One-in-five U.S. kids live in poverty today. Yet candidates for office rarely mention the word “poverty,” let alone offer real solutions for our children. That’s why I joined a coalition of leading children’s advocates in sending President Obama and Governor Romney letters last month asking how each would address child poverty if elected President in November. The questions included:

  1. What are your plans to ensure that (a) comprehensive health care, (b) quality educational opportunity beginning with appropriate pre-school programs, and (c) food security are available for all at-risk, vulnerable children?
  2. What will you pledge to do in your first 100 days to address childhood poverty?
  3. What is your long-term vision for how to permanently ensure that future generations of children will not have to face the specter of crushing poverty?

This week the coalition received a response from President Obama. His response cited successful investments in kids under his Administration including the expansion of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, the expansion of the successful bipartisan Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Affordable Care Act that expanded preventive care for 14 million children and keeps insurance companies from denying coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions like asthma or cancer. And he promised that if reelected he would invest in high-quality early childhood education, fix the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and prevent tax raises on families.

Governor Romney’s campaign declined to respond in writing to our letter.

First Focus will be listening for more from the candidates on child poverty, especially solutions to this American problem. And, according to a poll from our partners at First Focus Campaign for Children, voters are waiting too: nearly two-thirds of likely voters want the presidential candidates to focus more on kids.

You can join conversation about child poverty on Twitter by following @First_Focus and using the hashtags #Kids2012 and #talkpoverty.