Click the arrows below to expand each section and learn about the policy approaches that our members have used to improve the lives of children and youth in their state.
Policy Approaches in Equity and Diversity
Partnership members have raised awareness of disparities in child outcomes by race, ethnicity, gender, and income; worked with communities of color to identify policy problems and pursue solutions; and supported programs, such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program, that help the most disadvantaged children. Often they pursue policy changes to eliminate disproportionate impact on children of color; thus Partnership members have secured more equitable discipline policies in schools and changed the status of minor offenses disproportionately charged against children of color, protecting them from having criminal records.
The Connecticut Association for Human Services is focusing on poverty and race in 2016, as part of a longer-term effort to create racial and economic equity in one of the most economically unequal states in the nation.
Connecticut Voices for Children examines the disparate impacts racial inequity imposes on Connecticut families as they engage health care, education, juvenile justice, and the economy. All its reports, like State of Working Connecticut and Keeping Kids in Class, illuminate racial inequity’s breadth and depth from a two generation perspective so policymakers may address these concerns with quality research.
American Children’s Campaign (FL) of Florida focuses on equity issues such as ensuring equitable distribution of resources by gender and other factors.
Our Children Oregon worked to end discriminatory stops, outlaw “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ youth, and pass the Ban the Box legislation.
The Black Children’s Institute of Tennessee works to close the disparity gaps for children of color in the education, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems in Tennessee, not only by seeking policy changes, but also by empowering parents to speak up for their children and advocate for changes in policy that will help close those gaps.
Equity frames all of the issue area work at the Children’s Alliance (WA). For example, its child safety efforts are focused around a state advisory committee that examines racial disproportionality in child welfare system.
Policy Approaches in Health
Partnership members have led campaigns that resulted in more children being covered by health insurance, more services (such as mental health care) available to children, more children eating breakfast at the start of the school day, and reduced infant mortality, among other achievements.
VOICES for Alabama’s Children and its partner organizations commissioned research that showed over 1.8 million Alabamians, including nearly half a million Alabama children, live in communities without grocery stores, limiting their access to fresh, healthy food. In 2015, Alabama passed legislation creating a Healthy Food Financing Program to bring new and or expand grocery stores and other food retailers to these communities. VOICES for Alabama’s Children is currently seeking funding for the Healthy Food Financing Program.
Children’s Action Alliance (AZ)‘s primary children’s health goal is to revive the statewide CHIP program in Arizona, which has been phased out since 2010. Arizona is currently the only state in the country where children do not have access to CHIP.
As the number of children with access to health care continues to rise, improving the rates and coverage children receive from that insurance is a top priority for Colorado Children’s Campaign.
Connecticut Voices for Children’s monitoring and reporting on enrollment continuity of children, pregnant women and parents in Connecticut’s HUSKY program (Medicaid/CHIP) has led to efforts to prevent loss of coverage. They helped lead the effort to maintain current coverage for pregnant women, to fight deeper cuts to parent HUSKY program coverage, and to ensure access to physical and behavioral health services for HUSKY families.
American Children’s Campaign (FL) has developed a multi-year maternal health plan to benefit both children and their mothers, while expanding on Early Steps programs that support developing youths.
Hawai’i Children’s Action Network is advocating for a state-wide Paid Family Leave Policy. Families are often forced to choose between caring for a new baby or sick family member and their jobs. Given Hawai’i’s high cost of living, this choice is often bad for the family and the economy.
In order to close health coverage gaps, Voices for Illinois Children is continuing to protect Medicaid services while expanding others, such as early childhood mental health consultation, across the state of Illinois.
Common Good Iowa is working hard to expand programs such as “Iowa 1st Five,” which supports health providers in the earlier detection of social-emotional and developmental delays as well as family risk-related factors in children birth to five years old.
Michigan’s Children is fighting to increase state funding for a range of early intervention programs, and continued support for children exposed to lead and their families. This includes work with key legislative allies and other advocacy and program partners to move several comprehensive funding packages specific to Flint’s exposed population that include expanded resources for Early On (Michigan’s IDEA Part C program), home visiting, child care and nutrition supports, as well as other health and infrastructure investments. It also includes making connections to other partners and champions to continue necessary wrap around interventions as exposed children move into school-age and beyond.
They have also begun to utilize the increased attention to lead exposure interventions and supports to expose the shortcomings in the state system for early intervention, which is true not only in Flint, but around the state. They have a focused effort on expanding investment in early intervention programs like Early On statewide.
Voices for Children Advocacy Center in Flint, MI, is sharing information about nutrition and water resources and advocating for educational and medical services. It is also working on mapping (geo-coding) with researchers to identify children, their location, etc. in the city to better pinpoint resources.
NC Child works statewide to advocate for a range of public policies that improve the health of children. Related to insurance coverage, it is working to close the Medicaid coverage gap while at the same time preserve access for our state’s most vulnerable children through Medicaid and North Carolina Health Choice, the state’s child health insurance program. Other areas of focus include advocacy in the area of oral health for children, infant mortality prevention, reducing intentional and unintentional deaths of children, and more.
The children of Ohio continue to benefit from the work of Ohio Children’s Alliance as they advocate for improved child health coverage, eligibility, and systems alongside the implementation of an Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment Service (EPSDT) as a comprehensive, preventative health care function.
An often overlooked priority is health care for children of undocumented or migratory workers. Our Children Oregon has put forward an initiative that would help those children find coverage and treatment.
The overall safety and health of children is the mission at Children’s Trust of South Carolina with initiatives that target child passenger safety, prevention of abuse and neglect, and prevention of unintentional injuries in the Columbia region.
The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth is addressing mental health through their efforts to implement and improve systems of care across Tennessee.
Voices for Utah Children is advocating for state funding to strengthen Utah’s Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP). This voluntary, evidence-based community program allows low-income, first-time mothers access to registered nurses during and after their pregnancies.
Voices for Virginia’s Children leads the Campaign for Children’s Mental Health, which has successfully advocated for expanded community-based mental health services accessible to all children regardless of insurance status. Voices is currently working on getting Medicaid and FAMIS to cover dyadic therapy for young children and their caregivers as part of an increased focus on early childhood mental health.
Kids Forward (WI), recognizing that many children in the juvenile justice system have been exposed to lead, reached out to juvenile justice professionals to educate them about the impact of lead poisoning on the children they work with and encouraging them to take steps to protect siblings who might also be exposed to lead. In addition, Kids Forward has posted periodic blogs to highlight the harmful effects of lead exposure and has been a participating member of the Wisconsin Childhood Lead Poisoning Elimination Oversight Committee working to reduce children’s exposure to lead and increase early testing for children at risk of exposure.
Policy Approaches in School Readiness
Partnership members have secured funding for universal pre-k programs and expanded child care subsidies and protected these programs from budget cuts, and have secured home visiting programs that help prepare children for school, to name just a few policy victories that improved children’s school readiness.
Connecticut Voices for Children worked in concert with several advocacy organizations to expand early childhood education funding and create the state Office of Early Childhood.
Hawai’i Children’s Action Network led the effort in 2014 that obtained new funding for childcare subsidies and launched public preschool.
Kansas Action for Children and its partners successfully advocated for improved child care assistance policy to provide parents with affordable child care and children with quality early childhood experiences. Over the last few years, KAC has protected over $50 million each year for early childhood education programs.
The Children’s Advocacy Alliance of Nevada established the Nevada Strong Start for Children Campaign with Nevada First Lady Kathleen Sandoval as the Ambassador. They also coordinate the Southern Nevada Social Impact Bond Project to expand access to pre-k.
The Schuyler Center (NY) facilitated major new state investments in pre-k, including $340 million for Innovative Pre-K, creating opportunities for an additional 37,000 young children to attend pre-k, and $25 million for Priority Pre-Kindergarten, targeted to high need communities, benefiting 6,000 children and their families.
The Children’s Agenda (Rochester, NY) helped increase access for hundreds of Rochester-area children to quality early child care and education programs, working together with state and local partners. A small group including The Children’s Agenda supported the Rochester City School District in winning $11.9 million for pre-k support in the 2015-2016 New York state budget. With the vast majority of Rochester four-year-olds already served in high quality settings, that means up to 1,000 more local three-year-olds will now enter full-day pre-k in 2016. As part of Winning Beginning-NY, The Children’s Agenda also helped secure an increase in New York state funding of child care subsidies by $42 million statewide in 2014, and an increased allocation of $3.2 million over the past two years for up to 200 more local children to be in high quality early care and education.
Voices for Utah Children led the effort that created a social impact bond to fund preschool in Utah.
Policy Approaches in School Success
Partnership members have worked to help all children achieve success in school, from preparing school information guides for parents, to ensuring that more children have time to eat breakfast at the start of the school day, to changing the school funding system to fund schools more adequately and equitably, to eliminating discipline policies that disparately affect children of color and keep them out of school.
Colorado Children’s Campaign led an initiative to rewrite the state’s broken school finance formula, which resulted in a ballot initiative to increase school funding.
Connecticut Voices for Children’s Unequal Schools report shows that persistent residential segregation concentrates many of Connecticut’s students of color and low-income students in a small number of schools, with the least access to critical educational resources like small class sizes and more experienced teachers.
Policy Approaches in Safety
Partnership members have reduced child fatality rates, improved the identification of abused or neglected children, improved what happens to children in foster care and after they leave it, and reduced the number of children incarcerated.
Connecticut Voices for Children advocates for the development of a rehabilitative and therapeutic model of juvenile justice, with appropriate services and settings to meet the needs of all court-involved youth.
American Children’s Campaign (FL) successfully advocated for improved foster care laws, the Safe Harbor Act (which allows children who are rescued from prostitution to get help from child welfare professionals instead of being placed in juvenile delinquency) and changing the overall direction of Department of Juvenile Justice.
Marion County Commission On Youth, Inc. (MCCOY) persuaded the Indiana legislature to pass a stronger bullying prevention bill in 2013.
Voices for Children in Nebraska’s advocacy resulted in many fewer children being tried in adult court and many fewer children being sent to the court system for skipping school.
The Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy (NY) promotes effective, high-quality systems to aid at-risk families, prevent entry into the child welfare system, and improve wellbeing for children who are in care. It advocates for accountable public systems, including robust data regarding child outcomes and expenditures of funds.
The Children’s Agenda of Rochester, NY championed local adoption of Coping Power, an afterschool initiative to reduce violence and aggression in youth. It is now in 13 elementary schools in the city of Rochester, having served more than 300 children and reducing disruptive incidents in schools served by 40 percent.
The Children’s Agenda of Rochester, NY, also championed local adoption of the Nurse Family Partnership program, which now has the capacity to annually serve 425 local first-time, low-income mothers and their infants. Thanks to The Children’s Agenda’s work, costs for Nurse Family Partnership became reimbursable through Medicaid redesign, allowing it to scale-up to fully meet the local need (1,000 families per year) as well as expanding to a 9-county region. Estimates based on rigorous research show that in Rochester the Nurse Family Partnership has resulted in three fewer child deaths, 69 fewer preterm births, 75 fewer expectant mothers with pregnancy complications, 110 fewer instances of unplanned repeat pregnancies, 140 fewer instances of child abuse and neglect, 160 fewer children will develop language delays or need remedial help in school, and 170 fewer children will develop behavioral or mental health problems.
Our Children Oregon successfully advocated for improvements in the foster care system, such as savings accounts and extracurricular activities for foster youth.
CHILDREN AT RISK (TX) successfully advocated for human trafficking legislation that protects children forced into prostitution.
Policy Approaches in Family Stability and Economic Security
Partnership members have increased family income through expanded state tax credits, increased access to health insurance and child care subsidies, and improved family stability by increasing access to home visiting programs and other efforts that help strengthen families.
The Connecticut Association for Human Services helped lead a decade-long campaign to create a state earned income tax credit “EITC”; the credit, finally passed in 2011, has varied from 25-30 percent of the federal EITC, putting more than $500 in the hands of 190,000 low-income families each year.
Connecticut Voices for Children advocated for new state revenue system that made their tax code more progressive and restored over $300 million in cuts to programs that support children and families, including developmental services, K-12 education, and family health coverage.
Because childhood poverty can lead to a lifetime of challenges including cognitive, behavioral, social, and emotional difficulties, the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy (NY) promotes policies that strengthen and support families, including prenatal and postpartum supports, services for families with young children, and policies that secure or supplement family income.
The Children’s Agenda in Rochester, NY, serves on the Steering Committee of the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Task Force, appointed by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. The task force includes heads of all state agencies, and a counterpart local initiative with leadership from government, business, philanthropic, faith, and higher education.
Voices for Utah Children led the advocacy effort to pass legislation that created an Intergenerational Poverty Commission with the goal of creating a database and establishing five- and ten-year plans.