Grand Rallies To Protect Our Children

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At first, Mrs. Terry L. didn’t feel she could care properly for her two grandchildren, ages six and three.  Terry’s husband was unemployed and receiving disability benefits.  Her youngest granddaughter suffered from epilepsy and pulmonary problems and needed constant care and attention.  But faced with the possibility that her daughter would lose custody of her children and the girls would be put in foster care, Terry and her husband decided to raise them, even though she still hopes that one day her daughter might be ready to parent again. “It’s been our belief in God that has helped us make such hard decisions,â€? she says. Families like Terry’s need to be celebrated and need support. 

That’s why on September 14, a very special event will take place on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C, as hundreds of grandparents and other relatives raising children come together for a Grand Rally.  The Wednesdays in Washington Grand Rally will be a historic gathering of grandparents and other relative caregivers from across the country that will bring attention to the needs of children in families headed by relatives. The Grand Rally is an important opportunity to educate members of Congress and their staff about the supports and services these families need. The Grand Rally will also give caregivers, their supporters, and members of Congress the chance to recognize and celebrate the essential role that grandparents and other relative caregivers play in keeping children safe and in stable families. 

If you or someone you know is a grandparent or other relative raising a child, plan now to join us in Washington, D.C. on September 14 and make your voice heard! Many of us who are grandparents are used to stepping in and caring for grandchildren from time to time.  I know I’ve spent many evenings and weekends on “grandma duty,â€? and loved every wonderful but exhausting moment!  But many
grandparents go so far beyond the occasional Saturday night or long weekend and serve as full-time caregivers. More than six million children—1 in 12—are living in homes headed by grandparents and other relatives; about 4 in 10 do not have parents present.  These grandparents and other relatives are taking the most hands-on role possible. 

At the Grand Rally, we all will celebrate these grandparents and other caregivers and step forward with them as a strong voice for America’s
children. The first Grand Rally, in October 2003, was attended by more than 850 grandparents and other relatives raising children from 28 states and the District of Columbia. These caregivers helped members of Congress better understand the challenges they face in meeting their children’s needs, because no one can better make the case for the children living in households headed by relatives than the relative caregivers themselves.  They told Congress they are doing the best job they can, but they can’t do it alone, and need help.  We must make it easier for them to receive assistance for the children they are caring for permanently and make sure that they have proper housing and a break from their care giving responsibilities, among other things.  The Grand Rallies are a chance to speak out for these needs.

Last year, State Grand Rallies also were held in more than a dozen states across the country.  The Children’s Defense Fund is delighted to be co-sponsoring the national Grand Rally again this year with AARP, the Child Welfare League of America, Generations United, and the National Committee of Grandparents for Children’s Rights. The Grand Rallies help the caregivers who attend draw on each other’s strength and on the strength and hope of their children, who bring them together.  Special gatherings like these allow these families to meet, celebrate, and advocate—and if you belong to this kind of “grand family,â€? we want you to join us!

For more information about the Grand Rally and to register, visit, call 202-662-3656, or email

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