Looking back at the end of the year, it can be tempting to focus on the bad news headlines: no state budget after months of stalemate, continued attacks from Washington on the programs that families rely on like the Affordable Care Act and nutrition programs, children’s health insurance rates tracking downward again, and the list goes on.
These are not easy times if you’re a family working hard just to get by. Rough waters make me especially grateful for advocates like you who speak up for kids and families day after day, and who support NC Child to keep that voice for kids strong.
Despite an incredibly challenging climate, there have been some really important policy victories for kids in 2019. They happened because child advocates always show up and speak up, even when the odds are stacked against us.
Here are five policy victories from 2019 that we’re incredibly proud of:
Clean Water in Child Care: New rules passed by the Commission for Public Health will ensure that drinking water in NC licensed child care centers is free from hazardous lead.
Funding to implement Raise the Age: The Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee’s funding recommendations were partially included in a ‘mini-budget’ (HB 1001) passed by the General Assembly in 2019. HB1001 includes about half of what the JJAC recommended for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. Most stakeholders, including the Department of Public Safety, believe the current budget for Raise the Age implementation is workable at this level.
School health: Another ‘mini-budget’ increased funding for school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses by $20 million. These funds are critical to support kids’ physical and behavioral health.
Keeping Families Together: Governor Cooper vetoed dangerous legislation requiring sheriffs to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). NC Child opposed HB 370 because it would have led to more traumatic and unnecessary family separations in our state, and even more pressure on an over-burdened foster care system.
Preventing Tooth Decay: We helped hundreds of people make their voices heard at the Dental Board on outdated regulations known as the ”Prior Exam Rule.” If this rule is waived in dental shortage areas as proposed, thousands of children, mostly in rural communities, could get access to preventive care for tooth decay – many for the first time in their lives.
Whatever the political climate, you know that when children thrive, we all benefit. NC Child will continue to fight for North Carolina’s kids and their families. Children who grow up in nurturing homes and communities with access to high-quality health care and education grow up to become successful, self-supporting adults.
We couldn’t do this work without you. Thank you for your commitment to creating a better future for children in North Carolina!
Michelle Hughes is NC Child’s executive director
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