2024 Legislative Preview: Hot Topics in Child Advocacy

What do America’s children need? Take a quick look at these members’ plans for 2024


Photo by Philip White via Unsplash

As states roll into the 2024 legislative sessions, we took a look at our members’ legislative agendas to find out what issues child advocates will be focused on this year. While many Partnership members are fighting to make sure critical programs like SNAP and Medicaid are fully funded, they are also advancing innovative new solutions to some of the toughest problems facing kids and families in their states.

All in for early education and care

With a massive federal funding cliff looming, one of the most pressing issues on child advocacy agendas in 2024 is child care and early education. Increasing investment in child care subsidy, wage supports for early educators, public-private partnerships, and child care tax credits are all high-priority solutions on the table in states around the country in 2024.

The Tennessee Commission on Children & Youth is advocating for improved child care funding by adopting a Cost-Estimation Model to determine reimbursement rates for child care subsidy. Voices for Alabama’s Children is calling for increased state funding to allow every four year-old to participate in the state’s First Class Pre-K program. Voices for Utah Children is one of many organizations supporting legislation that would use state funds to help avoid the funding cliff by extending the child care stabilization grants program.

Mental health care for children & youth

Nearly every Partnership member across the country is working to improve access to mental health care for children and youth. Many, like Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, aim to increase access to mental health providers through school-based care.

Advocates are pursuing other avenues to make sure children get the mental health care they need, such as removing barriers to licensure for providers, and improving Medicaid reimbursement rates for mental and behavioral health services. The Children’s Trust of South Carolina is advocating for more crisis stabilization units around the state that can serve children and youth.

Economic security

Members are advancing a wide range of strategies to support families’ economic security, like canceling school lunch debt, School Meals for All, extending state Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit programs, paid sick days, increasing the minimum wage, various affordable housing initiatives, and bolstering evidence-based nutrition programs like SNAP and WIC. The Tennessee Commission on Children & Youth is working to eliminate the sales tax on groceries, which disproportionately burdens low-income families.

Advocates are also pursuing innovative new strategies to support upward economic mobility. For example, Voices for Vermont’s Children and the Children’s Alliance in Washington are both advocating for investment in the futures of children living in low-income households through Baby Bonds.

Child welfare and foster care

Partnership members are focused on a range of issues in child welfare, including increasing funding and support programs both for youth aging out of foster care, and for kinship placements, as well as reducing dependence on congregate care settings, and increased funding for proven prevention programs like home visiting.

The Children’s Action Alliance in Arizona is calling for legislators to reimagine the child welfare system as a “child wellbeing system — a system that prevents abuse and neglect by ensuring families have the resources they need,” with several associated policy reforms. Our Children Oregon is calling for increased funding in the state’s innovative Relief Nurseries program, to prevent and reduce the amount of time children spend in the foster care system. Voices for Virginia’s Children is calling on state legislators to establish a Foster Care Prevention Program, which would increase payments to kinship families to equal those of foster placements, along with several other reforms.

Health care & health coverage

Health coverage remains a leading issue for child advocates, both to ensure children have continuous access to the care and coverage they need for their growth and development , and to ensure parents have the coverage they need to stay healthy and care for their kids. Several states, including Alabama, are still working to close the health care “coverage gap” by expanding Medicaid. Advocates are also working to increase funding for early intervention programs, access to oral health care, and improved family planning services.

In New York, advocates including the Schuyler Center for Analysis & Advocacy, The Children’s Agenda, and Westchester Children’s Association are advocating for New York to ensure eligible children remain enrolled from birth to age six in publicly-funded coverage. Continuous enrollment is a proven strategy to ensure that children don’t miss out on the care they need, during a time of crucial developmental milestones.

Our collective impact

Every child, from every race, ethnicity, and zip code deserves the opportunity to thrive – and public policy is key to removing the barriers that often stand in their way. The Partnership for America’s Children supports these comprehensive state policy agendas in two main ways: by connecting members in our network  to one another and to our partners to share expertise and strategy, and by driving more resources to child advocates and creating  funding opportunities for our network members.

This year we will be:

  • Amplifying state models for effective policy solutions and advocacy strategies within the sector; 
  • Inviting members to share their expertise with the network;
  • Connecting members’ work to national organizations that are aligned with their policy objectives; and
  • Bringing pivotal issue areas to the philanthropic sector.


These supports, along with the persistence of state and local advocates, creates a strong, connected, and dynamic network of child advocates advancing transformative policy for children and families. Many thanks to the generous Partnership members who shared their legislative and policy agendas with the Partnership for America’s Children, and with each other, to support our collective impact on the lives of children and their families.