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J.K. Rowling launches US arm of Lumos nonprofit created to keep kids, families together

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NEW YORK — "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling is hoping to tap into America's philanthropy and international reach as she launches the U.S. arm of her nonprofit Lumos that works to keep disadvantaged children with their families and out of institutions worldwide.

Rowling was in New York City on Thursday to mark the start of Lumos USA, and said in an interview with The Associated Press that she is certain Lumos can solve "the problem of institutionalization" by 2050.

The nonprofit's goal is to move the care of disadvantaged children away from group homes and orphanages in favor of finding ways to support them and their parents and keep them connected as families within their communities. The organization estimates 8 million children are cared for in institutions worldwide.

"There are decades of research showing that institutionalizing children is inherently damaging," Rowling said. "It's damaging physically, it's damaging psychologically, it's damaging emotionally."

Rowling originally founded Lumos in Europe to help countries reform how they deal with vulnerable children. The organization is named after a light-giving magic spell in her phenomenally successful series about a boy wizard,

Lumos has been working over the last decade in central and eastern Europe, and is now expanding to Latin America and Caribbean. Rowling said the organization has been invited to work in Haiti, where she said a majority of children in orphanages and institutions actually have parents, but those parents are unable to care for them.

PHOTO: Author J.K. Rowling appears at the Empire State Building observation deck during a lighting ceremony and to mark the launch of her non-profit children's organization Lumos, on Thursday, April 9, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Author J.K. Rowling appears at the Empire State Building observation deck during a lighting ceremony and to mark the launch of her non-profit children's organization Lumos, on Thursday, April 9, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Rowling said the organization hoped to tap into America's generous charitable giving, as well as impact its foreign policy around children's issues.

"America gives a phenomenal amount of money, and we would love to see that aid and that philanthropy channeled toward systems that support children within their families rather than the separation of families," she said.

Along with her work with Lumos, Rowling is busy on creative projects that include a script for "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," the movie based on the Potter spin-off book she wrote in 2001. She said at least one other children's book is in her future, but didn't elaborate.

"I absolutely love writing for children, so I'm certainly not closing that door. I would love to do more," she said. "It's always been for me. When the idea finds me, I'll do it."

Rowling said she was also finishing the third book in her series written under the pen name Robert Galbraith. She was unmasked as the author after the first book came out, and said she worried briefly when that happened that another book would be somehow less enjoyable to write.

"I thought 'This has blown it. It won't be as much fun anymore.' But actually it is," she said. "I'm maintaining Robert. Robert is quite real to me as an entity, so I like that. I know it's pretense. I know it's make-believe, but it helps me to slip into that persona."


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PHOTO: Author J.K. Rowling appears at the Empire State Building observation deck during a lighting ceremony and to mark the launch of her non-profit children's organization Lumos, on Thursday, April 9, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
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