By Michelle Hughes
Do you have your work plan ready for 2020? NC Child does, and I wanted to share it with you right away – because we can’t get any of this done without you.
NC Child strives every day to be the Voice for North Carolina’s Children, and nowhere is that more apparent than at the state legislature. The North Carolina General Assembly will be in Raleigh for at least two legislative sessions this year. The first is a “special session” on January 14 that could last as little as a few days, and is supposed to be focused on health care and the state budget. Then they will return in May for the regular “short session” that normally wraps up by July (so that legislators can hit the campaign trail for November’s elections).
With such a compressed timeline, we’ll be focused on a short list of high-priority items from our legislative agenda:
- First, we will never stop advocating for health care until every child, parent, and caregiver in North Carolina has affordable, quality coverage. We believe that expanding Medicaid is our state’s best shot at closing the “coverage gap” and getting affordable coverage to half a million hard-working low-income families in our state.
- Second, as we experience the highest youth suicide rates in our state’s history, the NC General Assembly is overdue to enact legislation to ensure schools have the training and resources to prevent youth suicide. We will be calling on legislators to get this done during the special session.
- Finally, we’ve recently had great news that Congress has increased funding for early childhood programs to our state. We’ll be pushing to ensure that our state legislators use this money wisely, and match it with new investments in our youngest citizens.
The most visible event this year will almost certainly be the 2020 presidential election, but the hundreds of state and local races in North Carolina are just as important for kids – if not more so. This year our Community Engagement team will be working with local child advocates across the state. We will be supporting your efforts to make sure that the families you serve and advocate with are registered to vote, and make their voices heard on election day.
2020 is an incredibly important year for children and families because of the decennial census on April 1. More than $16 billion in funding to critical state and local programs depends on a complete and accurate count. NC Child is focused on making sure every child counts in the 2020 Census. The undercount of young children in 2010 resulted in a decade of significantly reduced funding and congressional representation for North Carolina. We are using grassroots organizing and communications strategies to keep that from happening here again in 2020.
More support for the Child Advocacy Network
The Child Advocacy Network is only as strong as each of its members, and we are excited to be offering more ways to build that strength in 2020. Look for more opportunities for no-cost training, professional development, and partnerships this year. Do you have an idea for a training that would help your organization? Let us know.
2020 Kids event
This March, NC Child will bring together hundreds of advocates from across the state for a one-day policy summit. We hope you’ll save the date and plan to join us for 2020 Kids: Building Racial Equity in Child Advocacy. The event will happen March 30 in Raleigh at the McKimmon Center. Registration will open next week – we hope you can join us.
Thank you for speaking up for North Carolina’s children and families. We are honored to do this work alongside you.
Michelle Hughes is NC Child’s executive director.
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