We’re collecting donations for the families affected by the Fairmount neighborhood house fire. Give here.

The American Experience – Oct 8, 2021


The American Experience  

Monday’s federal holiday, whether you mark it as Indigenous Peoples’ Day or not, is a day to reflect on immigration. For some, it’s a day of mourning as newcomers invaded native lands. For others, it celebrates the American narrative of brave immigrants finding their way in a new country.

For Children First, Monday’s holiday is about children.

Admittedly, America’s notion that we are a country built entirely on voluntary immigration is inaccurate. Native tribes already lived here; African slaves were forced upon our shores; and indentured servitude was prevalent. Over time, though, people flocked to this country to pursue what would become known as the American Dream. 

And they are still coming to find their American dream. From Haitians living under bridges in Texas to Afghan allies fleeing Taliban retaliation, America continues to be a beacon for many wanting opportunity for themselves and their families. While the debate rages about how to manage immigration, there are two things we can all agree on: 1) we can do it better and 2) all children must be cared for.

Thousands of children in Pennsylvania cannot access health insurance because of their immigration status, which limits how often they get medical care. These children are not getting regular care like annual checkups and regular trips to the dentist. Eye exams are tough too, one of the reasons 700 children and youth are signed up for free vision screenings at Give Kids Sight Day tomorrow. Minor ailments and infections turn into emergencies all because these kids are denied public health insurance. 

As a nation built on immigration, this doesn’t make sense.

When Pennsylvania stepped up and created the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), we proudly promised to “cover every kid.” This bold move inspired the national CHIP program and now millions of children are living healthier lives. The disclaimer of “cover every kid except kids who, by no fault of their own, don’t have proper paperwork” contradicts the spirit of the CHIP.

From a public health perspective, it just doesn’t make sense to prevent these kids from getting coverage. But there is a moral obligation as well that we, a nation of immigrants, are refusing to offer basic health care to immigrant children. 

When you look back on America’s history on Monday, take a moment and think about the present too. Our country’s immigration story continues, and we have an opportunity to write happy and healthy chapters for thousands of children.  

Nominate a young leader for a new Children First leadership program, Justice in Education. This unique program will engage a new cohort of rising stars to solve a real-world problem – state education funding.

Sixty-five percent of the 140,000+ U.S. children experiencing COVID-associated orphanhood or death of their primary caregiver are of racial and ethnic minority. #tragic 
Read more here.

Diverse child care providers must be at the table for conversations about program quality and other issues. Children First is convening a Racial Equity Early Childhood Provider Council in southeastern PA. Add your voice – click here to learn how. 
“For low-income, working families…a Commonwealth Earned Income Tax Credit will provide much needed assistance with affording child care, food, transportation, clothes and other household expenses.”

– state Representative Martina White (R-Philadelphia)