June 8, 2010
Washington D.C. - Today, at the commencement of a series of hearings focused on the state of children in America, Senate Children and Families Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT) called for the creation of a National Commission on Children, a new federal effort to address the challenges facing our nation’s children.
The Commission on Children would act as a report card, annually assessing the status of America’s children and providing recommendations for how to best improve child well-being. Further, it would serve as a forum on behalf of children and ensure that the needs of the next generation remain a top priority at the federal level.
At the hearing, Chairman Dodd and Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Robert Casey (D-PA) cited a number of negative trends for children as grounds for creating the Commission, including results from the 2010 Child Well-Being Index, released earlier today by the Foundation for Child Development. The Child Well-Being Index, which assess annually how the well-being of America’s children has improved or deteriorated over time, shows that the number of American children living in poverty will climb to 22 percent this year.
“It is unacceptable that one in five American children is living in poverty, 30 percent of students fail to graduate from high school, and 8 million children lack health insurance. A coordinated, national action plan to improve child well-being is necessary to raise the visibility of children in federal policy, solidify our commitment to the nation’s future, and ensure that we can meet the needs of the next generation,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. “We commend Senator Dodd for his efforts to draw attention to the state of America’s children by holding these hearings and calling for the creation of a National Commission on Children.”
In her testimony at today’s hearing, America’s Promise Alliance Board Chair Alma Powell voiced her support for adopting a new National Commission on Children by pointing to a report issued by a former Commission on Children in 1991. The issuance of the report led to the enactment of the Child Tax Credit, improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit, and creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, among other significant policy advances for children.
As Powell testified, “The creation of a permanent commission tasked with annually assessing the status of children will ensure continuous, measurable benefits for our nation’s most precious resource.”