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Home > Advocacy > President Elect Barack Obama Stances on Child Welfare

 
 

President Elect Barack Obama's Stances on Child Welfare

CWLA Congratulates President Elect Barack Obama and Vice President Elect Joe Biden

Leading Child Advocacy Group Urges Next President to Convene a 2010 White House Conference on Children and Youth

For more information, contact
Linda Spears
E-mail: lspears@cwla.org

November 5, 2008, Arlington, VA -- CWLA, the nation's oldest and largest membership based child advocacy organization, is delighted to congratulate and welcome President-elect Barack Obama in his new role and position as the 44th President of the United States.

"Today's historic presidential election promises to bring change and a new beginning to the nation's children and families, particularly those in the child welfare system," said CWLA President and CEO, Christine James Brown. "President Obama exudes the type of leadership, dedication and commitment necessary to address the needs of neglected and abused children in this nation. We look forward to working with his administration and pushing forward on legislation paramount to the well-being of children, beginning with a 2010 White House Conference on Children and Youth".

CWLA recognizes that many challenges lay ahead for the new administration. With a declining economy hanging in the balance; wars in both, Iraq and Afghanistan, our newly elected President will need the support and sound advice of advocacy leaders and state legislators ready to join in and help bring about change for children and families.

"We are excited about the new hope and promise of this new president," said John Sciamanna, Co-Director of Government Affairs for CWLA. "We look forward to constructing policies and budget priorities that will make children a national priority".

President-elect Obama made 'the future we seek for our children' an important component of his presidential campaign. As Senator, President-elect Obama is one of 69 members of Congress, more than 600 national organizations and over 700 individuals that have united to urge the convening of a 2010 White House Conference on Children and Youth.

No such conference has been held since 1970, making it almost 40 years without the White House bringing the focus of the nation to examine the state of our children.

View more specifics on the 2010 White House Conference on Children and Youth.

To schedule an interview with CWLA Spokesperson Linda Spears, email the press office at jjohnson@cwla.org.

The information below has been taken verbatim from President Elect Obama's website, statements, and press releases. All information is direct quotes from his their materials. We specifically looked for information on child abuse, foster care, adoptions, youth at risk, home visiting, and broadly defined child care (child care, Head Start and Pre-K).

President Elect Barack Obama's Stance on Child Welfare

Child Abuse

Reduce Domestic Violence: One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Obama will protect women and children from domestic violence. He introduced legislation to combat domestic violence by providing $25 million a year for partnerships between domestic violence prevention organizations and fatherhood or marriage programs to train staff in domestic violence services, provide services to families affected by domestic violence, and to develop best practices in domestic violence prevention.

-- From BARACK OBAMA: A CHAMPION FOR CHILDREN

Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect: There are nearly three million annual reports of child abuse and neglect. The tragedy of child abuse claims thousands of innocent lives each year, while ruining millions more. Moreover, it has been estimated that the direct cost to taxpayers of child protection and foster care is $20 billion, while another $100 billion is spent on issues related to child abuse, including crime, prisons, mental health, special education, medical care, and drug abuse. Obama is committed to preventing child abuse and supports proven and effective means to combat the tragedy of child abuse.

--From BARACK OBAMA: A CHAMPION FOR CHILDREN

Register and Restrict Sex Offenders: Barack Obama helped create a national sex offender database through his cosponsorship of Dru's Law. The law was incorporated into the larger Adam Walsh Child Protection Act, a measure Obama also supported. Obama also cosponsored the Sex Offender registration and Notification Act. The bill is set to bring stiffer penalties to bear against those who commit sex crimes against children under the age of 12. It also creates an online National Sex Offender Public Registry and gives grants to local law enforcement agencies for prevention and investigation. Obama supports the KIDSA Act, which requires sex offenders to provide their Internet identifies (email addresses, instant messaging tags, etc.) for use in the National Sex Offender Public Registry

-- From BARACK OBAMA: A CHAMPION FOR CHILDREN

Protecting Meth's Youngest Victims: Children living in or visiting methamphetamine labs not only face great physical danger from chemical contamination and fire and explosion, but they are at a heightened risk for abuse, neglect, and continued social and developmental problems. Obama cosponsored legislation providing assistance to the children of methamphetamine abusers in the U.S. Senate, and he will continue to support meth's youngest victims as president.

-- From BARACK OBAMA: A CHAMPION FOR CHILDREN

Foster Care

The foster care system is failing children who need help the most. Obama recognizes that part of the solution is to increase the quantity of foster homes improve training for foster parents and increase coordination between law enforcement and child welfare officials so that abuse can be stopped. Young adults graduating from foster care often have a rough time living independently. One study found that within two to four years only 54% had completed high school, less than half had jobs and 25% had experienced homelessness. Obama will invest in innovative new job training and workforce development programs that will provided those in foster care with the skills necessary to compete in the modern American workforce.

-- From BARACK OBAMA: A CHAMPION FOR CHILDREN

Home Visiting (including Nurse Family Practitioner)

Barack Obama would expand the highly programs like the successful Nurse-Family Partnership to all low-income, first-time mothers. The Nurse-Family Partnership provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families. The trained nurses use proven methods to help improve the mental and physical health of the family by providing counseling on substance abuse, creating and achieving personal goals, and effective methods of nurturing children. Proven benefits of these types of programs include improved women's prenatal health, a reduction in childhood injuries, fewer unintended pregnancies, increased father involvement and women's employment, reduced use of welfare and food stamps, and increased children's school readiness. Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis concluded that these programs produced an average of five dollars in savings for every dollar invested and produced more than $28,000 in net savings for every high-risk family enrolled in the program. The Obama plan would assist approximately 570,000 first-time mothers each year.

-- From FAMILY

At Risk Youth

Reduce the High School Dropout Rate

Only 70 percent of U.S. high school students graduate with a diploma. African American and Latino students are significantly less likely to graduate than white students. Today, dropouts are twice as likely to be unemployed, and for those who work, pay is low, advancement limited and health insurance less available

Success in the Middle: The dropout problem begins well before high school. The middle grades (grades 5, 6, 7, 8) are a crucial, but often overlooked, segment of the educational pipeline. Middle school students must gain skills in reading, mathematics, and other subjects to be successful in the rigorous high school coursework that follows. Early indicators can reveal students that need the most help. Sixth-grade students who do not attend school regularly, who undergo frequent disciplinary actions, or who fail mathematics or English have only a 10 percent chance of graduating high school on time. The eight-grade gap in NAEP mathematics scores between white and Hispanic students was as wide in 2007 in 1990. Without effective interventions and supports, at-risk sixth-grade students are at risk of becoming tenth-grade dropouts. As president, Barack Obama will address these risks at the appropriate time, rather than waiting for ninth-grade to start taking action. In the U.S. Senate, Obama has introduced the "Success in the Middle Act," which will provide federal support to improve the education of middle grades students in low-performing schools by:
  • Requiring states to develop a detailed plan to improve middle-school student achievement.

  • Developing and utilizing early identification data systems to identify those students most at-risk of dropping out.

  • Investing in proven strategies such as: (1) providing professional development and coaching to school leaders, teachers and other school personnel in addressing the needs of diverse learners and in using challenging and relevant research-based best practices and curriculum; and (2) developing and implementing comprehensive, school-wide improvement efforts and implementing student supports such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction and extended learning time that enables all students to stay on the path to graduation.
-- From BARACK OBAMA'S PLAN FOR LIFETIME SUCCESS THROUGH EDUCATION

Help Youth Connect with Growing Job Sectors

Barack Obama and Joe Biden will create the 5-E (Energy Efficiency, Environmental Education and Employment) Disconnected Youth Service Corps. This program would directly engage disconnected and disadvantaged youth in energy efficiency and environmental service opportunities to strengthen their communities while also providing them with practical skills and experience in important career fields of expected high-growth employment. The program would engage private sector employers and unions to provide apprenticeship opportunities. The program also encourages summer high school students to stay in school, and provides GED help and other wrap-around social services for drop-outs.

- From BARACK OBAMA AND JOE BIDEN'S PLAN TO FIGHT POVERTY IN AMERICA

Strengthen Fatherhood and Families

Since 1960, the number of American children without fathers in their lives has quadrupled, from 6 million to more than 24 million. Children without fathers in their lives are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. Obama has re-introduced the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act to remove some of the government penalties on married families, crack down on men avoiding child support payments, ensure that support payments go to families instead of state bureaucracies, fund support services for fathers and their families, and support domestic violence prevention efforts. As president, Obama will sign this bill into law and continue to implement innovative measures to strengthen families.

--From BARACK OBAMA: A CHAMPION FOR CHILDREN

Child Care

Affordable, High-Quality Child Care: Obama will also provide affordable and high-quality child care to ease the burden on working families.

Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Obama will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.

Expand Summer Learning Opportunities: Obama's "STEP UP" plan addresses the achievement gap by supporting summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged children through partnerships between local schools and community organizations.

-- From EDUCATION

Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Obama will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve a million more children. Obama will include measures to maximize performance and effectiveness across grantees nationwide.

-- From ECONOMY

Expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit provides too little relief to families that struggle to afford child care expenses. Obama will reform the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit by making it refundable and allowing low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for their child care expenses.

-- From ECONOMY

Increase funding for the child care development block grant program: The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program provides critical support to low-income families to pay for child care. However, the Bush administration has funded this program at a constant level, while costs per child have increased. As a result, 150,000 fewer children receive CCDBG assistance today than at the beginning of the Bush Administration. If these misguided priorities continue, 300,000 children are expected to lose federal CCDBG by 2010. Barack Obama will reverse this policy and ensure that CCDBG remains adequately funded every year.

-- From BARACK OBAMA'S PLAN FOR LIFETIME SUCCESS THROUGH EDUCATION

Improve Child Care Quality: Since his days as an Illinois legislator, Barack Obama has been a champion of improving the quality of child care services. The Obama administration will encourage states to use their CCDBG quality set-aside funding and other federal supports to develop strategic plans that better coordinate all state birth-to-five services. This measure will help ensure that state and local programs act in an efficient manner to provide all children with the early learning resources they need for a lifetime of success. Obama will also double the resources for quality within the CCDBG quality set-aside funding and other federal supports to develop strategic plans that better coordinate all state birth-to-five services. This measure will help ensure that state and local programs act in an efficient manner to provide all children with the early learning resources they need for a lifetime of success. Obama will also double the resources for quality within CCDBG to support efforts such as developing quality rating systems for child care that reflect higher standards and supports for teacher training and professional development. Other examples of quality enhancements include improving student/teacher ratios, providing family support in child care settings and increasing professional development and teacher training.

-- From BARACK OBAMA'S PLAN FOR LIFETIME SUCCESS THROUGH EDUCATION

Head Start

Expand Early Head Start:

Barack Obama will quadruple the number of infants and toddlers participating in Early Head Start. Early Head Start (EHS) is the nation's primary early education program for children from birth to age three. It is known for its comprehensive vision of care for low-income children and its high standards of quality services. EHS is designed to foster the child's social, emotional, cognitive and physical development while supporting the important role of parents and caregivers in early learning. EHS enables communities to design flexible programs through a variety of service delivery options including home-based services, but requires that programs adhere to research-based standards and principles to best support children and families.

-- From BARACK OBAMA'S PLAN FOR LIFETIME SUCCESS THROUGH EDUCATION

Pre-K

Encourage all states to adopt voluntary, universal pre-school-Total enrollment in state-funded pre-K by four year olds rose by 40 percent over the past five years. Yet state pre-K remains solely a program for four-year-olds in most states with a very small number of children served at younger ages. Barack Obama will provide funding to states to accelerate the trend toward voluntary, universal pre-school for all. States may use Early Learning Challenge Grants to fund high-quality preschool programs that seek to enroll every four-year-old or every three-and four-year-old. The Early Learning Challenge Grants will provide states with the flexibility to adopt sliding-scale systems, targets and other measures designed to give children in greatest need priority.

-- From BARACK OBAMA'S PLAN FOR LIFETIME SUCCESS THROUGH EDUCATION

Education

Early Childhood Education Zero to Five Plan: The Obama-Biden comprehensive "Zero to Five" plan will provide critical support to young children and their parents. Unlike other early childhood education plans, the Obama-Biden plan places key emphasis at early care and education for infants, which is essential for children to be ready to enter kindergarten. Obama and Biden will create Early Learning Challenge Grants to promote state "zero to five" efforts and help states move toward voluntary, universal pre-school.

- From EDUCATION

Early Intervention for Children with Disabilities: Children's ability to succeed in school relies on the foundation they build in their first three years. Pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds is important, but it is not enough to ensure children arrive at school ready to learn. This is particularly so for children with disabilities and/or special health care needs, who already face challenges in the early years that can set them behind their peers before they ever enter school. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will invest $10 billion per year in early intervention educational and developmental programs for children between zero and five. Their plan will help expand Early Head Start to serve more children with disabilities, and will spur states, through programs like Early Learning Challenge Grants, to expand programs for children with disabilities, such as IDEA Part C, and integrate these programs with other early childhood programs.

- From BARACK OBAMA AND JOE BIDEN'S PLAN TO EMPOWER AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES

Support Universal Screening: Roughly 90 percent of infants in the United States are screened for various potentially disabling or life-threatening conditions, but fewer than half the states screen all infants for the American College of Medical Genetics' full recommended panel of 29 disorders. Many of these conditions, if caught early, can be treated before they result in permanent impairments or even death. And parents are often unaware that the tests are available. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that we should ensure that all states have comprehensive newborn screening programs. In addition, they support setting a national goal to provide re-screening for all two-year-olds - the age at which some conditions, including autism spectrum disorders, begin to appear. Part of Obama's early childhood intervention plan will be directed at coordinating fragmented community programs to help provide parents with information about screening for disabilities as infants and again as two-year olds. Achieving universal screening is essential so that disabilities can be identified early enough to help children and families get the special supports and resources they need.

- From BARACK OBAMA AND JOE BIDEN'S PLAN TO EMPOWER AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES

Improving Mental Health Care: Mental illness affects approximately one in five American families. Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home with record levels of combat stress. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that untreated mental illnesses cost the U.S. more than $100 billion per year. Barack Obama is a supporter of the bipartisan Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007, and, as a state senator, Obama helped pass a mental health parity bill that requires coverage for serious mental illnesses to be provided on the same terms and conditions as are applicable to other illnesses and diseases. As president, Obama will support mental health parity so that coverage for serious mental illnesses is provided on the same terms and conditions as other illnesses and diseases. For veterans, Obama will improve mental health care at every stage of military service-recruitment, deployment, and reentry into civilian life.

- From BARACK OBAMA AND JOE BIDEN'S PLAN TO EMPOWER AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES

Support Parents with Young Children: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will expand programs like the successful Nurse-Family Partnership to all low-income, first-time mothers. The Nurse-Family Partnership provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families. Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis concluded that these programs produced an average of five dollars in savings for every dollar invested and produced more than $28,000 in net savings for every high-risk family enrolled in the program. The Obama-Biden plan would assist approximately 570,000 first-time mothers each year.

-From FAMILY

Establish 'Promise Neighborhoods' for Areas of Concentrated Poverty: Successful strategies to address concentrated, intergenerational poverty are comprehensive in nature and address the full range of obstacles that stand in the way of poor children. One highly-acclaimed model is the Harlem Children's Zone in New York City, which provides a full network of services to an entire neighborhood from birth to college.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden will create 20 Promise Neighborhoods in cities that have high levels of poverty and crime and low levels of student academic achievement. The Promise Neighborhoods will model the Harlem Children's Zone and seek to engage all resident children and their parents into an achievement program based on tangible goals, including college for every participating student, strong physical and mental health outcomes for children as well as retention of meaningful employment and parenting schools for parents. Promise Neighborhood sites will be selected by the federal government after review of applications from cities and their existing non-profit organizations and school districts. Cities and private entities will be required to pay 50 percent of the program costs.

- From BARACK OBAMA AND JOE BIDEN'S PLAN TO FIGHT POVERTY IN AMERICA


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