The Children’s Advocate
MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT FOR KIDS!
The right to vote for our leaders at the local, state and national levels is one of our
greatest privileges. Because children can’t vote, adults have a responsibility to ensure
that children have a voice with state and national decision-makers. It is of crucial
importance to elect officials who will consider children’s needs when they create
legislative proposals. Fall 2006
According to national surveys, the majority of adults – regardless of whether they have
children – care deeply about the issues affecting children. And there is nearly unanimous
agreement about the importance of candidates for public office at all levels having a
platform on children’s issues.
Children’s advocates can work to increase the number of candidates, and ultimately
elected officials, who are knowledgeable and supportive of issues concerning children and
children’s health. Since children are unable to cast votes on Election Day, advocates must
consider their needs when voting. Before you go to the polls ask these questions about
where candidates stand on issues most important to children:
• How will candidates ensure quality health care for all children?
• What programs will candidates support to protect children from abuse and
• How will candidates ensure that children get quality early care and education?
• How will candidates ensure that children get the best education at all levels,
from pre-K through college?
“A vote is the best
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, try to find out. When candidates knock
way of getting the
on your door be prepared to ask questions about children’s issues. If candidates don’t
come to your neighborhood, you can go to them. Attend local forums and campaign events kind of country
that will give you the opportunity to speak to candidates. To find events in your area and the kind of
search the website for each political party (www.iowagop.org and www.iowademocrats.org, world you want.”
both have event calendars). Change starts at the grassroots level whether you live on a
farm or in the inner city, by electing the people to implement it. We all need to be
mindful of where candidates stand on children’s issues, and do our part to make our
- Harry Truman
vote count for kids!
The Center for Advocacy & Outreach
Blank Children’s Hospital
BE A CHILD ADVOCATE
As we approach the upcoming elections and a new legislative session, we are mindful of the importance of adults who will
act on behalf of children. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following list of 10 Tips for Child Advocates:
1. Choose your issue. Decide what it is you’d like to change, for the good of children.
2. Identify solutions. Prepare a list of possible ways to successfully resolve your issue.
3. Identify supporters. It is likely that you are not the only person concerned about the issue. Talk to parents and
Parent groups, and seek other organizations that are working on the same issue.
4. Develop a strategy. Decide how you will advocate for change, and whether you will work at the local, state or
5. Frame your message. Develop and disseminate a clear, concise and consistent message to help advance your issue.
6. Educate. Attend community meetings. Offer to be a speaker for community or state organizations to educate
others about the issue. Meet with lawmakers. Write letters to your newspaper.
7. Mobilize supporters. Establish a group of supporters and keep them informed via e-mail or telephone trees.
Encourage them to educate others as well.
8. Testify. Offer to tell your story at a public hearing. The personal experiences of constituents are very powerful in
convincing government officials to make changes.
9. Don’t give up. It may take more than one attempt to bring about change in public policy. Keep at it, and learn from
10. VOTE! Pay attention to what candidates are proposing for children, and make your decisions accordingly.
Remember, these are the people who will be making decisions about your issue. Also remember to take a child with
you when you vote, to teach him or her about this important civic duty.
Did you know. . . ?
• The lead poisoning rate for Iowa is 6.9% compared to a national rate of 1.6%.
• From 2001 to 2004 there were 92 fatalities and 5,007 injuries among Iowa 15 – 17 year olds
involved in motor vehicle crashes. Two-thirds of the teens killed were not wearing seat belts at
the time of the collision.
• In 2005, an all-time record high of 1,560 cases of confirmed child abuse occurred in Iowa.
Nearly three-fourths of these confirmed cases were for the denial of critical care, more
commonly referred to as neglect.
• In 2005 there were 1,354 Iowa children confirmed to have a presence of an illegal drug in their
body through prenatal or environmental exposure.
What can we, as child advocates, do to help resolve these issues?
Page 2 The Children’s Advocate
SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME
According to the National Association of Children’s In the last decade, progress has been made in the
Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI), head diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome, with a variety of
trauma is the leading cause of death and disability among prevention approaches implemented in all 50 states.
young abused children, and shaking is a contributing factor In Iowa, a Shaken Baby Task Force was formed in 1997
in many instances. Each year, thousands of babies across in Council Bluffs. The task force developed a number of
the nation suffer serious consequences from being shaken. components including educational presentations, a
curriculum for high school health classes, and a support
group for parents/caregivers who have a victim
Babies have large, heavy heads comprising 25 percent of
(either living or deceased) of Shaken Baby Syndrome.
their total body weight, and weak, underdeveloped neck
The task force website is www.safebaby.org. More
muscles. The whiplash action of shaking causes the brain
recently, a pilot project was developed and implemented
to ricochet inside the skull and tears the blood vessels
at Blank Children’s Hospital and Iowa Methodist Medical
that connect the brain to the skull. Consequences can
Center in Des Moines. This project provided education
include brain damage, seizures, paralysis, blindness and
and resources to new parents prior to discharge from the
death. Lifetime costs of Shaken Baby Syndrome are
maternity department. Data is currently being collected
estimated to be four times higher than any other form
and analyzed to determine the effectiveness of this
of intentional injury.
There are no firm statistics regarding the actual
Prevention of Shaken Baby Syndrome must be a
incidence of Shaken Baby Syndrome since there are no
comprehensive effort. It begins in childhood, with good
central reporting registries to collect data. It is
role models of nurturing behaviors. It continues with
estimated 600 to 1,400 cases per year occur in the
education in middle school and high school about child
United States. In Iowa, over a period of ten years,
development and the consequences of Shaken Baby
forty-three babies died as a result of injuries from
Syndrome. During childbirth education classes or at the
Shaken Baby Syndrome.
time of discharge from the hospital after giving birth,
parents need to receive information about specific
Stress-related abuse, such as Shaken Baby Syndrome, methods of calming fussy babies and calming themselves.
is predictable and therefore preventable. Inconsolable And the prevention effort must be reinforced at well
crying is often a trigger for abusive shaking. Cases of child checks during the first several months as well as
shaking are most common in infants between 6 weeks through home visiting programs. It is an effort that will
and 5 months old – when children cry the most. require multiple partners and significant funding. But
it is an effort that will provide benefits which far
outweigh its cost.
It takes each one of us
to make a difference
for all of us.
The Children’s Advocate Page 3
Keeping Kids Safe
The fifth annual Keeping Kids Safe conference was held at Blank Children’s Hospital on
September 12. With EMC Insurance Companies as its corporate sponsor, this statewide
conference is a collaborative effort between Blank Children’s Hospital, Iowa Department of
Public Health, University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center, Safe Kids Iowa and
the Injury Free Coalition for Kids. National speakers provide presentations on various aspects
of injury prevention including the most prevalent types of injury, current data and best
practice models for prevention. The audience is comprised of a diverse group, including law
enforcement, emergency medical services personnel, nurses, teachers, public health workers
and Safe Kids Coalition members.
Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death for children. We believe that by bringing together this group of
professionals to talk and learn about injury prevention strategies, we can further the effort to reduce the number of
unintentional injuries among children and youth ages 0-18. The sixth annual Keeping Kids Safe Conference will occur on
September 18, 2007.
Are you moving, or would you like to receive “The Children’s Advocate” via e-mail? Please take a moment to
let us know of any change in preference for how you receive advocacy information or which issues you are
interested in. To contact us, call 515-241-6728, or log onto the Blank Children’s Hospital website at
www.blankchildrens.org. Click on “Advocacy and Outreach Information” on the lower right side, then click on
“Join the Grassroots Advocacy Network”.
It takes each of us to make a difference for all of us
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Des Moines, IA 50309
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