In a recent analysis by the Child and Family Policy Center in Iowa on presidential debate questions, the first 10 debates (six Republican and four Democratic) had 501 questions asked of the candidates and not a single one of them was on any of the issues with respect to “Child Health, Safety, School Readiness, and Educational Success.” Although there were some questions of importance to children around issues related to the budget, poverty, health care, and the environment, not a single one of the 501 questions asked were specific to the needs of our nation’s children, even though they account for 25 percent of the population and all of our future.

According to the Child and Family Policy Center:

While candidates made frequent mention of their own children and grandchildren in their opening and closing remarks and spoke to the need to equip children for the future, missing from the questions were any about the status and well-being of the nation’s children and what should be done to ensure their growth and development into productive adults.

At First Focus Campaign for Children, we are, like 69 percent of Americans, deeply concerned that the next generation will be worse off, and we have been pushing to make children a greater national priority. Consequently, we stand ready to analyze and share information with the public about the candidates’ proposals with respect to children. However, as the Child and Family Policy Center notes, other than policy statements from 11 of the 14 candidates on education, “No candidate website has a specific issue section on children, on poverty, or on addressing of racial disparity.”

In light of the lack of attention focused on children, it was a great surprise to see Hillary Clinton release a new ad whose title is simply “Children.” Although the minute-long ad does not get into policy specifics, it is focused exclusively on children.

In a series of clips pulled together to highlight that Clinton has been talking about children’s issues throughout her career, she says:

Our children’s future is shaped both by the values of their parents and the policies of their nation. It’s time to protect the next generation, fill the lives of our children with possibility and hope, [and] open up the doors so that every child has a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential.

With that, we challenge the other 13 presidential candidates to lay down their vision for our nation’s children. American families deserve to hear what the candidates would propose to do to address early childhood, education, child health, child nutrition, poverty, homelessness, hunger, child abuse, infant mortality, family medical leave, the children of immigrants, and birthright citizenship, among others.

Although we are happy to hear that the candidates love their children and grandchildren, what is more important in a presidential campaign is to hear about their plans to improve the lives of the other 75 million children living in this nation and the 15 million children living in poverty.

We also know that current federal budget projections show that federal interest on the debt will exceed all federal spending dedicated to children by 2018 unless things change. So, what would the candidates do, if anything, to change our nation’s budget priorities for the next generation?

Although we strongly believe in the role of journalism in a democratic society to raise issues and to present facts on issues of importance, we clearly cannot count on them alone to raise key issues of consequence to children. Therefore, we urge child advocates everywhere to: (1) educate yourselves about the issues; (2) attend town halls and ask questions; (3) push candidates for answers to questions about the future of our children; and, (4) push the media to cover children’s issues. If you are using social media to do so, we ask that you use the hashtags #WhatAboutKids or #KidsOnTheBallot so others can join you.

.@HillaryClinton’s new ad puts #KidsOnTheBallot >> v/ @First_Focus #WhatAboutKids
Tweet this now.

Do you share our vision of making America a better place to be a child and raise a family? Then you should be a part of The Children’s Network, a movement led by individuals, non-profit organizations, and businesses committed to the health, education, and well-being of children in the United States.Become a part of the network and receive exclusive materials, updates, and opportunities to take action on behalf of our children. 

First Focus is a bipartisan organization dedicating to making children and families the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. You can support our work by making a donation or joining The Children’s Network to receive updates and action alerts.