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The First Focus Campaign for Children CONGRESSIONAL Scorecard

Our nation’s children face an array of problems, including poverty, violence, abuse, neglect, hunger, education inequity, poor nutrition, homelessness, lack of health coverage, infant and child mortality, and family separation of mixed immigrant households. These issues demand attention, policy solutions, political will, and action that make children a priority.

Unfortunately, kids are far too often an afterthought in Congress. The problem is that children don’t vote and don’t have Political Action Committees (PACs) that garner and demand attention.

Children need Champions and Defenders who are willing to focus on, support, raise their voices, and attach their name to legislation that would improve the lives of our nation’s children and actively oppose legislation that would harm kids.

In an attempt to recognize those lawmakers in the second session of the 115th Congress who worked to improve the lives of our nation’s children through public policy change, we are pleased to present our scorecard.

The 2018 Champions and Defenders OF Children

This year’s 120 Champions and Defenders of Children include 40 senators and 80 representatives who have stepped forward to make children a top priority in the Senate and House. Many others in Congress have taken important votes that would either improve the lives of children or protect children from harm or might prioritize children on a specific issue. In contrast, what makes this group of 120 policymakers unique is that they have moved to address problems facing America’s children across a whole range of issues. 

Champions consistently pursue policies and legislation that make children a priority. Defenders often consider children’s interests in their votes and bills. Furthermore, as Congress debates and sets the nation’s federal priorities on policy and budget matters, these lawmakers are willing to ask—and demand a positive answer to—the simple but critically important question: “Is it good for the children?”

As advocates for children, we want to take this opportunity to spotlight the 2018 Champions and Defenders of Children and express our gratitude and appreciation to them for their support for children.

However, we must also solemnly reflect on the fact that we are still short of what it takes to enact meaningful change for children across all issue areas. For example, nearly 20 percent, or 1 in 5, of our nation’s children are living in poverty, and yet, Congress continues to pay little attention to that crisis. 

That inaction is unacceptable. We must redouble our efforts to encourage the public to make children a priority when they vote and to get legislators to make children a priority when they arrive in Washington, D.C. Children are counting on us to hold our legislators accountable for representing and addressing their needs.

Methodology

Individual Lawmakers:

  • Key Votes: Accompanying this Scorecard is a “Key Votes” page on our website. FFCC recognizes that not all votes are equal. Therefore, we weigh major votes more heavily than minor votes. We also give members extra points if they show the courage to vote in the best interest of children in the face of an opposing position from a majority of their party.

  • Key Bills: Going a step further, the FFCC Legislative Scorecard recognizes that lawmakers often negotiate and make decisions on legislation well before House and Senate votes. Consequently, rather than just tracking votes on bills and amendments, the FFCC Legislative Scorecard includes a more in-depth analytical framework. Our Scorecard awards additional points to policymakers from our website’s “Bill Tracker” based on their sponsorship and co-sponsorship (original sponsors are awarded more points) of key legislation that helps children. For a list of 2018 Key Bills, see page 10.

Finally, we also award points based on membership in congressional caucuses specific to children and other actions (including major letters, floor speeches, hearings, etc.) policymakers engage in that would positively or negatively impact children.

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Previous Award Recipients