“When we invest in our children, we are investing in our own future”

Parents, child advocates and direct service providers gathered today to encourage North Carolina’s elected officials to Step Up and Act for Children by investing in children’s health and early education. The event, which included performances by the Hunter Elementary School 5th grade advanced orchestra and show choir, was one of many Step Up events to be held across the country this week. The event, organized by Action for Children North Carolina, a statewide, nonpartisan child advocate group, featured speakers on child health and early education.DSC_0248

“Pediatricians in N.C. want all children to be insured and all children to have access to health care and a medical home,” said Dr. Marian Earls, President of the N.C. Pediatric Society. “The American Academy of Pediatricians has five clear priorities: health coverage for all children, regardless of income; comprehensive, age-appropriate benefits for children; medical homes for all children; access to pediatricians and pediatric specialists; and adequate payment for services so that children aren’t left out. All children should be included in health care reform, and I encourage all of you to let your legislators know that is something you want, too.”

 “North Carolina was one of only five states in the country that actually lost dollars in early education this year,” said Stephanie Fanjul, President of the North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (Smart Start). “30 states, in spite of the terrible economic situation, protected or expanded their investment in their kids. Our prosperity depends on how well we invest in our young children.”

 “I think it’s our duty to provide the necessities to our young people to divert them from poverty, drugs, gangs, and crime,” said Worth Hill, Sheriff of Durham County. “43% of young people aged 15-24 in the south are considered ‘disconnected.’ We need supporting programs, like early education and Boys and Girls clubs. I know budgets are tight, the economy’s in bad shape, but do we want to pay that money up front or pay a whole lot more money at the end? I encourage all of you to lobby your legislators and Congressmen to not forget our young people.”

DSC_0245Felicia Willems, a mother and volunteer advocate for children with Triangle MomsRising, told a personal health care story. “I had to quit my job to care for our newborn son, who was born with a vascular tumor and required surgery and chemotherapy,” Willems said. “We lost our health insurance. Fortunately, Ethan qualified for Medicaid, due to our new financial situation, and without this government-run health insurance program, he most likely would have lost his leg and possibly his life.”

“What happened to us could happen to anyone,” Willems added. “It is happening right now to people all across America. The bottom line is, because there was a public health insurance option available to our son, he’s still alive today. Access to health insurance should be available to everyone, regardless of age, income or employment status. No parent should have to choose between caring for their child or keeping their home. America is better than this. We need to understand that a country with healthy citizens will in turn become a healthy nation.”

According to the national child advocacy group Every Child Matters, in North Carolina:

  • 446,000 children live in poverty (19.4%)
  • 216,000 have no health insurance (9.3%)
  • 25,976 are confirmed victims of abuse and neglect
  • 137,000 of three-and four-year-olds are not in a preschool, nursery school, or pre-kindergarten program (55%)
  • 36% of fourth-graders read below Basic Reading Levels

“There is a lot of debate going on right now about how best to invest our resources,” said Barb Bradley, President & CEO of Action for Children N.C. “Ensuring that our children are covered with high quality health insurance, have access to doctors for preventive care and when they need medical attention, and receive high quality early education is critical for growing our economy in the longer term. When we invest in our children, we are investing in our own future.”

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Filed under budget, Early Childhood, Legislative and Governmental, Uncategorized

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