PUTTING KIDS’ ISSUES AT THE TOP OF THE AGENDA
Election day is 11 days away and voters across southeastern PA have lots of choices at the voting booth, especially in suburban school board races. The Children First Action Fund sent questionnaires to every school board candidate in Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery, and Chester counties – find out what your candidates think before you vote.
In Philadelphia, the race to watch is the mayoral race. During the ONLY debate between the general election candidates for Philadelphia’s next mayor, neither candidate laid out a plan to target the range of issues that are undermining the future of Philly’s children and teens.
It’s good then that the Kids’ Campaign released a comprehensive set of memos to the next mayor offering concrete strategies that can be implemented in the first 365 days.
The Kids’ Campaign is the first of its kind in Philadelphia – a nonpartisan coalition of 100+ groups that is not backing a candidate and that defines the election solely on the safety of children and youth. Throughout the election year, the Kids’ Campaign has successfully engaged with candidates and voters on the challenges facing children and teens in the city.
More than 100 experts assembled to produce detailed recommendations that can improve safety, boost the quality of life, and stimulate greater access to educational and economic opportunities to meet the needs of the 322,000 children and youth being raised in the city. You can hear from some of these experts who spoke at the public release of the plan on Monday.
To improve community safety, the experts of the Kids Campaign recommend that the next mayor adopt the following policies:
- Support the Philadelphia police to be laser-focused on tackling gun violence by expanding school and community-based diversion strategies for youth who commit minor infractions.
- Embrace a public health strategy in the fight against gun violence by making annual mental health screening and access to quality mental wellness services available to all youth to interrupt the cycle of violence.
- Give parents and communities the tools to heal youth who make mistakes by supporting community-based programs that give parents tools and resources to encourage positive youth behavior.
- Deliver quality early developmental support by expanding the Philly Pre-K program and reforming the city’s early intervention programs that serve children under five years-old, so they have the solid developmental foundation needed to avoid the school-to-prison pipeline.
- Engage teens so they are part of the solution by supporting innovative youth development programs that help youth heal from the trauma that pervades their lives while also increasing access to jobs and career exploration.
- Decrease recidivism by prioritizing and improving the educational options for youth involved with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
The Kids’ Campaign experts also assembled best practices from across the city and the country so that the next mayor can hit the ground running to ensure ready access to youth mental health services in a financially responsible manner, engage youth in robust out-of-school time activities that invigorate learning year-round, and reform the dependency and delinquency systems so that fewer youth are entangled in those systems and, for those who do, exit quickly.
Election Day is less than two weeks away, but the Kids’ Campaign work will continue long after the ballots are counted. If you want to be a part of this forward-thinking, collaborative, nonpartisan effort, contact Symbol Lai at email@example.com.