Averi Pakulis Vice President, Early Childhood and Public Health Policy

Averi Pakulis serves as the Vice President for Early Childhood and Public Health Policy at First Focus on Children. Averi has over 15 years of public policy experience on Capitol Hill, at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and in the non-profit sector. For four years, Averi served as a Policy Advisor to Secretaries Sebelius and Burwell at HHS in the Office of the Secretary and the Assistant Secretary for Legislation. Just prior to joining First Focus on Children, Averi served as the interim Legislative Director for HHS at the National Governors Association. Her experience covers areas of public health and human services, including behavioral health, opioid addiction and recovery, early childhood care and education, women’s health, family and medical leave, and child abuse prevention. Averi has worked closely with a number of public health and human service agencies such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, the Administration for Children and Families, the Federal Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health on agency regulations, programs, and grants.

Prior to her work at HHS, Averi served as Staff Director and Professional Staff Member for Senator Christopher J. Dodd on the Children and Families Subcommittee of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee from 2008-2011, where she led the successful reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act. She also successfully worked to expand family and medical leave for family members of service members through a provision in the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act.

Prior to the Senate, Averi worked for nearly six years in the House of Representatives. She worked in the personal office of Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro leading the congresswoman’s health care portfolio.

Averi is originally from Connecticut and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Union College in Schenectady, New York. Averi resides on Capitol Hill with her husband and daughters.

Resources by Averi Pakulis


Issue Brief: Behavioral Health Parity For Children

| September 14, 2022 |

What Is Behavioral Health Parity? Treating mental health conditions and substance use disorders as equivalent to other health conditions in insurance plans is what


Issue Brief: The Need to Incorporate Children, Youth, and Adolescents into State 988 Systems

| July 14, 2022 |

States are currently in the process of implementing the 988 National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, passed by Congress and signed into law in October


Fact Sheet: Mental Health & Kids

| April 8, 2022 |

Children and teens in our country are experiencing a mental health crisis. Even before the pandemic, this crisis was severe, with 1-in-5 children under


What’s at stake for kids if Congress doesn’t pass Build Back Better

| December 22, 2021 |

As negotiations have stalled and the fate of the Build Back Better Act hangs in the balance, children stand to lose access to monthly


Watch: Experts discuss how to achieve vaccine equity for kids

| November 18, 2021 |

First Focus on Children co-hosted a virtual Congressional briefing today to discuss how to achieve equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine for children and


Congress has a chance to get child care right. They need to take it.

| October 6, 2021 |

Once our children celebrate their 5th birthday, they are welcomed into a public school system that can provide valuable benefits to them and their


What’s next for the largest unvaxxed population (kids)?

| August 25, 2021 |

Like many of you, we have been watching in dismay as children’s health is politicized by adults. Just as kids begin to head back


As vaccine rollout ramps up, kids ask, “what about us?”

| April 22, 2021 |

Last week as I excitedly told my 6- and 3-year-old daughters that my husband and I had been able to schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments


The Fight to End Child Poverty: A Conversation with Rep. Rosa DeLauro

| April 20, 2021 |

Join us on April 21st at 3:15 pm ET for a conversation with Rep. Rosa DeLauro — the chair of the House Appropriations Committee,


The nation needs a plan to vaccinate students

| April 16, 2021 |

President Biden has introduced a massive infrastructure plan that would, among other things, invest $100 billion in building and restoring American public schools. In