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Calling on Debate Moderators to Challenge Candidates to State Their Position on Children’s Issues

Next Administration Will Play Critical Role in America’s Investment in the Next Generation, Yet Voters Have No Idea Where the Candidates Stand on Policy Issues That Impact Kids


San Francisco, CA – Today, The Center for the Next Generation joined First Focus Campaign for Children and Voices for America’s Children in calling on the moderators of the next Presidential and Vice Presidential debates to do something that Jim Lehrer did not do during last week’s debate in Denver: challenge the candidates to make their positions clear on policies related to the country’s most valuable asset, children. 

A national survey of parents, released in September by the Center for the Next Generation and Parents Magazine, found that 58 percent felt the presidential candidates were not spending enough time talking about children and family issues. A nationwide poll released in September by the First Focus Campaign for Children found that 63 percent of likely voters – including 59 percent of those without kids – wanted the presidential campaigns to focus more on children’s issues.  Yet last week in Denver, the candidates rarely were pressed on where they stand on issues related to kids.

In a letter to ABC News Correspondent Martha Raddatz and CNN Correspondent Candy Crowley, the organizations wrote, “Children’s issues are timely issues. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a budget plan that would make deep cuts to critical investments in children’s health, child care, family tax credits that lift children out of poverty, child nutrition, and child abuse and neglect prevention and response. The winner of November’s presidential election will play an important role in advancing or impeding this divestment from children, and the American people should know where each candidate stands before casting their ballots….”

In their letter to the moderators of the next two debates, the organizations included specific questions to ask the candidates:

  • Should the United States make a national commitment to eliminate child poverty (now at a 40 year high) within a generation, as the United Kingdom has?


  • The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid have protected children from becoming uninsured during the recession. Should Congress support or reject a budget plan that cuts CHIP and Medicaid, resulting in more kids without health insurance?


  • About half of every Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dollar goes to children. With one in five children already living in families affected by hunger, would you sign or veto legislation making deep cuts in child nutrition?


  • The Child Tax Credit lifts more than one million U.S. kids out of poverty every year. Should Congress ensure that any changes to the Child Tax Credit do not result in the credit’s denial to any eligible child?


  • Child care costs consume up to 15% of a typical family’s income. Yet investments that make child care more affordable are on the chopping block in the upcoming budget “sequestration” debate. Would you sign or veto sequestration legislation making deep cuts to child care?


  • The U.S. House of Representatives’ budget plan would eliminate a grant program that 35 states use for child abuse and neglect prevention and response. Would you sign or veto legislation that cuts funding for child abuse and neglect prevention and response?


  • The federal government has a detailed budget for weather forecasts, but it does not compile an official record of federal investments in kids. Will you commit to sending Congress an official “children’s budget” in 2013?


The organizations conclude in their letter, “This is the moment to put timely issues on the table. This is the moment to give voters what they want. This is the moment to focus on kids.”

To receive a copy of the letter, contact Lisa Cohen at


About The Center for the Next Generation

The Center for the Next Generation works to shape national dialogue around two major challenges that affect the prospects of America’s Next Generation—advancing a sustainable energy future and improving opportunities for children and families. As a nonpartisan organization, the Center generates original strategies that advance these goals through research, policy development and strategic communications. In our home state of California, the Center works to create ground-tested solutions that demonstrate success to the rest of the nation.



Contact: Lisa Cohen, 310-395-2544

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