It’s time to start preparing for the 2060 Presidential election. No, I’m serious. Today, somewhere in Utah, there are children who could run for President of the United States in 2060 and beyond.
I hope they are nurtured by parents who are economically secure and prepared to parent to the best of their ability. I hope they have affordable, effective health care and have health insurance so they don’t worry about whether they can access care. I hope they have access to quality preschool if they need it so they are ready to learn when they start kindergarten. I hope they are taught by teachers who are valued; who are paid a wage that recognizes the important, valuable influence they have on a child’s intellect and ability to succeed. I hope they live in a community that supports them throughout their lives, that makes sure that all children in the community have what they need to succeed, not just those living in certain zip codes. I hope they live in communities that recognize that care for our environment means healthier, happier kids. And I hope they live in a society that values all life, all nationalities, all humanity. Because that kid could be the hero we need to bring a nation together.
Unfortunately, many kids don’t live this life in Utah today. As Diposh Navsaria said, “We fail kids, long before they fail us.” Too many live in poverty in our state, 120,155 to be exact. If you want a visualization, that’s enough kids to fill the Huntsman Center, Vivint Smart Home Arena, Smith’s Ballpark, Rice-Eccles Stadium, the Maverick Center, and the Dee Events Center at one time.
We don’t always provide these at-risk kids with the support they need. All-day kindergarten is not available to all kids; there is not nearly enough quality, affordable; we have the lowest per pupil k-12 expenditures in the nation; we have one of the highest rates of uninsured kids in the nation, and the highest rate of uninsured Hispanic kids.
Nationally, we continually fight to keep food stamps from being cut, we worry about cuts to the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid, we wonder if families will be torn apart in the same breath that we say how much we value families. And everywhere, across this nation and in Utah, sometimes your zip code determines if you succeed or fail.
When will be learn that when our children succeed, our city, community, nation, and society succeed. When will we understand that supporting children and families IS economic development. Because when we support our children, when we raise capable, loving, experienced children they become the bedrock and the foundation, of a successful society.
At Voices for Utah Children we always ask the question, “Is it Good for Kids?” when working on policies affecting children and families. We collect data, we do research, and we share information with experts across the United States. I want to be able to say that the future President of the United States from the great state of Utah could be any child in the state, not just the lucky ones born to the right parents, born in an affluent neighborhood, and born with the best chance of success. When asked, “Is it good for the 2060 candidate for President?”, I want our state to be able to say, “yes, we did the best we could do for all our children; All our children had the opportunity to succeed.” Hail to the future Chief!