Monday, March 31, 2008

A Workshop on End-of-Life Issues for Persons with Developmental Disabilities

A Workshop on End-of-Life Issues for Persons with Developmental Disabilities

Saturday, April 12, 2008 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
The Seymour Center, 2551 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill, NC

For many years, advocates have sought equal access and equal rights for people with developmental disabilities. As a result, consumers with developmental disabilities have the right and increased opportunity to plan their own lives, choose their own support, and live their lives with dignity and respect.
In addition to the challenges that all people face at end of life, consumers with developmental disabilities, their family members, guardians and the health care system face a unique set of challenges:
. Consumers with developmental disabilities lack opportunities to
learn more about choices and options throughout the course of their lives, so that their wishes can be respected.
. Family members and guardians who provide care and/or assist their
family members in decision-making look ahead to their own aging and end of life. They want to ensure the best support will continue for their family members with developmental disabilities when they are no longer able to provide support.
. Professionals face challenges in helping consumers and family
members to explore their options, talk together about choices and have wishes honored.
Consumers with developmental disabilities, their family members, guardians and professional providers need specialized resources and support to plan ahead for end of life more effectively.
In the words of one consumer following the death of her parents, people with developmental disabilities need to know: "What Will Happen to Me?"

Event Description and the Keynote Speaker
On April 12, 2008, Project Compassion will offer a workshop for consumers
with developmental disabilities, their family and friends and professionals
to explore these important issues and offer tools and strategies for
planning ahead.
The keynote speaker will be nationally respected author and leader in the
field Jeffrey Kauffman, LCSW. Kauffman has taught at Bryn Mawr College
Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research and at the Center for
Social Work Education of Widener University. He has consulted with more
than 25 mental retardation agencies in direct grief support services for
staff and clients, training, and program development.
Kauffman is the author of Guidebook on Helping Persons with Mental
Retardation Mourn and is the editor of 2 books: Awareness of Mortality and
Loss of the Assumptive World. He is the author of numerous articles on
death and dying.
Kauffman's work has been widely praised nationally. Kenneth J. Doka, PhD,
one of the best-known national leaders in the field of grief and loss,
offers strong support for Mr. Kauffman's latest book: "Jeffrey Kauffman
has to be commended for meeting the needs of an underserved and
disenfranchised population of grieving persons. The Guidebook is both
theoretically sound and eminently practical, and a real gift to the fields
of developmental disabilities and thanatology."
Known as an excellent speaker and facilitator, we are fortunate to have
Jeffrey Kauffman lead this workshop.

The schedule for the workshop will be as follows:
9:00 - 9:30 Registration
9:30 - 10:30 Opening Keynote by Jeffrey Kauffman:
We Need to Talk: Bridging the Communication Gaps
Consumers, Family Members and Professionals When It
Comes to End
of Life
10:30 - 10:45 Break
10:45 - 11:45 Attorney Panel
Can You Help Me: Understanding the Key Legal Issues
Facing Consumers and Family Members at End of Life
11:45 - 12:00 Break
12:00 - 1:00 Closing Keynote by Jeffrey Kauffman:
They're Not Coming Back: How Grief and Loss
Affects Consumers,
Family Members and Professionals
The registration cost for this workshop is $25.00 for Participants and
$15.00 for Consumers, Seniors and Students who register by March 31, 2008.
The registration cost after March 31, 2008 will be $35.00 for Participants
and $25.00 for Consumers, Seniors and Students. Individuals my register
online by going to the Project Compassion website: or by calling (919)

NC Plans Changes in Handling of Mental Care

Thursday, March 27, 2008
N.C. plans changes in handling of mental care

The head of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has announced several changes in mental-health treatment, some of which would reverse a
2001 reform plan that let companies, not the government, provide the treatment.
The health and human-services secretary, Dempsey Benton, said yesterday that he plans to ensure basic psychiatric care in North Carolina and buy space for the mentally ill in community hospitals, the Raleigh News & Observer reported.
Benton said that all institutional deaths will be reported to a medical examiner. Under the new policy, hospitals must report all deaths by telephone to a medical examiner, Benton told a legislative committee on mental health. The medical examiner will decide whether an autopsy will be performed.
The DHHS said that officials changed the policy in order to increase openness and oversight.
"This is only one step in a comprehensive re-examination of our procedures covering the death of anyone in the care of our facilities," said James Osberg, the chief for state-operated facilities for DHHS.

Mental Health Officials Could be Held in Contempt

Mental health officials could be held in contempt
Sunday, Mar. 23, 2008 3:00 am
Lawyers for a Lexington boy who was abused by his mental health providers are trying a novel approach: They want individual administrators held in contempt of court — a finding that could carry fines or jail time.
Last June, the case of Daniel Woody, 11, revealed gaping pitfalls in mental health reform, the state plan to privatize the system. Now Daniel's case could set legal precedent.
The child's lawyers will ask a judge to hold in contempt officials at Piedmont Behavioral Health, the local agency that covers Davidson County. Last June, the court ordered treatment for the mentally disabled boy and gave PBH 120 days to arrange it. Nine months later, but for a brief period last fall, the boy is still without services.
Attorneys for the five-county regional agency, the state's largest, argue that PBH worked "long and hard" to find treatment but failed.
"The efforts of PBH have been thwarted, through no fault of its own," agency lawyers wrote in a response filed March 13, "by great difficulties in finding and contracting with providers."
Amid mounting evidence that HMO-type reform fails clients across the state, the boy's lawyers called PBH's admission "remarkable."
"What they're saying is that they're not able to comply" with previous court orders, said Ann-Marie Dooley of Legal Aid. "For the state to make such an admission is astounding."
But in Daniel's case, not surprising. Prior to last June's court order, Daniel was found to have been physically abused by workers for a private agency whose contract with PBH was terminated after complaints involving multiple clients.
Among the complaints: Clients were made to walk barefoot on gravel, so they could not run away.
Next, Daniel was served by a contractor who operated out of her home and employed a relative to baby-sit and transport the clients — even though he had no driver's license.
When the Davidson County Sheriff's Office began investigating why Daniel returned home with bruises on his face, arms and neck, the relative was let go, but the provider still has a contract with PBH, a spokesman said last week.
The agency, which declined to comment on the contempt motion, is considered a "demonstration model" for North Carolina's reform program.
The goal of the massive 2001 initiative was to give people with mental disabilities more "choice" in treatment providers and to keep them close to home rather than institutionalized in a far-flung state hospital.
But the journey through the system has been just the reverse for Daniel, a friendly, towheaded boy whose grandparents adopted him as a baby and have cared for him since.
When Daniel's behavior turned angry and impulsive in 2006 — the same period of time he was abused — he was hospitalized at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. There, his medical file shows, he was given medication that caused an allergic reaction and breathing problems.
From there, his behavior worsened, and he was sent on an emergency commitment to Butner's John Umstead Hospital, which is designed to treat psychiatric patients, not clients with developmental disabilities such as Daniel, who has received a diagnosis of retardation and severe hyperactivity.
And even though Daniel's doctor had determined that he could be safely cared for at home — assuming there were a treatment plan and qualified, competent providers to give respite care and community services — Umstead sought for the boy to be placed in a group home in Florida.
When his grandparents refused, the state cut off the boy's "innovations waiver" that would pay for community services through Medicaid. The family was meanwhile reported to the Department of Social Services to be investigated for medical neglect.
Instead, a DSS worker advised the family to call Legal Aid. The boy's grandmother, Barbara Woody of Lexington, said last week that she believed the family angered mental health officials by demanding that the private providers be shut down.
"That doesn't look good, does it?" Woody said. "But it's not right. You don't abuse children. You don't make money on abuse."
A spokesman for PBH, Stephan Tomlinson, said the agency cannot comment on the Woody lawsuit, which names the three PBH administrators who signed off on Daniel's plan: Dr. Craig Hummel, medical director; Dr. Kristin Baker, assistant medical director; and Andrea Misenheimer, clinical care director.
In part, the contempt motion to be heard April 11 in Raleigh Superior Court is a recognition that the state is immune to being sued. On the other hand, suing individual officers at PBH could be a particularly salient test.
Unlike other regional mental health agencies such as the Guilford Center, PBH contracts directly with private providers and, in turn, sends the bill to Medicaid. The agency's position that it now is unable to provide the child the safety net guaranteed by law is a sobering statement on reform.
For children's advocates, it suggests that not everything works better in the private sector.
"This whole reform was about 'choice,' but they're now saying there's nobody who will serve this child," said Legal Aid's Dooley. "Whenever you privatize services, providers get to cherry-pick who they want."
That was part of the problem highlighted in a series of stories last year by News & Record staff writer Mark Binker. Audits found private providers using unqualified workers who hadn't undergone criminal background checks, falsified billing records and long delays for mentally ill people seeking services.
Those reports found cases in which patients were mistreated, beaten with belts and hangers, exposed to drugs and alcohol or allowed to wander off. In one case, a 16-year-old bipolar girl who was allowed to walk in the park unsupervised was picked up in a car and raped.
Since then, the news has only gotten worse. Carmen Hooker-Odom, former Secretary of Health and Human Services, resigned. The state in January put off plans to close Umstead and Dorothea Dix hospitals, in light of reports of patient abuse at the state's newest mental hospital.And following a series this month in the Raleigh News & Observer showing that some $400 million had been squandered and at least 83 mental hospital patients had died under questionable circumstances since 2000, Gov. Mike Easley argued that he had opposed the mental health reform plan in the first place.
So compared to all the money and all the politics, what's one little boy?
To his grandparents, everything.
When Daniel was at Umstead, Barbara Woody and her husband, Dale, would visit as often as they were allowed, when he wasn't in "seclusion." They would take him clean clothes, she said, and he would clutch them to his face because they smelled of home.
Realizing they were going home and he was staying in the hospital, he then began to tear the clothes.
"Daniel will never understand what happened to him. They can never give it back," his grandmother said.
"To them, Daniel was a burden. To us, he's our life. It doesn't matter that it's hard. That makes us love him even more. And how many other children are out there like Daniel? Their stories are never told."
Contact Lorraine Ahearn at 373-7334 or

Nonprofits and Corruption

The intersection of nonprofits and political corruption was
the focus of questions fielded Thursday to most of North Carolina's candidates for governor. The
questions follow several high-profile scandals in recent years in which elected officials have faced
criminal charges related to their involvement with nonprofits. Several candidates said they would
not ban public officials' involvement with nonprofits. "This is a challenge because we're all
interested in having good boards [of directors]," said Bob Orr, a Republican and former state
Supreme Court justice. "If a nonprofit receives public money, you ought to be ready for a higher
degree of accountability," said Richard Moore, a Democrat and the state's treasurer. But, he
added, "I do think we've gone too far in this area. I understand that I can't write a letter for a
nonprofit. I think that's ridiculous."
The candidates spoke in Raleigh at a forum sponsored by the N.C. Center for Nonprofits and
Generation Engage. All candidates attended except Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, a Democrat, and
Sampson County farmer Elbie Powers, a Republican. Many public officials serve on the board of
nonprofits -- usually without pay. State officials must disclose the connections on forms filed with
the State Ethics Commission. Republican Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory was very critical of the
recent scandals. "The conflicts of interest by members of our state legislature have stained our
reputation for years to come," he said. "We have to separate the politics from the nonprofits as
much as possible." Sen. Fred Smith, a Republican, said officials need to be engaged in the
nonprofit world. "We need to encourage public officials to give and not take," he said. "Where we
need to draw the line is where someone is taking." (David Ingram, THE CHARLOTTE
OBSERVER, 3/28/08).

Petition with the NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Dear fellow North Carolinians,

As you may have heard in recent news coverage, survivors of rape in North Carolina are being billed for the evidence collection that occurs during a forensic medical exam (“rape kit”). Let’s work together to get 5,000 signatures to ensure that survivors of rape are not billed for evidence collection! To view and sign our petition, please visit Thank you for supporting our efforts—together, we will end sexual violence!

The North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Fitzsimon File: The Human Infrastructure Crisis

Fitzsimon File

The human infrastructure crisis
by Chris Fitzsimon
The headlines are difficult to read these days, as more details emerge about the murders of UNC student body president Eve Carson and Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato.
The latest revelation is that the probation officer assigned to Laurence Alvin Lovette, one of the two people charged in the murders, never met with him even though he had been on probation since January 16 for larceny and breaking and entering.
The News & Observer reports that the probation officer also entered backdated accounts of meetings that didn't happen. A Department of Corrections official says efforts to revoke the probation of the other suspect, Demario James Atwater, should have been well underway after he was convicted of a firearm charge last summer.
The new twists on the tragedies have a disturbing familiarity about them. Lovette and Atwater fell through the cracks of the state probation and parole system, and there are plenty of them. The state caseload standard is 60, but probation officers in Durham and Wake Counties frequently are assigned more than 100 offenders to supervise.
Turnover is high among probation officers, whose starting pay is $32,000 a year. Not much for a job that's stressful, dangerous, and vital to protecting the public and helping offenders stay out of trouble. The technology in much of the state's court system is woefully out of date.
A few weeks ago, the News & Observer published a series on the state's troubled mental health system, the latest paper to document the shocking failures of a system charged with caring for some of the state's most vulnerable citizens. The N&O series revealed abuse of patients and unreported deaths at the state mental hospitals.
Administrators and mental health advocates pointed to low pay and high turnover for hospital staff. Inadequate technology also played a role. Health and Human Services Secretary Dempsey Benton told lawmakers this week that cameras will be finally be installed in all restraint rooms by June of this year. No one can explain why that never made it to the top of any priority list before the recent scandals.
Benton also said that turnover among nurses was 31 percent in the last fiscal year at Dorothea Dix, 22 percent at Broughton Hospital. State nurses and health techs are low paid, despite working in a job that is stressful, dangerous, and vital to protecting people's lives.
And it's not just a problem with hospitals and probation offices. There are similar problems in other agencies that provide vital services that protect the public. High caseloads are common for staff that investigate farmworker standards, OHSA compliance, rest home operations, etc.
The problems are not secrets. They pop up every year as the General Assembly puts together the state budget and finds a few hundred thousand dollars to lower an impossible caseload to simply an unmanageable one. Reports by national groups and state advocacy organizations often draw attention to the crisis in human infrastructure in the state.
A national report on the state probation and parole system in 2004 identified many of the problems that the recent cases have tragically highlighted.
The problem is that governors and legislators aren't lining up to fight for major new investments in state agencies like Corrections or Facility Services. Not much glory in that.
Lawmakers will vote for new prison beds in a heartbeat and brag about it on the campaign trail. But spending more on managing the people who leave prison is another thing altogether, so the shocking caseload numbers on the budget sheets remain just that, numbers on a sheet of paper.
The salaries of hospital techs or probation officers get even less notice and the high turnover rate is almost never mentioned. They only surface now, when we all want to know why people in mental hospitals are dying, and why offenders on probation aren't supervised.
It's not one specific person's fault, though the people who run the agencies owe it to the public they serve to demand more funding, better paid workers, and the latest technology.
The public debate about the state budget is mostly waged between politicians who support more funding for public schools and occasionally for human services, and those who constantly complain that state government spends too much and use misleading research by the market fundamentalist think tanks to try to prove it.
That leaves little room for a crucial discussion, how to make the major investments in the human infrastructure and technology to have the state government we need to protect public safety and care for the people under the state's watch. How many more tragedies will it take before we seriously ask that question?

Jim Hightower Coming to Chapel Hill
Common Cause invites you to hear Jim Hightower talk about his new book, Swim Against The Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow. In his words, the book give "the lowdown on how to put up--not shut up--in the fight for our future." North Carolina's own reform community is highlighted in the book as one of the success stories in fighting big money politics.Don't miss this fun and inspirational event--Friday, April 18th, 7pm at the Friday Center. Tickets are $10 (or $50 if you want to attend a private reception/book signing).Click here to purchase your tickets

Low-Quality Jobs Leave NC Families Struggling
By John Quinterno
Thousands of North Carolina families don’t earn enough to meet a basic family budget, thanks in large part to the growing number of low-quality jobs. However, changes to state policies can help these families build more financially secure futures.
Making Ends Meet on Low Wages: The 2008 North Carolina Living Income Standard, uses actual cost data to assess how much money North Carolina families with children need to support a simple lifestyle. The report outlines concrete policy recommendations that would help many low-income families bridge the gaps between low wages basic needs while also improving the kind and quality of jobs in North Carolina.
This report includes detailed family budgets for every one of North Carolina’s counties, metropolitan centers, economic development regions and workforce areas.

Daily Radio
Wright’s fall

Daily NewsTriangle is pricey for families
Raleigh News & Observer
Michael Lamont of Raleigh works for a delivery company by day and cleans offices at night. That leaves about four hours for sleep. "I'm working my fingers to the bone," said Lamont, 29, as he shopped at the Super Dollar in downtown Raleigh on Tuesday. His wife works, too, but the couple stretch to make ends meet.

Script: McCrory: “Why am I running for governor?
We take too much money…Charlotte Observer McCrory: "Why am I running for governor? We take too much money from the pockets of men and women working in North Carolina. Our state income tax is too high. North Carolinians are being punished for working. That's wrong.

Debra G. Dihoff comments on a North Carolina mental health tragedy
Greensboro News-Record There are many victims in the events that led to the death of Ruth Terrell, 88, at the hands of a young man with full-blown psychosis in 2005. The National Alliance on Mental Illness North Carolina extends its deepest sympathies to the family of the victim and to the whole community.

Neal banks on ‘change’ year
Raleigh News & Observer
Even while he was pursuing high finance on Wall Street, Hollywood and Silicon Valley, Jim Neal always had one eye trained on a political career. After returning home to North Carolina in 2006, Neal wasted little time in plunging into a U.S. Senate race that scared away most of the state's big-name Democrats: taking on Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

Visit for more news, commentaries and special features. Join the policy debate at The Progressive Pulse blog.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The North Carolina Center for Women in Public Service

Please recommend the Center's Summer Institute to Women Who May Be Interested.


The North Carolina Center for Women in Public Service

is now accepting applications for its 2008 Summer Institute,

an intensive summer leadership program that prepares women to seek elected or appointed office.

The Summer Institute will be held at Peace College in Raleigh over two extended weekends – June 26-29 and July 17-20, 2008. Up to 20 women will be selected to participate in the 2008 Institute. Participants will hone their leadership skills, prepare for political campaigning and develop tools for effective and ethical public service. Featured presenters will include state and local elected officials, professors, media experts, leadership trainers, noted political strategists and successful Summer Institute graduates.

The Summer Institute is open to women of all backgrounds, interests, and political affiliations. Now in its fifth year, the Institute has graduated more than 50 women who are actively making a difference in their communities, including women who have sought and won election to public office.

The deadline for all applications for the Summer Institute is April 30, 2008. Application information is available online at Tuition assistance and assistance with transportation or childcare costs is also available for qualified candidates.

If you or someone you know is interested in attending The Summer Institute, please refer to for more information and an application or contact Katrina Lamberto, SI Program Coordinator, at

The North Carolina Center for Women in Public Service, founded in June 2003 and housed at Peace College, is a non-partisan, nonprofit statewide organization that prepares women to seek and serve in elected and appointed positions. The Center is the first organization in North Carolina to address the need for non-partisan recruitment, training, and mentoring to increase the number of women in appointed and elected office. For additional information about the Center visit or contact Dana Jennings, CEO, at

New DASIS report

New DASIS Report: Adolescent Admissions Reporting Inhalants: 2006

Inhalants are substances whose vapors or gas can be sniffed or inhaled
to produce mind-altering effects and whose chronic use may cause
irreversible damage to the brain, kidneys, and lungs. Found in a range
of inexpensive and readily available household, office, industrial, and
automotive products, inhalants include substances such as hair spray,
shoe polish, glue, gasoline, lighter fluid, spray paints, and other
aerosol sprays. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health
(NSDUH) have shown that the primary abusers of inhalants are
adolescents aged 12 to 17.

The following are brief findings found in the report:

Adolescents aged 12 to 17 accounted for 8 percent of admissions to
substance abuse treatment in 2006; however, they represented 48 percent
of all admissions reporting inhalants.

Females comprised a larger proportion of adolescent admissions
reporting inhalants than of adolescent admissions not reporting
inhalants (41 vs. 30 percent).

In 2006, 45 percent of adolescent admissions reporting inhalants had a
concurrent psychiatric disorder in contrast to only 29 percent of their
counterparts who did not report inhalants.

Download DASIS Report:

Adolescent Admissions Reporting Inhalants: 2006 (PDF) (402 KB)

Women for Perdue!

Click here to sign up and support Perdue!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Insider Updates: March 20, 2008

The following updates are from the March 20, 2008 edition of the Insider:

Moore Deal: The gubernatorial campaign of Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue is raising questions about a land transaction in which Democratic rival Richard Moore and his siblings sold property that became part of the four-county Kerr-Tar regional business hub.

No Perdue: Both Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue and State Treasurer Richard Moore have endorsed Barack Obama for president, but on Wednesday just one made it to Obama's visit to Fayetteville. Moore's presence, along with other state and local Democratic figures was noted by Obama as he began his speech.

Special Session: No NC legislator has been removed from office in nearly 130 years. But that changed when the House met to consider kicking Rep. Thomas Wright out of office for ethical misconduct.
Rep. Earl Jones, D-Guilford, said late Wednesday he would offer an amendment to change the expulsion recommendation to censure. "I dont think we're respecting the judicial process or the principles or the precepts of democracy" with an expulsion motion, Jones said.

Relaxing Provisions: The Bush administration announced Tuesday that it will relax provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law for some states, acknowledging that the law is diagnosing too many schools as failing.

Reward: Gov. Mike Easley is offering a $10,000 reward for information in the death of Eve Carson.

E-Mail Review: Ferral Guillory will serve on a special panel that will conduct a review of policies regarding the retention of email messages under the state's public records law.

InfoNet: Week of 3/17/08

Below are summaries of articles related to child well-being in North Carolina. Also provided are links to each article's full text.

Asheville Citizen-Times"
Governor candidates tackle mental health"By Jordan SchraderRALEIGH — It may not have the kitchen-table appeal of promises about the minimum wage or the intensity of the immigration debate.But the politicians competing for North Carolina’s top job can’t avoid talking about the intractable problems of the state’s ailing mental health system.Robin Huffman, executive director of the N.C. Psychiatric Association, could see that at a forum last month that brought six Democratic and Republican candidates for governor to the podium."The candidates were a little awkward in talking our talk in our mental-health, developmental-disabilities and substance-abuse world," Huffman said. "But you know what? They’ve never had to talk about this before in order to get elected."For advice on a complex topic, state Sen. Fred Smith has turned to Lanier Cansler, who was deputy health secretary after representing Buncombe County in the North Carolina House. Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue has touched base with the top senator for oversight of mental health, Asheville’s Martin Nesbitt.All major candidates attended the Feb. 25 forum except Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, who said a City Council meeting kept him from the daylong event. Mental health providers and advocates have sought candidates’ positions to post at, and all but McCrory and lawyer Bill Graham have honored that request.The man they all want to replace, Gov. Mike Easley, has presided over a reform effort that has left mentally ill residents lacking care in their communities.Local providers have closed down or shed workers after repeated regulatory changes. Those in need have struggled to get into the state’s packed psychiatric hospitals, which have faced federal threats because of patient deaths and injuries.Easley called on the General Assembly this month to give his administration more authority over local mental health agencies, saying he can fix the problems before leaving office at the end of the year.Advocates for better care are skeptical."It's all just a bunch of treading water until after (this) year's election," said David Cornwell, of Fletcher, director of N.C. Mental Hope.--------------

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
"For Adolescents, Inhalants Are Drug of Choice: But sniffing common household chemicals can be deadly, experts say"
By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay ReporterTHURSDAY, March 13 (HealthDay News) --
Inhalants are being used more often than marijuana or prescription painkillers by kids on the brink of being teenagers, a new government report shows.Inhaling common household products such as shoe polish, glue, aerosol air fresheners, hair sprays, nail polish, paint solvents, degreasers, gasoline and lighter fluid now appears to be the preferred way to get high in this age group, health officials note.In the past year, 3.4 percent of 12-year-olds report using an inhalant, while only 1.1 percent tried marijuana, and 2.7 percent took prescription painkillers. That trend continued with 13-year-olds, with 4.8 percent using inhalants, 4 percent trying marijuana, and 3.9 percent taking prescription painkillers. By age 14, inhalant use dropped behind the use of marijuana, painkillers and other drugs.The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, with sponsorship from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, presented the results of these studies at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Thursday."Our data show that 1.1 million 12-to-17-year-olds acknowledge using inhalants last year," Dr. H. Westley Clark, director of the U.S. Center for Substance Abuse, said Thursday. "Our data also indicate that there are almost 600,000 teenagers [who] start using inhalants annually."However, inhalants can cause neurological damage, along with sudden death from cardiac reactions or lack of oxygen, Clark said. Although many adolescents die from using inhalants each year, an exact number isn't known."The short-term effects are dizziness, nausea, confusion and lack of coordination," he said.In addition, there been a number of reports of teens who have inhaled computer keyboard cleaners and lost control of their cars and crashed into walls and other obstacles, Clark said."Once kids start using inhalants, they are more susceptible to using other drugs like marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine as they age," Clark said. "Inhalants can produce psychological effects, but because they're readily accessible they are substitutes for other drugs."--------------
Asheville Citizen-Times
"Parents should honestly discuss substance-abuse issues, more often"
By Barbara Blake
You can tell your kids to "just say no" when it comes to drugs.But they probably won’t listen.Young people today live in a world where marijuana, pills, tobacco, alcohol and other legal and illegal substances are firmly entrenched in the culture — on television, on movie and video screens, in the lyrics of music, in the shadows of schoolyards, even on the streets of their own neighborhoods.Keeping children safe, drug-free and grounded with healthy values requires more than a perky cliché. Parents will have a much better chance of warding off the drug culture in their own homes if they have honest, ongoing discussions about substance abuse with their kids, if they are active listeners rather than pedantic preachers, and if they model healthy behaviors with their actions, not just words."Unfortunately, the drug culture has been so pervasive that it has dominated families and dominated our entire culture," said Allen Dunlap, a crime prevention officer with the Asheville Police Department and a former Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer in local schools."Hollywood has a love affair with danger — the danger of drugs and sex — and that's something they show vividly on television and in movies," Dunlap said. "And the young people who may not have been involved start to think that's the way the world does it, that everybody does it. And that's not the case."Start earlySo, how does a mere parent fight an entire cultural phenomenon?Talk to your kids, said Debbie Bryant, coordinator of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program in Buncombe County Schools. And start talking well before they hit their teens, she said."Research shows that the national average age for first-time use of alcohol is 11; for marijuana it's 12," Bryant said. "In our presentations at parent workshops, we encourage them to begin (talking) as early as 9."Talking, she said, doesn’t mean calling an official meeting and preaching to kids about the sins of substance abuse. --------------
"More Children Are Having Sex, Contracting STD's: Health officials see an increase in STD's among children as young as 8-years-old"
By Tracey McCain, Reporter
Piedmont Triad, NC - Doctors are calling it an epidemic among children. A growing number of school age kids are having unprotected sex. The problem is resulting in an increase of 8 to 17 year-old's with sexually transmitted diseases.Many of these children go untreated. In most cases, children don't they have an STD, because they don't understand the changes in their bodies. Or they're embarrassed and don't want their parents to find out. Ultimately, the diseases continue to spread. Health officials say education is key.The McMichael High School teen living course talks about everything on a young teens mind including how to balance freedom with personal responsibility.A new national study shows children are having sex before they enter the 5th grade. Health teacher Melia Cardwell says education has to keep up with the curiosity."It's the case of it's not going to happen to me," said Cardwell. "It concerns me it really does. I don't think they realize that it is such a huge responsibility and it never ends," she said.Cardwell says sex education needs to go beyond the text book and into the home."Everyone has got to be on the same page. It's got to be reiterated when they go home. When they're at home, I don't have control over what decisions they're making," said Cardwell. "Hopefully what they heard and what they read in my class, they'll remember when they're faced with it."--------------

Asheville Citizen-Times
"Adults aren’t the only ones who feel stress; children can be affected as well"
By Linden Veillette, Children's Health and Fitness
Do you think your child is showing signs of too much stress? Stress can affect children just as often as it affects adults. While kids may get to play more than their parents and don’t have to work full-time jobs, they can become just as stressed by different events and parts of their lives.Stress is bad for the body both physically and mentally, no matter what the age of the person feeling it. It can cause feelings of “butterflies” in the stomach, increases in blood pressure, fatigue, sweating, anxiety, trouble sleeping and can even cause difficulty waking up and having plenty of energy throughout the day.While it may be harder for children to reach out to adults about stress, certain signs can help clue in parents. Crying and becoming upset or aggressive over small things are the most obvious signs of stress for your child.Helping your children recognize when they are feeling too stressed and identify what they are stressed about teaches them to handle stress in a healthy way. By teaching children good coping skills, parents can help them conquer stress related to family and school issues, problems with peers and friends, and all of life’s other stressors.-------------------------------

Macon County News
"Seminar warns parents of tragic 'Risky Behaviors'"
By D. Linsey Wisdom, News Editor
Accidental death.It is the third leading cause of death among children in the state of North Carolina.She was 13 years old.She came home from school, played on her trampoline and that night took a bath with her sister. It was like any other day.He was 12.He already knew he wanted to go to West Point and what girl he wanted to marry. He was just that kind of kid.Sarah Beck and Connor Galloway did not know each other. Connor lived in Jackson County and Sarah in Macon. But both of their parents shared an unbelievably painful journey when they experienced the death of their children. Believed to be safe in their rooms, each child had gone there to be alone. Each child decided to try an activity they had heard about from others.They may have even tried before. No one can be sure, except that each child was found dead after accidentally hanging themselves when they tried to play what is commonly called "The Choking Game"......It goes by many names: Space Cowboy, The Passout Game, Airplaning, Funky Chicken, and perhaps most appropriately, Strangulation Roulette.Victims include children that are home schooled, only children of single mothers, children in private schools, children with siblings.In February this year, the Center for Disease Control released figures stating this game has taken the lives of 82 children in the last 10 years. But the World Health Organization has not created any identification tag listing the Choking Game as a cause of death. So there is no real way to track the number. Those 82 youth were identified only through reports in the media.Another organization, G.A.S.P., calculates the unofficial number may be closer to 1,800 deaths.-------------------------------

Charlotte Business Journal"Education Experts Give Tips on How to Make Family Reading Time More Effective"
LOUISVILLE, Ky., March 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --
Parents don't have to be experts in family literacy to read effectively with their children. But, thanks to a national program, they can learn from the experts on how to get better results and build learning skills with their children.For 12 years, the National Center for Family Literacy has awarded the Toyota Family Literacy Teacher of the Year to educators who achieve tremendous results in helping families learn together and prepare children for success in school.This year, those winners came together to create a list of the top five ways families can begin traditions and habits that will make a difference in their homes: -- Children imitate and emulate their parents, so it is important that they see parents reading for pleasure and that there are printed materials in the home. -- Parents must be involved in all aspects of their child's educational success -- from reading to them, checking homework, asking how the school day was, knowing who their friends (and bullies) are and advocating for their rights. -- Reading should become a valued routine in the house. Find a quiet area with a time to snuggle and read with mom or dad or both. Make sure there is proper lighting. Practice how to read with enthusiasm (use different voices for different characters or act out the story). -- Reading is not a passive activity. Parents should ask questions to find out what the child thinks will happen next and expand the story to discuss related personal stories, which make reading real to them. -- Parents should create an activity around the book they are reading with their children. Instead of just reading the text of the book, have children look at the pictures and tell the story in their own words or create a song about the book. If the book is about animals, follow up with a trip to the zoo or the park to make the story come alive.-------------------------------

Burlington Times-News
"Convoluted lawmaking leads to bad policy on lottery"
By Barry Smith, Times-News
RALEIGH - State Sen. Martin Nesbitt hit the nail on the head Thursday during a committee meeting when he talked about the way the school construction formula in the state lottery came into being.A lot of lawmakers, county commissioners and school officials are pretty unhappy about the formula, which favors counties that have a higher-than-average effective tax rate. There's a push going on in the General Assembly to change that formula.Nesbitt, a Buncombe County Democrat, pointed out that a lot of mountain and coastal counties are being short-changed because of their property-tax structure. Some of these areas have lower tax rates because their property valuations are high, he said.He noted that the formula in question wasn't actually a part of the 2005 lottery law that passed the General Assembly. Instead, it was stuck in that year's big budget bill when the Senate was considering that year's spending plan.That's one of the problems with putting substantive policy decisions in a budget bill. Policy decisions, such as whether the state should operate a lottery, should be made on their own merit. They shouldn't be stuck in the budget bill, along with hundreds of pages of spending proposals.It's a convoluted way of making laws.Legislative leaders chose that route in 2005 because they felt like it was the easiest way, if not the only way, of getting a lottery passed that would meet the stipulations of those leaders and Gov. Mike Easley.You may recall, in 2005 the actual lottery bill passed by the narrowest of margins in the Senate, when Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue cast a tie-breaking vote in support of the lottery bill.A handful of Democratic senators who were opposed to the lottery found it less distasteful to vote for the convoluted portion in the budget bill since that very same bill contained spending provisions that they championed.Now, going on three years after the General Assembly established a state lottery, lawmakers are trying to satisfy their constituents back home by modifying the school construction formula in the lottery law.-------------------------------

Raleigh News & Observer
"Sick at work? Bills push for paid time off: Lawmakers try to get benefit for thousands in N.C"
Sabine Vollmer, Staff Writer
The teacher with the runny nose, the store clerk with the hacking cough, the short order cook with the fever -- one of the most severe flu seasons in years is making it difficult to avoid people who come to work sick.These ailing workers aren't necessarily being thoughtless. Like many people they may not have a choice: Staying at home could mean losing a day's pay or risking getting fired.An estimated 42 percent of North Carolinians have jobs that offer no paid sick leave. The percentage is disproportionally higher among workers at stores, hotels, restaurants, schools and child-care facilities -- public places most prone to spreading germs.Supporters of legislation that would mandate paid sick leave for North Carolina employees hope they can ride the coattails of this winter's severe flu season when the General Assembly returns to work in May.Spearheaded by the N.C. Justice Center, a coalition of advocacy groups and unions representing blue-collar and low-wage workers is pushing for a change in state law.The group envisions a bill similar to the proposed Healthy Families Act, federal legislation sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy that would require businesses with 15 employees or more to provide at least seven paid sick days.--------------

Raleigh News & Observer
"Downturn challenges state's economic developers: Expansions and moves slowed, but N.C. is still doing better than much of U.S."
By Jonathan B. Cox, Staff Writer
This has been a topsy-turvy week for the state's labor market.If you're keeping score, North Carolina won four expansions from companies that agreed to create 633 jobs. Two large manufacturers, though, said they would cut more than 1,312 positions. That's a net loss of 679 jobs in just five days.Those developments don't account for all the economic activity in the state, just the major wins and losses. But they are a yardstick for how North Carolina is faring amid the economic downturn. It also puts a spotlight on economic development efforts......The trends are important to North Carolina's economy.Employment growth overall has slowed by about 70 percent compared with a year ago because of the broader economic troubles.Still, the state is better off than most of the country. From January 2007 to January 2008, established businesses added more jobs in North Carolina than in any other state, except Texas and New York.But layoffs are happening at a quickening pace. Just this month in this area, which is among the healthiest in the state, Motricity announced 250 job cuts in Durham. Kroger decided to close a Cary store, affecting 105 workers. In Siler City, Pilgrim's Pride announced this week that it will shut a chicken plant, cutting 836 jobs.That increases the pressure on recruiters. While most job growth comes from incremental increases by existing businesses, new companies help diversify the economy and protect communities when the economy dips.Since 2002, North Carolina has won almost 100,000 jobs and $14.65 billion in investment from business recruitment, according to figures from the N.C. Department of Commerce. Officials here have stepped up use of incentives -- a recent legislative report put the total at $1 billion a year -- which have aided that growth.--------------

Wilkes Journal Patriot
"Roots, results of poverty examined"
By Karin M. Clack
Understanding the causes and consequences of poverty were topics addressed during a forum Thursday night at the monthly Wilkes Healthy Carolinians Council meeting, held at the Kulynych Family Life Center in Wilkesboro.Annette Snider, Title I parent involvement coordinator for Wilkes County Schools, discussed poverty and the misconceptions among the three distinct economic classes that exist in Wilkes and nationwide.Paul Hugger, Wilkes Healthy Carolinians Council executive director, said, "We have been struggling as a council trying to identify a source of many of the health disparities in our community. We've wondered if they are racial, economical, or if there are other issues that we haven’t been made aware of. We met Annette Snider and learned that she has a wealth of experience in thinking about this issue," said Hugger.Mrs. Snider, originally from Minneapolis, obtained a bachelor’s degree in family studies before she and her family traveled overseas for mission’s work. "The things that I was observing working in urban America were things that I also saw when I was working in a third-world country," said Mrs. Snider.Mrs. Snider returned to Minneapolis and obtained a master’s degree in human development with a focus and concentration on understanding the culture of poverty."This is truly my passion… I love being able to share information like this and to help bring communities together to help bring understanding," said Mrs. Snider.Mrs. Snider gave an overview of what tends to happen, and why people don’t always make connections with families in poverty.Poverty definedMrs. Snider defined poverty as either situational or generational."Situational poverty occurs because a situation has happened to lower the income of that home. For example, a death, loss of job, illness or divorce," said Mrs. Snider."Generational poverty occurs when an individual or a family has received assistance from the government for two generations or more," noted Mrs. Snider."With each type of poverty, there are different attitudes that are prevalent," she said."With situational poverty, the attitude tends to be one of pride," said Mrs. Snider. "What you will hear from people is, 'no thank you, we don’t need your help. We can take care of it ourselves.'"With generational poverty, the attitude a lot of times is one of entitlement, one of 'you owe me this and it is my right—why are you not taking care of me,'" said Mrs. Snider.-------------------------------

inghampton University, State University of New York
"Child Abuse Prevention Month: Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome"
By Mary Muscari, Associate Professor,
Deker School of Nursing, Binghamton University, State University of New YorkShaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) refers to the medical findings that result from the violent shaking of an infant or young child. SBS is a form of child abuse that can cause significant permanent brain damage, resulting in learning disorders, severe mental retardation, blindness, paralysis, and even death.The American Association of Neurological Surgeons notes there are an estimated 50,000 cases of SBS per year in the United States. Victims range from the newborns to 4-year-olds, although the majority of cases occur before age 1-year with an average age of 3 to 8 months. Most victims are male, as are most perpetrators. The perpetrator is most often the father, the mother's boyfriend, a female babysitter, or the mother.The most common reason for shaking a baby is inconsolable crying. Many parents become frustrated because they do not know what to expect, and have questions such as: "How much should a baby cry?" "Why won't the baby stop crying?" "Is there something wrong?" "Am I doing something wrong?"Parents should talk to their child's health care provider to get assistance in learning to understand how and why their baby cries.Parents can also use these tips to help deal with crying:...--------------
"What Are The Signs Of Child Abuse? Child abuse specialists say it is important for people to recognize the signs of abuse and report suspected cases to authorities"
By Kerri Hartsfield, ReporterWinston-Salem --
Unexplained bruises, welts and an inability to communicate with adults are all common signs of child abuse, according to Cynthia Napoleon of the Exchange Club Child Abuse Prevention Center of North Carolina."It doesn't hurt to inquire," said Napoleon, who encourages people to question children and call authorities when they suspect abuse. "It's not important that they can prove that it happened. That's the Department of Social Services' business to do."Napoleon says children are often afraid to talk about abuse that occurs at home, which is why it is important for adults to speak up for them. "Often people are afraid to do that because they don't want to get in other people's business," she explained. "Someone needs to make sure the children are protected."If you suspect a child is being abused, contact your local Department of Social Services. In the Triad, residents can call 336-703-Abuse. You can also reach a counselor through The National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. -------------------------------

Asheville Citizen-Times
"Youth justice reforms urged"
By Jonathan Walczak
ASHEVILLE – North Carolina should stop automatically prosecuting suspects as young as 16 as adults, a speaker at a Thursday forum on juvenile justice said.Policymakers should consider easing that rule as part of juvenile justice system reform, youth advocate Sorien Schmidt, of Raleigh, said at the "Steering Youth Away from Crime" community forum held at UNC Asheville.The state is one of only three — the others are New York and Connecticut — with the policy."We are actually charging more minors in the adult system than in the juvenile system," said Schmidt, senior vice president of nonprofit Action for Children North Carolina.More than 30,000 16- and 17-year-olds are charged as adults in North Carolina every year, according to 2004 state data.Some face charges as serious as murder, but most are not charged with violent crimes. Cases like the Thursday arrest of a 17-year-old in connection with shootings of students from UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University are rare."This is one case that has garnered a lot of attention," Schmidt said."But of the 16- and 17-year-olds charged with crimes, only about 5 percent have committed violent crimes."Instead of focusing on punishment, the state should direct funding to programs that help rehabilitate young offenders, said Anthony Jones, chief court counselor for the Buncombe County division of the N.C. Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention."We must be willing to look beyond the surface and get at the true root of the issues that our children are facing," he said. Jones' division administered $519,004 in funding last year to 12 programs that assisted 812 youths, he said.--------------

Lexington Dispatch
"Latest attempt at NC legislative fiscal review underway"
By Gary D. Robertson, Associated Press Writer
Legislative leaders criticized by some for raising the state's annual budget by nearly 30 percent since 2004 have worked recently to try to show they're serious about trimming fat from state government.Two years ago, they created a special commission charged with the first performance audit of state government in 15 years. Appropriations committees experimented with a new kind of budgeting process last year while the General Assembly created a permanent panel that will regularly review state departments, agencies and institutions......Rep. Alice Bordsen, D-Alamance, said she doesn't like that her superiors in the budget process chose to target the state's Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils.The largest of the programs under review, councils in all 100 counties shared $22.7 million from the state this year. The money is used to match local funds and in-kind contributions so counseling, teen courts and day treatment programs can be provided annually to 30,000 at-risk youth or juveniles already accused of crimes.Juvenile justice leaders say local programs could be disrupted if the Legislature delays approving the money until after the new budget year begins July 1, even if the councils are approved for the same amount as this year."Young people will fall through the cracks," said the Rev. Margaret Blackmon, chairwoman of the council in Pitt County, which received $335,449 this year. "They won't get the services they need. (A few months) is just too long in the span of life of a child who is less than 16 years old."The Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention wrote a 151-page report in advance of a March 27 budget hearing, saying that the councils help make communities safer.Bordsen said examining agencies is good but questioned whether threatening funding of a group with such an important mission was wise: "There's a better way than setting all of the JCPC committees into a panic."

Thank you,
Action for Children North Carolina

NC Housing Coalition Update

Executive Director's Note

Last week, I attended an amazing event that will really impact how we conduct our advocacy around housing issues locally in NC. PolicyLink, a progressive policy group out of Oakland, CA held their Third Summit on Regional Equity, Social Justice and Smart Growth in New Orleans, with over 1,800 people attending!It was great to be a part of workshops where local groups were talking about a variety of community issues within the context of low to moderate income communities. I really see the model of collaborative partnerships across issues that are inextricably related, such as schools, housing, transportation, jobs, the environment and health as the way forward for our local communities. With collaboration, we have the potential to be much more powerful, and to do a much better job of planning and investing public resources wisely and efficiently. Instead of endlessly requesting more funding to build more schools or housing or roads, we will be working to have local advocates demand an equity analysis on all of these issues so that better and more comprehensive planning and investment can take place.We can’t just spend more on housing and then locate it in places where the land is cheaper or where there is no public transportation. We can’t keep allowing new schools to follow upper income developments with no affordable housing. And we can’t keep expanding our road network with no connection to land use planning. All of these things make our communities less sustainable, more congested, less affordable, less accessible to people with disabilities and more economically segregated, so everyone has a stake in seeing this planning done well! Hopefully, we can frame this message with multiple allies on the local level to bring about better planning with much better equity outcomes in the future.North Carolina Housing NewsNext week begins a busy week of travel for me as I take part in a bunch of great local housing advocacy activity. On Tuesday, I will be meeting with the Charlotte Mixed Income Housing Coalition as they move towards advocating for an Inclusionary Housing program for their city. On Wednesday, I will be in Hendersonville to meet with the Henderson Housing Coalition and help them lay out a vision for their work in the coming year, and Thursday, I will be back south to Concord for the Piedmont Continuum of Care Housing Summit. Finally, on Friday, I will be in Gastonia for the Gaston County Housing Summit!While that is a very unusual week, it is exciting to see so much local housing activity, and we are thrilled to be supporting this work as the statewide housing coalition. This is not the end of local events either. In April, I am already scheduled to speak at a Housing Summit in Chatham County and Fair Housing events in Winston-Salem and Greenville.What this means for us at the NC Housing Coalition is that we need to increase our funding so we can add more staff to do policy and outreach work (along with more research and communications work) across the state. More and more, it becomes evident that if we are going to have the kind of impact we need to have at the state and federal levels of policy-making, we have to have clearer public perception and stronger polling numbers that demonstrate the importance of housing to our local communities. As part of our strategic planning process, the NC Housing Coalition Board of Directors will be looking at how we can increase our capacity in these areas and how this need for greater work on the local level will drive our future fundraising and staffing decisions.Campaign for Housing CarolinaYesterday, a group of allied organizations met with Treasurer Richard Moore to discuss the Campaign for Housing Carolina and the NC Housing Trust Fund. We had representatives from the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, NC Apartment Association, MS Society, ARC of NC, NC Coalition to End Homelessness, the NC Justice Center and the NC American Planning Association, along with Treasurer Moore’s staff. It was a good meeting and it was great to hear Treasurer Moore’s enthusiasm and support for the Trust Fund and its need for a dedicated source of revenue that will get it over $50 million a year. Thanks to him and his staff for fitting us in to his busy campaign schedule.We hope to soon have a meeting with Bill Graham, but are disappointed to report that we won’t be able to meet with Pat McCrory prior to the primary. With that exception, we will have met with every major candidate for Governor about the Housing Trust Fund. The broad hope of these meetings is that they will result in the next Governor supporting housing issues and becoming a real champion of the Housing Trust Fund in particular.This week’s Housing Update includes articles on: NC rising foreclosure rate, an analysis of the foreclosure issue by the Independent, proposed foreclosure reforms at the federal level, homeless shelter overcrowding in Charlotte, as well as homeless issues in Durham and Onslow County and many more. Please note the training today on KnowledgePlex concerning the Violence Against Women Act and Public and Section 8 Housing as well as our Fair Housing Training for Landlords and Property Managers in Charlotte on April 18th and the free tax filing services offered at Legal Aid of NC through VITA sites throughout the state. See the Announcements section for more information on these and other important things.To read the full Housing Update, click here. This will open an Adobe PDF document on our website.
Thanks again for being a member of the NC Housing Coalition,
Chris EstesExecutive Director


For information regarding the latest implementation updates at the NC Divison of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services, please see the following link:

Carolina Journal Update: March 21

Please see the following briefs and click on the link below for full stories.

3.21.08 - Wright expelledRALEIGH — Just as he had for the past 15 years, Thomas Wright walked into the House chamber Thursday morning a legislator. He walked out in disgrace 90 minutes later, escorted by the sergeant-at-arms, the first sitting lawmaker to be expelled from the General Assembly in nearly 130 years.
*Note: NASW-NC would like to express its sadness in Wright's expulsion, but would also like to commend the General Assembly for its swift and strong stance against corruption.*

3.21.08 - Fired spokeswoman says state skirts lawELON — A spokeswoman who was fired from Gov. Mike Easley’s administration for how she handled the media said yesterday that state officials are skirting open-government laws and making it difficult for the public to get information that should be released. Debbie Crane urged the state to review public-records laws, particularly rules on electronic records and the cost burden that taxpayers face to get government documents.

3.21.08 - Orr makes pitch with policy papersRALEIGH – If elected governor, Bob Orr says he would dump the state’s major job-creation programs, seek constitutional changes to bolster his authority and threaten to sue the United States over immigration. The policy plans churned out by Orr’s campaign may be the most sweeping, and are certainly the most detailed, among the candidates for the state’s top job.

3.21.08 - Building better VA serviceCHARLOTTE — The nation’s new VA Secretary acknowledged medical care problems, but said the agency is improving and praised Charlotte’s new veterans clinic during a visit Thursday. The University area outpatient clinic includes a lab, pharmacy and radiology services and is intended to better coordinate medical and mental health care. The brick building, brightly lit with skylights, can handle more than 19,000 patients a year.

3.21.08 - School ethics policies under microscopeRALEIGH — A new education task force began discussing how to shut predators out of the state’s classrooms. Attorneys, ethics leaders, veteran educators and school system officials are sitting side by side at the state education headquarters in Raleigh. Today's meeting is the first for a task force the state schools superintendent convened to address making educators’ licensure and resignation conditions stricter.

3.21.08 - At-large effort splits WakeRALEIGH — Town leaders in southwestern Wake County are backing at-large elections of school board members, but the idea is running into opposition in northern Wake. The town boards of Apex and Holly Springs passed nonbinding resolutions Tuesday in support of countywide elections for school board members. School board members currently are elected by district.

3.21.08 - Fayetteville public housing funding securedFAYETTEVILLE — The city of Fayetteville has won a $20 million federal grant that will reshape a long-neglected section of downtown. The grant will allow the city to replace two sprawling public housing complexes along Old Wilmington Road and help leverage an additional $93 million in public and private money for a combined $113 million investment.'

3.21.08 - Winston-Salem graffiti fines proposedWINSTON-SALEM — Property owners in Winston-Salem may soon feel financial pressure to quickly remove graffiti from their buildings. The Winston-Salem City Council is considering a new plan that would require private-property owners to remove graffiti within five days of notification by the city. If an owner doesn’t comply, the city would remove the graffiti and fine the owner $25 to $100.

3.21.08 - GTP rail link in planning stagesKINSTON — The long process of building a railroad link to the Global TransPark has begun, according to a state transportation official. Deputy Secretary for Transit Roberto Canales announced during a GTP board meeting Thursday that the Department of Transportation is funding the rail line’s preliminary environmental planning and engineering stages to the tune of $800,000.

3.21.08 - Immigrant committee idea stallsWINSTON-SALEM — A Forsyth County commissioner failed yesterday in his effort to form a citizens committee that would try to calculate the true cost of illegal immigration to the county. Commissioner Beaufort Bailey asked commissioners to form a 13-member group that would spend a year investigating how much illegal immigrants cost co

Update: Is The Drought Enough?

NC Needs to Use Water Wisely: Public Support Needed For Long Term Solutions

Welcome rains over the last month have reduced the chances that major North Carolina cities will run out of water this summer. That’s something we can all be grateful for. At the same time, the underlying problem highlighted by the drought—that rapid growth has brought many communities near the limits of supply in a dry year—hasn’t gone away.
Last week, Governor Michael Easley announced a number of policies that he intends to propose in legislation when the NC General Assembly convenes in May. For the most part, these policies would represent a significant step forward in water management in North Carolina. It will take strong public support to convince legislators to act on some of the ideas.

Click here for more details or to email the NC General Assembly!

Women's Forum

The North Carolina Center for Women in Public Service
is now accepting applications for its 2008 Summer Institute,
an intensive summer leadership program that prepares women to seek elected or appointed office.
The Summer Institute will be held at Peace College in Raleigh over two extended weekends – June 26-29 and July 17-20, 2008. Up to 20 women will be selected to participate in the 2008 Institute. Participants will hone their leadership skills, prepare for political campaigning and develop tools for effective and ethical public service. Featured presenters will include state and local elected officials, professors, media experts, leadership trainers, noted political strategists and successful Summer Institute graduates.
The Summer Institute is open to women of all backgrounds, interests, and political affiliations. Now in its fifth year, the Institute has graduated more than 50 women who are actively making a difference in their communities, including women who have sought and won election to public office.
The deadline for all applications for the Summer Institute is April 30, 2008. Application information is available online at Tuition assistance and assistance with transportation or childcare costs is also available for qualified candidates.
If you or someone you know is interested in attending The Summer Institute, please refer to for more information and an application or contact Katrina Lamberto, SI Program Coordinator, at

NAMI Basics Teacher Training


Hillsborough, NC, April 4-6, 2008 – The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of North Carolina is looking for interested participants for its first teacher training for the new NAMI Basics educational program for parents and caregivers of children and adolescents living with mental illness. This training will be held at the Holiday Inn Express in Hillsborough, NC April 4-6, 2008. NAMI NC was chosen as a roll out state for this new program and is training teachers in order to offer this class to other parents and caregivers across the state.

The NAMI Basics program will teach elements such as: the recognition of mental illness as a continuing traumatic event for the child and family; sensitivity to the subjective emotional issues faced by family caregivers and well children in the family; recognition of the need to help ameliorate the day-to-day objective burdens of care and management; gaining confidence and stamina for what can be a life-long role of family understanding and support; and empowerment of family caregivers as effective advocates for their children. In order to be trained to teach this class you must be a parent or direct caregiver of an individual who was showing symptoms of a mental illness before the age of 13 (it is not necessary that the child have been formally diagnosed prior to 13 and it does not matter what age your child is now). It is important that all individuals trained in this curriculum have lived through the experiences of having a young child with a mental illness.

This will be an intensive weekend training on how to teach the curriculum and we need participants who are willing to make a commitment to complete the 15-hour course once it begins. Lodging and food will be covered with no cost to trainees.

Contact: Jennifer K. Rothman, Program Director
Company: NAMI, NC
Phone: 919-788-0801 or 800-451-9682
Fax: 919-788-0906

Thursday, March 20, 2008

N&O Article: Hooker Odom aired concerns about legislation

Published: Mar 13, 2008 01:44 PM Modified: Mar 13, 2008 02:23 PM

Hooker Odom aired concerns about legislation

By Pat Stith, Staff Writer

Gov. Mike Easley has said repeatedly that Carmen Hooker Odom, former secretary of Health and Human Services, "vigorously" opposed mental health reform legislation when it was adopted in October 2001.

But that's not what Hooker Odom, who works for a nonprofit in New York City, said in an e-mail to The News & Observer in late February.

She said she had four "concerns" about the mental health reform legislation when it was being considered, but she said legislators amended the bill to eliminate two of those concerns, and she ignored a third directive.

Hooker Odom said early drafts of the bill guaranteed services to every citizen and she got that narrowed. And she said the bill originally limited ways people could enter the system; she got that changed, too.

A third concern, she said, was a requirement that she create a plan to reduce the number of county mental health organizations to 20.

"I told them I was not about to prepare a plan that dictated, even in consultation with everyone, who was going to consolidate with whom,"
Hooker Odom wrote.

The fourth concern related to what Hooker Odom said was the creation of a rule-making conflict between the secretary's office and "the Commission,"
apparently referring to the Mental Health Commission.

Hooker Odom has ignored numerous calls from an N&O reporter to her office in New York or to her home in Charlotte, dating back to to Jan.
1, asking for an interview. But she sent The N&O an e-mail message about her legislative "concerns" on Feb. 21 after talking with Debbie Crane, then the top public information office for the Department of Health and Human Services. The newspaper didn't include the e-mail in its initial stories because it didn't show that Hooker Odom had opposed the reform bill.

Twelve days later, Gov. Mike Easley fired Crane.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published, broadcast or redistributed in any manner.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Setting an Example After A Tragedy
The Chapel Hill Herald
Setting an example after a tragedy
Stephen Dear: Guest columnist
March 16, 2008

In response to the senseless murder of Eve Carson, our community can offer an example for the nation. We have lost one of our brightest lights and now we as a community can make a decision about who we are and what we stand for. At this moment we can come together in our pain and say the cycle of violence ends here, in our hearts, in our homes, on our streets and in our courthouses. Out of our deep sadness and grief we as a community can show the nation that communities can unite to stop the cycle of violence, vengeance and destruction, and foster restorative justice. Let us call on District Attorney Jim Woodall not to seek the death penalty in this case. Two young African-American males from Durham, 17-year-old Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., and 21-year-old Demario James Atwater, have been charged with Eve Carson's murder. Lovette, as a juvenile, will not be eligible for the death penalty, but Atwater could be. Lovette has also been charged with the January murder of Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato in Durham. In recent years, the city councils of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham and Hillsborough, and the boards of commissioners of Orange, Durham and Chatham counties have all passed resolutions calling for a suspension of executions. The UNC Student Government Association, before Eve Carson was elected its president, passed a resolution calling for such a moratorium. More than 100 churches, businesses and groups in our community have passed similar resolutions. Thousands of people in our community are members of People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, whose offices are located in downtown Carrboro, and thousands more locals have signed petitions to stop executions. Our community, town and gown, have deserved reputations for leaning against the death penalty. Although DAs have tried, no one has been sentenced to death in Orange County since 1970. Some have said Ms. Carson's killer or killers deserve death. But the death penalty will not bring healing; it will only brutalize us and keep us perpetuating the racial and class biases of Old South justice. Ironically, this academic year UNC is holding what may be the most extensive series of events examining the death penalty at any university in modern times. UNC's leaders have done a noble service to the community and to future generations of leaders by providing an array of opportunities to learn about and grapple with the death penalty, especially the historical roots of the racial and class bias and the wrongful convictions involved with it. The murder of Eve Carson took place just days after a lecture by "Dead Man Walking" author Sr. Helen Prejean when she told the university community how forgiveness shows great strength and that the administration of the death penalty reflects whose lives we value more in this society. Scholars at UNC, including law school dean Jack Boger, have authored a study of race and the death penalty in North Carolina, finding that a defendant in North Carolina is 3.5 times more likely to receive a death sentence if the murder victim is white, and even more likely if the defendant is non-white, as in the Carson case. Our community has been informed about the death penalty, its many failings, and the false promise of justice and healing it offers. There are other ways for us to deal with our pain and hurt. In 2006 the Amish families and community of Bart Township, Pa., set an example for the world in the aftermath of the killing of five girls at a one-room school there. As they grieved, they began the journey of forgiveness and healing together. Several of the victims' families who had buried their own daughters just the day before attended the killer's funeral and hugged his widow and other members of his family. As a community they dealt with their fully appropriate anger without turning to rage and collective vengeance. Seeking the death penalty in an attempt at exacting justice or balancing the scales of justice only creates another revolution in the cycle of violence. In turn it sends the message to would-be killers of the world that killing is acceptable. Instead, we can focus on healing and restoration for the Carson family, and our community. This tragedy has changed lives of people in large and small ways. We can chose for it to change us for the better as individuals and as a community. Instead of focusing on lethal retribution we can put addressing the needs of the victim's family first while attending to the hurt and needs of everyone involved, including the community and even offenders. Let us create new programs addressing crime prevention and gang violence and offer new programs at counseling and assistance for victims' survivors. When I attend the memorial service on Tuesday I will be praying for Ms. Carson and for comfort and healing for her family. I will also be praying that we set an example for the country that stands for life and love. That, after all, is what this remarkable human being was all about.

Stephen Dear lives in Carrboro and is executive director of People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, a national nonprofit organization located in Carrboro.

Update from NASW National on Legislative Priorities 2008

The Bridge - Winter 2008

2008 Legislative Outlook

Congress reconvened on January 15, 2008 for the second session of the 110th Congress. NASW is following a number of issues that we have outlined below. 2008 promises to be an exciting year, with our own piece of legislation being developed.

Social Work Reinvestment Initiative

Dorothy I. Height and Whitney Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment ActThe “Dorothy Height/Whitney Young Social Work Reinvestment Act” (H.R. 5447) is an effort to gather more information about the issues facing the profession of social work and to determine the best course of action to address them. It includes:

A findings section to exhibit the state of the profession

A Blue Ribbon Panel to provide independent advice and counsel to Congress on policy issues associated with the recruitment, retention, research, and reinvestment in the profession.

A Demonstration Programs to make grants available to support activities related to research, workplace improvements, education and training, and community based programs of excellence

The permanent establishment of March as Social Work Awareness Month

The “Dorothy I. Height and Whitney Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act” will continue to make progress in 2008. Congressman Edolphus Towns (D-NY), a fellow social worker, introduced the bill on February 14 with original co-sponsors Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT), Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH). The bill number is H.R. 5447.

NASW is devising a grassroots mobilization plan to engage its membership to fully support the Act. NASW will be actively engaging the membership through Capwiz to get additional co-sponsors for the Act, move the Act out of committee, and bring it to a vote on the floor. Additionally, allied organizations are being identified to support the legislation.

Loan Forgiveness

This year, Congress will likely take up The College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 (H.R. 4137). This bill allows a person with a degree in social work or a related field, and who is employed by a public or private child welfare agency, to have part of his or her college loans forgiven. For each year of work, $2,000 would be forgiven, up to a maximum of $10,000 over five years. Mental health professionals would also be eligible.

The Association will continue to work with other national organizations—including the National Child Abuse Coalition, the National Bar Association, the National Alliance of Pupil Services Organizations (NAPSO), and the Action Network for Social Work Education and Research (ANSWER) Coalition—to promote passage of this bill and loan forgiveness for social workers in child welfare and education. We will also educate Congressional members about the importance of loan forgiveness programs to the social work profession and will activate our grassroots network to support our lobbying efforts in this regard.

Clinical Social Work Medicare Equity Act (CSWMEA)

Medicare payments for clinical social workers reached crisis proportions when already inadequate Medicare payments for clinical social work services were cut at the start of 2007. NASW is very active, trying to restore payment rates and working with key Senators and Representatives to gain support for the Clinical Social Work Medicare Equity Act and other legislation to repair the badly broken Medicare mental health benefit. NASW pushed this legislation much further than it has ever gone in 2007, and we are very pleased with our progress. Since the latest Medicare extender was very short term, NASW will give top priority to clinical social work payment issues in the fight for the next bill, which must be completed by June 30, 2008.

Teri Zenner Social Worker Safety Act, H.R. 2165

Given that the Teri Zenner Social Worker Safety Act has bipartisan support, NASW hopes the bill will move closer to consideration during the next session of Congress. In 2007, NASW staff worked with the congressional sponsor of the bill to draft the bill language, hosted congressional briefing on social work safety and sent letters to Congress urging more cosponsors for the bill. NASW will continue with the efforts in the House and is seeking a Senate sponsor for the social work safety companion bill.

National Center for Social Work Research Act, S. 106

The National Center for Social Work Research Act was introduced to raise the profile of social work research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where less than 1% of the NIH budget is dedicated to social work research. The bill has been introduced in the Senate. NASW is working with legislative staff and the SWRI consultant to determine the best course of action regarding S. 106.

Child Welfare

Staff will continue to monitor the Medicaid Foster Care Coverage Act (H.R. 1376) that will address ways to provide Medicaid coverage for youths who exit the foster care system without permanent family units. Currently, 25,000 youths age out of the foster care system every year. They tend to have a variety of unaddressed medical conditions and other challenges, because of inadequate health insurance. These challenges include mental and physical disabilities that may result in a lack of educational achievement, and financial instability. Some youths become homeless. The bill is currently in the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. NASW will continue to urge Congress to pass this legislation which could significantly improve the lives and outcomes for youth in foster care. We will meet with Hill staff on this issue and will mobilize our members to contact their members of Congress.

Civil Rights

Civil rights concerns that lend themselves to alter society and racial justice on behalf of marginalized communities will remain constant and pervasive throughout the second session of the 110th Congress. Because ideals and values are under attack by entrenched lawmakers, ancillary groups, and varied special interests, it is imperative to pursue legislation which clearly seeks to eradicate bigotry, inequality, prejudice, discrimination, and intolerance in America.
Therefore, initiatives such as the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (hate crimes); Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Immigration, the Fair Pay Act, and possibly a reemergence of the District of Columbia Voting Rights Act (political priority for a wide array of Congressional Members) will gain the attention of Congress. We will continue to work with allies such as the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, People for the American Way, the Human Rights Campaign, AFSME, American Civil Liberties Union, AARP, and APA on these issues. It is essential to note, that it is possible political calculations could appreciably change the agenda and impair Association objectives.


Unfortunately, because of numerous competing priorities, Congress did not complete many health related bills before it adjourned in December. According to a recent report by Families USA, health care is the top domestic concern among voters in the upcoming elections. Congress will likely address more domestic issues in 2008 including consideration of health care legislation to demonstrate to voters that Congress is addressing their concerns. NASW staff will continue to work with Congress and other health care leaders to advocate for full consideration of health care legislation by Congress.

Mental Health-Health Information Technology (HIT) and Personal Privacy

Health IT legislation in theory is a popular bi-partisan issue, but it will remain difficult to pass in 2008. As 2007 ended, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee continued to push for its bill on the Senate floor, although it remained mired in disagreements over issues that have long stalled the bill, including provisions to protect the privacy of personal health information.

The House showed much greater support for health privacy requirements in their legislation; but on the overall bill, they will continue to demonstrate much less support for action. NASW anticipates the legislation will receive considerable congressional talk in 2008, but differences will prevent passage.

Mental Health Services Appropriations

Congress was unable to negotiate a compromise with the President on the regular Labor-HHS appropriations bill funding the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2007. Democrats will attempt again to boost domestic spending during 2008, but they are unlikely to be successful in raising overall spending levels, including those of SAMHSA.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Parity (S.558/HR1424)

The long-standing political opposition from business and House GOP leaders to mental health parity legislation largely ended in 2007, but some very difficult and technical differences remain between the House and Senate bills. These relatively minor objections may scuttle final passage again in 2008 unless the President intervenes to produce an agreement.

State Child Health Insurance Program

Congress, and particularly the Democratic leadership, sought a major expansion of the SCHIP program in 2007. This effort was very effectively opposed by the White House. Expansion of the program seems out of the question until after the current Administration leaves office.