Closing the Opportunity Gap for America’s Kids

childrenoppAmerica’s children and families face substantial challenges, but there are solutions. By Teresa Machado, Common Sense Media

A widening opportunity gap has placed the American dream far out of reach for poor children. This urgent crisis was the focus of a recent lecture I attended by Harvard social scientist Robert Putnam, who was sharing findings from his book, Our Kids: The American Dream In Crisis.

I flew to Las Vegas, Nevada, to attend the Children’s Opportunity Forum, hear Dr. Putnam, and join advocates from all over the country in calling on our nation’s leaders to address the most pressing issues facing children today.

The lesson of the forum is that we can revive the promise of the American dream. During a town hall conversation with representatives from the National Council of La Raza, New America, the American Enterprise Institute, and Opportunity Nation and a panel discussion with advocates from a number of local, state, and national children’s advocacy organizations, a common message emerged: While there are substantial challenges facing America’s children and families, there are also solutions. Investing in policies such as high-quality child care and early childhood education, affordable and accessible health care, and support for families and caregivers is the key to closing the opportunity gap.

We know the problem, and we know the solution. Polls show that there is strong public support for policies that support children and families. What remains is for us to prove that there is political will to enact those policies and hold our elected officials accountable for doing what’s right for kids. It’s on us to make the American dream a reality for all children.