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Bruce Lesley
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Bruce Lesley is President of First Focus, a bipartisan advocacy organization committed to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions.

Mr. Lesley has more than 20 years of public policy experience at all levels of government and a demonstrated commitment to making children’s lives better. Lesley directs all aspects of policy development and internal operations at First Focus.

In 12 years on Capitol Hill, Lesley worked on health care, education, human services, and immigration issues in several different capacities. Most recently he served as Senior Health Policy Advisor on the Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees for U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman. He also worked for U.S. Senator Bob Graham on the Senate Finance Committee, served as minority Chief of Staff for the Senate Special Committee on Aging and was an aide to U.S. Representatives Ronald Coleman and Diana DeGette.
Lesley advocated for better healthcare for children as the Director of Congressional Relations for the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and as Director of Government Relations for Thomason General Hospital, a public hospital in El Paso, Texas. Lesley holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland University College, in College Park, Maryland. He also attended the University of Texas at El Paso and University of Texas at Austin.

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Entries by Bruce Lesley

Political Threats to the Health of Children

(1) Comments | Posted March 24, 2015 | 5:49 PM

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) turns 18 this year and has been an unqualified success story. Over 8 million children in working families with income too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to buy affordable health coverage receive health care through it. In tandem with Medicaid, CHIP...

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Quit Playing Politics With the Health of Children

(0) Comments | Posted March 9, 2015 | 3:47 PM

Having worked in the Senate and House for over a decade, it is tragic is witness the inability of Members of Congress to forge bipartisan compromises to move our nation forward. Even worse, as the recent debacle over funding of the Department of Homeland Security demonstrates, Congress has a difficult...

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Equal Opportunity and the Future of Our Nation

(0) Comments | Posted February 19, 2015 | 11:54 PM

"The object [of my education bill was] to bring into action that mass of talents which lies buried in poverty in every country for want of the means of development, and thus give activity to a mass of mind which in proportion to our population shall be the double or...

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Valuing Diversity and Investing in Our Nation's Children

(1) Comments | Posted January 7, 2015 | 1:33 PM

News that former New York Governor Mario Cuomo passed away on New Year's Day brings forth memories of when I was working for Texas Governor Ann Richards and met him at a National Governors' Association meeting in 1992. That year, the country was in a recession that had increased the...

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U.S. May Soon Stand Alone for Failing to Ratify U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child

(4) Comments | Posted December 17, 2014 | 12:05 PM

Twenty-five years after ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Somalia and the South Sudan are taking steps to join 193 other countries around the world that have ratified the treaty. This is important news for children, as it provides a framework for nations --...

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CHIP Works: Will Congress Protect It For Millions of Children?

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2014 | 12:33 AM

In 1991, the bipartisan National Commission on Children called for action on increasing health insurance coverage to our nation's children and pregnant women. As they found:

Good health is essential to children's growth and development and in their future prospects. While most American children are born and remain healthy, far...
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The Pathway to Recovery from Childhood Trauma

(5) Comments | Posted November 14, 2014 | 8:26 AM

We know that children in the foster care system have, by definition, experienced trauma - often multiple forms of abuse and neglect over extended periods of time. The trauma experienced by many of these children is complex, can cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and if left untreated, impact...

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1.3 Million Children Should Not Be Left Homeless

(9) Comments | Posted November 10, 2014 | 11:40 AM

It shouldn't be this hard for kids to grow and thrive in the world's richest, most powerful nation, but the U.S. Department of Education has identified 1.3 million homeless students enrolled by preschools and K-12 schools in the 2012-2013 school year and that number grew by 8 percent...

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Children Are On the Ballot

(0) Comments | Posted November 1, 2014 | 3:49 PM

Children do not vote. And, they do not have Super PACs that contribute money to political campaigns. As a result, they count on us to be their voices with policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels of government.

And, if politicians are not listening and are taking actions...

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Children Need Champions Now More Than Ever

(0) Comments | Posted October 1, 2014 | 11:36 AM

As a recent Urban Institute report entitled Kids' Share 2014 highlights, if policy changes are not enacted by the President and Congress in the near future, the share of federal investments committed to children will decline by about one-fifth of both the share of the federal budget and...

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Teachers, Like Mr. Keating, Deserve Due Process, Support, and Our Respect

(6) Comments | Posted August 22, 2014 | 5:48 PM

Co-authored by Kevin Lindsey of First Focus

As the nation pays tribute to and reflects on the life and work of Robin Williams, it is notable that Williams earned Academy Award nominations and one Oscar for his incredible portrayal of teachers dedicated to making personal connections to young people that...

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Congress Should Protect and Not Gamble with Health of Children

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2014 | 9:10 AM

In 1997, facing a crisis where 1 in 7 children had no health insurance coverage in the United States, a Republican-led Congress worked with President Bill Clinton to pass bipartisan legislation creating the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) - a federal-state partnership that offers health insurance coverage to over eight...

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They Are Children

(15) Comments | Posted July 29, 2014 | 10:11 AM

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...

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Remembering What Is in the Best Interest of the Child

(0) Comments | Posted June 24, 2014 | 2:37 PM

As we confront problems in society, the lives of children in this country and across the world would improve if we would more often just ask and answer one simple question: is it in the best interest of the child?

While some adults seem not to care at all,...

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Adults, Including Congress, Also Need to Make the Right Choices

(1) Comments | Posted June 17, 2014 | 11:01 AM

As parents, we have the responsibility to make the right choices for our children, especially in the early years. Over time, that slowly changes, as we begin to help guide our child's choices so that they learn for themselves "to make the right choices."

And, as adults in society, we...

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Political Gridlock Is an Enemy of Children

(0) Comments | Posted June 1, 2014 | 6:18 PM

According to a new report by Sarah Binder at the Brookings Institution entitled Polarized We Govern?, "Today, 75 percent of the salient issues on Washington's agenda are subject to legislative gridlock."

And at Vox, Andrew Prokop has pulled together five charts from a variety of...

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CHIP: Don't Mess With Success

(1) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 1:30 PM

Conventional wisdom offers a few dictums that should apply to the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), including:

  • "Don't mess with success."
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
  • "Leave well enough alone."

For the sake and well-being of 8 million children across the nation receiving health...

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In the Name of Protecting Children, the Poor, and the States, the Ryan Budget Does the Opposite

(1) Comments | Posted April 8, 2014 | 10:21 AM

"Actions speaker louder than words but not nearly as often." -- Mark Twain

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released his fiscal year 2015 budget proposal last week, but the rhetoric in the document and out of the Committee often seem at odds with the budget choices that are...

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Child Abuse: The Deadly Cost of Inattention and Inaction

(5) Comments | Posted March 26, 2014 | 12:40 PM

The Miami Herald series entitled "Innocents Lost" deserves a Pulitzer Prize for its investigation into 477 deaths of children that were a part of the child welfare system in the State of Florida over the past six years. More than 70 percent of the children who died were...

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Those Pesky Facts in the War on Poverty

(4) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 11:17 AM

Facts and evidence can be a mixed bag. There are facts and evidence that sometimes reinforce and other times dispute the thoughts, beliefs and ideology that each of us hold. We should all be open to hearing facts and evidence that challenge our preconceived notions and beliefs. As Mary Roach...

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