Every Child Matters Releases New Videos

Michael PetitIn the video, Michael Petit explains that there are still many unmet needs for children.

Every Child Matters (ECM) has released two new, informative videos that highlight the urgency to support federal programs that aid children.

ECM is led by founder and president Michael Petit, who is also a member of NASW. The association has supported ECM's ongoing effort to highlight the long-deferred health, education and social needs of the nation's children.

The latest video - which is available for viewing at Every Child Matters — is called "Homeland Insecurity: Why New Investments in Children and Youth Must be a Priority for the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress."

It contains state data on child well-being, as well as how the U.S. compares with other countries. Petit is the author of the book, "Homeland Insecurity," which is now in its third edition and available for free download at the ECM Web site. Like the book, the video has Petit detailing surprising information: the U.S. investment in children's health and social programs has been declining since the 1960s. One result of this decline is that the well-being of children in the U.S. ranks a poor 20th among the 21 rich democracies.

Within the U.S., wide gaps in child well-being exist among the states, Petit points out in the video. Compared to the states with the best outcomes for children, children in the bottom states are three times as likely to die before their 14th birthday, five times as likely to be without health insurance, eight times as likely to be incarcerated, and 13 times more likely to die from child abuse.

"Children surviving shouldn't be an accident of geography," Petit says in the video. "What we're looking for is a shift in federal spending priorities that are more towards children, more towards families."

The other video released by ECM is called "Presidents Helping Children." The 7-minute video highlights the role of the White House in lifting the status of the nation's children.

The video showcases:

  • President Theodore Roosevelt, who developed several national programs for women and children that resulted in the steady improvement of child well-being in the U.S.
  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who supported the Fair Labor Standards Act that set age limits and safety standards for workers.
  • President Harry S. Truman, who supported the School Lunch Act.
  • President Richard M. Nixon, who endorsed the WIC program, which offers nutritious meals and education for expecting mothers and infants.
  • President Bill Clinton, who supported the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which gives matching funds to states in order to provide health insurance to families with children.

The video outlines that much more needs to be done under President Obama's administration to help the nation's children. Challenges facing the president include the realization that 9 million children are without health insurance, that 13 million children live in poverty and that 3 million children are abused and neglected.

Petit told the NASW News that ECM produced the videos in an effort to promote awareness about the nation's lagging investment in children's well-being and to encourage support for legislation that devotes more federal resources to help them.

"We're trying to add to the discussion that there needs to be a shift in spending priorities," he said.

Petit said ECM and its partner organizations hope to promote the videos at conventions and conferences and in other ways in an effort to build support for ECM initiatives.

In February, Obama signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law. Provisions in the bill call for billions of dollars in aid to low-income individuals and families.

Petit said the Recovery Act is a step in the right direction, but there are still many unmet needs for children across the U.S. He said it is still uncertain how much of the recovery funds will aid states that are facing their own massive budget shortfalls. "It's not clear how much net gain some of these states will make" under the law, Petit said. "There has been 30 to 40 years of lagging investments in children. We're not close to closing that gap. Obama has launched it in the right direction, however."

Petit said it is important "to make hay while the sun is shining.

"We need to push this through while he is in office," he said.