Daniel Heimpel, freelance writer for the Weekly, has won the national Anna Quindlen Award for Excellence in Journalism in Behalf of Children and Families, a national competition founded 15 years ago to recognize print reporters, editorial writers, and broadcasters whose coverage of child welfare "advances knowledge and understanding of the state of
vulnerable children and families in America."
Heimpel, a volunteer foster care mentor in his private life, won in the hotly contested print category for his 2009 Weekly cover story, "Left to Themselves: Nobody can undo the damage to kids like John Kyzer, raised from infancy by the foster care industry."
For a journalist, Heimpel did something unusual last week in Washington, D.C., where he accepted his award a conference of the Child Welfare League of America:
He took the opportunity, before a crowd of about 400 journalists, child welfare experts and workers, government officials and foster care activists, to plug his own ideas for reforming
the U.S. foster care system.
As Heimpel describes it, "In essence, I used the winning of the award to launch my plan: Fostering Media Connections."
Heimpel is currently working to secure funding for his ideas gleaned from years as a foster care mentor, and is partnering with the non-profit Congressional Coalition on Adoption
His award-winning story in the Weekly is a disturbing first-person account
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of Heimpel's efforts over several years to save a boy, John Kyzer, from becoming a
victim of the foster care system in which he was raised from the
age of 18 months. The Quindlen award is named in honor of Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Anna Quindlen.
Last year, Heimpel won the Los Angeles Press Club's Political Journalist of the Year award for his body of work covering Los Angeles City Hall and local government for the Weekly.