No matter who you are, North Carolina lawmakers have probably done something to earn your ire. Between fracking, cutting the education budget, and playing fast and loose with women’s health, our elected officials seem to take turns at cooking up trouble. It can be easy to get burned out—both by the outrage and by requests to fight back. Almost every day I get an email about a rally on Jones Street, the State Capitol, or the General Assembly Building. But this week there’s a day of action that will pull me out of my comfy living room and all the way down I-40 to Raleigh. Even better, I can take my kids with me.
Tomorrow is Child and Family Day at the Legislature. People who care about children’s health and wellbeing can join hundreds of like-minded individuals to speak up on behalf of our kids. Nonprofits such as NC Child will help arrange visits with legislators– plus, there will be refreshments, entertainment (including a giant Shoots and Ladders game), and guest speakers.
Rob Thompson, director of communications at NC Child, says tomorrow will serve as a perfect opportunity for parents to learn more about what’s going on, and to express their frustration.
“We are not providing adequate resources to key services that keep kids healthy and developing,” Thompson said. “There is more [the General Assembly] could be doing to make sure all children in our state have the opportunity to succeed.”
Other local groups including MomsRising, Yes!, the NC Child Care Coalition, The North Carolina Partnership for Children, and more, are helping sponsor and organize the event. What unites them is their love for children and the belief that our state is failing to meet kids’ needs. These groups have endless ideas about the ways in which we could improve kids’ lives, but here are five ways lawmakers could make a difference right away:
- Fully fund early childhood education, including programs such as Smart Start and NC Pre-K that level the playing field and ensure all children hit kindergarten ready to learn.
- Ensure every child has access to health care. Whether by accepting federal money to expand Medicaid, funding state programs more fully, or establishing more support for providers who help needy kids.
- Take care of schools. Most children spend more than half of their waking hours at school. The state needs to maximize funding for teacher pay and for schools supplies so that all kids can get a chance at a good life.
- Provide support for Early Intervention and other programs that support children with developmental differences. Funding for this program has been cut by $25 million in the last eight years.
- Increase Child Care Subsidy. When parents can work, everyone wins. With adequate child care subsidies, parents can head off to work knowing their children are safe and well cared for. Parents who can work are able to pay taxes, spend local dollars, and invest in their communities.
If you can’t make it to Raleigh tomorrow, join the rally virtually by tweeting with the hashtag #NCChildrenFirst, and by writing your representatives to let them know that the health of our state relies on the health and happiness of our children.