Smart choices. Bold voices. Those words exemplify everything we do at The Children's Agenda. There is risk when we speak boldly, but those risks are necessary to speak up for kids. To drive effective change, we have to be audacious and pursue goals that others might see as too difficult. By being bold, we avoid complacency and tinkering around the edges of the real changes children need. When we are bold, we widen the circle of partners and strengthen the movement for children.
Being bold was a winning strategy this month as we made strides on four initiatives:
Read on to learn how you can be a part of making bold changes for children.
Solutions Not Suspensions
Schools should be places where students are welcomed and supported in their learning and development. But across New York, children as young as pre-kindergarten and even in child care lose out on instruction each year because of suspensions.
New York must end the over-reliance on suspensions, especially for young children. Instead, children should be held accountable through age appropriate, restorative and trauma-informed interventions that help children learn from mistakes. Suspensions should be reserved only for cases where safety is a concern. Reducing the use of suspensions is essential for equity.
Ending the over-reliance on suspensions requires policy change. New York needs to:
You can advance Solutions Not Suspensions by sending a letter to the Governor and your representatives in Albany, calling on them to enact the Solutions Not Suspensions bill.
In 15 school districts in one year...
students were suspended
at least once
of those children were in
Pre-K through Grade 3
of Monroe County parents support eliminating suspensions
in Pre-K to Grade 3 to only extreme cases
Black and Hispanic students
were up to 5x more likely to be suspended than white students.
Students with disabilities
were up to 5x more likely to be suspended than their peers.
Black women in New York are 5x more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women.
Black infants are 2x more likely to die in the first year of life than white infants.
Medicaid covers 50% of pregnancies & births in New York.
Only 17% of New York children have formal developmental screenings done.
Supporting Maternal and Child Health
Health inequities begin during pregnancy and early childhood, often leading to chronic health conditions that last throughout a person's lifetime. Because half of New York children are insured by Medicaid, the way we use Medicaid funds is critical to improving children's health.
Earlier this year, The Children's Agenda organized 59 partners to call on New York state to prioritize children in their proposal to the federal government for how to innovate with Medicaid funds. In response, the revised proposal (called the 1115 Medicaid Waiver) did include opportunities to focus on prevention, earlier intervention, and the impact of adverse childhood experience; the pandemic's system-level impacts on providers who serve children, and school-based telehealth and school-based care coordination programs.
However, it did not require that children or youth mental health be prioritized and did not designate funds specifically for child health. So, we organized again.
This month, 303 public comments were submitted to federal regulators calling for changes to New York's proposal and 2/3 of comments emphasized the need to invest more in maternal and child health. Stay tuned for future updates on what the federal regulators approve and require.
Ending Child Poverty
We are pleased to announce that Pete Nabozny, Policy Director at The Children's Agenda, has been appointed to the New York Child Poverty Reduction Advisory Council.
The council is charged with developing evidence-based recommendations for reducing child poverty in New York State by half over the next ten years. The council will conduct comprehensive data analyses, create a timeline with annual benchmarks, determine effective metrics for measuring the state's progress, and issue reports to provide transparency and accountability.
Pete is joined on the Council by some of our partners, including Rochester community member Candace Cabral (a leader with RMAPI), Richard Beury from the Robin Hood Foundation, Kate Breslin from the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, Allison Lake from Westchester's Children Association, and Dia Bryant from Education Trust-NY.
Pete and his daughter at our annual staff outing to a Red Wings game.
Rev. Marilyn Cunningham and Sr. Beth LaValley
Chief Program Officer Brigit Hurley, Rev. Tedd Pullano, and advocate Gail Berkes
Children's Interfaith Weekend
Thank you to the 21 faith communities who participated in this year's Children's Interfaith Weekend. Through intentions, education and action they inspired and mobilized their members to promote social justice for children. This year communities sent letters to the Governor and their representatives in Albany calling on them to enact the Solutions Not Suspensions bill.
The Children's Interfaith Collaborative is inspired by sacred texts and teachings. They advocate for effective policies and solutions for the health, education and success of children.
Faith Communities who participated in Children's Interfaith Weekend:
At its pre-COVID peak, the Children's Interfaith Weekend generated over 10,000 advocacy messages from congregants.
Gail Berkes is one of the Very Invested Parents (VIPs) at The Children's Agenda. Mother of two and grandmother of five, Gail advocates for children in many ways, including:
"The only way we can get things changed and our voice heard is by being at the table when decisions are made. We must be seen as a partner with our schools and agencies."
TCA In the News
Universal Child Care is the North Star (Capitol Pressroom)
State-wide Plan to Cut Child Poverty in Half (WHAM)
Children's Interfaith Weekend
Faith Leaders Push for Change in School Suspensions (WXXI)
Faith Leaders, Community Members Gather in Support of Solutions Not Suspensions Bill (WROC)
Update on Early Intervention Services in Monroe County (WXXI Connections)
Rochester Schools Suspend Students at High and Unequal Rates (Democrat & Chronicle)
Coalition Urges Limitations on School Suspensions (Capitol Pressroom)
Local Education Advocates Call for Alternative Disciplinary Methods for Students (WHAM)
The Children's Agenda Calls for Ending Suspensions for Young Children (WROC)
Rochester Area Non-Profit Seeks to End Suspensions (Spectrum)
Should There be a Cap on How Many Days Students Can be Suspended? (FingerLakes1)
Children's Advocacy Groups Calls for Culture Shift to Combat School-to-Prison Pipeline (WXXI)
Thank You to our Recent Donors!
James and Ann Evinger • Dr. Joe Simson • Lisa Hand • Paul Trembley and Dr. Jennifer West • Peter Collinge and Carol Thiel • Richard and Estella Watkins • Sarah Mittiga •
Tom and Betty Richards
Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Partnership for America's Children
Children are young for a short time.
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The Children’s Agenda advocates for effective policies and drives evidenced-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.