Is it good for kids? What lawmakers should be asking this legislative session.

As many of you know, last week was the first week of the 2012 Legislative Session of the Georgia General Assembly.  A few bills passed out of the Senate and out of various committees.  Already, the political wheels are turning quickly, as some people jockey for position and some – most – simply try to get work done, policy in place. 

For many, there are hopes for ethics reform, tax reform, healthcare reform, and education funding reform, among others.  I have my own hopes for child issues our organization covers, but overall, my hopes can be summed up into one thing:  I hope that this year will be the first “Year of the Child” (to be followed by many).

There are a number of telling child and family statistics from Kids Count and the U.S. Census, among others, that can bring perspective to lawmakers as they vote on legislation this session. For example:

  • Children from birth to 18 years make up 28% of GA’s population
  • The Federal Poverty Level is a mere $22,350 for a family of 4 ($5,587/family member)
  • Nearly 1 in 4 of GA’s kids live in poverty
  • 75 instances of child abuse/neglect are substantiated each day in GA alone
  • In 2009, nearly 111,000 GA grandparents had primary responsibility caring for their grandchildren
  • Approximately 70% of kids locked up in GA’s jails are in for non-violent offenses. Of that number, about 40% are in for statutory offenses.
  • In 2011, approximately 14,000 low birth weight babies were born in GA (less than 5.5 pounds, 38 babies/day)
  • About 60% of low income homes contain no reading material for children
  • I could go on, but isn’t that enough?

Such figures should inspire one simple question, which, if asked by lawmakers with every policy consideration, can change the future of our state both socially and economically.  That question is:

Is it good for kids?

Please, ask your elected official to keep that question handy, and to use it at every turn.