Although Georgia has taken steps to improve the lives of children, there is still a lot of work to do. According to the latest Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Book, Georgia ranks 37th among states for child well-being – a figure that is steadily improving, but still a disappointment for Georgia’s kids. If we want Georgia’s children to compete both nationally and internationally, we must start at the beginning and support children and their families from birth into young adulthood.
At Voices for Georgia’s Children (Voices), we have developed a long-term, comprehensive policy agenda focused on early childhood, child health and transitioning youth to foster change in five measures of child well being (see table below). We have learned through research that certain interventions positively impact more than one measure; therefore, we believe the following three components of our policy agenda will improve outcomes for children in all five areas:
- Early Childhood. We believe that investing in children from birth until school-age is essential for improving child well being and education in Georgia. We propose a public agenda for the state that supports young children and their families with a focus on family supports, good health, and early care and learning. Learn more about our Zero to Five Policy Framework in our publication, Compounding Interest.
- Child Health. Children with health insurance coverage are healthier than those without it; therefore, we promote coverage for all children in Georgia. We also are working to improve the amount and quality of child health data from the state, which help guide state and community leaders in improving the physical, oral and mental health of children. Review data from 2007 to present in our Healthy Steps Indicators publications found on our publications and research webpage related to child health.
- Transitioning Youth.
- For children to successfully transition into adulthood, they must receive broad support from their family, community and the state. Voices is committed to ensuring successful transitions for all of Georgia’s children – especially those in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems; failing or not attending school; and lacking a supportive family environment. Our solutions encompass four important areas: Strong families, supportive communities, school strategies focused on vulnerable youth, and collaborative and effective government.
- In addition, through our JUSTGeorgia coalition, we are working with other advocates, and state and community leaders to improve how children are treated under the law and in the courts. A new juvenile code will lead to better outcomes for court-involved children who are abused, neglected, or delinquent.