On Thursday, in the midst of the ongoing national debate about the future of our nation, more than a dozen of the leading child advocacy organizations in the nation kicked off the National Movement for America's Children to help ensure that every child in America is given an opportunity for healthy growth and development.
The Movement is led by citizens and organizations from across the country who are dedicated to the well-being of children. The Movement is founded on the basic principle that all children deserve nurturing environments that support healthy brain development so they are prepared to learn in school, grow into productive, contributing adults and help their community and our country, be prosperous and competitive in the global economy.
"We believe that most Americans agree that our country has a basic obligation to provide for the healthy development of every child," said Jim Hmurovich, President and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America, one of the organizations that founded the Movement. "But as a country, we're not consistently fulfilling our commitments to all of America's children. Research indicates that healthy development prepares children to become stable, contributing members of their community and our economy."
As Hmurovich notes, there is a wide body of research which shows when healthy child development does not occur, there is a greater potential for children to experience lifelong consequences including health and mental health issues, substance abuse, delinquent and criminal behavior and academic under-achievement.
"Our country cannot continue to over-promise and under-deliver," added Hmurovich. "It contributes to domestic instability that threatens our communities and economy. Military leaders are now telling us these issues may also be threatening our national security. We must create a sustained public will that it must be a priority to truly deliver for our children and keep our nation strong."
At the center of the Movement's activities is the formulation of a crowd-sourced national strategy that brings every American citizen, business, faith institution and government entity into the development process. From now until November 6, Movement supporters will be hosting town hall events and listening sessions across all 50 states while simultaneously hosting an ongoing virtual debate and discussion online at www.movementforchildren.org.
Anyone can go to the site to sign a pledge supporting the Movement and contribute to the crowd-sourced development of a national strategy for America's children. Visitors to the Movement site can also get involved at the community and state levels, serving as grassroots organizers on-line and locally.
The local and virtual "listening tour" is designed to help crowd-source a strategy made up of specific policies and actions to help deliver the most comprehensive possible opportunity for healthy growth and development to every child.
The public is being asked to contribute ideas and suggestions for the national strategy by answering what organizers are calling "The Big Question", which is "How can we ensure that every child has an equal opportunity for healthy growth and development?"
Movement organizers plan to unveil the final national strategy in Washington, DC on November 6, 2011, exactly one year before the 2012 election. The message to officeholders and candidates will be clear: the healthy development of our children is a top priority for Americans and policies should be implemented at the national level to influence actions at the local level.
But organizers also emphasize that the focus of the Movement is not solely on politicians and public policies. The Movement will focus on seeing the national strategy implemented by all the segments and institutions in the country with a stake in contributing to healthy child development.
"Everyone has a role to play and there are positive strides being made by some businesses, faith-based organizations, local towns and cities, as well as individuals, policymakers and people working hard in the child advocacy field," said Hmurovich. "What is lacking is organized and energized public will to expand these efforts to every child and hold our country accountable for consistently delivering for America's children."
More than a dozen prominent child advocacy organizations have worked to form the National Movement for America's Children. Founding Partners include American Humane Association; Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs; Child Welfare League of America; Children's Leadership Council; Center for Law and Social Policy; The General Federation of Women's Clubs; National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds; National Exchange Club Foundation; National Healthy Start Association; Prevent Child Abuse America; Voices for America's Children; The Washington Children's Foundation; and ZERO TO THREE, National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families. Together these leading organizations represent thousands of members and supporters who are coming together to awaken a National Movement for America's Children.
"Throughout history, progress to advance the cause of society's most vulnerable members has been made only through the concerted efforts and leadership of committed, passionate advocates and organizations," commented Robin R. Ganzert, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, American Humane Association, a founding member of the Movement. "The establishment of the National Movement for America's Children marks the beginning of another such effort, with the critical goal of ensuring our nation's future by ensuring the future of our children."
As director of a state organization that works to promote the well-being and healthy development of children, it is exciting to be part of this emerging national movement. On behalf of all all children in America, I hope you will please join me in visiting http://www.MovementforChildren.org to sign the pledge, get more information on the National Movement for America's Children, share your ideas, and find out how you can get involved in your community.