Saturday, April 12, 2008

Column links

Looking for links from this morning's column? You've come to the right place:

  • Here's the link to the home page for the Every Child Matters Education Fund;
  • Here's the link to the main "Geography Matters" page;
  • Here's the link to the "Geography Matters" report itself; and
  • Here's the link to the "Homeland Insecurity" report.

Also, here's the link to the page listing Alabama's rankings in the various measures considered in the "Geography Matters" report. At a glance, Alabama ranked:

  • 45th out of 50 states in deaths of infants per 1,000 live births;
  • 41st in deaths per 100,000 children aged 1-14;
  • 47th in deaths per 100,000 teens aged 15-19;
  • 40th in births to teen mothers (15-19) per 1,000 teen girls;
  • 25th in births to women receiving late or no prenatal care;
  • 41st in children living in poverty;
  • 15th in uninsured children;
  • 41st in juvenile incarceration rate (per 100,000);
  • 35th in child abuse fatalities per 100,000 children; and
  • 26th in per capita child welfare expenditures.

I was glad to see that Alabama wasn't considered to be one of the 10 worst states for child welfare. But my relief was short-lived: The Yellowhammer State barely missed the dubious distinction, appearing just outside the bottom 10 in the overall list -- what the ECMEF calls its Child Vulnerability Index -- at No. 40. (Live in a different state? Click here for your state's ranking; click on the arrow for the state summary.)

Ready to get involved, but don't know where to start? Click here to find your elected officials. Just enter your zip code for a list of your state and federal lawmakers. And don't forget your local council members and county commissioners; often, the best and most effective policies affecting children are made on the level closest to them. If you need assistance in determining who your local officials are, contact me; I'll be happy to help.

Once you know who to call, here are six questions ECMEF advocates urge you to ask your local, state and national officeholders and candidates this election season:

  1. 8.6 million children have no health insurance in the U.S. How do you propose to ensure that children grow up healthy and have access to comprehensive health care?
  2. More than 3 million children nationwide were reported abused and neglected in 2006. What are your plans to keep all children safe from violence in their homes, schools, and communities?
  3. Millions of children are left alone every day after school. What is your position on how to keep children safe and supervised in the late afternoon and early evening hours?
  4. Millions of children lack access to early learning opportunities. What is your position on early learning and care, including preparing children for kindergarten?
  5. 13.6 million of America’s children live in poverty. What would you do to help families with children become economically self-sufficient and able to provide for their family’s needs?
  6. Millions of children have a parent in prison. How would you address the needs of these children?

As you can see, there's plenty to be done. Don't ignore this problem. Don't turn your back on the kids who need you. Consider how you can help, and get involved. As Gandhi so aptly said, "Be the change you seek in your world."

Thank you for caring for these little ones!