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By Michelle Hughes

NCChild15I have a New Year’s resolution for North Carolina’s local, state, and federal policymakers:

In 2018, prioritize children in every decision you make and champion their well-being with determination, time, and resources.  

Everyday, policymakers have the opportunity to improve the lives of our state’s children by investing in early education, expanding access to high-quality health care, and growing economic opportunity for hard-working families. This requires not only making the right decision when it’s time to vote on a bill, but also being proactive about promoting a policy agenda that builds a strong foundation for child success and well-being.

Perhaps it’s presumptuous to suggest a New Year’s resolution to all of elected officials, but the fact of the matter is that we can do better than we did in 2017. Here’s what putting kids first looks like in 2018:

  • Fund CHIP now. Federal funding for CHIP expired in October, and Congress has failed to act, jeopardizing health insurance for 9 million children nationwide and more than 240,000 children in North Carolina. Congress must restore funding for CHIP immediately.
  • Close the health insurance coverage gap. Over 100,000 parents across the state are uninsured because North Carolina hasn’t yet used available federal funding to expand access to health insurance. Parents need health insurance to stay physically, mentally, and financially healthy so they can be at their best for their children. State lawmakers should pass legislation to close the coverage gap in 2018.
  • Invest in child care and early education. North Carolina has built a first-class early education system, but too many children don’t have access to our state’s high-quality child care and pre-kindergarten. Policymakers should build on recent investments to expand access and strengthen the system.
  • Do something about child poverty. Nearly ½ of children in North Carolina live in poor or near-poor homes, jeopardizing their chances for future success. Policymakers at all levels must implement policy solutions to support our state’s hard-working families so they can achieve financial security and provide for their children. From making child care affordable to helping low-income families build financial security through targeted tax policy, we must do more.

We might not all agree on specific policy solutions all the time; but if we all agree to put children first, we will make progress. So this new year, I ask all of our elected officials (and candidates for office) to make improving the lives of our state’s children your resolution for 2018. NC Child will work right alongside you to make sure all children in our state have the opportunity to grow up happy, healthy, and ready to succeed–but we need your leadership now.

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