2018 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 volunteers to come up with 14 key indicators. 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 in every zip code. We invite you to join us in this pioneering effort.

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/she will fare as an adult. Their experiences during these years may affect how well they may earn a living, parent their own children and steward their communities. In 2018, we urge the Governor and state and local lawmakers to:

  • Make healthy beginnings a priority by investing in effective perinatal health care strategies along with maternal home visiting programs for mothers and young children.

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

  • Make health care, vision care, dentistry and behavioral health care available in or through schools, along with quality rated out-of-school opportunities.

  • Help early education and K-12 students achieve better measures of college and career readiness through investing in strategies that improve school climate, including Positive Behavior Intervention and Support systems.

  • Support homeless and trafficked youth and youth who have aged out of the foster care system transition to a productive adulthood by making case management, independent living options, health and mental health care and educational opportunities more widely available.

Opportunities for Family Success

Parents and other caregivers need our support to achieve family resilience and to help their children thrive. In 2018, we urge the Governor and state and local lawmakers to:

  • Increase access to Child & Parent Service Subsidies (CAPS) for early care and learning so that low-income parents can attain and retain employment. Incentivize both parents and providers to opt for Quality Rated early care and learning services.

  • Prevent out-of-home placements of children at risk of involvement with the child welfare system through early intervention with families, including mental health and substance abuse services and in-home parent skill-based programs. Stabilize unavoidable out-of-home placements through sustainable reimbursement rates and support services for caregivers.

  • Make temporary and permanent supportive housing available for individuals and families when they cannot live in the community without in-home case management and assistance targeted to help them achieve independence.

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

  • Help Georgians who lack a High School Diploma or GED achieve one, and make affordable the cost of completing a post-secondary credential aligned with a career pathway.

Build Nurturing Communities

Living conditions in neighborhoods and communities have a profound effect upon the ability of children and families to thrive. In 2018, we urge the Governor and state and local lawmakers to:

  • Leverage options available under federal law to meet the health care needs of uninsured and under-insured children and adults. Improve access to care by strengthening provider reimbursement rates, expanding the scope of practice of allied health providers and the wider use of telemedicine.

  • Promote adequate, safe and affordable housing that allows residents the opportunity to participate in the larger community by investing in the State Housing Trust Fund and by authorizing cities and counties to dedicate a broader array of revenue to local Housing Trust Funds.

  • Invest in local and regional transit solutions that harness public and private transportation resources to empower Georgians of all ages, incomes and abilities to travel to work, to school and after-school programs, to health care and to civic activities on a safe, reliable and affordable basis.

  • Implement public safety strategies that protect children and families while diverting offenders who do not pose a risk away from the correctional system and removing the barriers faced by those re-entering the community to rejoining family and finding jobs and housing.

  • Build a robust network of community-based mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment programs throughout Georgia to address the epidemic of licit and illicit drug abuse and to support the effectiveness of accountability courts.

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