As we approach local, state and national elections, I can’t think of any time better than RIGHT NOW for parents to decide that they want to have a voice regarding our the future.
The political process is frustratingly deaf to public concerns, but at our patriotic core, Americans still hold on to a thread of belief that “We the People” still matter and that by voting, the elected representatives work for us.
They only work for us if we press the matter and demand action and answers. And they have to know we VOTE.
A few nights ago, I was inspired to write a question to a candidate who is actively answering questions posed from the public. I sent my question about a healthy food supply and the rising incidence of childhood diseases to AskBen@BenCarson.com. As a physician, I am eager to learn his position on this. The activity got me to thinking about my many other concerns and I’m sure I share some of them with fellow moms and dads. For instance:
- Family policy in America is well behind other Western nations, especially in terms of maternity/paternity leave and flexible work schedules. What are we going to do to improve this?
- The age range from zero to five is the most critical in child development, yet our nation treats childcare as if it weren’t important. Salaries for childcare workers are too low and turnover is high. Centers can barely afford to stay open, let alone provide the quality care that is necessary to nurture children and get them school ready. Parents can barely afford quality care on today’s middle class wages and lower income parents resort to solutions that potentially put a baby in harm’s way. (In Pinellas County, there are approximately 3,000 children on the waiting list for childcare subsidies.) We created an economic reality that requires families to need two, three or four jobs to make ends meet. What can we do to improve the state of our childcare system so it can do a better job of early childhood development for all children?
- Now that our public education system is being turned into a one size fits all system, we have increasingly more children who need supplemental help. Additionally, as we see continued increases in ADHD/ADD, autism, allergies, learning disabilities, asthma, food sensitivities and more, we have more and more children who require different types of therapies to help them develop to their potential. Most insurance policies pay very little for therapies such as occupational, physical and speech. Schools cannot meet the demand and only the most severe cases are provided therapy. Most parents cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs. Do we continue to let our children flounder or do we invest money into helping our children reach their potential? Potential that cannot be measured on a test!
- American education is in chaos and the voices of parents are falling on deaf legislative ears. How do we de-politicize education and refocus the attention away from power and money and ON TO the needs of the children? Additionally, how do we stop the attack on teachers and create a system that properly compensates them for their professional expertise?
- We have children in this country who are without homes, without food, without proper mental health care, without strong parental leadership and without hope. The past eight years has seen nothing but budget cuts to programs that are lifelines to children and families who are legitimately in need and in crisis. Likewise charities and ministries have seen reduced donations or have closed down permanently. What can we do to rebuild a responsible safety net system and provide adequate mental health services in America?
- We need to take a serious look at the student loan program and make some corrections from the past. Plus we need to stop outrageous tuitions that are putting our young people in debt. When can we get this started?
- At what point did it become okay for a credit card to charge 22% interest while the banks will only pay a half of percent on a savings account? How can Americans be encouraged to save and create sustainable lives for their families this way? Why did the banks get that bailout? Whose side is the government on?
- Along these same lines, the middle class is slipping away. Families are struggling to pay rising utility bills and grocery bills. (Notice how when the gas prices went down the cost of groceries did not?) Healthcare costs have gone up for many families, and parents are foregoing their own health care. Housing costs in America are too high. These financial strains and more are strapping families at a time that salaries are simply not keeping pace. Don’t talk to me about employment rates. Talk to me about the livability of those wages? Which candidate is going to take a real look at everyday Americans and address the issue of salaries as compared to the rising cost of living? The economy is said to be improving, but Americans are still not getting raises, especially the ones in the public sector.
- I regularly hear from families who been living for nearly a decade with no raise while taking on the larger costs for healthcare and other benefits just to stay employed. Many of these are public employees, law enforcement, education and civil servants. One reader called it “the new normal.” There are no shareholders in government, no board of directors to complain to and no opportunities to strike. All we can do is vote for leaders who will make changes and stop the attitude of “You take what you get or you try to find a new job.” This is not what America is about. Our own government has resorted to tactics that take advantage of their own workers.
- Baby boomers continue to age, and Generation X will be coming around the corner. Both generations have lost significant amounts of retirement funds or never had the chance to build a retirement due to the recession and job loss. What are we going to do with the massive number of elderly citizens who can’t afford to get old? What are we going to do support the caregivers, who by the way, are mostly women who care for kids and parents at the same time while working. Who stands up for those women?
These are just a few of my pressing issues for presidential candidates that dig deeper into the state of the American family. Of course we are concerned about national security, job growth, healthcare and social security, but as parents, we are also concerned about much, much more and those issues never seem to get talked about.
I WANT A CANDIDATE WHO CARES ABOUT CHILDREN AND FAMILIES ENOUGH TO TALK ABOUT SOLUTIONS TO THE ISSUES WE FACE EVERYDAY.
Note to Parents
None of this matters unless we as parents actually get informed and make waves. In Pinellas County, voters under the age of 45 are severely underrepresented.
Get all adults in the family registered to vote
Do research and learn about the candidates
Think about what you need to make your family better
Send candidates the questions you have
Attend meetings and rallies
Volunteer on campaigns
Get out and VOTE
This article originally appeared as an editorial in the Fall 2015 issue of GoodLiving Magazine’s Guide to Happy and Healthy Kids. All rights reserved. written by publisher, Pamela Settle.