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Sign The Pledge, Shape The Strategy

The Movement is coming together to call on the country to establish and implement a comprehensive set of actions and policies (a national strategy) to ensure that all of our children are given an equal opportunity to develop—socially, emotionally and cognitively—in healthy, nurturing homes, schools, neighborhoods and communities.  This begins with Americans everywhere joining together to demand a national strategy.  Join the Movement by signing the National Children’s Pledge and help us develop a comprehensive national strategy.

The National Children's Pledge

The United States has a long and deep history of declaring our belief in the moral and socioeconomic importance of the family and the necessity to raise healthy children.  Yet too often our policies, systems and actions are not designed or executed in a manner that measurably and comprehensively supports the healthy development of each and every child, regardless of race, wealth, health, religion or geography.

 Whereas, the United States has a long and deep history of declaring our collective belief in the critical importance of the family and the necessity of raising healthy children.

Whereas, it has been repeatedly shown that more than 9 out of 10 Americans acknowledge the existence of child abuse and neglect and the importance of the United States addressing the issue.

Whereas, the United States currently has no nationwide plan or strategy on ensuring the healthy development of every American child and many institutions of government, civil society and business do not have specific plans or programs to prevent child abuse and neglect from ever occurring.

Whereas, adverse childhood experiences are proven to increase the likelihood of high risk behaviors, chronic health problems, premature mortality, lost education capacity, lost productivity, mental illness, violent crime, substance abuse and addiction, and the furtherance of abuse and neglect.1

Whereas, adverse childhood experiences undermine the cornerstones of our nation to be as competitive as possible in the global economy, to maintain the most qualified and strongest possible military and to fundamentally be as safe and prosperous as we want America to be.2

Whereas, our country's failure to prevent child abuse and neglect costs the United States an estimated $104 billion per year.3

Whereas, the prevention field has advanced such that we now understand the nature of child abuse and neglect, the risk factors that contribute to its occurrence and the protective factors that can prevent it from ever occurring.

Therefore, it should be known that we, the undersigned, hereby call upon government, business, faith-based organizations, communities, systems and all individual Americans to:

  • Recommit to helping meet the needs of all American children in a manner that offers them the opportunity to realize their fullest potential;  
  • Re-prioritize the healthy development of all American children by supporting their healthy development, regardless of race, wealth, health, religion or geography. 
  • Contribute to the development and implementation of a National Strategy for America’s Children, to guide our country’s implementation of policies and actions that will measurably deliver for the development of every American child through and beyond the 21st Century.

Signed,

Article 1: The President of the United States

The President of the United States should demonstrate an integrated, holistic and measurable commitment to each and every child in America, by implementing the following actions:

  1. Prioritize and communicate a shared national vision for children that demonstrates a concrete inter-agency commitment to every child in America, regardless of race, wealth, health, religion or geography;
  2. Identify a cabinet-level advocate for children to guide furtherance of the National Vision and Strategy and holds all government agencies accountable to the wellbeing of America's children;
  3. Integrate the work of all cabinet departments into an actionable national plan that focuses on the wellbeing of children and builds on the work already begun within the White House;
  4. Establish a mechanism within the Office of Management and Budget to measure the effectiveness and share of government spending on services directed to America's children;
  5. Establish a consistent process for states to draw down federal funds placing a premium on initiatives and services that prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring in the first place;
  6. Require on-going quality assurance processes for federal funds to emphasize continuous improvements and to integrate strategies and activities that prevent trauma such as child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, substance abuse and homelessness from occurring.

Article 2: The Congress of the United States

The United States Congress should demonstrate an integrated, holistic and measurable commitment to each and every child in America, by implementing the following actions:

  1. Enact fiscal policies that support the shared National Vision and Strategy for children that provide incentives to states to develop primary prevention-related strategies and services;
  2. Enact legislation ensuring that each and every child has access to quality services to meet their basic developmental needs, including: health care; child care; education; nutrition; and safe housing;
  3. Implement a process for considering the impact legislation has on children prior to enactment.

Article 3: State Governors

State Governors should demonstrate an integrated, holistic and measurable commitment to each and every child in America, by implementing the following actions:

  1. Establish a cabinet level advocate for children that guides the furtherance of the Shared National Vision and Strategy in that state;
  2. Integrate the work of all state agencies into an actionable plan that focuses on the wellbeing of children;
  3. Develop a public policy agenda that promotes services that prevent abuse and neglect from occurring in the first place;
  4. Establish a mechanism to measure the effectiveness of state spending on children's services that prevent abuse from ever occurring;
  5. Provide funding incentives for community prevention services that have a body of evidence to support their effectiveness.

Article 4: State Legislatures

State Legislatures should demonstrate an integrated, holistic and measurable commitment to each and every child in America, by implementing the following actions:

  1. Establish or maintain the necessary funding for statewide prevention services that prevent abuse and neglect from ever occurring;
  2. Establish bi-partisan and bi-cameral children's caucuses to focus on inter-disciplinary strategies and services that prevent abuse and neglect from ever occurring;
  3. Enact legislation ensuring that each and every child has access to quality services to meet their basic developmental needs, including health care, child care, education, nutrition and safe housing;
  4. Implement a process for considering the impact legislation has on children prior to enactment;
  5. Promote and encourage inter-disciplinary analysis and consultation on the importance of healthy child development on the economy of the state;
  6. Enact fiscal policies that support and promote state strategies to compliment the National Vision and Strategy.

Article 5: Local Communities

Local communities should demonstrate an integrated, holistic and measurable commitment to each and every child in America, by implementing the following actions:

  1. Establish a public-private multi-disciplinary community team focused on the prevention of child abuse and neglect;
  2. Develop a community plan for the prevention of child abuse and neglect;
  3. Establish a clear vision for the local development planning commission to consider how to develop neighborhoods that decrease social isolation and increase the sense of community;
  4. Engage neighborhoods to promote community activities and events that emphasize the role each member of the community plays in the healthy development of children;
  5. Recognize community leaders, volunteers and services that promote healthy child and youth development.

Article 6: The Business Sector

Businesses should demonstrate an integrated, holistic and measurable commitment to each and every child in America, by implementing the following actions:

  1. Develop specific company policies that promote worker productivity and provide adequate work time flexibility for employees to meet the obligations of parenting and/or supporting the children in their life and community;
  2. Design corporate responsibility strategies that encourage employees to participate in workplace giving and or community volunteerism and corporate support for strategies that further the shared national vision for children and families;
  3. Develop access to safe common areas of the workplace that can be used for family-related activities;
  4. Establish opportunities at the workplace, for dialogue, training and learning communities to be developed that offer parent information and support;
  5. Incorporate healthy child development information into the company newsletter and with paycheck distribution.

Article 7: Communities of Faith

Communities and organizations of faith should demonstrate an integrated, holistic and measurable commitment to each and every child in America, by implementing the following actions:

  1. Produce a statement reflecting its doctrinal, traditional, and policy position on the rights of children to grow and develop in healthy environments;
  2. Develop a statement for its own members stating its expectations for protecting children;
  3. Develop a process within their own congregations to help prevent child abuse and neglect before it ever happens;
  4. Provide information, education, and training on prevention of child abuse and neglect to their faith leaders and members;
  5. Form a national coalition with broad interfaith representation to determine how faith-based organizations can best work together to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Article 8: Individuals

Individuals should demonstrate an integrated, holistic and measurable commitment to each and every child in America, by implementing the following actions:

  1. Learn more about the importance of healthy child development to the success and stability of the community and country;
  2. Mobilize others to increase their understanding of the importance of healthy child development to the community and country;
  3. Seek opportunities to contribute to a healthy, safe and nurturing environment for every child in their community by helping to implement child-focused or child and family-friendly institutions, businesses and local programs;
  4. Take the time to mentor and support children in their local community, thereby supporting their healthy development and potentially helping to identify and address risk factors for traumatic or adverse experiences;
  5. Take the time to help a friend, relative or neighbor in stress to reduce the likelihood of adverse childhood experiences;
  6. Advocate for federal, state and local policies that contribute to supporting all children, in alignment with the priorities within this National Strategy;
  7. Volunteer and donate to organizations that prioritize healthy childhood development and the prevention of abuse or neglect.

Endorsements

We, the undersigned, fully endorse this National Movement for America's Children and call upon all representative parties identified in Articles 1 through 8 to convene and collaborate on the completion of a comprehensive, integrated strategy for the wellbeing and healthy development of every American child.

We, the undersigned, will do everything appropriate and ethical within our power to see the actions herein immediately realized and implemented to better ensure that every child born in America has an opportunity for the healthiest possible growth and development.

1 Felitti V, Anda R, Nordenberg D, Williamson D, Spitz A, Edwards V, et al. Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 1998;14(4):245-58. Corso, Phaedra (2010). Dollars and Lives: The Economic s of Healthy Children. [LINK].

2 Mission: Readiness (2009). Ready, Willing, and Unable to Serve http://cdn.missionreadiness.org/MR-Ready-Willing-Unable.pdf.

3 Wang, CT, & Holton, J (2007). Total estimated cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States. Chicago, IL: Prevent Child Abuse America. http://www.preventchildabuse.org/about_us/media_releases/pcaa_pew_economic_impact_study_final.pdf