National Summit on America’s Children
When I was sworn in as Speaker, I did so surrounded by children, because they must be the center of our work here. But it is time to update our policies, recognizing the connections between neurons and neighborhoods and that children who grow up healthy and happy become contributing citizens as adults.
Our job is to take the critical science we will be presented with today from the halls of academia to the homes of America’s families. We must match every aspect of our current policies on early learning, health and mental health, and family and income support against the wealth of information produced by our leading scientists and scholars.
Great strides have been made in understanding how children’s brains are shaped and developed, how positive behaviors can be encouraged, and how investments in early childhood create success in later years. We must ensure that our policies match the latest research and that families are given what they need to take advantage of these scientific advances
Democrats will set a new direction for the next generation by prioritizing legislative initiatives that strengthen the future of America’s children. They include: reauthorizing Head Start, with a focus on Early Head Start for children three and under—Head Start has helped ensure some of our most vulnerable children become successful adults for more than 42 years, and Early Head Start is doing the same for infants and toddlers; improving early childhood workforce quality through the Higher Education reauthorization act; expanding SCHIP–9 million children in America have no health insurance, even when we know that healthy kids do better in school and are better prepared for a bright future; and making housing affordable for families, because a good start in life begins with a place to call home.
For too long, America’s children have come in last in the competition for government investments. For too long, we have allowed outdated ways of thinking to determine our policies regarding our children. And for too long, there has been not enough political will to make children our number one priority in our work here in Congress.
I pledge to you today that those days are over. We take seriously our responsibility to America’s future–our children. As the brilliant author and activist Pearl S. Buck said: ‘If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all.’ We must commit to ensuring our children are given the tools they need to succeed.#