The outcome of this year’s elections mean that we’ll have many new faces in the NC General Assembly when the state legislature reconvenes in January. We are incredibly excited to work with our state legislators on a bold vision for the well-being of our kids – one that’s driven both by the evidence and data about what policies make the biggest difference, and also by the voices of the families and children most directly impacted.
We’re already talking to state legislators and preparing for the 2023 legislative session – and I hope you are too! While there is an incredibly long list of things our kids and families need to thrive, we know that we’ll make the biggest difference when we tighten our focus to where we know we can make the biggest impact.
After an intentional process of talking with our partners around the state, and especially with families, these are the biggest issues that will be rising to the top of NC Child’s legislative agenda in 2023:
Health care for every parent and caregiver
Currently more than 1 in 10 adults in North Carolina is uninsured – and at least 125,000 of them are parents with children at home. Over the last several years, NC Child has pursued the expansion of Medicaid in order to ensure that every parent and caregiver in our state can get the health care they need. Kids do better when the adults in their lives can care for themselves and their families. We are committed to making sure families have the health care they need.
Early education and care
Every family in every corner of North Carolina deserves the chance to choose early childhood education that will give their children a strong start for happy, healthy lives and greater school success. Stronger investments in child care and early education will support families, strengthen our state’s workforce, and give more kids a strong start. We’ll focus on three fundamentals: affordability, access, and a strong early childhood workforce, as we advocate with partners for increased investments in early education and care.
Responding to the youth mental health crisis
It’s not news to anyone that there is a growing child and youth mental health crisis in North Carolina and across the country. Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a National Emergency in Child and Adolescent Mental Health. In 2020 an unprecedented 56 children died by suicide in North Carolina, according to the latest data from the Child Fatality Task Force. We need to meet kids where they are – and they are at school every day. That means one important solution is putting more funding into school nurses and social workers, and other trained adults who know how to help kids in crisis.
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like support, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. The Lifeline provides free and confidential support 24/7.
Eliminating barriers to healthy school meals
From 2020-22, federal funding allowed our public schools to provide every student with nutritious breakfast and lunch at no cost to families – and with no paperwork or income test to qualify. When those dollars disappeared at the start of the 2022-23 school year, student meal debt started piling up quickly in many districts. We are working with partners to secure funding for school meals for all so that every child in every public school in North Carolina has access to breakfast and lunch at no cost to their families.
We’ll be sharing more about each of these issues as we prepare for legislative session in January – so stay tuned!
Working together for kids
Together with the thousands of parents, direct service organizations, health care professionals, youth leaders, and faith groups across the state who make up the Child Advocacy Network, we speak with a powerful, informed, and unified voice for North Carolina children. We’re excited to work with each of you in the year ahead to achieve these important goals.
Are you part of the Child Advocacy Network? If not, sign up now to stay connected to what’s happening for kids at the NC General Assembly, and how you can make your voice heard.