By John R. Morgan and Ann O’Leary
As we move beyond the election, the focus has shifted to the “fiscal cliff” and the need to get our nation’s finances in order. As our nation’s leaders tackle these issues and make big decisions about the investments our federal government will and will not make, they should keep in mind that there is one group in America that is too small to fail: America’s children.
Our nation’s children are headed for real trouble, but who’s talking about this? Without urgent attention, this generation of children could be pushed off the cliff, their hopes and future — and the country’s — dashed at the bottom.
Morgan is executive director of Voices for Virginia’s Children. O’Leary is children
and families program director of The Center for the Next Generation.
Voices for Virginia’s Children legislative agenda
Children’s mental health
- Expand local crisis services and psychiatry services for children with serious emotional disorders so that families can access timely services, keep their child at home and in school and avoid disruptive and costly inpatient or residential care.
Early childhood/school readiness
- Restore budget cuts to CHIP of Virginia/Parents As Teachers and Healthy Families Virginia, which provide early childhood home visiting programs so the most vulnerable families can promote healthy early development.
- Provide additional funding for early intervention services to address the needs of the growing number of children from birth to age 3 with significant developmental delays.
Foster care reform
- Eliminate barriers to school enrollment for youth diverted from foster care into informal kinship care arrangements to avoid interrupting their schooling and slowing educational achievement.
- Increase access to services and supports available to former foster youth ages 18 to 21 to help them overcome obstacles and transition to productive adulthood.
Family economic security
- Protect current TANF eligibility and support levels to help families in poverty meet the basic needs of their children.