White House Conference on Children and Youth
Questions and Answers
What is it?
A conference that would be held at the White House re-establishing conferences that took place every ten years from 1910 to 1970. This one would take place in 2010.
Why wait until 2010?
There are several reasons. One is to restore the historic tradition of these events taking place at the start of the decade. More importantly, the Conference would really be a two year process with the first year allowing for state and local gatherings and input. In addition setting this conference for 2010 allows a new President, who will not start their term until January 2009, the time to focus on this as a priority.
How would it work?
This conference would function like aging conferences and past children's conferences: funding would be provided to establish a series of events and small conferences through the 50 states. This would take place in the year before the national conference. Delegates would be sent to the White House event representing all states including the tribes, territories and Washington DC.
Would this focus on all children and children's issues or just child welfare?
Just child welfare. Authorizing legislation would outline the focus and goals of the conference and it would be specific to child welfare including the range of issues from prevention, intervention to permanency including reunification, kinship care and adoption. Participants would also include state officials, court and legal representatives, providers, children, tribal representatives and other parties effected by or involved with the child welfare system.
Wouldn't this forestall action on child welfare issues?
No, but it might cause some presidential and other candidates for office to at least raise the issue of child welfare in their platform or public statements on issues. The conference could also act as an evaluation of the most recent legislation. Finally any attempt to block constructive legislation does not require an excuse someone will always be willing to postpone action due to cost, priority or other reasons that have been offered in the past.
What role does Congress have? Isn't this for the President?
Congress has a significant role. First, Congress would provide authorizing legislation that would set the goals and requirements for the White House Conference. Second, Congress would appropriate the funds necessary to hold the Conference. And third, Congress would have a role in appointing people to be a part of the Policy Committee that will form in accordance with the legislations requirements. These appointees could range from governors, state commissioners, very involved youth, etc. The Policy Committee will oversee the conference itself and the lead-up to the conference.
What can I do to promote the White House Conference on Children and Youth?
First and foremost you can contact your Senators and Representatives in Congress and urge them to support this. Call 202/224-3121 to connect to Congress. Then get in touch with the Child Welfare League and join in our campaign. You will receive regular updates as the campaign progresses, alerts to upcoming key developments, and most importantly you will be part of a movement to make children a national priority! Visit the CWLA White House Conference web site to join in the campaign.
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