In my professional life, I founded and directed Children in Placement, Inc in Connecticut, from 1979 – 1995. This was and is a court-based program that utilizes volunteers to follow up on children placed in foster care, under the state agency for children and families. My focus was always on families; on children who were neglected or abused; and, on parents who didn’t feel they have ‘a stake in the system’. They could not see beyond the limitations placed by the system on their lives, and the lives of their children.
My husband worked closely with Elaine Zimmerman in the early stages of developing the Parent Leadership Training Institute, at the Connecticut Commission on Children. He spoke with enthusiasm about PLTI, which would equip parents to effectively advocate for their children, and those of others. They would find and see their strengths and weaknesses and be empowered to make a difference, via the PLTI experience of weekly sessions on topics of leadership. Over the years I have seen parents create change, through marvelous programs that helped their community and their children. I also saw enormous pride in the eyes of their children when their parents, as graduates, were awarded certificates and acknowledged as parents who lead!
My son is a proud graduate of PLTI and when, not long after the death of my husband, I was offered the opportunity to participate in the inner workings of NPLI, as a board member, I immediately said “yes”. PLTI and NPLI are landmark programs. Each is growing in numbers and continuing, despite current challenges from COVID-19, to empower parents to use their voice and expertise to effectively advocate for ALL children. In so doing we strengthen our democracy. In my work I could see the great need for a family civics leadership initiative such as PLTI, but at that time none existed. Now it does and we all reap the benefits of a growing cadre of articulate, knowledgeable, committed, diverse voices, speaking up for justice – for all of us.