"For Immediate Release:"
For Immediate Release: Contact: Brenda Chenchar 12/15/2008 515-280-9027 National Children’s Leadership Council Launches “Invest in Children, Strengthen America” Campaign Nationwide Coalition Calls on Iowa and National Leaders for Commitment to Improving the Health, Education and Well-Being of Children in Iowa and Across America [Des Moines, Iowa] – Today, leading Iowa child policy organizations announced that major child policy and advocacy organizations at the national level have joined together as the Children’s Leadership Council (CLC) around a common federal agenda for children, under the theme “Invest in Children – Strengthen America.” Thirty-six leading national policy organizations have joined together to help insure that children come first, and not last, in making budget decisions that affect America’s future. Iowa’s launch event is one of 13 happening this week, with a national rollout in Washington, DC on Thursday, December 18, 2008. The Children’s Leadership Council is calling for over $50 billion in additional investments that can help insure children are healthy, safe, achieve educational success, and contribute to America’s growth. The Children’s Leadership Council also is calling for inclusion in the economic stimulus package of provisions that will mitigate the effects of the recession on children and help avoid 2 million more children experiencing deep poverty. The CLC’s specific economic stimulus package includes: Additional federal support to states to maintain Medicaid programs without cuts, in these difficult financial times; Expansions to food stamp benefits and unemployment compensation to provide direct aid to struggling families and local economies; Provisions for temporary expansion to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) programs to ensure that child care services can be maintained within states; Provisions for home energy assistance and housing assistance programs. In Iowa, the Children’s Policy Coalition endorses the work of the Children’s Leadership Council and includes many state affiliates of the national organizations that are represented. “Child advocates and policy experts have come together in Iowa for many years to offer a unified advocacy agenda for children,” Charles Bruner, Director of the Child and Family Policy Center and a Voices for America’s Children member organization indicated. “We needed the same type of unified voice at the federal level.” “The CLC is very significant in drawing attention to the fact the economic stimulus package must address the needs of children and families,” Tom LaPointe, Director of the Iowa Office of Every Child Matters said. “As many as 3 million more American children could fall into poverty as a result of the recession, and 2 million could fall into deep poverty (less than ½ the poverty level, or $10,000 for a family of four), which can be very difficult to recover from. The CLC’s recommendations for the stimulus package need to be at the top of the federal government’s actions.” The CLC’s economic stimulus package recommendations could provide Iowa with: $200 million or more in additional federal funding for Medicaid, sufficient to cover the projected shortfalls in the Medicaid budget and allow for the phased-expansion of child health and potentially additional adult coverage, as well. $10 million more in funding for child care subsidies, enabling Iowa to cover 700 more children of working parents making less than 150% of poverty. $10 million more in funding for TANF, to cover projected increases in families needing temporary assistance without impacting programs that have been funded through TANF to prevent welfare dependency. “The question is not whether we can afford to act,” Lana Ross, Director of the Association of Community Action Agencies, stated. “It is whether we can afford not to act. Without strong attention to the needs of struggling families within the economic stimulus package, Iowa is likely to fall into a deeper recession and the futures of Iowa’s children will be much less bright.” ### About the CLC: The “Invest in Children, Strengthen America” campaign will focus on five specific areas of investment that are proven effective, provide real accountability, and save taxpayers money in the long run, all while improving the health, education and well-being of children across America. Those five investment areas for children are: The prevention, early diagnosis and treatment for at-risk children, including those who are abused and neglected. Services for older children to ensure that they are safe and on a path to success such as those that reduce high school drop outs, mentoring for at risk youth and job training. Physical, dental and mental health care, prevention and treatment so that all children are healthy. Programs that provide early development and learning, such as child care, Head Start/Early Head Start and other early childhood programs for children from birth to age five. Support for families to help make them economically stronger, more stable and more self-sufficient including programs such as expanded child tax credits, child support, increases in Food Stamps/SNAP, child nutrition programs and rental assistance. Strong families mean strong children. The depth and breadth of the CLC coalition is unprecedented in the world of children’s advocacy, representing 36 organizations at the national and local level who are working everyday to improve the health, education and well-being of children.