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National Foster Care Month

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Marian Wright Edelman
May is National Foster Care Month and this year is a good time to reflect on the progress we can make in improving the lives of children and youths in foster care by implementing the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (Fostering Connections Act).

This important new federal law, approved last fall with broad bipartisan support, will help hundreds of thousands of children and youths who have been abused and neglected.  It’s now up to all of us to see that states implement it so that it truly benefits young people across the country.

Nothing matters more to children than the love and security a family provides, and this new law offers family connections to some of our nation’s most vulnerable children.  More than 500,000 children in America are in foster care at any given time; about one-fourth of them are being cared for by relatives.  Each year, nearly 130,000 children in foster care are waiting to be adopted, and 44 percent of them entered care before age six. More than 26,000 older youths leave foster care each year—most at 18—without being returned home or adopted.  Compared to children and youths who have not been in foster care, young people in care are more likely to become homeless, unemployed or to be incarcerated. They are more likely to have physical, developmental and mental health challenges.

The Fostering Connections Act offers them new hope. It promotes family connections by helping children being raised by grandparents and other relative caregivers link up with the supports they need. It also helps children who have lived with relatives in foster care to remain permanently with them outside of foster care when returning home or adoption are not options.

The new law requires that siblings live together in foster care whenever possible and offers greater federal support to states to increase adoptions of older youths and children with disabilities or other special needs from foster care.

The Fostering Connections Act offers other important new opportunities for older youths in care, who now are often forced out of foster care at age 18 with few resources to help them transition to adulthood. It helps them remain in foster care longer while they are in school or working, and engages them in planning for their futures. It promotes educational stability for children in foster care by requiring they be in school, by minimizing moves from school to school, and improves health outcomes by promoting better coordination of health care.

And it increases services and protections for American Indian children by giving Indian tribes direct access for the first time to federal support for foster care, guardianship and adoption assistance. Federal support is expanded for training of private agency staff, attorneys and others representing abused and neglected children.

All of us should monitor how this new law and new federal support is benefitting children being raised by relatives and in foster care. Many of the new protections are now in effect. A number of states have issued policies requiring notice to grandparents and other relatives when a child is removed from his home and requiring that siblings be placed together in foster care or be helped to stay connected.

In some states, education and child welfare agencies are working together to ensure that children in foster care are attending school and can stay in their original school when they enter care or move to a new foster home or group care setting. Nearly all the states that previously offered subsidies to relative guardians who commit to caring permanently for children they had cared for in foster care are considering new legislation.  Find out what is happening in your state and how children are benefiting.  These are tight fiscal times but many of these new provisions are cost-effective in the short- and longterm.  Everybody can play a role even if you aren’t a foster parent. You can serve as a mentor for a child or youth in foster care, or work with others to provide scholarships for children in care to be able to participate in extracurricular activities or for graduating youths to go on to college.

There is always a special role for the faith community, which can come together to support families in their congregations and communities who do provide foster care and grandparents and other relatives who have taken on full-time responsibility for the care of children to help keep them out of foster care. Ask your own state where there are volunteer opportunities or other chances for you to become involved. Children need all of us.

Marian Wright Edelman is president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

President Barack Obama is Truly a Genius!

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By Dr. E. Faye Williams
NNPA Guest Commentary

If anyone had any doubts, after listening to President Barack  Obama address the Class of 2009 at the Notre Dame graduation, you have to admit he’s a genius. He didn’t in any way back away from the controversy the media had whipped up for the past few weeks regarding his position on a woman’s right to choose. President Obama went right in and addressed a woman’s right to choose, the war, HIV/AIDS, handling differences of opinion - you name it! He acknowledged the conflicts we have on many issues, but challenged the class to find a way to live together as one human family. He explained how community service can break down walls and foster cooperation for the greater good.
He challenged the class to hold firm to their faith and allow it to guide them on their journey. He said that it’s possible to engage in vigorous debate while having differences of opinion—yet work through areas of conflict together.
We do that by extending the same presumption of good faith to others that we want extended to us. We don’t have to agree on every issue to find common ground on which we can work together. If we disagree on a woman’s right to choose, we can work together to make abortion less necessary. When a woman decides to carry an unplanned pregnancy to full term, we can work together to create health policies that respect women. We can work together on adoption. We can work together on ways to give the child a better life.
If we recognize our own imperfections and cease clinging to our worn out prejudices, we can resolve
so many of the challenges on which President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are offering
brilliant leadership. They’ve called us to community service. We all can serve our nation and our world
in a way that makes a positive difference— individually and collectively.
In the story of Miss Jane Pittman, we are told that people are always looking for somebody to come and lead them. And the Lord has always obliged in some way or another. Anytime a child was born, the old people looked the child in the face and asked if that child was the ONE.
Yes, the Lord has obliged us with the ONE, with a President who is a genius, to lead us. If only we could
have a few days of less criticism and questioning the motives of every move he makes…If only we
could find a willingness to roll up our own sleeves to do what we can to make this a better nation, a better world, ears have not heard and eyes have not seen the good we could accomplish together!
Each one of us can be the ONE to lead our own family or our own community! What a blessing so
much leadership would be for the common good!
Dr. E. Faye Williams is the national chair of the National Congress of Black Women. 

Eyes & Ears of Moreno Valley

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Juanita Barnes
An unknown author wrote JUST TO HAVE JESUS: “I came to Jesus with many needs. Each pressing to be heard; I claimed aloud each day anew. The promise of His word.  Then came the voice, ‘Be still and know.’ The Master heareth thee; Just one request I’ll answer now.  What wilt thou have of me?’ Each need loud clamored, “I’m the one.” Health, money, success and power; These all are needed urgently. For this cold, dark hour. I knelt before the Master Looked up into His smile; And knew that just to have Jesus was the only thing worthwhile.”

“Where Dreams Soar”

Moreno Valley the Renewed Life Fellowship family are requesting your prayers for the family of one of there faithful members, the family of Anthony Victor Guile Muñoz.  Anthony went to be with the lord, May 8th 2009. He left a wife and five beautiful children, Anthony was only 32-years-old, but before he left, he left an awesome lifestyle for them to follow. His life lessons:

EVERYWHERE IS SCHOOL IF YOU ARE WILLING TO LEARN.  LOVE EVERYONE AS JESUS LOVES YOU, WITH ALL OF YOUR HEART. ALWAYS BE WILLING TO LEND A HAND, WHETHER YOU LIKE THE PERSON OR NOT.  Anthony chose to love unconditionally no matter what. Some Of His Common Quotes: “It’s nap thirty, we’re late.” “Don’t make me late for church.” “When buying a new piece of furniture, you must check for bounceability.” ANTHONY wanted you to remember him for the love he had for everyone. The Renewed Life Family has a fund to help support the widow and children (James 1:27) Donations can be made to the Anthony Muñoz Family Fund, c/o Renewed Life Fellowship, 12625 Frederick Street Ste. 1-5415, Moreno Valley, Ca. 92553.  Pastor: Ted Collins, Sr. or email renewedlifefellowship@.org .

Moreno Valley, here I am again letting you know about the “LORD’S GYM,” coming to the city. This gym will be for all youth of the city, but we want to reach the at-risk youth. Moreno Valley your help is needed financially. Would you please get involved we have very smart youth in this city but we need a place that they can really show what they can do. Our youth are so gifted. The gym would fit their needs. All youth of the city of Moreno Valley are needed. Help the Renewed Life Fellowship, Inc. , 12625 Frederick Street, Ste. 1–5, 415 Moreno Valley, Ca. 92553. For donations or information (760) 900–6432, or contact them by email at renewedlifefellowship@.  org.

I pray that each and everyone had a great Mother’s Day, I did. I visited my daughter Regina in Tucson and my granddaughter Lillian of Phoenix. In I will tell you about the most wonderful people I met in Tucson next week. I will say this I had to come HOME to rest.


The Streets: Road to a Dead End (1 of 6 parts)

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Richard O. Jones
The streets are developing our young men into a perpetual underclass.  While Black women today are soaring with ambition and earning college degrees the males are embracing a street mentality. Black men are the only men on earth that are less educated than their women and Black women are tired of downplaying their intelligence to appease his ego. These days fewer young educated Black women are willing to settle for a hustler or thug when professional men from other races find them attractive. It is one thing for a woman to stand beside her man who have fallen but it’s a totally different matter to expect a mature intelligent woman to choose a man who has aspired to risk his life and freedom with criminal activity. Women primarily go to college for two reasons, (1) for an education and (2) in hopes of finding a professional man.

However, on the college campuses of America, Black men are conspicuously missing. Where are the eligible men? On the average he’s either risking prison, already in prison, just got out of prison, in a drug program, or shacking with a single mother or living with his mama and/or a slave to dependency.  The streets is a culture admired by too many. The Black movies glamorize street-life. The street thugs on the screen enrapture Black youth, which flock to movies at a disproportionately high rate. Many leave the theater with the fantasy to emulate the guys on the screen with the cars, jewelry, and beautiful women.

They’re bombarded with the message that selling drugs is the answer to their dreams. The discipline of getting a good education is a distraction to the fantasy. The ‘Street’ deceives asinine Black males into the shunning education and embracing criminality.

While the lure of crime is attractive criminal activity only increases the prospect of a future behind bars.  According to the California Department of Corrections, most convicts are between eighteen and twenty-five years old. This age group, medical experts say, is at their sexual peak. Incarcerated young men squander away their youth and their future, while free educated professional males prosper.

The street is only job security for those aspiring to the Criminal Justice System as a career. The street provides long careers for parole and probation officers. The prison industry is immensely enriched by the dreams of Black ‘street’ youth. Prison officials are assured that Black drug dealers, pimps, and gangsters will fill the prison cells. Criminal defense lawyers become rich because of the ‘street’ mentality. Bail bondsmen love the ‘street’. Funeral directors live to bury the ‘street’ dreamers.  However, the street mentality is a burden to taxpayers in too many ways to list.

That’s the problem, what’s the solution? There’s no quick painless solution to heal the wounds. Many Good Samaritan groups treat the wounded. However, many will succumb to social suicide. I would like to salvage the children who are willing to be salvaged. What are you willing to do? Our youth need mentors with godly hearts, sound minds, and productive ideas. I am only one mentor and you are only one concerned citizen but together we are a beginning. Look what Jesus Christ did with only twelve.


Jack Kemp, Arlen Specter and the GOP

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George Curry
The recent death of Jack Kemp and Senator Arlene Specter’s switch from the Republican to the Democratic Party are reminders of just how far the GOP has swung to the right. And with GOP Chairman Michael Steele and titular Republican leader Rush Limbaugh applauding Specter’s switch, there are no signs that Republicans are ready to deal with the reality of their fading influence.

One person who understood the party needed to broaden its base was Jack Kemp, the former pro quarterback who tried to help Republicans score points with African-Americans. The former HUD secretary and vice presidential candidate always tried to build bridges, showing up at NAACP and National Urban League conventions and other events unpopular with party leaders.  “Among the many tragedies of the contemporary Republican party is that the partisans who will honor the memory of former Congressman, cabinet member and 1996 vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp have refused so consistently and belligerently to embrace the man’s wisest political insight,” John Nichols wrote in the Nation magazine. “’The only way to oppose a bad idea is to replace it with a good idea,’ said Kemp, who worked harder than anyone else to make the GOP a positive force rather than the ‘party of no.’ “Unfortunately, the ‘no’ camp prevailed and the Republican party that Kemp imagined as a modern tribune of humane and enlightened conservative ideals—the twenty-first-century version of the British Tory Party that evolved under the leadership of Benjamin Disraeli—died well before the death on Saturday at age 73 of the most open and optimistic leader of the GOP in the 1980s and 1990s.” Steele, who relishes attacking President Barack Obama and shirks from standing toe-to-toe with talk show host Rush Limbaugh, said he was glad to see the Pennsylvania senator leave the GOP. He likened Specter to traitor Benedict Arnold in a party fundraising appeal and at another point claimed Specter had “flip (ped) the bird” to Republican colleagues.

On his radio program, Limbaugh said he hopes more moderate and liberal members of the GOP defect.

The problem is that in the senate, there are only two liberal Republicans, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins both of Maine.

Specter was the lone Republican moderate in the upper chamber and now he’s gone. Although his decision to become a Democrat was a calculated political move, he was correct in stating that the GOP is now captive of the far-right.

The best way to learn what is happening to the Republic Party is to ignore the predictable rhetoric on both sides of the political aisle. A poll of Republicans who switched parties in Pennsylvania by the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion is didactic.

“In recent years there has been a major shift in party registration among voters of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” the poll found.

“In May of 2006, Democratic voters outnumbered their Republican counterparts by 550,000 registered voters statewide. Two and half years later the gap between Democrats and Republicans had more than doubled, with over 1,200,000 more Democrats than Republicans registered to vote in November of 2008.”

The public opinion survey found:

·        An overwhelming number of Pennsylvania Republicans who switched their voter registration status to Democrat had been in the Republican Party for 20 years or more;

·        Almost two out of three voters that have abandoned the GOP for the Democratic Party identified themselves as politically moderate or liberal;

·        The presidency of George W. Bush and the war in Iraq were identified as the largest contributing factors to the abandonment of the Republican party in Pennsylvania;

·        Pennsylvania voters leaving the GOP to become Democrats were more likely to claim that their decision was the result of changes in the party rather than changes in their personal beliefs and

·        A solid majority of individuals who have switched from Republican to Democrat indicated that they are not likely to change party registration again in the next five years.

Especially troubling for the GOP is the loss of voters who were an important part of their traditional base. Most of the defectors are fairly well-educated voters in the middle-to-upper-income categories. More than two-thirds of them – 68 percent cited dissatisfaction with George W. Bush’s performance in the White House as a very important reason for changing parties. In second-place, at 54 percent, was the Iraq War, followed by dissatisfaction with the GOP’s positions on foreign policy issues (49 percent), the GOP’s position on environmental affairs (45 percent) and Republican stances on taxes and spending (44 percent).  Had Republicans listened to Jack Kemp, it could have stemmed some of those losses to Democrats. But they didn’t. Today, they continue to listen to the advice of failed leaders, such as former vice president Dick Chaney.

Chaney said on Sunday that he favors the conservatism of Rush Limbaugh’s over the politics of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who crossed party lines last year to endorse Barack Obama.  “Well, if I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I’d go with Rush Limbaugh, I think,” Cheney said in an interview on “Face the Nation. “I think my take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn’t know he was still a Republican.” As the Louisville Courier-Journal observed in a recent editorial, “It isn’t clear why anyone would take seriously a drug-abusing radio blowhard or a former vice president who left office with an approval rating of 13 percent.”

George E. Curry, former editor-inchief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com

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