Building a stronger America by ensuring that children become successful adults
The issues Council for a Strong America (CSA) addresses are long-term challenges requiring a long-term view and commitment to keep pushing for policy change that might require years to fully accomplish. If we are to have a strong workforce, a strong military, and safer communities, we all need to work together to build an environment that allows children to thrive and become productive members of American society. To this end, CSA has ongoing work on several key issues, including:
Home Visiting: With leadership from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, CSA was able to initiate some of the first federal funding for home visiting programs, in the early 2000’s. This later became the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV) and CSA has been instrumental in ensuring the regular funding of this initiative. With Congressional visits and a coordinated earned media campaign by members of Ready Nation, Mission Readiness, and Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, CSA helped drive reauthorization in 2022 which will double the funding for this critical program over the next three years.
Child Care Funding: The lack of quality child care has a huge, negative economic impact on our country, totaling $122 billion each year, for infants and toddlers alone (see our report). CSA has worked over the past decade to push for increases in funding for the primary federal child care legislation, the Child Care and Development Block Grants.
Similarly, CSA’s staff work side-by-side with partner organizations to advocate for policies and programs at the state level that support children and families. CSA has offices in nine states and works with 10-12 other states annually to promote evidence-based solutions to ensure that the next generation of Americans will be prepared for successful lives..
MOST RECENT ACTIVITY: COUNCIL FOR A STRONG AMERICA BY THE NUMBERS IN 2022
Throughout 2022, Council for a Strong America (CSA) continued doing the work needed to connect the economic vitality, safety, and security of our nation to substantial and sustained public investments in America’s children and their families. CSA elevated the importance and the need for investments in home visiting, child care, and pre-K at the federal and state levels. We helped achieve bipartisan victories on these issues in difficult ideological times. As a result of these efforts, CSA helped secure $2.94 billion in state funding for young children and their families in our targeted states.
Approximately 8,000 members in 2022
- Over 3,000 member activations whereby our members interacted with state and federal policymakers through Zoom and in-person meetings, sign-on letters, appropriation requests, emails, phone calls, public statements, and legislative testimony
- 59 research reports, covering topics such as early care and education, home visiting, early childhood mental health, and nutrition
- 24 report release events (virtual and in-person)
- 148 op/eds and letters to the editor, reaching an audience of 5.9M
- 784 total media hits, reaching an audience of nearly 82M
- 20 states, including 9 state offices, where our members advocated for policy change.
Mission: Readiness member Rear Admiral (Ret.) Frank Ponds, U.S. Navy, was selected to serve on an esteemed task force to help inform the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health on ways to improve our nation’s food system to end hunger, improve nutrition, and reduce diet-related chronic diseases. The task force includes well-respected experts in the nutrition and health fields, including Chef José Andrés, Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, and CSA Senior Policy Council member Senator Bill Frist.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois members held a powerful press event when three state’s attorneys, DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin, Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley, and Rock Island State’s Attorney Dora Villarreal, urged state decision-makers to dedicate settlement funding from lawsuits against opioid distributors and manufacturers to home-visiting and early intervention programs that help reduce future opioid use. This event was covered about 100 times across radio, TV, and print media.
On the steps of the Texas State Capitol in August, CSA members released a new Texas report, Child Care Providers: The Workforce Behind the Workforce in Texas with child care providers and partners. The press conference generated significant media hits, including features on nine local news stations and a live, in-studio, extended interview with CSA CEO Barry Ford.
ReadyNation member Maxine Clark and American Academy of Pediatrics President Moira Szilagyi published a June 14th op-ed in The Hill on the importance of investing in early childhood, including renewing the Child Tax Credit.
In Wisconsin, members of Mission: Readiness and Fight Crime: Invest in Kids highlighted the unique early childhood challenges facing families in rural communities. Four law enforcement leaders and three retired military leaders visited Pulaski’s Precious Cargo home-based child care center on Dec. 13 and Highland’s Alphabet Academy on Dec. 14. At the events, the leaders emphasized evidence-based arguments for early childhood funding and released a new report on rural early childhood program access. Also in attendance in Highland was State Senator Howard Marklein, the co-chair of the Joint Committee on Finance, who represents a vast area of Southwest Wisconsin.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members from across the country released a new national brief, Preschool Key to Boosting School Success and Enhancing Public Safety, which showed that, if Congress passed proposed legislation to expand pre-K, this expansion would return an estimated $3 for every dollar spent, thanks to reduced criminal justice expenses and other savings. The brief included a breakdown of the return on investment for each state. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members released the brief during a virtual event that included Navajo County, Arizona Sheriff David Clouse, Petersburg, Virginia Sheriff Vanessa Crawford, and Lewis and Clark County, Montana Sheriff Leo Dutton. Congressional staff, early childhood advocates and law enforcement leaders attended the event.
- 55 staff, in Washington, DC, and nine state offices across the U.S.
- $9.1 million operating budget
- More than 50 funders, including foundations, corporations, and individuals