3 Things the 115th Congress Can Do to Strengthen America’s Families
Supporting early education, strong families, and healthy children through early childhood programs leads to citizen readiness
As we embark on a new year and a new administration, it’s a good time to focus on our hopes and goals for 2017 and the 115th Congress. This fall, well before the election, we released the Citizen Readiness Index, which gives a state-by-state analysis based on how many young adults in each state are what we called “citizen-ready”—prepared to enter the workforce, had crime-free backgrounds, and were eligible to join the military if they so chose. The report found that a majority of young people were not citizen-ready, thus leaving America unprepared and vulnerable now—and in the future.
At Council for a Strong America, we believe that focusing on early childhood education is the key to preventing most of the pitfalls faced by our young people today. And a pitfall today can mean the inability to lead a productive life in the future—all at the expense of our nation’s strength and well being. For example, we know that early education has been proven to reduce crime, and even to produce healthier children. We also know that those children then go on to be productive citizens.
So, in 2017, Council for a Strong America is supporting the policies that promote early education, strong families, and healthy children. That way, we make our communities, our economy, and national security stronger.
Our top 3 goals for the 115th Congress in 2017 for kids & families
Early Education: By preparing children for success in school, high-quality early education improves future qualification for the workforce and military service while reducing crime. In 2017, Congress should prioritize targeted, high-quality early education and care, including by providing needed support for both Head Start and the Preschool Development Grant program. Congress should also work with the Administration to increase access to high-quality child care, particularly for children from low-income families.
Strong Families: To improve young adults’ workforce productivity and reduce their involvement in crime, Congress should support voluntary home-visiting programs by reauthorizing the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. Parent coaching for young new parents has been proven to reduce child abuse by nearly half. These interventions result in better preparedness for early learning and preschool for the children.
Healthy Children: Congress should also support the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which currently provides access to health care for 8.4 million children from working families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but do not earn enough to purchase private insurance. In order to be ready for school, children must be healthy. By providing access to screening for lead exposure, CHIP may even help reduce crime, due to the link between child lead poisoning and future criminal activity.