Who are we as a society if we don't prioritize our children? Better yet, who will we be as a society if we don't prioritize our children?
Ensuring that our children have experiences that lead to good outcomes is more than a moral issue- it's also an economic issue. Children are our future. When we retire, they will be the business leaders that keep our economy vibrant; they will be the policymakers sitting in Legislative Hall & the Governor's Office. They will be our entrepreneurs, our educators & our nonprofit directors. They will be the leaders who guide Delaware in the next century. In one short generation, today's children will be the parents, workers, volunteers, leaders, and change makers determining the social and economic vitality of our state.
And yet, data indicates that our children do not all have access to the same opportunities. Disparities exist in well-being outcomes by gender, ZIP code, and income. Further, we see disparities along racial and ethnic lines in nearly every indicator of child well-being. Delaware is not alone; this problem is one that exists across the nation. Our youngest generation is our most diverse yet and this pattern is projected to continue. If we want a better future for all of us, we need better results for all kids now. We must recognize that while children have different starting points, all children deserve access to opportunities that lead to prosperity and we must take action to create those opportunities. Equality of opportunity is not something that just happens: it is a product of systems, policies, and programs that work together to lay a foundation that allows all of our youngest Delawareans to have an equal chance for participation and for success.
Policy change is rarely quick, simple, or easy. Yet, policy matters. Making kids a priority in our budgets matters. Tracking outcomes for kids across time matters. Access to quality early childhood programs matter. Health care and home visiting matters. Afterschool programming and adequately staffing our schools and compensating our teachers matter. Tax credits that help hard-working Delaware families put food on the table matter. And all of these things matter not just for the good they do, but for the harm they prevent and the money they save. Investing in our kids and families pays dividends many times over for our communities and for our state, a smart economic strategy.
Effective change must start with accurate, reliable, unbiased data. The KIDS COUNT Data Center provides access to hundreds of indicators of child well-being for state and national geographies. KIDS COUNT Data Center users can access raw data or create compelling visualizations like profiles, maps, rankings and line graphs of data on important issues which affect children and their families. The online Data Center is a free resource which allows for data sharing across many networks – the kind of data that can inform policy changes and targeted investment in the areas that will make the most difference for today's children, tomorrow's workforce and our shared future.