Why This Matters

The Vote for Kids campaign is an initiative by the independent, nonpartisan organization Westchester Children’s Association that aims to elevate Westchester’s children and youth to the top of the public agenda among candidates, elected officials, media and the general public during the upcoming elections.

With children representing 24% of our country’s population and 100% of its future, it’s essential that we make sure that candidates address significant issues that affect our state’s and our nation’s children.

Vote for Kids provides tools to help you – as a child advocate, parent, caretaker or community member – keep children’s issues at the forefront of this election cycle. Find out what the candidates have to say about children and youth, become a more educated voter, and help ensure that children’s issues are not neglected.

What Are The Facts?

The Vote for Kids fact sheet series aims to help you be a more educated voter and advocate for young people. Each fact sheet provides information about a key issue that impacts children and youth.

Early Education

  • 75% of brain growth and 85% percent of intellect, personality, and social skills develop before age five – before a child ever steps foot in kindergarten.[1]
  • As many as 40% of America’s children start school well behind what is expected for their age. Even with high quality K-12 education, these children have difficulty catching up.[2]

Early Childhood Home Visiting

  • New York’s Office of Children and Family Services has designated Westchester as a high need community for early childhood home visiting services, which have been shown to improve many aspects of child well-being.[3]
  • 87% of parents with children under age four in New York did not receive a home visit in 2011-2012.[4]

Economic Security

  • Living in poverty, even for a short period of time, has life-long consequences for a child. Childhood poverty increases the risk of having poor health, dropping out of school, becoming a teen parent, and living in poverty as an adult.[5]
  • 1 in 4 children in Westchester live in families at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, which is $47,700 for a family of four.[6]

Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility

  • New York is one of only two states that prosecute 16 and 17 year olds as adults in the criminal justice system,[7] despite the fact that developmental research shows that the human brain is not fully formed until the age of 25.[8]
  • Young people transferred to the adult criminal justice system are approximately 34% more likely to be re-arrested for a violent crime than youth retained in the juvenile justice system.[9]

We Can Do Better

Join us in making sure that candidates in the upcoming election prioritize young people. In addition to the presidential election this fall, all members of the New York State Senate and Assembly are up for election. These officials make critical decisions impacting our children, youth and families.

To be eligible to vote in the November elections, you must register to vote by October 14th. To register, click here or to find your polling place, click here.


Footnotes

[1] Schulyer Center for Analysis and Advocacy. Quality: What It Is and Why It Matters for Early Childhood Education. September 2012, http://www.scaany.org/documents/quality_earlyed_scaapolicybrief_ sept2012.pdf.

[2] Child and Family Policy Center. Securing America’s Future: Children and the 2014 Elections. July 2014, http://itsaboutourkidsiowa.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/childrenand-the-2014-election-opt.pdf.

[3] New York State Department of Health Center for Community Health. Request for Applications: Maternal and Infant Health Initiative. October 2012, http://www.health.ny.gov/funding/rfa/inactive/1207271237/1207271237.pdf.

[4] Annie E. Casey Foundation. Kids Count Data Center, Children Ages Birth To 3 Whose Parent Did Not Receive A New Parent Home Visit. Retrieved September 2, 2014, http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/Tables/7875-children-ages-birth-to-3-whose-parent-did-notreceive-a-new-parent-home-visit?loc=34&loct=2#detailed/2/34/false/1021/any/15188,15187.

[5] Magnuson, Katherine A., and Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal. “Enduring influences of childhood poverty.” University of Wisconsin-Madison, Institute for Research on Poverty, 2008.

[6] U.S. Census Bureau. 2012 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table B17024, http://factfinder2.census.gov.

[7] Raise the Age New York. “Raise the Age Campaign Fact Sheet.” http://raisetheageny.com/get-the-facts.

[8] MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice. Issue Brief #3: Less Guilty by Reason of Adolescence. www.adjj.org/downloads/6093issue_brief_3.pdf.

[9] National Campaign to Reform State Juvenile Justice Systems. The Fourth Wave: Juvenile Justice Reforms for the Twenty-Frist Century. Winter 2013, http://www.publicinterestprojects.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/The-Fourth-WaveLong.pdf.

See Also

Voting Resources

Questionnaire Responses from Westchester County Officials

Other Resources