Coalition wants kids at front during caucuses

Maya Kliger, The Des Moines Register

An Iowa organization is encouraging presidential candidates to focus on children’s issues on the Iowa caucuses campaign trail.

The Children’s Policy Coalition, an organization of 40 nonprofit, bipartisan groups, on Wednesday released a report identifying the six policy areas candidates should address: healthy development; early learning; school success; safety and permanence; economic security; and equality and opportunity.

“We feel Iowans have a real unique opportunity to raise what are really critical issues in our country’s future around kids to prominence as presidential candidates go around the state,” said Charles Bruner, executive director of the Child and Family Policy Center and member of the coalition. The report was released at a news conference in the Iowa Capitol rotunda.

Coalition members said there is a disconnect between what voters care about personally and what they care about at the ballot box.

In a survey done by the organization First Focus in May 2014, respondents selected “preventing child abuse and neglect” as the second most important policy need. However, in the same survey, respondents said “children’s issues” was the sixth most important issue when voting for members of Congress.

While the public and the candidates care about children’s policy, in previous elections it has barely made it into the public discourse, coalition members said.

The coalition is looking to educate members so they “can get active in their community, making sure they know when candidates are going to be in their communities, feeding them questions they can ask candidates, and making sure they have the information to feel comfortable asking those questions,” said Kelli Soyer, director of Every Child Matters in Iowa.

“Every issue needs a champion,” said Lana Shope of the Iowa Community Action Association and the Iowa Head Start Association, “and what this coalition does is bring together champions for kids.”

Getting involved

If you’d like to get involved with the Children’s Policy Coalition’s efforts, go online

Originally published July 1, 2015 The Des Moines Register