Protecting Children During Pandemic Times

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On July 21 and 22, people of faith from across our nation will gather for a virtual CDF Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry. Our theme is Re-Imagining Our Future: Children, Justice, and Joy. Registration is free and open to all and more important than ever because of the extraordinary struggles our nation is facing. At this moment it has never been clearer that unwavering faith and an unceasing commitment to building a beloved community and a just nation are urgently needed. This year’s Proctor will feature an extraordinary array of prophetic leaders, theological leaders, and presenters. On July 19, 20, and 23, extra sessions specifically designed for seminarians and students will be available and open to everyone. Our virtual Proctor will also feature focused calls to advocacy action to lift up children’s needs, get out the vote, and encourage elected officials to act on CDFs policy agenda that could not be more timely or important.

COVID-19 poses an unprecedented public health, economic, and unemployment crisis across our nation magnifying the impact of systemic racism, poverty, economic disparities and economic injustice based on race and gender. The needs of our nation’s most vulnerable children—children of color, immigrant children, poor children and children in the child welfare system—must remain the top priority.

Thanks to the leadership of our great Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, an expansive plan that builds on the groundwork laid by previous coronavirus relief packages to ease the damaging health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaker Pelosi is the right woman in the right place at the right time. She has long been a champion of children’s and families’ needs and has helped lead the charge to provide relief during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to take up the House bill, noting he was hitting “pause” on additional COVID-19 legislation until at least July. His inaction is nothing new. He has neglected the great needs of tens of thousands of people in his state while in Congress and voted against the interests of the most vulnerable of his Kentucky constituents. Under Speaker Pelosi’s leadership, the House of Representatives has passed and sent to the Senate at least 23 bills (many of which are reflected in CDF Action Council’s recent Legislative Report Card) that if enacted would improve the odds for America’s children left behind.  Majority Leader McConnell has refused to bring even one to the floor for consideration. The House proposals range from the much needed HEROES Act to address the ongoing pandemic to housing assistance for youth aging out of foster care, veteran families, and children in low-opportunity neighborhoods; strengthening the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA); the American Dream and Promise Act; and a bipartisan firearms background check bill that would take a critical step forward to help address America’s deadly romance with guns.

The White House and Senate GOP leadership have claimed their next COVID-19 relief package would be about “bringing back jobs and making sure we take care of our kids.” Let’s hold Republican leaders accountable for ensuring any next COVID relief package includes significant action to protect our children.

The House bill included much of what our children and families need to weather this unprecedented crisis. At the same time, many additional provisions are needed to fully meet the needs of all our nation’s children and families, especially the most vulnerable. Majority Leader McConnell should immediately move forward additional COVID-19 legislation next week that includes critical provisions for children and families. Research shows that the investment Congress has already made to date to support children and families is working, but it must be sustained and broadened to prevent our unacceptable poverty rate from growing even larger and to make sure we Leave No Child Behind.

This crisis has upended every aspect of all of our lives. Millions of children have lost the stability that all children depend on. This has meant disruption of important daily routines with beloved caretakers or teachers and classmates. For millions, it’s meant the loss of regular instruction in school—increasing the risk of children falling behind. Families and parents who have lost jobs need more help immediately.

There are two things you can do right now to help. Please join CDF’s Proctor Institute July 19-23 for Re-Imagining Our Future: Children, Justice, and Joy. And please make it your top priority to hold your congressional leaders accountable for ensuring no child is left behind and that babies and children take precedence over wealthy individuals and corporations.