Whoever wins, we keep putting kids first

By: Michelle Hughes | November 2020

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Last night a grueling General Election season, held during a global pandemic, finally came to a closeWe may not know the outcomes of many races for some time. But regardless of who wins which races, we all have so much to be proud of right now. Record numbers of people voted in this election. Volunteers and precinct officials worked tirelessly for weeks to ensure that we could all go to the polls safely. Our team at NC Child – and many of you – spent months on “get out the vote” efforts, encouraging every eligible mom, dad, auntie, uncle, and grandparent to vote like our children’s futures depend on it.

We don’t stop now.

Making our voices heard for kids is our reason for getting up in the morning, every day – not just on election day. No matter who wins, no matter who is in office or who is out, our duty as parents, caregivers, and advocates is to defend our democracy, and to speak out for kids and families. When we work together to advocate for kids, amazing things can happen – even in these incredibly uncertain times.

Good public policy is key for children’s success.

Here’s an important example of what’s at stake for kids, well beyond election dayTogether we have spent years fighting for children to have the health insurance coverage that they need. Many of you have worked with us over decades on vital programs like Medicaid, CHIP, NC Health Choice, and the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act alone cut the number of uninsured children in our state by half. Together, we have helped ensure that nearly all of the more than 2 million children in our state have the health coverage they need to stay well, and to succeed in school and in life. These gains are hard-fought, and while imperfect, these policies are absolutely worth fighting for.

Our recent blogs on rising uninsurance among our state’s children, and threats to the Affordable Care Act, drive home just how important it is that we keep working together so that every child can get the care they need, when they need it. Especially now as children under six and children from Latinx families are losing their coverage at alarming rates.

Just last week we celebrated Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week by launching a new website, Lead Free NC. This powerful new resource is the culmination of years of work by NC Child and our partners. It’s also a vital step towards our ultimate goal of ending childhood lead poisoning in North Carolina once and for all. Every child in North Carolina benefits from a safe, healthy environment, but Black and Latinx children are most likely to be exposed to hazardous levels of lead. Getting the lead out of our homes, child care centers, and communities benefits every one of usThis work would not be possible if we did not come together with partners all over the state to demand environmental justice and work for it.

This work is vital because every child deserves the opportunity to thrive. Our future depends on the collective well-being of all our children.

The race continues. 

Today, as we recover from election night, it’s okay to take a breather. It’s not just candidates who have been running as fast as they can the last eight months. The election may be over, but the Iron Man race continues for the rest of us, as we cope with the continued impacts of the pandemic, the recession, and the ugly political rhetoric we have come to accept as “discourse.” I hope you are able to take a break today. Turn off the news. Smile at someone you love. Take a walk.

Tomorrow, we get up again to advocate for kids. The race can’t stop while there are so many of us who are struggling harder than ever just to get by, and Congress is stalling on COVID relief. It can’t stop while kids are trying to navigate learning in COVID times, without their friends to make it fun. Now more than ever, children and families need to be part of a strong advocacy community that puts their voices first. Together, we are those families, and we are that advocacy community.

We made our voices heard at the ballot boxWhatever the outcome, it’s critical that we don’t stop speaking up for kids now.