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Family Re-Union Media Advisory

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The Briefing Room

Office of the Vice President

***** MEDIA ADVISORY *****


Conference to Focus on Families and Health

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In their seventh annual conference on policyissues of major concern to families and children, Vice President Gore andTipper Gore will moderate "Family Re-Union 7: Families and Health" atVanderbilt University on June 22-23, 1998.

"Every year, Tipper and I look forward to the chance to engagefamilies and those that care for them in a national conversation about acritical issue," the Vice President said. "We know families want to befull partners in their health care, but instead they sometimes feelabandoned in the waiting room, or shut out of the system.

"Families have a special responsibility to children and to theelderly, and too often they don't know how to find quality care or accessto information about health issues," the Vice President added. "Thisconference will help us all explore successful strategies for overcomingthese barriers."

Mrs. Gore added, "We know that involved families can often play aneffective, and sometimes crucial role in the recovery of a loved one. I amespecially concerned that families, particularly young children, haveaccess to quality and affordable mental health care.

"We also need to address the stigma associated with mental illnessthat has, for too long, prevented families from seeking adequate care," shesaid. "Parents can and should be the real experts in their children'shealth and well-being and we hope to address ways that we can involve themmore closely in the health care decisions that affect everyone in thefamily."

The announcement was made by the Office of the Vice President andconference co-sponsors Representative Bill Purcell, Executive Director ofthe Child and Family Policy Center at Vanderbilt University, and Dr. MarthaFarrell Erickson, Director of the Children, Youth & Family Consortium ofthe University of Minnesota.

The conference agenda and participants will be announced in earlyJune. Family Re-Union 7: Families and Health will give families, medicalpersonnel, community program directors, and health care experts anopportunity to share their experience and make recommendations to local,state and national policy makers. Organizers expect an audience of morethan 1000 in Nashville, and thousands more through live satellitebroadcasts. Family Re-Union 7 will follow a format that seeks to "reinvent" familypolicy so that it reflects today's realities. Past conference topics haveincluded strengthening the role of fathers in children's lives, the impactof the media culture on children, the delicate balance between work andfamily, and family involvement in education.

Each conference culminates a year of planning that brings togetherexperts and academics in the field along with program leaders andindividual family members. They engage in a dialogue that includes crucialprogrammatic and policy issues and outcomes. For example, past familyconference outcomes have included:

  • An intergovernmental partnership of major federal agencies and state and local government, known as "Partnerships for Stronger Families," to seek federal funding and guidelines to respond to the needs of families in the community;

  • An interagency working group to review and reform programs, policies, research, and personnel practices so that they proactively strengthen fatherhood where appropriate;

  • Resources for families to address the issue of media and children, such as the "V-Chip" and television rating system;

  • An expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act to enable families to participate in their children's schools and a comp time proposal that gave workers discretion to take time instead of compensation for overtime work; and,

  • A national teleconference by the Education Department providing teacher training in successful techniques for involving parents in their children's education.

Past participants in the Gores' family conferences have includedPresident Clinton; First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton; Secretary of Healthand Human Services Donna Shalala; Secretary of Education Richard Riley; theReverend Jesse Jackson; Carol Rasco, former domestic policy adviser to thePresident; actor Tom Selleck; and Grammy-award winning artist Garth Brooks.

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What's New - June 1998

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