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October 31, 2000

Voices for Alabama's Children

by Edmund Tsang

Recognizing the roles that grandparents, relatives, and even close family friends have played and continue to play in caring for children in Alabama, Voices for Alabama’s Children, an advocacy organization for children, is conducting a focus group study in Mobile and six other counties in Alabama to determine the kinds of support these care-givers need. One goal of the "Kids & Kin Initiative" is to develop a sustainable support network for grandparents and others who care for their grandchildren, nieces and nephews, according to Rosie Swanson, Voices for Alabama’s Children member in south Alabama. With 26.4 percent of children in Alabama living in poverty but only 9.3 percent receiving food-stamp assistance and 3.1 percent receiving cash benefits, the tasks of caring for Alabama’s children is immense, Swanson said.

In addition to identifying the needs, desires, and concerns of the children’s care providers, another goal is to disseminate information on child development. "Not that we are going to tell people what to do," Swanson said, "but there is a lot of new information that has come out of research in the past decade on brain development of children." Once the focus group study is completed, programs that offer ongoing education, training and support will be implemented, as well as events that bring these relative care providers together for sharing and interaction, Swanson added.

Swanson said anyone interested in the "Kids & Kin Initiative" and other efforts on behalf of Alabama’s children can contact Voices for Alabama’s Children by calling 1-800-444-5437.


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