In this election year, one important constituency is being overlooked: children.
Millions of American children are in serious jeopardy today. It's a shameful fact that should be a front-burner issue for all candidates, particularly during the vice presidential debate to be held in St. Louis.
The United States has the second-worst child poverty rate (after Mexico) among 26 of the world's most affluent nations.
To underscore the serious and worsening circumstances facing millions of U.S. children, Every Child Matters calculates that in the seven years since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, roughly 28,000 American children have died as a result of child abuse, suicide or homicide; 20 million American children were reported as abused; 1,135,000 more American children are in poverty; 4,450,000 additional Americans and their families have no health insurance; and 300,000 people, many of them with young children, were added to the U.S. prison population.
Abused and neglected children also have the right to receive appropriate care while in government custody. And yet the state of Missouri is paying for one in four children, leaving foster care providers to raise private money to support the other three children, according to the Foster Care Minimum Adequate Rates for Children report that was released last October.
The state doesn't pay Missouri Department of Transportation contractors to pave one in four miles of road, leaving the contractors to find private money to fund the other three miles of road. Why do we expect less for our children?
We urge all Missourians to join us in calling for political discourse that ensures every child is safe, healthy and has meaningful opportunity. Children - whether they live with their biological family or in foster care - are our most precious resource.
Carmen Schulze, executive director
Missouri Coalition of Children's Agencies
Jefferson City, MO