By Michelle Hughes
March 18, 2020
As this global public health crisis unfold in North Carolina, there are many things we do not yet understand. But it is already abundantly clear that children and their families are deeply impacted, and we are just at the beginning of what looks like a long haul.
Whatever our political affiliation or ideology, this is the time to come together to “flatten the curve” and save lives. Just as much, we need to ensure that the most vulnerable children and their families – those without health insurance, without paid sick days, those losing hours at work or losing their jobs entirely – get emergency assistance as soon as possible.
Our Congressional and legislative leaders need to act right now to prevent the loss of life, to protect children, and to provide emergency support to working families who are caught in the middle of global pandemic and a rapidly cascading economic fallout.
The NC Child advocacy team is pivoting to focus on the immediate needs of children and families in this crisis, and how we can meet those needs through sound public policy actions. While the situation is changing rapidly, our commitment to ensuring every child is healthy, safe, educated and living in a financially secure family and community stands firm.
Here are some of the actions we are taking to meet our promise to North Carolina’s children:
- We are doing all we can personally to stop the spread of the virus by working remotely and moving our organizing work and meetings online. This includes the 2020 Kids summit on March 30th. If you have registered for 2020 Kids, check your inbox for important updates. [UPDATE: 2020 Kids has been postponed – we will announce a new date as soon as we can].
- Together with many partners, we are pushing hard for policy changes that will help families right now. This includes the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which will provide families with paid sick days, paid family leave, emergency food assistance, and strengthened benefits for SNAP and WIC. [Update: The bill passed on March 18 – read our summary here. Thank you for calling your Senators!]
- The US Census is underway, but efforts to reach “hard to count” communities will be severely hampered by COVID-19. It is essential that each of us use our networks to get the word out that every child must be counted. Nowhere is this more important than in the low-income communities where parents of young children are stretched to their limits right now. This crisis is testing every weakness in our social fabric. An accurate census count is essential to strengthening that fabric in the decade to come. Here’s an easy action: Share our Census video on your social media networks right now.
- We are assessing children’s needs across multiple policy areas: health care, financial security, early education, foster care, immigrant health, and juvenile justice. We will continue to analyze and keep you updated on actions that federal and state governments have already taken in response to COVID-19, and to determine gaps where action is still needed. We will be sharing that information and reaching out for your input in our biweekly emails and regular meetings.
- To that end, NC Child is launching our Friday legislative updates a few weeks early in order to get you the latest on Coronavirus response. Join us for updates on what state and federal officials are doing to help your community. Friday, March 20, 11:00 am (and weekly thereafter). Email email@example.com to RSVP and get the videoconference link.
We work best when we work together. NC Child’s ability to be a powerful advocate for kids is made possible by you – our state allies, local networks of advocates and providers, philanthropic partners, and elected officials. We are so grateful for all you are doing. We will be walking right beside you in the weeks and months ahead to do right by our kids and families. Never hesitate to reach out to me or any of our team in the days ahead if you need help or support. We are in this together.
Michelle Hughes, MSW, is NC Child’s Executive Director.