Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona today urged viewers during the first event of Children’s Week 2021 to “be a voice for children” by writing a letter or using social media to push on the issues that are important for kids.

“As an educator my whole life, I know the importance of looking at children holistically when we make decisions,” Cardona said in recorded remarks. “We need to be thinking about our children in every policy decision we make.”

First Focus on Children’s fourth annual Children’s Week takes place as children factor into our national dialogue for the first time in decades. With kids as the subject of several proposals from Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration, Children’s Week will focus on the biggest issues of the day — from taxes and immigration to foreign policy and educational equity — and how each impacts kids and families. Because — no matter the issue — #ItsAKidsIssue.

Cardona and a panel of advocates and academics highlighted the historic investments in children proposed by the Administration’s American Families Plan during the kick-off event, titled “The American Families Plan: What’s it mean for kids?”

Among its many proposals, the American Families Plan offers groundbreaking investments in child care and early learning, creates paid family and medical leave, and expands child-related tax credits that have the potential to cut child poverty in half. It builds on the success of the American Rescue Plan, passed in March, which will cut child poverty in half in 2021.

“I’m not so sure people look to the tax code immediately when they think of children,” said Michelle Dallafior, First Focus Senior Vice President for Budget and Tax. “But we’re making incredibly important changes to the tax code that will benefit children…The [child tax credit] is one of the most significant federal investments we make in children annually. And the improvements passed in the American Rescue Plan and recommended for extension in the American Families Plan are the largest contributor in the plan’s historic reduction in poverty.”

But panelists also signaled that implementation — that is, actually getting the legislation passed by Congress — is key.

“If no other action is taken, poverty rates in 2022 could shoot right back up to where they had been before the pandemic hit,” said Megan Curran, Policy Director at Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy. “Which means all this hard-fought progress would be lost.”

More than 10 million U.S. children were living in poverty before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to expanding and increasing the amount of the child tax credit, the Administration’s plan would deliver the money to families on a monthly basis, rather than at the end of the year. This monthly payment could be life-changing for many low and no-income families.

“I’ve had mothers tell me they’re very excited about this because it means they can buy enough laundry detergent, they can maybe buy a washer and dryer for their own home, they can afford the extra expenses of car insurance or maybe getting a vehicle on the road because of new tires and they can actually pass the West Virginia vehicle inspection,” said Amy Jo Hutchison, an economic justice advocate from West Virginia. “I know a mother who’s looking forward to possibly the opportunity of moving her kids out of the projects for the first time in their lives with the extra $250 a month.”

Calling the proposals for child care and early learning “a bold, substantial and sustainable investment,” Lucy Recio, Senior Analyst of Public Policy at National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) said the American Families Plan also addresses the structural issues that hinder child care, such as investing in child care workers, who generally make “poverty-level wages.” The American Families Plan offers a historic $425 billion simultaneous investment in child care and pre-K, which is designed to increase equity.

To see all Children’s Week events, spanning June 13 to June 19, visit this link.