Guest Post from Every Child Matters
Children are twenty-three percent of our population yet one hundred percent of our future. Decisions made today are critical to their success later in life. As voters, we should take our responsibility seriously to assure our next President would support the opportunity for all kids to achieve the American Dream.
Some startling statistics about Iowa’s future:
- 1 in 6 Iowa kids live in poverty;
- In 2013, 40% of Iowa kids were eligible for free and reduced lunch;
- 76% of Iowa’s kids under the age of 6 have all available parents in the workforce meaning they need alternative care during work hours; and
- Between 2011 and 2013, 53% of Iowa’s 3- and 4-year-olds did not attend preschool.
Partner these statistics with the realities facing Iowa’s working families – the annual cost for an infant in center-based child care is more than tuition at one of our public universities or that 62% of a minimum wage earner’s annual income is needed to pay the cost for infant child care – and we have some work to do.
Every Child Matters is a non-profit, non-partisan organization seeking to make children, youth, and families a national priority. We want the Presidential candidates to discuss their plans to invest in our kids. Key issues we highlight include early childhood education; poverty; child safety in their homes and communities; afterschool care; health and mental health care; and the opportunity gap facing children from low-income families.
In the few months we have been back in the state, we are excited to share our accomplishments for 2015. Over the summer, we co-sponsored Harvard scholar and author, Robert Putnam, at Drake University. Putnam presented to a group of more than 500 Iowans sharing his research to address the opportunity gap facing the ability for all children to achieve the American Dream. We released findings from a poll, co-sponsored with the Child & Family Policy Center, which found 77% of Iowa voters believe the future president should address the health, education, and well-being of children.
Our work involves engaging the presidential candidates and asking them their plans, if elected, to support our kids. In January, we kicked off a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden. While not a candidate in the race, he met with local child advocates to talk about the issues affecting kids. We organized the same structures for our meetings with Senator Bernie Sanders and Governor Martin O’Malley. Additionally, our staff have connected with a number of GOP candidates during their community events across the state to ask the important questions about the future of our kids.
Every Child Matters in Iowa is doing organizing work leading up to the February Caucus and into the general election in November 2016. This month, we released a new web site, Caucus for Kids, to inform Iowa voters about the issues, candidate responses and opportunities to get involved.
There are opportunities for all of us to engage in the process, whether, at the minimum, being informed on the issues, or attending a candidate event to ask a question about the future of our kids. A new opportunity released this month includes hosting a house party! Gather your friends, neighbors, co-workers and talk about the issues. Let us know if you want to schedule an event in your area.
Our work, however, cannot be done alone – We Need You! It will take the work of all of us, the concerned electorate, to be the voice for our kids.
by Kelli Soyer
Every Child Matters