For Philly to Do More, Kids Need More – Apr 5, 2024



Parents wept for Philly’s kids who are enduring these turbulent times while visiting City Hall last week.

Mixed with the sadness was a righteous anger that Philadelphia’s new leadership needs to step it up when it comes to our children and teens.

“The number of victims of childhood violence in the city should be zero,” said Philly grandmother Geanna Williams-Davis as she fought back tears. “There are too many of our babies dying.”

Dozens of parents and advocates like Geanna presented city council members with a profile of the children and teens living in their councilmanic district and citywide.  

The vital statistics of Philadelphia children are alarming:

  • Only 34% of students passed the English and Languages Arts PSSA.
  • Only 19% passed the Math PSSA.
  • Only 42% of kids were enrolled in high-quality pre-k.
  • Only 28% of teens held jobs.
  • 243 kids 18 and younger were victims of gun violence; 31 of them died.

Adding salt to the wound is that a third of kids are living in poverty, and almost every child doesn’t have safe places to play and too few out-of- school time (OST) activities. At school, they endure a constant churn of teachers and support staff – nearly 300 SDP teacher and support staff vacancies – making it hard to feel grounded and stay focused.

It’s tough out there but with parents leading the fight for their children’s lives, Children First has the solutions for Mayor Parker and Philadelphia City Council. 

Mayor Parker’s inaugural budget included many initiatives to make Philly greener and cleaner, which definitely will improve the quality of life for the 342,000+ children and teens. But she didn’t propose expanding the number of free pre-k seats (PHLpreK) or funds to expand after-school or summer programs to keep children engaged and safe. 

The Mayor started to fulfill her budget promise of increasing funds for the school district, asking for a 1% increase in the share of property taxes going to the district. But on the campaign trail, candidate Parker proposed a bigger shift of the share from 55% to 58%, which would generate an additional $100 million in recurring funds. We are fighting hard to secure those resources for the public school children of Philadelphia.

Only weeks after Parker’s budget address, parents and advocates joined us to walk the halls of City Hall with the unequivocal message of deliver more for children and teens:

  • A three-point increase in the share of local property taxes going to the school district this year. 
  • 250 more PHLpreK seats. 
  • Save the 8,000 current OST and summer opportunities for kids and teens that are losing federal funding.
  • $8.8 million to support neighborhood rec centers.
  • $4 million for juvenile diversion programs, which the city will recoup because it’s cheaper and more productive than sending kids to jail.  

Join the push for a better future for Philly’s children and teens. Contact Symbol Lai at to be a part of this powerful parent-driven effort.

Let’s cross the finish line for school funding! 

We’re teaming up with our PA Schools Work coalition to launch virtual phone banks this spring. Add your name to the list of phone bank volunteers and we’ll be in touch. Together we’ll build a groundswell of support for our children’s education.

The Commonwealth Foundation is lauching a six-figure advertising campaign – billboards and radio and newspaper ads – supporting “scholarships” that would actually give your tax dollars to parents who send their kids to private school.

It’s time to celebrate the people who are making Pennsylvania a better place for children and teens.

You’re invited to the Celebration of the 2024 Champions for Children event for food, networking, entertainment, and a chance to recognize Vanguard and other champions!

Get your tickets or become a valued sponsor!

“Pennsylvania has a demographic crisis – it’s
an aging population and we’re losing young
people. They’re graduating college and going
somewhere else. They’re taking jobs in New
Jersey instead of Pennsylvania and we have
to review in the entire Commonwealth how
our policies attract these the people and
keep them in Pennsylvania.”
State Rep. Joe Hogan (R-Bucks) on his
support of paid family leave