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Any policies that affect children should base their foundations on the best interests of the child.
Blueprint Shows How 116th Congress Can Act on the Best Interests of Children (more…)
First Focus Campaign for Children released its 2017 Champions Scorecard. In an attempt to recognize the lawmakers in the First Session of the 115th Congress who are actively working and trying to improve the lives of our nation’s children through public policy change, to improve the lives of our nation’s children through the policy process, we are pleased to present awards to 120 legislators who have made children a priority.
The 2017 Champions for Children Scorecard includes key votes on health-related bills and amendments to tax legislation, including two House votes on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, two Senate votes on child tax credit amendments, and four votes between the two chambers on the Affordable Care Act. Learn more and view the report at www.championsforchildren2017.com.
Thank legislators who put the needs of children over politics, and share this scorecard resource by using our social media kit.
July 19, 2018, Washington, D.C.—In a year marked by partisanship, several Members of Congress stood out as Champions and Defenders of children, according to the 2017 Legislative Scorecard released by First Focus Campaign for Children (FFCC), a national bipartisan children’s advocacy group.
“Even though child advocates had to defend a whole range of legislative and regulatory attacks on children, we identified 120 Members of Congress who chose to make children a priority. We commend their leadership and hope they will inspire their colleagues to do the same,” said Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children.
Of note is that, in the 115th Congress, women are 2.6 times more likely to be named a champion or defender of children than men.
The 2017 Champions for Children Scorecard includes key votes on health-related bills and amendments to tax legislation, including two House votes on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, two Senate votes on child tax credit amendments, and four votes between the two chambers on the Affordable Care Act.
For instance, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in December 2017 (P.L. 115-97) will increase the deficit by approximately $1.5 trillion, which the next generation will pay off well into the future. The deficit will also trigger cuts to numerous programs vital to children, including Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) offered an amendment to further expand the CTC by increasing its refundability (make it refundable against payroll taxes), which would have benefitted lower income families. Sadly, despite 68 senators voting for it, the amendment did not pass as senators failed to overcome opposition from Senate leadership and the Trump Administration.
In July 2017, the Senate voted down the “Health Care Freedom Act” (H.R. 1628), which would have resulted in an estimated 16 million Americans losing health coverage and a 20 percent increase in insurance premiums. The First Focus Campaign for Children strongly opposed the bill, and we thank all the members of the Senate who voted against it, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and John McCain (R-AZ).
Out of 90 bills that FFCC is tracking, The Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2017 (S.1630/H.R.3381), would mandate that the federal government create a plan to cut the number of children in poverty by half in ten years and to eliminate child poverty in twenty years. That legislation was sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), who accumulated the most points in the Senate and House for their votes and work on legislation for children.
This is First Focus Campaign for Children’s eighth annual class of Champions and Defenders for Children.
Champions for Children
- Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
- Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
- Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
- Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA)
- Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
- Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
- Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
- Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
- Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
- Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
- Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
- Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)
- Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
- Rep. Lou Correa(D-CA)
- Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)
- Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)
- Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA)
- Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO)
- Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
- Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA)
- Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI)
- Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
- Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)
- Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL)
- Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
- Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
- Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI)
- Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
- Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA)
- Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
- Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)
- Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)
- Rep. James McGovern (D-MA)
- Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)
- Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL)
- Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)
- Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)
- Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
- Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
- Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
- Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL)
- Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
- Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL)
- Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)
Defenders of Children
- Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
- Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
- Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
- Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
- Sen. Angus King (I-ME)
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
- Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
- Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
- Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA)
- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
- Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
- Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
- Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
- Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)
- Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI)
- Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
- Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)
- Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
- Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA)
- Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA)
- Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)
- Rep. André Carson (D-IN)
- Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO)
- Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)
- Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA)
- Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL)
- Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA)
- Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY)
- Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA)
- Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
- Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL)
- Rep. Gene Green (D-TX)
- Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
- Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX)
- Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
- Rep. John Katko (R-NY)
- Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA)
- Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI)
- Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ)
- Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI)
- Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI)
- Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL)
- Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
- Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY)
- Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA)
- Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
- Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
- Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA)
- Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL)
- Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA)
- Rep. José Serrano (D-NY)
- Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL)
- Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)
- Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH)
- Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA)
- Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH)
- Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)
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The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are the priority in federal policy and budget decisions.
Our nation’s children face an array of problems, including poverty, violence, abuse, neglect, hunger, poor nutrition, education inequity, homelessness, lack of health coverage, infant and child mortality, and family separations in mixed-status households. These obstacles demand attention, policy solutions, political will, and action that to make children a priority.
Unfortunately, kids are far too often an afterthought in Congress. The problem is that children can’t vote and don’t have Political Action Committees (PACs) that garner and demand attention.
Children need Champions and Defenders, who are willing to focus on, support, raise their voices, and attach their name to legislation that would improve the lives of our nation’s children and actively oppose legislation that would harm kids.
In an attempt to recognize the lawmakers in the First Session of the 115th Congress who are actively working and trying to improve the lives of our nation’s children through public policy change, to improve the lives of our nation’s children through the policy process, we are pleased to present our Champions and Defenders for Children Scorecard.
See also the previous award recipients:
The Family First Prevention Services Act was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018. This act reforms the federal child welfare financing streams, Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, to provide services to families who are at risk of entering the child welfare system. The bill aims to prevent children from entering foster care by allowing federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home parenting skill training. It also seeks to improve the well-being of children already in foster by incentivizing states to reduce placement of children in congregate care.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 7, 2017
(Washington, D.C.) – In response to the release of the American Health Care Act by Republican leadership in the House of Representatives last evening, a bill that would repeal major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and impose a per capita cap on the Medicaid program, First Focus Campaign for Children (FFCC) releases the following statement by President Bruce Lesley:
The American Health Care Act would, as currently written, be a major step backwards for our nation’s children. The uninsured rate for children reached a record low of 4.8 percent in 2015 and has dropped by 68 percent since passage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program two decades ago. As a nation, we have made enormous progress in terms of ensuring our nation’s children have health insurance coverage. Now is not the time to reverse this progress; the American Health Care Act would seriously threaten the health and well-being of millions of children.
First and foremost, FFCC strongly opposes the provisions in the bill that impose a per capita cap upon the Medicaid program, which currently provides coverage to an estimated 35 million low-income children in this country. Per capita caps are nothing more than arbitrary limits imposed upon states by the federal government that, by definition, shortchange states for the costs associated with care for children with special health care needs, such as children with cancer, spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, asthma, and sickle cell anemia, or other higher-cost populations such as newborns and children in foster care. It is the care to these vulnerable groups of children that could be threatened and rationed by the federal imposition of a per capita cap on states.
In fact, since the entire purpose of a per capita cap is to cut federal support to Medicaid, states may be forced to either finance any shortfall themselves or implement various forms of rationing, such as making cuts in coverage, benefits, and payment rates to provides, shifting more costs to low-income families, or limiting access to care for children, pregnant women, adults, people with disabilities, and senior citizens. This could be an outright disaster for millions of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
Although the American Health Care Act retains the provision in the ACA that allows children to stay on their parents’ health care to age 26, which we support, it phases out parallel language that allows children in foster care to retain their Medicaid coverage to age 26 through presumptive eligibility. Children aging out of foster care are some of our nation’s most vulnerable young adults with health care needs associated with their childhood trauma that threaten their well-being. Now is not the time to impose greater administrative burdens and delays on their health coverage, while also underfinancing the care of all children in–and who have aged out of–foster care through the Medicaid per capita cap.
These provisions also violate a campaign promise by President Donald Trump to not cut the Medicaid program and to ensure that no one would lose health coverage under the bill.
As for the changes made by repealing the tax subsidies in the ACA and replacing them with a different set of tax credits in the individual market, FFCC is concerned that such changes may leave children with special health care needs particularly vulnerable. Unfortunately, the legislation currently does not include a much-needed score by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) along with an analysis of how the bill might impact existing coverage.
Congress should commit to “do no harm” to the health insurance coverage upon which our nation’s children rely. Since this bill threatens to do real harm to Medicaid coverage that an estimated 35 million count on for their care, we urge Congress to return to the drawing board, schedule congressional hearings to discuss and receiving input on health care reform proposals, allow Members of Congress and the public ample time to read and study the legislation, and wait until the CBO does its job in providing a score and analysis of how the bill would impact coverage rates and our nation’s health care system. Children deserve better than to have adults in Congress threaten their health coverage.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: FEBRUARY 8, 2017
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Amid sweeping changes by the incoming Trump Administration, First Focus Campaign for Children has issued its policy recommendations with a clear “do no harm” standard toward policies that impact America’s children during the first 100 days of the new presidency.
These child-focused recommendations come in light of President Donald Trump’s inauguration speech in which he acknowledged the universality of the rights of all children, saying: “And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams and they are infused with the breath of life by the same Almighty Creator.”
Top recommendations from First Focus policy experts include:
- Improving the health of children by funding the CHIP program, reducing asthma triggers, and protecting against lead poisoning;
- Applying a “do no harm” standard for any repeal-and-replace measures of the Affordable Care Act;
- Ending child poverty by strengthening family tax credits and setting a national Child Poverty Target;
- Ensuring immigration policies protect child safety and well-being by protecting DACA and providing increased support to unaccompanied minors;
- Reauthorizing the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childcare Home Visiting (MIECHV) program to ensure the best start in life for young children; and
- Focusing on child abuse and neglect response efforts to support children in foster care and end human trafficking.
In a statement First Focus Campaign for Children President and CEO Bruce Lesley said, “The recommendations we are putting forth are bold. We will not shy away from issues that impact every citizen – including the 16 million children that will be born in this country be born over the next four years. Those children deserve to be met with and be assured of a bright future.”
Read the entire list of child policy recommendations at CampaignForChildren.org.
The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions
First Focus Campaign for Children is a bipartisan nonprofit children’s advocacy organization that advocates directly to ensure that children and families are a priority in federal budget and policy decisions.
As such, the following are child- and family-focused policy recommendations that the President can follow to create a future that our children need and deserve.
Our recommendations are broken into seven broad categories:
- ensuring a safe and healthy future;
- supporting families with children;
- ending food insecurity and promoting child nutrition;
- providing children with an early, solid foundation;
- helping every student succeed,
- focusing child abuse and neglect response efforts on child well- being; and
- promoting child and family values.
Within each category is a list of goals, and actions the new Administration can take to reach those goals, all of which will improve the lives of our children.
To truly make America great, we must invest in our nation’s future – our children. First Focus Campaign for Children looks forward to working together towards creating a future that all children – and our nation – deserve.
Download the 100 Days Recommendations here.
By Molly McCluskey
WASHINGTON — Candidate Donald Trump offered little insight into his prospective policies surrounding youth and families, and President-Elect Trump has not provided any more clarity. Many youth advocacy groups say their approach to the beginning of the new administration is a sort of cautious optimism.
Their top priorities for the first 100 days are strengthening tax credits for families, increasing access to affordable child care, making more housing more affordable, investing in mentoring and after-school programs, and ensuring that youth employment is included in plans to increase jobs nationwide.