Children's group hires legislative liaison


Mississippi’s children gained another advocate when Cassandra Welchlin joined Congregations for Children as legislative liaison and program coordinator. 

Welchlin began work the week of Dec. 11 and will work out of the Mississippi Conference headquarters in Jackson. 

“The main thing I will be doing is following various policies in the state, particularly those centered on poverty, children’s health and juvenile justice,” Welchlin said. 

Congregations for Children is an interfaith children’s advocacy group. It is primarily supported by the United Methodist, Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches in the state. 

Welchlin said Congregations for Children has two main objectives during the 2007 legislative session. 

In the area of education, the group seeks full funding of Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) designed to provide the resources necessary to all schools in an equitable manner. It also wants to see funding for a statewide pilot pre-kindergarten program. This request would fund 22 pilot programs in each of the four congressional districts. 

Concerning child care, Congregations for Children will ask legislators to appropriate $7.1 million for the Office of Children and Youth to ensure federal matching funds. In addition to automatic funds allocated to Mississippi for childcare assistance, the state also qualifies for matching funds from the federal government.  

For the past six months Welchlin has been consulting with Oxfam America and the Mississippi NAACP in the areas of resource and organizational development to support the rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina.   

A Mississippi native, Welchlin holds a degree in social work from Jackson State University and is licensed to practice in the state. She earned a master’s degree in sustainable international development from Brandeis University at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She was the former director of the Jackson Servant Leadership Corps, an ecumenical faith based organization that focused on leadership development, community living, faith and service. In 2004, Welchlin worked for Southern Echo as resource developer and communications liaison to support community organizing in the Mississippi Delta.   

An interest in sustainable international development has led Welchlin to work in several countries in Africa, focusing on issues related to women and children, HIV/AIDS and human rights.