Catholic Charities to set social policy priorities at Denver conference

.- Hundreds of Catholic Charities professionals from across the United States will meet in Denver this week to help establish the agency’s social policy priorities and to learn how to sharpen their advocacy skills for the poor and the vulnerable, whom they serve.

Catholic Charities USA's 2004 Annual Gathering, Sept. 23-26, will feature a social policy legislative hearing. At the hearing, local Catholic Charities professionals will present the barriers they face in ensuring access to services for vulnerable families and suggest changes to federal programs and policies to better meet these needs. 

These testimonies, presented to Catholic Charities USA's Social Policy Committee, will cover a range of topics, including health care, child welfare, housing, rural issues, immigration, trafficking, and emergency services. These testimonies will help form Catholic Charities USA's legislative agenda for next year.

"The hearing is an important opportunity for our members to share with us the legislative and regulatory changes needed to improve conditions for low-income and vulnerable people in our country," said Lisa Smith, director for health and welfare policy for Catholic Charities USA. "To help shape our national positions and priorities, we look to our local agencies to give us insight on how federal policy affects their communities."

Fr. Fred Kammer, SJ, will kick off the afternoon's testimony. The former president of Catholic Charities USA will discuss issues faced by Jesuits who are working to meet the needs in local communities; what the federal government could do to better those conditions; and how Catholic Charities USA through social policy advocacy efforts might address common concerns.

In addition to the legislative hearing, three advocacy workshops will be offered. They include: Effective Advocacy Partnerships with Your State Catholic Conference; An Introduction to Legislative Advocacy and What is Hot in Washington and Affecting Your Agency?

For program details, go to: www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/gathering/

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