Today, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) joined Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) to announce a new partnership between two major child advocates, Save the Children and First Focus, to develop an annual report card on the state of American child. The announcement was made at a press conference with Mark Shriver of Save the Children and Bruce Lesley of First Focus. A report was also released detailing the findings of the State of the American Child series of hearings he held over the last year.
The report card will monitor the well-being of our nation's children and provide benchmarks for their progress. The results will help identify areas where public policy is needed to improve the well-being of our children. Senators Dodd and Casey recently introduced legislation to establish a National Council on Children that will be responsible for annually assessing the state of American children's health, education, and overall well-being, and will be tasked with making recommendations to Congress on how to improve the policies that impact our children's lives.
"Throughout his career, Senator Dodd has been a true champion for children; his State of the American Child hearings have continued to provide an invaluable focus on current progress and what still needs to be done to invest in children and the future of our nation," said Senator Casey. "I have been proud to work with Senator Dodd and to partner with him on the Children's Act of 2010 to create a National Council on Children."
"We must fight to keep children not only at the forefront of our hopes for the future of this country, but at the forefront of its national agenda," said Senator Dodd. "We must establish lasting and rigorous measures to guide our progress on these issues and hold policymakers accountable. Today's announcement--and the new partnership that will continue the work going forward--means that we will measure not only whether we are making sound policy, but also whether we are, indeed, fulfilling the American promise to our children."
"There is a decades old and very robust debate about the role of government in helping families living in poverty. But three year olds don't even have bootstraps to pull on," said Mark Shriver, Senior Vice President for Save the Children's U.S. Programs. "Now is the time to give every American child an equal start in life and this report card is an important first step."
"It's in our nation's best interest to raise the most healthy, most educated, best-prepared children in the world for the challenges that lie ahead. Yet on virtually every index, America's children are falling behind. Today in America one in five kids is born into poverty, 30 percent of students fail to graduate from high school, and 8 million children lack health insurance," said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus. "A report card will bring much needed attention to children's issues, provide a holistic picture of how children are faring, and hold us accountable for improving child well-being in America."
The report released today synthesizes the findings from the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearings on the State of the American Child, details the barriers that prevent our children from achieving their potential, and outlines key policies that need to be implemented in the coming Congress to improve their well-being.
The "State of the American Child" series, launched by Senator Dodd earlier this year, examined all aspects of children's lives: their health from birth to adulthood, their educational experience in and out of the classroom, and their life at home with their families and in their communities; with the focus of the hearings being on the inter-connectedness of all these aspects and how they shape and define the lives of our children.