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Making Children a National Political Priority
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August 13, 2014 

They Are Children

From a piece by Bruce Lesley for The Huffington Post.

Children are "fleeing for their lives," according to journalist Sonia Navario, who has investigated the root causes, circumstances, and plight of vulnerable migrants who have been traveling -- often by themselves at enormous risk -- to the United States and other countries throughout the Americas from the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

In the case of Cristian, an 11 year-old boy from Honduras that Navario interviewed in Honduras, his father was murdered in March by gangs, he witnessed the murder of three people who defied the narco-cartels that control much of the countryside, and a girl his age "resisted being robbed of $5. She was clubbed over the head and dragged off by two men who cut a hole in her throat, stuffed her panties in it, and left her body in a ravine across the street from Cristian's house."

In the case of Andrea, she was 13 years old when she was raped and forced into prostitution by the drug cartels in Honduras. Two years later, she managed to escape and fled to the United States for the United States two years and is now seeking humanitarian relief.

Cristian and Andrea are just two of the thousands of children in Central America who are fleeing their Central American homes and neighborhoods from such extreme violence. In fact, Honduras' homicide rate of 90.4 per 100,000 is the highest in the world - by a wide margin. The prevalence of drug cartels and gang violence and penetration in the country puts its murder rate at almost double the next most dangerous countries in the world, which include Guatemala and El Salvador.

In response, some of our political leaders have said they simply cannot imagine sending their children on an extremely dangerous journey to the United States and question the choices these families and children are making to come here.

But, that is precisely the point. Politicians cannot imagine it because these children are fleeing violence, rape, and fear that are unfathomable to us. These children are not leaving their home countries to make a perilous journey across hostile territory to the United States simply in search of a better job. They are children. And, as Sonia Navario says, many of them are "fleeing for their lives."

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August 11, 2014 

CECANF meeting in Michigan on August 28

Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities to Hold Public Meeting Near Detroit, Michigan

The Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF), a federal advisory committee established by the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012 (P. L. 112-275), will hold an open meeting on Thursday, August 28, 2014, in Plymouth, Michigan.

Meeting time: Thursday, August 28, 2014, from 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. EDT.

Location: The Inn at St. John’s, Grande Ballroom, 44045 Five Mile Road, Plymouth, Michigan 48170.

Attendance: Individuals interested in attending the meeting in person or via teleconference must register in advance due to limited space (see link below). The meeting site is accessible to individuals with disabilities. Members of the public will not have the opportunity to ask questions or otherwise participate in the meeting, either on the phone or in person.

To attend in person or listen to the teleconference, please register by Tuesday, August 26:

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July 29, 2014 

Outside Money Drives a Deluge of Political Ads

By Ashley Parker for the New York Times.
July 27, 2014

An ad paid for by the Senate Majority PAC against Representative Cory Gardner, calling him an extremist on women’s issues.

An explosion of spending on political advertising on television — set to break $2 billion in congressional races, with overall spots up nearly 70 percent since the 2010 midterm election — is accelerating the rise of moneyed interests and wresting control from the candidates’ own efforts to reach voters.

In the first full midterm cycle where outside groups have developed a sophisticated infrastructure, the consequences are already becoming apparent: a harshly negative tone dictated by the groups and a nearly nonstop campaign season that could cause voters to tune out before Election Day.

“They have become a shadow party that’s effectively impossible to dislodge, and they will shape, if not control, the dialogue in key races and therefore nationally,” said Sheila Krumholz, the executive director for the Center for Responsive Politics. “All of this sets the stage for 2016.”

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July 18, 2014 

Democratic, Republican Voters Want More Preschool, And They Want It Now

From the Huffington Post:
Both Democratic and Republican voters want more of an investment in early childhood education, and they want it now, according to a new national poll.
The poll, commissioned by early education advocacy group the First Five Years Fund (FFYR) and conducted by bipartisan researchers, surveyed 800 registered voters on their views. The sample was demographically representative of the electorate and included voters living throughout the country.
Similar to previous polls conducted on the subject, Americans expressed support for the idea of early childhood education. Out of nine sample national priorities, including “reducing the tax burden on families” and “securing our borders,” voters ranked “making sure our children get a strong start in life,” as the second most important, only trumped by “increasing jobs and economic growth.”
Overwhelmingly, voters said the nation should be doing more to make sure children begin kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need (see graph below).
Additionally, respondents expressed support for the ideas behind The Strong Start for America’s Children Act, a bipartisan bill, introduced in November 2013, that seeks to expand early childhood education. The phone survey, which never directly references the act, asked respondents if they support a plan being considered by Congress that:
helps states and local communities provide better early childhood education programs to parents of children from birth to five. It provides ten billion dollars per year for ten years in grants to states to provide all low and moderate income four year olds with voluntarily access to high-quality preschool programs. It also makes available voluntary programs in high-quality early education and child care for infants and toddlers, as well as home visiting and parent education.
Voters across the board said they supported such a proposal.
Those who are typically considered swing voters also supported the proposal:
However, support for the proposal seemed to be somewhat conditional upon its funding method. Eighty-four percent of respondents said they found the proposal to be acceptable “if it were paid for in a way that did not add to the deficit or increase debt," but only 46 percent said they found it acceptable "if it were paid for by prioritizing funding for this program and cutting funding for other programs.”
Still, 76 percent of those surveyed said they thought the suggested proposal should be handled by Congress either this year or next.
Steven Barnett, director of National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, previously told the Associated Press that about half of American children ages 3 or 4 attend an early education program and that a third of children attend programs that are publicly funded.
According to this poll, early childhood education is one of the few issues that unites voters on both sides of the aisle.
Now all Congress has to do is hurry up and take action.