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Child and Family Day attendees urge legislators to put children first

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

6/10/14

RALEIGH—Over one hundred parents, children, and concerned citizens gathered at the General Assembly this morning to send a loud and clear message to legislators: North Carolina’s children and youth should be their number one priority. The call for investing in children came as the State House released its proposed budget revisions.

“When children and youth thrive, we all benefit from a well-educated work force, safer communities, and a more prosperous economic future,” stated Tom Vitaglione, Senior Fellow at NC Child and Child and Family Day speaker. “As legislators finalize the state budget in the coming days and weeks, it’s critical that they prioritize the well-being of children and youth at every step along the way.”

Constituents and volunteers visited every legislator’s office with a handout (attached) that outlines three simple principles for putting children first:

1. Ensure the health and safety of all children;
2. Invest in the future; and,
3. Strengthen and modernize critical infrastructure.

Prior to visiting legislative offices, a diverse line-up of speakers drilled home the importance of investing in North Carolina’s children and families.

Deputy Dallas Pastirik of the Harnett County Sheriff’s department described how our communities benefit from investments in children: “One the most important long-term investments we can make for public safety and healthy communities is in our state’s children and families,” stated Deputy Pastirik. “Quality education and safe environments help build a strong foundation for successful, contributing members of our communities.”

Sheila Arias, a mother of two children with disabilities, described how important the state’s Early Intervention program has been for her daughter: “My daughter, Jaslene, has a few developmental disabilities: she has only one ear and she has ADHD and sensory process integration disorder. As a result, she has problems with motor skills, behavior, anxiety, staying on task, and other issues.

“Jaslene has been receiving occupational therapy for almost three years. This therapy has helped her with recognizing and controlling her body. As a result of the speech therapy she is receiving, she can now speak much more clearly and has learned to recognize and define different sounds. Her body and brain are coordinating better and better every day.”

Angela Vargas, a recent graduate of Heritage High School, told a personal story to illustrate the importance of raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction: “My skipping class could have easily escalated to something more serious. Had I not had the support to do better, I could have easily done something that was prosecuted as a crime. If that had happened and I had been processed as an adult, I would have to carry these consequences the rest of my life.”

Erin Blagrove, a ten-year-old rising sixth grader, summed up her concerns about education concisely: “Even though I am young I know how important education is and I think the Legislature should address this by giving more money to education.”

In addition to the serious messages delivered by Child and Family Day speakers, two local arts organizations, Arts Together and Artspace, offered participants fun, engaging visual art activities. Arts Together worked with children to create a “Faces of North Carolina’s Children” self-portrait collage and Artspace began a large loom weaving with participation from children and families.

Child and Family Day was cosponsored by the following organizations: NC Child, Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!), Strong Able Youth Speaking Out (SaySo), NC Child Care Coalition, Smart Start, NC Moms Rising, and Jack and Jill of America.

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