2019 Public Policy & Advocacy Agenda

Among the Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania there is a standard greeting: “How are the children?”

The greeting does not inquire “how are you?” or “how are your children?” Instead, it reflects a deep understanding that a community’s well-being is only as strong as its most vulnerable.

United Way recognizes that until we can answer this greeting with the Maasai response “all of the children are well,” there is much work to be done.

Child Well-Being Pillars

It Starts With The Children

For almost half a million children in Greater Atlanta, all is not well. To determine the factors that drive child well-being, United Way worked with the Atlanta Regional Commission, Neighborhood Nexus and community volunteers to come up with 14 key indicators. Together, these measures comprise the Child Well-Being Index.

The Child Well-Being Index gives community leaders a snapshot of existing conditions and a set of common goals upon which to leverage our collective impact. Policymakers have an especially important role to play in setting the conditions under which communities, children and families can thrive.

The United Way of Greater Atlanta is the first in the nation to align its work around child well-being and to commit to fighting for better measures of it in every zip code. Join us!

Strong Foundations for Children

What happens to a child from birth until the point that the brain matures, believed to be age 25, can determine how well he or she will fare as an adult. Their experiences during these years may in turn affect how well they may earn a living, parent their own children and steward their communities. In 2019, we urge the Governor and state and local lawmakers to:

  • Implement strategies to prevent or mitigate the impact upon K-12 students of one or more transfers during a school year and build upon efforts to incorporate wrap-around services that students and their families need to succeed along with access to health care, vision care, dentistry and behavioral health services in or through schools.

  • Partner with the CDC to collect and report upon adverse childhood experiences and provide trauma support services for children and youth.

  • Improve outcomes for children and youth in foster care and prevent new placements by providing mental health services, substance abuse treatment and in-home parenting skill training through options conferred by new federal laws like the bipartisan Families First Prevention Services Act.

  • Improve the odds of student achievement by expanding lottery funded Pre-K slots, reducing class size and investing in a quality workforce.

  • Build upon the success of HOPE Scholarships and Grants and create a need-based scholarship for Georgians seeking a post-secondary credential in the university system.

Opportunities for Family Success

Parents and other caregivers need support to achieve family resilience and to help their children thrive. In 2019, we urge the Governor and state and local lawmakers to:

  • Create opportunities for innovative solutions to increase coverage and access to quality healthcare services for the uninsured through greater state flexibility in the Medicaid program.

  • Incentivize work by implementing a refundable earned income tax credit for Georgians employed in low-wage jobs.

  • Appropriate state funding to make child care subsidies available for at least another 2,500 children of working parents and prioritize reimbursement rate increases for quality-rated providers serving infants and toddlers.

  • Expand mechanisms for the restriction and sealing of conviction information from criminal histories for misdemeanors and certain felonies which no longer pose a threat to public safety, including for adult victims of sex trafficking.

  • Ensure that properties put into use as rental units are safe and sanitary through regulation. Amend Georgia Landlord-and-Tenant laws to incorporate a grace period before eviction for nonpayment of rent.

Build Nurturing Communities

Living conditions in neighborhoods and communities have a profound effect upon the ability of children and families to thrive. In 2019, we urge the Governor and state and local lawmakers to:

  • Appoint a Blue-Ribbon Commission to identify options at the state and local levels to spur safe and affordable housing that offers access to jobs, education and opportunities for civic engagement. Per 100 renter households with income up to 30 percent of the Area Median (about $20,000) there are just 38 available units in Georgia.

  • Continue the Council on Criminal Justice Reform to promote Georgia’s work towards helping people who do not pose a public safety risk to avoid incarceration and equipping those re-entering the community to succeed and avoid recidivism.

  • Develop substance abuse recovery facilities and resources throughout Georgia by leveraging options conferred through new federal laws such as the bipartisan SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.

  • Prioritize Community-Oriented Policing in state policy to foster collaborative and trusting relationships between local law enforcement and the communities they protect, especially in neighborhoods that are most vulnerable.

  • Help Georgians stay safe by authorizing courts to grant protective orders for a party to a dating relationship when she or he fears for his life.

Champion the cause. Reach out. Speak up.
Anyone can be an advocate to advance the common good.

Contact amintz@unitedwayatlanta.org or call 404-527-3559