What We Owe Young Children

Washington, DC (December 2, 2020)—Early childhood is a crucial period of growth and learning that can influence children’s opportunities well into adulthood and can shape the future of families and communities. Systemic racism harms young children—and all of us—by molding the policies that impact young children and their families, and creating hurdles that limit the opportunities that Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other children of color and immigrant children experience throughout their lives.

A new resource from the Center for the Study of Social Policy, What We Owe Young Children, An Anti-Racist Policy Platform for Early Childhood, urges policymakers to enact policies that root out systemic racism and ensure that all children can have a happy and healthy start to life. The platform outlines 10 policies that, together, would transform the way we support children and families. The policies are designed to dismantle systemic racism by redressing historic injustices and meeting the needs of children and families of color, and all families, in their diversity and variety of experience.

The agenda includes concrete policy changes that could be enacted now to promote the health and well-being of children and families, as well as long term and ambitious ideas to ensure children and families are valued, included, and belong. For example, a healthy housing guarantee would ensure that children and their families can afford safe housing in communities that are free from toxins and pollution. A national child allowance would guarantee a basic income for families with children that would help cover the costs of raising the next generation. Reparations for Black and Indigenous families would begin to pay a debt that the nation owes families and help ensure that all young children can see that the country has taken steps to right past wrongs, and can see themselves and their peers as part of the nation’s future.

“To effectively promote the well-being and economic security of young children and their families, we must center children and families of color to ensure that they benefit from policy change,” said Megan Martin, Executive Vice President of CSSP. “We must also break down policy silos that too often constrain our thinking. This agenda calls for sweeping reforms that reimagine what is possible for children and families of color, and for all families.”

As a nation, we have failed to confront what families of color have long known: our institutions have systematically disadvantaged and threatened families of color, from our nation’s founding. We urge policymakers and the people who elect them to consider this policy platform and what it will take to implement it. Undoing centuries of racist policy will not be easy, but we owe it to future generations—and to generations past—to seek justice, opportunity, and well-being for our children.

Download the full report here.

About CSSP. The Center for the Study of Social Policy is a national, non-profit policy organization that connects community action, public system reform, and policy change to create a fair and just society. We work to achieve a racially, economically, and socially just society in which all children and families thrive by translating ideas into action, promoting public policies grounded in equity, supporting strong and inclusive communities, and advocating with and for all children and families marginalized by public policies and institutional practices.