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Legislative Policy Day focuses on grandparents raising grandchildren
Legislative Policy Day focuses on grandparents raising grandchildrenNovember 03, 2003Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
To examine the phenomenon of children being raised by grandparents or other relatives, the School of Social Work will sponsor its fifth annual Legislative Policy Day on Nov. 7 at the Onondaga County Legislative Chambers in Syracuse. This year’s conference, “The Emerging Policy and Practice of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren,” will be attended by approximately 120 students, faculty members and human services professionals.
“There is nothing new about grandparents raising grandchildren,” says Carrie Smith, associate professor of social work. “What is new is that the child welfare system is becoming increasingly dependent on grandparents and other relatives to step in when parents can’t or won’t.”
The daylong conference will bring students together with policy makers and advocates to explore the political, budgetary, and social forces leading to the emergence of “grandparents raising grandchildren” as a recognized issue; to learn about the barriers imposed by age-specific eligibility criteria and institutional rigidities; and to learn about reform efforts.
Donna Butts, director of Generations United, a national organization that advocates for program interventions and policy issues that cut across generations, will deliver the keynote address. Participants will also hear from Jaia Peterson G’01, public policy director for Generations United. The event will conclude with a student panel led by graduate student Ashanta Williams.
The first three Legislative Policy Days explored the state and local politics and implementation of New York’s mandatory commitment laws, welfare reforms, and Rockefeller Drug Laws. In the fourth year and this year, cross-generational policy concerns are highlighted.
This emphasis is part of the School of Social Work’s participation in the Geriatric Enrichment in Social Work Education (GeroRich) Project, funded by the Hartford Foundation and administered by the Council of Social Work Education and the University of Washington School of Social Work. With help from a GeroRich grant, SU social work faculty are exploring ways to increase student and faculty interest and knowledge in issues of aging.
“There is going to be a high demand for social workers in the field of aging in the coming years,” says Rachael Gazdick, adjunct instructor in social work who organized the event with social work professor Eric Kingson and graduate social work student Maria Brown. “It is critical that students gain a wide range of knowledge in aging and participate in policy practice.” Gazdick says the event shows students that they can make significant impacts on public policy at the local, state and national levels.
“The population is aging and more people will be reaching advanced old age for many years to come. Employment opportunities for social workers and other human services and health professionals to work with older Americans will only increase,” says Kingson. “As educators, we have an obligation to ensure that our students have the skills to assist older people and their families. Equally important, we need to promote an understanding of the ‘old’ as people with histories, abilities to contribute to society, and dreams-for their own, their children’s and their grandchildren’s futures.”