CCAI and the CCA welcomes U.S. Representative Donna Shalala (D-FL-27) as adoption caucus Co-Chair for the 116th Congress

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U.S. Representative Donna Shalala (D-FL-27) Named Adoption Coalition Co-Chair for the 116th Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 8, 2019 –The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), in partnership with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption (CCA), announced the newest CCA co-chair for the 116th Congress: Representative Donna Shalala of Florida.

The CCA is the largest bicameral, bipartisan Congressional Member organization and works to engage Members of Congress on issues pertaining to children in need of permanency and adoption, children in the foster care system, and domestic and international child welfare, as well as to advocate for every child’s right to a safe, stable and loving family. The role of the CCA co-chairs is to lead and actively engage their colleagues in Congress and draft and support federal policies that help place children in families.

Representative Shalala was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 and represents the 27th district of Florida. The Congresswoman previously served as the longest-serving Secretary of Health and Human Services in U.S. History. She defines herself as an advocate for women’s rights, children’s right to family and strong public education, increased access to healthcare, and a clean and sustainable environment.

“I’m proud to be the new Democratic House Co-Chair for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, and I’m excited to begin working with CCAI and my colleagues to champion adoption and child welfare,” said Shalala. “Adoption is a lifechanging experience for so many children and parents across the country. I’m honored to play a role in creating and promoting legislation that will build families.”

Shalala will join the CCA’s three current co-chairs: Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Representative Robert Aderholt of Alabama.

“So many families open their homes and hearts to adopt children from their own communities and around the world. Donna Shalala has long been a champion for families and will be an excellent co-chair given her experience as the former Secretary of Health and Human Services, and her leadership in getting the Adoption and Safe Families Act and Foster Care Independence Act signed into law. I look forward to working with Representative Shalala, our new House co-chair, to find solutions for adoptive families and ensure that every child has a safe and loving home,” Klobuchar said.

By joining the CCA, Members of Congress have the opportunity to participate in programs and events throughout the year that allow them to interact with vulnerable children and youth, the families that care for them, and subject matter experts to hear the stories of the challenges and opportunities they experience and to strengthen federal policy with this information.

“No matter what your politics may be, one thing we can all agree upon is that the lives of these vulnerable children needing adoption or foster care deserve our attention,” said Representative Aderholt. “I am glad that Congresswoman Shalala has joined the Congressional Adoption Caucus as the House Democratic co-chair and I look forward to working with her.”

“The Congressional Coalition on Adoption is committed to advocating for policies that improve foster care and encourage adoption,” said Blunt.  “I look forward to working with Congresswoman Shalala and our CCA co-chairs to help the millions of children around the world who are in-need of a safe, permanent home.” 

The co-chairs and CCA are supported by CCAI, the non-profit institute dedicated to raising awareness about children in need of families both domestically and internationally and to eliminating the policy barriers that hinder children from finding their forever families.

“CCAI is so grateful that Congresswoman Shalala is stepping into the role of co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption,” said CCAI’s Interim Executive Director, Bethany Haley. “Amazing things can happen when Members choose to come together across party lines to elevate the needs of orphans and youth in foster care. We’re so very grateful for Congresswoman Shalala’s willingness to join the three other co-chairs of the CCA who work with their colleagues on behalf of vulnerable children.”

In the last 35 years, Members of the CCA have led Congress in the passage of legislation that has dramatically improved the lives of children and families including the “Family First Prevention and Services Act,” the “Adoption and Safe Families Act,” the “John Chafee Foster Care Independence Act,” the “Promoting Safe and Stable Families Act,” the “Hope for Children Act,” the “Intercountry Adoption Act,” the “Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act,” and the “Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act.”

Today there are over 442,000 children in foster care, and nearly 124,000 of these children are eligible for adoption, waiting for families to call their own. Children living in orphanages globally are estimated conservatively at eight million, with unknown numbers living on the streets.

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For questions, please contact Taylor Draddy at 202-544-8500 or Taylor@ccainstitute.org.

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (www.ccainstitute.org) is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization that serves as an objective, educational resource for information critical to advancing the efforts of federal policymakers on behalf of children in need of families. To learn more about CCAI, follow the organization on Twitter (http://twitter.com/ccainstitute), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/theccai) and YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/ccainstitute).

 

CCAI Names Senator Mary Landrieu as Board of Directors President

MEDIA ADVISORY – DECEMBER 18, 2018

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CONGRESSIONAL COALITION ON ADOPTION INSTITUTE NAMES SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU AS BOARD OF DIRECTORS PRESIDENT

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec 18, 2018 – The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) announced that former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu has agreed to rejoin the Board of Directors and has been elected Chair.

During her three terms in the United States Senate, Senator Landrieu was known as the champion of adoption and children in need of families. She helped to establish and co-chair the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and, in that capacity, led dozens of congressional delegations both domestically and internationally that focused on child welfare and permanency for children.  In addition, she worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass significant and transformative legislation that has improved the process and outcomes for children in foster care here at home and for orphans around the world.

“We are thrilled that Senator Landrieu has agreed to rejoin the Board of Directors as Chair. There is no more qualified or passionate leader to help move CCAI into this next chapter,” said Susan Neely, CCAI Board Vice President and President and CEO of American Council of Life Insurers. “As an original founder of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Senator Landrieu championed the issues of adoption and vulnerable children with tireless dedication and helped elevate these issues in Congress in an unprecedented way. We are confident that she will continue to do so as CCAI Board President and we are so grateful for her willingness to serve in this capacity.”

“I am looking forward to working closely with our new Interim Director, our Board members, Advisory Board members, many donors and friends to continue the important work of CCAI in the years to come,” said Senator Landrieu.

With the addition of Senator Landrieu, Senior Policy Advisor for Van Ness Feldman, current CCAI Board of Directors are: Susan Neely of the American Council of Life Insurers, Russell Sullivan of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Brad Bondi of Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, Susan Hirschmann of Williams & Jensen, and Korie and Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty.

“We welcome Senator Landrieu to a dedicated and talented board,” said Bethany Haley, Interim Executive Director of CCAI. “We truly look forward to the many ways we will benefit from her leadership, expertise and passion for the world’s vulnerable children.”

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The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes and to eliminating the barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family.

 For more information or to learn more about the work of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, visit www.ccainstitute.org or contact Bethany Haley at bethany@ccainstitute.org or 202.544.8500.

CCAI Names Bethany Haley Interim Executive Director

MEDIA ADVISORY – DECEMBER 18, 2018

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CONGRESSIONAL COALITION ON ADOPTION INSTITUTE NAMES BETHANY HALEY INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec 18, 2018 – The Board of Directors of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) announced that it has appointed Bethany Haley to the position of Interim Executive Director.

“Bethany brings deep experience and policy expertise in all of the issues that are at the core of CCAI’s mission, having served two Members of Congress and worked closely for years with our late Executive Director, Becky Weichhand. Through her years of helping to manage the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, she developed numerous key relationships in the child welfare community, both on and off the Hill, and is passionate about helping to facilitate bipartisan collaboration on behalf of children in need of families. She is the perfect leader to jump in and keep us moving forward,” said Susan Neely, CCAI Board Vice President and President and CEO of American Council of Life Insurers.

Prior to this role, Bethany worked on Capitol Hill for close to 12 years, first as a communications director and then as a senior policy advisor on domestic and international vulnerable children’s issues. In the latter capacity, working for two recent co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Bethany managed multiple international congressional delegations, hosted briefings and roundtable discussions for Members of Congress and staff, and coordinated bipartisan support for multiple legislative initiatives.

“I am so deeply honored and grateful for the opportunity to carry on the vision and mantle of CCAI that was stewarded so well by my dear friend Becky Weichhand. CCAI’s mission is as urgent and relevant today as it ever was, and I am excited to join with the amazing staff who are equally committed to making family a reality for the many children still waiting,” said Bethany Haley, CCAI Interim Executive Director.

For 17 years, CCAI has been an established resource for the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Coalition on Adoption, the United States Congress’ caucus on adoption and permanency for children. CCAI works to provide federal policymakers with the information and resources needed to make the dream of a family a reality for every child through its core programs, including Angels in Adoption®, the Foster Youth Internship Program®, and 20/20 Vision delegations.

CCAI is governed by a Board of Directors whose members include Susan Neely of the American Council of Life Insurers, Russell Sullivan of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Brad Bondi of Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, Susan Hirschmann of Williams & Jensen, and Korie and Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty.

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The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes and to eliminating the barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family.

 For more information or to learn more about the work of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, visit www.ccainstitute.org or contact Kate McLean at kate@ccainstitute.org or 202.544.8500.

A Message from CCAI on Becky Weichhand

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It is with great sadness that we share the news that our passionate and loving Executive Director, Becky Weichhand, has lost her valiant battle with cancer. She passed away on November 27, 2018 surrounded by family and some of her many friends. We have lost our vibrant leader and dear friend.

A celebration of life was held in Washington, DC on November 30, 2018 at Miracle Theatre. A taping of this service may be viewed here. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to CCAI in honor of Becky’s love, leadership and lifetime commitment to a family for every child. Donations may be made at ccainstitute.org/get-involved/donate

The Board of Directors is preparing an interim leadership plan. We will share an update with you soon. The Board along with the staff remain committed to CCAI’s mission. Becky is so deeply missed and we share in grieving the loss of a tremendous individual who touched the lives of so many, and will continue to do so through her legacy of love and grace.

If the CCAI Team can be of assistance during this difficult time, please email us at info@ccainstitute.org or call (202) 544-8500. 

            

A Special Message from a Foster Care Alumnus to Our Veterans

A Special Message from a Foster Care Alumnus to Our Veterans from Terry Scraggins, CCAI 2018 Foster Youth Intern 

As we celebrate National Adoption Month and Veterans Day this November, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) honors all our Veterans, as well as our Foster Youth Interns and Angels in Adoption® Honorees who have served (and are serving) in our military. We asked Terrence (Terry) Scraggins, one of our 2018 Foster Youth Interns and a service member in the U.S. Navy, to share about himself and offer a message to our Veterans.

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Terry with the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, Richard V. Spencer, this summer during the Foster Youth Internship Program®.
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Terry in front of the U.S. Capitol Building this summer. 

Hi everyone! I’m Terry Scraggins.  I am currently in my junior year at Boise State University’s BSW Social Work Program.  I’m also a part-time barista at a local coffee shop here in Boise, Idaho.

Without a doubt I can say that my favorite memory from the Foster Youth Internship Program this summer has to be the Congressional and White House briefing.  Spending the summer with CCAI is an experience only a handful of individuals have the privilege to participate in! Being provided a platform to advocate for tens of thousands of youth in the broken foster care system was empowering and has me yearning to do more.

I have always been a bit of an overachiever in life. The goals I set for myself continuously vary and change depending on what my focus is. I’m planning to complete my bachelor’s in social work by the spring of 2020. At that point, I will decide which path I would like to take on next. I have not yet decided on whether I want to immediately further my education by obtaining a Masters in Social Work or if I want to return to the Navy; fearlessly attempting to become a Naval Officer. I have realized that the United States Navy has prepared me for either path.

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Terry while he was serving time in the Navy. 

Joining the Navy helped me find my voice.  It stripped me down and built me back up again. It showed me I could accomplish anything, as long as I fought for it and put in hard work and dedication. Whenever I get discouraged in any facet of life, I reflect on past Naval experiences and I remember how I was able to get through 18-hour work days when we were out at sea. It is then when many other things in life don’t look too bad anymore.

CCAI and the Foster Youth Internship Program has made quite the impression on my future goals. If I was not given the opportunity to participate in the Foster Youth Internship Program, I never would have realized my passion for policy work and I wouldn’t have realized the impact my passion for policy would have on my future goals and plans. The FYI Program pointed me in the direction of these goals by helping me gain a wealth of knowledge that I would not have gained without this experience.

Other goals aside from my career, include starting a family and becoming a foster and adoptive parent one day, once I am well-established. In the meantime, to take care of myself in this extremely busy lifestyle, I run. I’ve completed two half-marathons and am currently training for a full marathon next summer!

Since my internship this summer, I have continued to be involved and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, specifically those within the child welfare system. Recently, I wrote an op-ed published within The Chronicle of Social Change.  Additionally, I’ve been working with the Family Equality Council to raise awareness about the LGBTQ+ community within foster care.

What is your message to our veterans as we celebrate Veterans Day this year?

Thank you so much for serving our country and signing that dotted line.  Most will never know the full-extent and duties you signed up for when you enlisted.  To those who have lost their lives for our country, thank you for paying the ultimate price so that we can continue to be free.

Terrence (Terry) Scraggins was a participant in the 2018 Foster Youth Internship Program®, one of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s signature programs. To learn more about ways you can get involved with the Foster Youth Interns or National Adoption Month, please visit us at www.ccainstitute.org and contact Kate McLean at kate@ccainstitute.org. 

Adoption Gives 2018

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The 20th Annual Angels in Adoption® Program: A Photo Recap

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CCAI’s Angels in Adoption® Program consists of ten events spanning three days of events in Washington, D.C. where individual advocates, families and organizations who have made an extraordinary contribution in the lives of children through adoption or foster care are celebrated by Members of Congress. Our 2018 Angels in Adoption® Honorees joined over 2,600 alum of the program when they traveled to Washington two weeks ago.

Check out some of the highlights from the 20th Annual Angels in Adoption® Program!

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2018 Angels in Adoption® Honorees started their week learning about CCAI and other child welfare organizations at CCAI’s Advocacy Fair.
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We love to hear about the amazing work that our Angels have done for children all across the nation.
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Congressional Coalition on Adoption Member, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), presents his Angel, Ms. Jevonda Pauls, with her Angels in Adoption® Award at the Congressional Senate Breakfast and Pin Ceremony.
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Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chair, Representative Robert Aderholt (R-AL), with the Nail family at the Congressional House Luncheon and Pin Ceremony.
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Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chair, Representative Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), gives closing remarks at the Congressional House Luncheon and Pin Ceremony.
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Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) meets with Angels from the Bossier KIDS organization and the Gros Family during an Angels in Adoption® Hill Day meeting.
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D.C. radio personality, Tommy McFly, emcees the Angels in Adoption® Gala.
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Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chair, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), delivers opening remarks for the 20th Annual Angels in Adoption® Program Gala.
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Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chair, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), gives remarks at the gala.
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Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (left) and Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin gave joint remarks on a plan for a nationwide commitment to eliminate the foster care backlog in the United States.
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Former Senator Mary Landrieu (left) introduces 2018 National Angels in Adoption® Claudette and Jack Gerard (not pictured).

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We hope you enjoyed this photo recap of CCAI’s 20th Annual Angels in Adoption® Program. Feel free to share this blog post with others, and be sure to follow CCAI on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Remember to use the hashtag #adoptionangels!

If you would like to make a donation to CCAI’s Angels in Adoption® Program and our mission of children in families, please visit www.ccainstitute.org/get-involved/donate.

 

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The Angels in Adoption® Program is a signature program of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.