ACAeNews for Counseling Students and New Professionals  | Volume I | Number 2

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4 Questions 4 Marian Wright Edelman on Needs of Children

Marian Wright Edelman, founder and President of the Children's Defense Fund comments on the needs of children and how professional counselors can best serve children.

Marian Wright Edelman1. In the ongoing national health care debate, what would the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) like to see included in the final reform legislation?

Children's needs have been pushed aside by special interest groups and the loud noise from town hall meetings. And as the debate continues, some of the legislation being discussed could actually leave millions of children worse off than they are now.

Regardless of what type of system Congress decides to implement, there are three elements that must be included in any bill passed:

  1. Application and enrollment must be simple to make it easy for children to enter and to stay in the program. State bureaucratic barriers currently prevent about two-thirds of the more than eight million uninsured children who are eligible for Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicaid from enrolling.
  2. Benefits must be comprehensive. Reform must guarantee every child access to all necessary health and mental health services.
  3. Coverage must be affordable. All children up to 300 percent of the poverty level (about $66,000 annual income for a family of four) need cost-sharing protections consistent with current out-of-pocket limits in Medicaid.

Without these provisions, millions of children could be facing higher costs for health coverage that grants them fewer benefits, and no one should be worse off as a result of healthcare reform.

2. Does the CDF have a vision for schools in communities that goes beyond responding to the academic and learning needs of children?

The CDF's mission is "to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities." Our vision for schools is that they support that mission. Of course academics are vitally important. Schools must prepare students academically--if children do not learn to read and compute, they will not be able to get good jobs, and they will not be able to make a positive contribution to their communities.

But the "learning needs" of children are not merely academic needs; they include social, emotional, and spiritual needs as well. Every child's life is sacred and of equal value, and each child is unique. In order to respect themselves and others, children need to learn that their lives and the lives of all children are sacred and valuable. In order to function productively in communities, children need to learn how to listen to, and communicate with, others; they need to learn to share, to empathize, and to be compassionate. And our schools need to teach them those lessons just as they need to teach them to think critically, read carefully, write effectively, and problem solve.

The lessons need to start early. So many of our poor and minority children are born with four or five strikes against them--low birthweight, teenage mothers, absent fathers. We need quality early childcare and preschools to support these children in all phases of their learning: academic, social, emotional, and spiritual.

3. What message do you have for professional counselors in education, mental health and related settings?

To all counselors devoted to supporting children and their families, I say "Thank you"--for your dedication to making a difference in the lives of children and families. As you know well, one caring person can change a child's life forever--by keeping a child from dropping out, helping a young man extricate himself from gang involvement, or even preventing a suicide.

Thank you for keeping an eye out for a child who might be hungry, depressed, or abused and stepping in to provide that child with the support he or she needs.

Thank you especially for reaching out to those children who do not know how to ask for help, and for reaching out to their families. So many poor and minority parents do not know how to proactively advocate for their children. Many are from cultures where it is considered rude or worse to ask a teacher a question or ask the school for an explanation of policy. These parents need to be taught how to partner with teachers and the school to support their child's learning--from early childhood through the college application process. They need your guidance and your support every step of the way.

By supporting at-risk children and their families, you are helping to dismantle the "cradle to prison pipeline" that funnels so many children into a life characterized by sickness, abuse, school failure, gang involvement, and incarceration.

4. Many of our readers are counseling students and new professionals. What would you tell them about CDF and its mission?

I would tell your readers that CDF's mission is to advocate for children. Children, particularly poor children and children of color, have no real voice in our nation. Even when we start to focus on national issues that affect us all--health care, the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, our nation's soaring incarceration rate--too often the children and their needs get lost.

America is #1 in GDP and #1 in military strength--but the gap between rich and poor in America is greater than in any other country. And it is the children who suffer. CDF tries to give voice to America's children and their very real needs. We have been working hard throughout the healthcare debate to call attention to the plight of the more than 8 million children in this country without healthcare. Our Cradle to Prison Pipeline® Crusade is dedicated to keeping children out of the pipeline that funnels so many into a life of abuse, school failure, crime, and incarceration and to rescue those who have already been sucked into the pipeline.

Our nation is at a crossroads: We need to act now. We have solid evidence that early intervention and continued support can close the achievement gap in cognitive development as measured on standardized tests. More importantly, it can save children's lives and help them become productive citizens. We also know what works--all over the country, in cities and rural communities, there are scattered programs that have demonstrated positive results in improving the lives of children; but we need to bring those programs to scale. The pipeline crusade focuses on the need for crime prevention among juveniles, not the need for harsher penalties and more widespread incarceration; everyone--the children, their families, and the community--benefits when children are kept out of the pipeline.

In addition to supporting at-risk children and their families, counselors in all settings can help CDF "spread the word" about the needs of children in this country by supporting child advocacy programs in schools and encouraging students to become involved in working for children's rights.

Counselors can play an important role in teaching students about the value of service. I'd urge them to visit to see all of the different things they can do to help.


Marian Wright Edelman, a graduate of Spelman Colleges and the Yale Law School, began her career in the mid-1960s when, as the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, MS. In 1968, she moved to Washington, DC, as counselor for the Poor People's Campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began organizing before his death. She founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm and the parent body of the Children's Defense Fund. For two years she served as the Director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University and in 1973 began CDF.

Financial Aid, Advising, and Family TLC Big Factors in Achieving Doctoral Degree

MoneyUsing exit surveys from students who either earned degrees or dropped out of doctoral programs at 18 institutions during the 2006-2008 period, the Ph.D. Completion Project determined the three most influential factors affecting degree attainment were financial assistance, faculty and student service advising and mentoring, and the support of the student's family. The influence of these factors, as reported in early September, follows:

  • Four in ten (80%) of all respondents pointed to financial assistance as the main factor enabling them to complete their degree. For social science degree recipients, the percentage was identical.
  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) credited mentoring, advising, and the attention of faculty as influential. Social science students - 70%.
  • More than half (57%) pointed to family support (non-financial) as being influential. Social science students - 61%.

Note: Respondents were permitted to identify more than one factor.

The Ph.D. Completion Project is a seven-year, two-phase project of the Council of Graduate Schools that addresses issues surrounding doctoral completion and attrition.

CSG Ph.D. Project Study Abstract...

Conference Clipping: Special Experience for Students/New Professionals in Pittsburgh

PittsburghGraduate students and new professionals: you will find many programs designed just for you at the ACA 2010 Conference & Exposition, March 18-22, in Pittsburgh. Back again is the popular "For Graduate Students and New Professionals Only" series with presentations that address the adjustment to grad school and workplace, job search strategies, and other professional topics. Presenters will include Gerald Corey, Beverly O'Bryant, Sandra Lopez-Baez, Allen and Mary Ivey, and Rebecca Daniel-Burke.

Education Sessions of interest to students include:

  • Burning More Than the Midnight Oil: Preventing Burnout in Counseling Graduate Students
  • Mastering Professional Development Strategies for Counseling Students
  • The Student-Counselor Educator Connection: Demystifying the Job Search
  • The Perilous Journey to an Advanced Degree: Strategies for Survival
  • Wellness Works: Quantitative and Qualitative Results of a Wellness Program for Counseling Graduate Students

In addition, special programs such as the International Student Panel, the First Timers Orientation and Mentoring Luncheon, the ACA Career Center, and the Graduate Student and New Professional Center provide valuable networking opportunities. The number of graduate students attending the conference has increased in recent years to more than 700. Dramatically reduced registration fees have made the conference affordable for students: only $200 if you register by November 30.

Graduate Student information...

Register now...

Resume Construction: How to Get the Employer's Attention

Want to enhance your resume and stay within the boundaries set by today's human resources managers? Editor Kay Lorenz devoted a recent edition of her column to tips and tricks that will generate just such a resume. Her suggestions include:

  • Avoid half-truths and gross exaggerations
  • Keywords can help your resume stand out
  • Focus on quantifiable accomplishments
  • Change titles only if it clarifies your position
  • Address gaps in your resume
  • Half-finished degrees should not be listed

Examine each suggestion in greater details at the CareerBuilder website.

CareerBuilder Resume Tips...

New from ACA: Ethics Desk Reference Valuable for New Professionals, Students

Ethics Desk ReferenceThis new ACA pocket guide, Ethics Desk Reference for Counselors, is designed to help counselors in diverse settings interpret and apply the ACA Code of Ethics in order to prevent and resolve ethical dilemmas. In the book, each standard of the ACA Code is translated in jargon-free language, followed by a discussion of common challenges associated with the standard, and a list of recommendations for maintaining ethical, preventive practice in that area. The book was written by two highly respected ethics scholars, Jeffrey E. Barnett and W. Brad Johnson.

The book includes an ethical decision-making model and specific, practical strategies for responding to issues frequently faced by counselors such as:

  • Confidentiality
  • Suicidal clients
  • Boundary issues
  • Gifts and bartering
  • Competence
  • Culture and diversity
  • Supervision
  • Responses to subpoenas, lawsuits, court orders, ethical complaints

And many more.

Order online, or call 800-422-2648, ext. 222.

2010 | 224 pages
Order #72893
ISBN 978-1-55620-298-8
List price: $44.95
Member price: $32.95

Quotable Quotes of Notable People: Alistair Cooke, British/American journalist

"A professional is a person who can do his best at a time when he doesn't particularly feel like it."

Inside JCD: Special Section on International Counseling

JCDThe winter, 2010 edition of ACA's Journal of Counseling & Development will have a strong international flavor. Guest editor Thomas H. Hohenshil's special section includes articles examining counseling in China, Botswana, Lebanon, Malaysia, Italy, Mexico, and Denmark. The issue will be mailed the first week in December.

Ten Tips for New Grad Students

Dr. Marybeth Gasman, associate professor of higher education and student advisor at the University of Pennsylvania posted a "get and give all you can" message to new students on "The Academy Speaks" blog of Diverse: Issues In Higher Education magazine. Her 10 tips are "must" reading for first time grad students.

The Academy Speaks Blog of Diverse magazine...

Sound Off, Take It All In With the ACA Blog

BlogThe recently created ACA blog at is becoming a popular vehicle for blogger and member interaction. At the blog link, members can read the periodic posts, offer their two cents, or take a stand regarding the mix of subjects. Recent postings have addressed listening as an advanced skill and participating in the ACA Conference on a budget. Sometimes thought provoking and controversial---other times simply informative---the blogs are a great way to keep in touch with the issues.

ACA Blog...

ACA Masters Level Student Liability Insurance: FAQs

As ACA has initiated its new program of including liability insurance as a benefit for master's level student members, a number of frequently asked questions have emerged. Each addresses an important issue or concern:

Q: As a master's level student member of ACA, how do I obtain proof of insurance to turn into my program?

A: In order to obtain "Evidence of Insurance," the student must update their student program level status by contacting the ACA Member Service Department at 800-347-6647/703-823-9800, ext. 222 (M-F, 8 am - 7 pm, ET). Most ACA student members have already done this and received the document. If you have updated your program status and have not received your proof, please contact us.

Q: Am I covered for student activities beyond practicum and internship?

A: Yes. The coverage of the policy has not changed from when students were required to pay for it. Students are covered for any program related activity including (but not limited to): site visits, practice sessions, interviews, pre-practicum activities, practicum, and internship. If there is any question about whether a particular activity is covered, please contact the ACA Insurance Trust at 800-347-6647/703-823-9800, ext. 284.

Q: Who do I contact if I have any further questions?

A: The ACA Insurance Trust at 800-347-6647/703-823-9800, ext. 284 is glad to talk to you at any time

About ACAeNews for Counseling Students and New Professionals

ACAeNews for Counseling Students and New Professionals is one of four new electronic newsletters that are published three times each year each by the American Counseling Association for the benefit of members working in these unique settings. It is disseminated as an opt-in subscription enewsletter and is a free benefit of ACA membership.

The other three special focus enewsletters are:

  • ACAeNews for Mental Health, Private Practice and Community Agency Counselors
  • ACAeNews for School Counselors
  • ACAeNews for Counselor Educators

Any reference to a product, service or activity or listing of a web site in this publication does not imply endorsement by ACA. Any views and opinions are those of the sponsoring organization and may or may not be shared by ACA.

Direct comments, questions and submissions to Frank Burtnett. All submissions will be subject to review by ACA for accuracy, timeliness and relevance to the readership and may be edited.

Lynn E. Linde, President

Richard Yep, CAE, Executive Director

Debra Bass, Director of Marketing and Communications

Frank Burtnett, NCC, NCCC, ACAeNews Editor

Don Kenneally, Internet Development / Production

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Copyright 2009, American Counseling Association, 5999 Stevenson Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304. Telephone: 703/823-9800. Email: Permission is hereby granted to reproduce anything contained in this newsletter as long as the American Counseling Association is identified as the original source of the information

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