Child advocates ask presidential candidates: What about kids?

Child group continues election year campaign of awareness, advocacy for kids

WASHINGTON – Voices for America’s Children, the nation’s largest network of multi-issue child advocacy organizations, asked answers from the 2012 candidates and their parties on pressing issues facing American children.

“More than one in five American children lives in poverty,” said Bill Bentley, president and CEO of Voices for America’s Children. “Now is the key time to get answers from the 2012 candidates on how they’ll work to give these children a fair shot.”

Voices for America’s Children (Voices) sent letters to Democratic candidate President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney urging them to declare a clearer stance on child and family issues and to formally seek the advice of child advocates. Specifically, Voices recommended the following actions:

  • Establish a child policy committee within your campaign;
  • Present a children’s platform which offers your vision as president and describes the federal government’s role to ensure child health, safety, early learning and development, educational success, family economic security, equal opportunity, and nurturing and growth;
  • Advocate for a portion of one of the presidential debates to be devoted to addressing child and family policy and equipping the next generation to lead the United States and the world.

Voices also wrote to each party’s platform committee, asking that party platforms review the child advocacy group’s latest report, Securing America’s Future: Children and the 2012 Election, and consider the federal policy questions that have so far gone unanswered.

“Children are 24 percent of the population and 100 percent of our future,” said Charlie Bruner, executive director of the Child & Family Policy Center, Voices’ member in Iowa. “Yet only a tiny fraction of our national political debate addresses children’s issues.”

Only 2 percent of the 2012 presidential primary debates were about children, according to a Voices report released earlier this year. The report found that out of the more than 1,000 questions asked, only 17 pertained to children’s issues. Child welfare, abuse, safety, health access, early education and other issues were all but ignored, the authors found.

“On the campaign trail, the candidates have kissed many babies, yet given few concrete details about how their policies will benefit children,” said Roy Miller, president and founder of The Children’s Campaign, Voices’ Florida member. “Child advocates this year are leading the charge to get the parties and the media talking about issues like child health, poverty and safety.”

“Prosperity for our country is meaningless unless we create opportunity for all children to succeed, regardless of race or income,” said Eileen Garcia, chief executive officer of Voices member Texans Care for Children. “Yet the presidential candidates make little mention of the ways to close gaps and raise the bar for all children. We’re calling on the candidates to establish child policy committees, seek the guidance of child experts, and work to improve outcomes for all children.”

Voices’ nationwide 2012 campaign for kids has included congressional and gubernatorial candidate forums focused on children’s issues in Georgia and New Hampshire, respectively; launch of the initiatives “Vote for Kids New York” and “Make Kids Matter” in Pennsylvania; op-ed about importance of electing pro-child candidates published in The Salt Lake Tribune; and election advocacy toolkits developed in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, Washington, Wisconsin and many other states.

As the nation’s largest network of multi-issue child advocacy organizations, Voices for America’s Children (Voices) has been on the forefront of every major child policy victory for the past quarter-century. With 62 members nationwide, Voices speaks up for kids, and mobilizes and advocates for public policies to improve the lives of all children, especially those most vulnerable, throughout the United States. Visit us at Voices is a founding member of the Children’s Leadership Council, a coalition of more than 50 leading national policy and advocacy organizations.

For Immediate Release: Contact: Roberta Heine,, (202) 380-1781
August 23, 2012 Casey Labrack,, (202) 380-1784

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