it is an historic moment — Connecticut joins 16 other states and the rest of the industrialized world by taking this action — it is a moment for sober reflection, not celebration,” Malloy said in a statement. He added that the “unworkability” of Connecticut’s death penalty law was a contributing factor in his decision.

Activists know that human rights victories only come after years of hard work. Yesterday a simple stroke of the Governor Dannel Malloy’s pen sealed the deal to end the death penalty in Connecticut, but that state’s remarkable achievement for human rights was decades in the making. In the last five years, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Illinois have repealed the death penalty. California voters will decide the issue in November. State by state, the battle against capital punishment marches on in the US.

The US criminal justice system is based on guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s the foundation of our justice system, built to serve and protect the wrongly accused. But in the case of Troy Davis and countless others on death row, it’s a principle that was defied, ignored, and trampled on. As Troy Davis wrote in a letter when he was facing execution in 2008 :” … no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated. There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe.

With the recent decision to abolish the death penalty in Connecticut, we have moved one step closer to dismantling our unjust criminal justice system city by city, state by state and country by country. Amnesty International and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have been seeking to do just that for decades. Specifically, these organizations have been quite successful in raising awareness about the problems with criminal justice system and the need to end the death penalty. The number of persons supporting their work is growing as demonstrated in the case of Troy Davis. Their petition seeking clemency in the Troy Davis case was signed by almost one million persons. NAACP and Amnesty International have experienced steady progress in this important undertaking to end the death penalty. However, the Troy Davis case reminds us that more work needs to be done to end the death penalty across our nation.

The collective work done on Troy Davis’ case resounded with people all over the world. Next stop for the abolition of the death penalty nationwide is California, a state poised to make history this fall by ending its death penalty through a referendum. The struggle continues. But with each victory, we, as a nation, come closer to a world where human rights are respected, and executions are a thing of the past.

For further information on how you can get involved in efforts to end the penalty nationwide, please visit the websites for Amnesty International and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Equal Justice USA, and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.

Sources: Amnesty International, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Connecticut State Death Penalty Abolition, CNN, Equal Justice USA. The Campaign to End the Death Penalty.

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VAWA Reauthorization Battle in the US Senate

The Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) has saved countless lives. Since this bipartisan legislation first passed in 1994, it’s been reauthorized twice without much difficulty. And it has been tremendously successful in helping to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The US House of Representative failed to reauthorize the Act.  VAWA is in jeopardy of not being reauthorized by the US Senate. It appears that the Republicans are willing to throw away the entire law now that it helps protect lesbians, gay men, undocumented immigrants, and Native Americans.

The Senate’s voting on the Act any moment now, and people concerned about the health and well-being of ALL victims need to put pressure on the GOP to pass VAWA.  Before the vote, stand with me for all victims of domestic violence — no matter who they are: Add your name in support of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

Since this law passed, it has helped reduce the annual rate of domestic violence by an astounding 53 percent. The rate of women killed by an intimate partner has dropped 34 percent. Its programs, including violence prevention programs, shelters and rape crisis centers, and funding for the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes have made a world of difference in giving victims of violence a safe place to turn.  It has without a doubt saved thousands of lives.  At this juncture, the Senate Republicans are ready to roll back all the progress that has been made.

This year’s Act would make sure that LGBT Americans receive equal treatment for services, it would make it easier for undocumented immigrants to come forward as victims and provide temporary visas in certain cases, and let Native Americans on reservations go to tribal courts for abuse cases. With these additional protections, the GOP has promised to fight it every step of the way.  If Congress votes against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, all of these programs could grind to a halt, and the hundreds of thousands of women who rely on them will once again be left on their own.

Before the Senate votes this week, add your name in support of protecting all victims of domestic and sexual violence, no matter who they are:

Source(s): NCADV. Democratic Party Action Alert

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Children Raised In Single Parent Families

Parents play an integral role in the development of their children either directly or indirectly. In recognition of the important roles played by parents in the lives of their children, we honor and celebrate mothers in the month of May on Mother’s Day and fathers in the month of June on Father’s Day. This year, Mother’s Day was held on Sunday, May 13, 2012 and Father’s Day is Sunday, June 17, 2012.

Each year, for the past thirty (30) years, in the United States, on the third Sunday in the month of June, we honor and celebrate the contributions that fathers make in the lives of their children. Dr. Sigmund Freud is reported to have said that, he could not think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.

For a growing number of American children, they have not known the love, protection, and guidance of a father. Social science research has shown the devastating impact of fatherless homes on the lives children. Data indicates that children in fatherless homes experience more major challenges in life than those who grow up with a father at home. The following statistics on children in fatherless homes are alarming and should give any father pause when thinking about his children.

Incarceration Rates. “Young men who grow up in homes without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families…those boys whose fathers were absent from the household had double the odds of being incarcerated — even when other factors such as race, income, parent education and urban residence were held constant.” (Cynthia Harper of the University of Pennsylvania and Sara S. McLanahan of Princeton University cited in “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration.” Journal of Research on Adolescence 14 (September 2004): 369-397.)

Suicide. 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of the Census).

Behavioral Disorders. 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (United States Center for Disease Control).

High School Dropouts. 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.).

Educational Attainment. Kids living in single-parent homes or in step-families report lower educational expectations on the part of their parents, less parental monitoring of school work, and less overall social supervision than children from intact families. (N.M. Astore and S. McLanahan, American Sociological Review, No. 56 (1991).

Juvenile Detention Rates. 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988).

Confused Identities. Boys who grow up in father-absent homes are more likely than those in father-present homes to have trouble establishing appropriate sex roles and gender identity.(P.L. Adams, J.R. Milner, and N.A. Schrepf, Fatherless Children, New York, Wiley Press, 1984).

Aggression. In a longitudinal study of 1,197 fourth-grade students, researchers observed “greater levels of aggression in boys from mother-only households than from boys in mother-father households.” (N. Vaden-Kierman, N. Ialongo, J. Pearson, and S. Kellam, “Household Family Structure and Children’s Aggressive Behavior: A Longitudinal Study of Urban Elementary School Children,” Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 23, no. 5 (1995).

Achievement. Children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as one-parent homes. (One-Parent Families and Their Children, Charles F. Kettering Foundation, 1990).

Delinquency. Only 13 percent of juvenile delinquents come from families in which the biological mother and father are married to each other. By contrast, 33 percent have parents who are either divorced or separated and 44 percent have parents who were never married. (Wisconsin Dept. of Health and Social Services, April 1994).

Criminal Activity. The likelihood that a young male will engage in criminal activity doubles if he is raised without a father and triples if he lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of single-parent families. Source: A. Anne Hill, June O’Neill, Underclass Behaviors in the United States, CUNY, Baruch College. 1993”[i].

If you want to make a meaningful difference in the lives of children and youth in homes where the fathers are absent, you can support the very necessary work of nonprofit organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and/or Boys and Girls Club. Big Brothers Big Sisters has a 100 year history of providing quality youth mentoring services that have proven to have a measurable impact in the lives of: the youth served, their families and their community.

Boys and Girls Club’s mission is to “…enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”. Every day, these agencies are changing the perspectives of children and enabling them to see the world around them in a more positive light. With that newfound point of view, they can see their potential more clearly and dream bigger about their future. Get involved in a child’s life.

Sources: Boys and Girls Club’s website. Big Brothers Big Sisters’ website. “Father’s absence takes heavy toll on children”, Editorial, June 18, 2011. “Statistics on Fatherless Children in America”. Wayne Parker, Guide.

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[i] “Statistics on Fatherless Children in America”. Wayne Parker,

National Women Build Week 2012

National Women Build Week is an initiative of Habitat for Humanity which challenges women to devote at least one day to the effort to eliminate poverty housing. National Women Build Week brings together women from all walks of life to address the housing crisis facing millions of women and children worldwide. This year’s, National Women Build Week is being held from May 5, 2012 to May 13, 2012. Habitat indicates that, women build projects are regularly held across the United States and in more than 30 countries.

Women can and do make a difference in their communities by building homes and raising awareness of local housing needs. According to the Habitat for Humanity’s website, this national annual event is typically held the week leading up to Mother’s Day. These dates are significant to many volunteers, as families with children make up a significant portion number of those in need of adequate housing. According Habitat, this national annual event has helped to construct more than 1,800 houses.

During National Build Week, men may still volunteer. This annual event is not about excluding men, but rather including women in being part of Habitat’s tangible and hands-on solution. Volunteer with your local Habitat affiliate. Your support is vital to helping Habitat achieve its mission. As Habitat reminds us, together, we can make safe, decent, and affordable housing a reality for those in need. For further information on this annual event, please visit Habitat for Humanity’s website.

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Source(s): Habitat For Humanity website.

Obamacare: In the Public Good?

Improving access to health care?

Is there a need for the 2010 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (hereinafter “Affordable Care Act”)? Let’s look at the number of uninsured in America. This nation’s deep economic recession and resulting decline in employer sponsored coverage contributed to a rise in the uninsured in recent years. Research indicates that these factors left fifty (50) million Americans without coverage in 2009.

While public insurance programs prevented some individuals from losing health insurance coverage, these programs do not reach all of those who cannot afford insurance. With that understanding, the Affordable Care Act seeks to address the gaps in our private-public insurance system. This new law requires most Americans to have health insurance and many will gain coverage through expanded Medicaid eligibility and subsidized private coverage for individuals with incomes up to four hundred (400) percent of poverty starting in 2014.

In March of this year, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act turned two years old. On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed a sweeping set of health care reforms into law. It was a historic moment in our nation’s history. Barack Obama was the first American president that was able to deliver a comprehensive health reform. This was a goal which eluded his predecessors. The new law focuses on the expansion of coverage, controlling health care costs, and improving the health care delivery system. Implementing health insurance reform will take some time but there were reforms which took effect in 2010.

What if any difference has this highly debated law made in the lives of the American people? To answer that question, we will look at some of the provisions that took effect to protect consumers in 2010. The Affordable Care Act prohibits: pre-existing condition exclusions for children; rescissions of health insurance policies; and eliminates lifetime and unreasonable annual limits on benefits, with annual limits prohibited in 2014.

The law provides assistance for those who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition. It requires coverage of preventive services and immunizations. It also extends dependant coverage up to age 26. The law ensures consumers have access to an effective appeals process and provide consumer a place to turn for assistance navigating the appeals process and accessing their coverage.

By 2014, when the bulk of the reform’s provisions come into effect, states are required to have put regulated insurance exchanges in place so that consumers can buy plans that meet minimum standards for coverage. At this juncture all will be required to buy insurance. Those persons financial unable to purchase insurance will be eligible for subsidies.

Sources:;;;; The Kaiser Family Foundation, “Focus on Health Reform.”

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