The United States ranks at or near the bottom on almost every indicator regarding governmental policies toward children today. Far too many children fall through the cracks in American society. With gun violence rampant and mass shootings occurring in schools, millions of kids living with chronic trauma and suffering PTSD that rivals that of veterans returning from war, unconscionably high child poverty rates, an inadequate foster care system, critically damaging school bullying, and an uneven quality of our public schools according to financially advantaged or disadvantaged neighborhoods, we are imperiling our future by neglecting our youth. Such factors as those are not acceptable in the richest nation in the world; our country should be as good as anyplace for a child to grow up. While most Americans would agree with that, the fact remains that there are far too many American youth trapped in circumstances it would take heroic efforts to transcend. Our job is not just to help children survive, but instead to provide them the adequate resources and tools with which to thrive. They deserve nothing less, and a just and sustainable future depends on it.
A Williamson administration will prioritize a massive realignment of investment in the direction of our children, co-ordinated through a cabinet-level U.S. Department of Children and Youth. Beginning with attention to our relatively high infant mortality rate, this department will take a systems approach to raising new generations of thriving Americans. It will implement integrated and systemic “wrap-around services” that focus on providing a whole-systems approach through intensive family and community-based programs that focus on addressing and improving all factors that impact children living in the U.S. Taking care of our children and helping them become productive citizens in the 21st century will be our administration’s highest priority.
The Department of Children and Youth will focus on connecting the dots on all programs, grants and direct appropriations that involve children living in the United States which include Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Homeland Security, and others, with the overall goal of making the U.S. the best country in the world for a child to grow up.
The Department of Children and Youth will conduct a comprehensive study of all departments with programs related to Americans 0-18 (and, for children with disabilities, this can be extended to 21) with the focus of identifying specific ways the federal government can improve the quality of life and personal growth of every child in America. It will simultaneously work to coordinate and immediately ramp-up implementation of evidence-based and promising programs with all relevant agencies. The agency will develop a best practices program database throughout states and the federal government, by area of need and expertise, to fully support our country’s education and community services systems. It will also coordinate swift funding, tools and expertise to implement on a broad-scale.
Many of the programs and much of the expertise needed to accomplish all this already exists. America has some of the best educators, medical and nutritional experts, social workers and early childhood experts in the world. Sadly, however, that is not where America puts our focus or our resources. That is what must end. Such experts need recognition and dramatically ramped up support to provide better services, and through a Department of Childhood and Youth they will receive it. This Department will have a mandate to provide resources, coordinate activity, and support world-class American talent in accomplishing the department's goals.
High quality education is essential to the “pursuit of happiness,” and every school in America should be a palace of learning, culture and the arts. Working towards that goal will be a hallmark of a Williamson administration, working in coordination with the Department of Education and the Department of Children and Youth. The United States is currently the only advanced industrialized society that bases its educational funding on property taxes, amounting to a civil rights violation against American children. There must be a federal mandate that every school, in every state, must provide the highest quality education.
In addition, the Department of Children and Youth will do the following: