Op/Ed By Larry Marx, CEO of The Children’s Agenda –
Children and youth don’t have political or economic power on their own. Is it any wonder then that our schools are in rough shape, that more than half of our city’s kids live in poverty, and that children’s health problems — from infant mortality to lead poisoning, trauma, and unhealthy weight — are as bad as they are? It’s up to those of us who do vote, who pay taxes, who work, save, and spend to stand up for our children — ALL of our children.
So who fights for kids? Our mission at The Children’s Agenda is to advocate for effective policies and drive evidence-based solutions for the health, education, and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health disparities, and trauma.
The Children’s Agenda researches the impact of proposed government budget decisions on children, organizes grassroots and online advocacy with public officials, and partners with numerous organizations and initiatives including the Interfaith Collaborative, Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, ROC the Future, and others. Some of our major, recent accomplishments, working together with our many partners, include:
- Helping the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative secure $4.75 million funding for early childhood supports for more than 1,100 children and families living in poverty in the EMMA, Beechwood and Marketview Heights neighborhoods. That includes 115 additional parents and children having access to a trio of evidence-based home visitation programs starting this fall, 300 – 400 additional three and four year-olds in high quality summer learning programs, and 300 additional child care slots for children of low-income working families starting in January 2018. To our knowledge, this is the first time in the state’s history that economic development dollars have been used to support low-income families and kids.
- Helping get our entire local state legislative delegation successfully behind the new “Raise the Age” law, benefiting over 20,000 disproportionately African American and Hispanic 16 and 17 year-olds, who are wrongly subjected to the adult criminal justice system every year. The difference this new law will make in disrupting the “school-to-prison pipeline” is substantial.
- Staffing ROC the Future, the Pre-K through 12 community-wide effort of 60+ organizations to help children succeed academically, through continuous supports both inside and outside the classroom. Some successes so far include reduced chronic absences in the Rochester City School District, 1,700 three year-olds screened for health and developmental issues over the past two school years, a 54 percent increase in RCSD and charter students filing for federal aid to attend college, and more.
But there is so much more to be done, and our children need all hands on deck. Help make an impact and work with The Children’s Agenda:
- Join our Advocacy Network to advocate with public officials throughout the year on key issues like child care, funding for afterschool and summer programs, and implementation of Raise the Age.
- Sign up your congregation to participate in our annual “Step Up for Kids” Children’s Interfaith Weekend, an opportunity to pray, learn about, and act on the troubles facing children in our community, Friday, October 20 – Sunday, October 22, 2017.
Participate in ROC the Future’s annual State of Our Children Address on Tuesday, October 17, 2017.
Visit thechildrensagenda.org for additional information.