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Building an Office of Children and Youth

by Caroline DeRosa, Senior Director, Policy and Advocacy, Children's Health Fund

Last Wednesday, I spent the day on Capitol Hill meeting with Congressional staff and talking with them about one of Children's Health Fund (CHF)’s legislative priorities for this year: Establishing a White House Office for Children and YouthThe purpose of this office would be to create a national policy strategy for the nation’s children and to ensure that all programs and services for kids, which are spread throughout many government agencies, are acting in coordination with each other as part of the national strategy. To learn more, please take a look at the comments CHF recently submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services on a national strategy for children.

All of the Congressional staff I met with were generally in agreement that more focus needs to be directed toward bettering the outcomes for America’s kids. With one in five kids being born into poverty, 30 percent of students failing to graduate from high school and 9 million children lacking health insurance, how could you not want to fix things, right? But many of the staffers cited they were too busy with other issues to champion this effort. Ironically, this is exactly why we need an office to focus just on kids. Too often other priorities get pushed to the top of the agenda and our kids lose out.

Luckily, we have some members of Congress that ARE willing to take charge on this issue and we look forward to working with them to ensure the well-being of children, especially the underserved.  Our promise is to continue to fight to make sure kids issues are a main focus of the federal government.