Children’s advocacy organizations from around the country kicked off the fifth annual Children’s Week with a schedule of events aimed at urging Congress to better protect the health, safety, and well-being of America’s children.

Children’s Week, which is hosted by the bipartisan advocacy organization First Focus on Children, runs from June 12-18. Children’s Week 2022 unfolds as the country slides backwards on historic gains made for children. With robust leadership and near-unprecedented commitment to children during the pandemic, lawmakers made the most significant investment in decades in children. Legislation passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic — including the improved Child Tax Credit — increased the share of federal spending on children from 7.64% to a historic 11.15%.

Since then, more than 3 million children have slid back into poverty as emergency measures expired. More than 6 million children are poised to lose their health insurance. Hunger will once again ripple through schools and families as federal nutrition waivers end on June 30. And — also once again — an American community is mourning the loss of elementary school children and teachers murdered in their classrooms.

“The kids are not alright,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus on Children. “Children’s Week shines a light on the challenges facing our children — challenges like hunger, homelessness, poverty, gun violence. But we must act in the best interests of our children each and every day. We look forward to working with members of Congress and our partner advocates to make caring for our children the norm, not the exception. Our kids can’t wait any longer for adults to do right by them.”

Throughout the week, First Focus on Children and partner advocates will brief members of Congress on Capitol Hill, host webinars and Twitter chats, and engage Hill staff on important decisions around FY 2023 spending, economic aid, tax credits, gun violence and other challenges facing children.

Organizations from around the children’s community are lending their support.

“If children are the future, it is time to act like it. From gun control to family separation to climate change, we need to stop offering words without action. Our children are suffering, and our political leaders’ response has been woefully insufficient. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We need to act boldly to make sure our policies match the rhetoric. Children’s issues are family issues. They are community issues. We must make them a national issue.” — Shereen A. White, Director of Advocacy and Policy, Children’s Rights

“ChildFund is so excited to be part of this event featuring an all-youth panel. Young people are the best advocates for themselves and are often underestimated in their ability to affect change. We know that far too many children and youth are not receiving some of the critical support they need from donors like the U.S. government, and it’s critical that we hear from young people directly about the challenges they are facing in this moment where COVID, global conflicts, and climate change are all colliding. I am looking forward to hearing their unique perspectives on foreign policy and the best solutions to motivate us all and galvanize new energy.” — Erin Kennedy, Senior Director for External Engagement, ChildFund, which is a lead sponsor of the Children’s Week briefing “Trailblazers of Today: U.S. Foreign Assistance & the Impact of Youth Engagement,”Tuesday, 6/14, 12pmET. Rayburn HOB 2044. Register at this link.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics is proud to support Children’s Week and join with other organizations dedicated to prioritizing children’s needs. We are living in an especially consequential moment for children’s health right now. This Children’s Week and beyond, pediatricians will continue to show up and speak up for children, on everything from ending gun violence to ensuring they have access to health care. We will not rest until we see meaningful change.” — Mark Del Monte, JD, AAP CEO/Executive Vice President

“We are excited to commemorate Children’s Week and join the call to action on behalf of all our nation’s children. Children of immigrants represent one-quarter of all U.S. kids, which is why it’s critical that our immigration policies promote child wellbeing and family unity. Our country’s future depends on each child — regardless of their or their parents’ immigration status — having access to the education, health care, and other critical services they need to achieve their full potential.” — Wendy Cervantes, Director of Immigration and Immigrant Families at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and co-lead of the Children Thrive Action Network.

“While unprecedented strides in supporting children and families have been made in recent years — particularly during the pandemic — we must keep the momentum going. When we invest in children, we’re investing in our future — our future doctors, lawyers, teachers and entrepreneurs. We’re excited to celebrate Children’s Week to shed even more light on issues critical to the success and well-being of children and urge Congress to take action. Our future will be all the brighter for it.” — Mary Nugent, Lead Advocate for Early Childhood Education Policy, Save the Children.

“Young people should be seen, heard, and represented — in court, in legislatures, and everywhere decisions are made about their future. Children’s Week reminds us that every policy issue is a kids’ issue, and that we must advance justice together.” — Allison Green, Legal Director, National Association of Counsel for Children.

“When last year’s expanded Child Tax Credit went into effect, the child poverty rate plummeted almost overnight. Letting millions of kids now fall back into poverty is unacceptable. Policymakers should be building on this kind of transformational policy, not letting it expire. It’s up to Congress to pass a permanently refundable monthly Child Tax Credit, and other bold policies that are the foundation of a more equitable future.” — Joanne Carter, Executive Director, RESULTS

For a full list of events and participants, please visit the Children’s Week 2022 website.