Office of the Vice President

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


Conference to Focus on Families and Health

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

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

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

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

"We also need to address the stigma associated with mental illness that has, for too long, prevented families from seeking adequate care," she said. "Parents can and should be the real experts in their children's health and well-being and we hope to address ways that we can involve them more closely in the health care decisions that affect everyone in the family."

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

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

Each conference culminates a year of planning that brings together experts and academics in the field along with program leaders and individual family members. They engage in a dialogue that includes crucial programmatic and policy issues and outcomes. For example, past family conference outcomes have included:

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

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