NASW Cosponsoring Step Up for Kids Week

Michael PetitMichael Petit, president of Every Child Matters: “We’re not closing the gap. Obama has launched it in the right direction, however.”

NASW is cosponsoring the second annual Step Up for Kids Week, Oct. 5-9.

The event, sponsored by the Every Child Matters Education Fund, brings thousands of people together across the United States to raise public awareness of the needs of children and families.

NASW is participating in a Washington, D.C., rally that will include speeches from leaders of organizations that advocate for children and families. Speakers will address the priority areas of health insurance for all children; reduction in child abuse and neglect; equal access to early learning opportunities as well as after-school programs; and a reduction in poverty, said Ursula Ellis, campaigns director at Every Child Matters.

In addition to activities in the nation's capital, nearly every state is organizing a Step Up for Kids Week event, said Dina Kastner, NASW senior field organizer.

At this article's deadline, 42 states each had a lead coordinator set up to organize events that will highlight children's needs to state policymakers, Kastner said. The NASW Idaho chapter is taking the lead in planning events for Idaho. The Arizona and Nebraska chapters are planning on being involved in activities, Kastner noted.

Last year's Step Up for Kids Day included a press conference in Washington where NASW member and Every Child Matters President Michael Petit called on presidential candidates to address the needs of children in their campaign platforms.

Petit said in a recent interview with the NASW News that even though President Barack Obama signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law in February, it remains uncertain how much of those funds will be used to close the investment gap in children's programs.

Petit said investments in children's issues have lagged during the last 30 to 40 years.

"We're not closing the gap," he said. "Obama has launched it in the right direction, however."

Petit is also president of VoteKids, which recently released a 2009 scorecard that rates the midterm voting record of U.S. senators and how their actions affect children. Visitors to the Web site can read the entire report card and see detailed fact sheets and checklists of how each senator has voted.

Step Up for Kids Week aims to:

  • Raise public awareness of the needs of children and families in the U.S.
  • Encourage officials at every level of government to present their plans for shifting spending priorities towards families and children.
  • Encourage the media to cover issues important to children and families and how state and federal governments are making policy decisions to meet their needs.
  • Work to make America's children a national political and policy priority.
  • Encourage non-voters to register and everyone to vote with kids' well-being in mind.

NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark spoke at last year's Washington event, and cited the importance of the federal government investing in child assistance programs so that millions of children "will not have to wonder when they will eat again, where they will sleep, when they will go to school and if they will be able to go to the doctor if they are sick."

To learn how you or your organization can participate in local Step Up for Kids Week activities, visit Every Child Matters for a listing of ways to volunteer and learn more.

Step Up for Kids Week is also being cosponsored by Prevent Child Abuse America and the Afterschool Alliance.