There are no shortage of concerns on the minds of Kentuckians as we prepare to vote this November. This will be a consequential election. The local, state, and federal leaders we select will determine policy that will impact our daily lives for what may be generations to come. But how often do we pause to consider–specifically–how our choices at the ballot box will impact us, and particularly young children who depend on us to make the right choices?
We must keep the needs of children front and center this election season. Kids cannot vote, but you can ensure that their voices are heard by asking candidates in state and federal elections tough questions. Check out our Electoral Advocacy Toolkit slideshow as you prepare your organization, community group, or self to speak with candidates.
Before you begin, check out data on child well-being and some recent policies for kids and families. Resources include:
- Kentucky KIDS COUNT 2019 County Data Book
- KIDS COUNT Data Center
- County-level data and data by race/ethnicity
- Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children and past wins for kids
- COVID-19 Action Hub
- National data about effects of COVID-19 on children and families: The U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey is measuring household experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic with questions on employment status, spending patterns, food security, housing, physical and mental health, access to health care, and educational disruption. Phase 1 of the experimental survey took place from April through July–view an interactive data tool for select indicators, as well as 12 weeks’ worth of detailed data tables.
After learning how kids are faring in your community, ask your candidates what they plan to do to improve the lives of kids and their families.
What are your policy priorities related to kids and families?
Ask candidates how their policy ideas will directly impact children and families. Children are so often an afterthought in legislation, or worse, left totally out of the picture. Asking about specific policies and budget priorities related to kids is a good strategy to raise the profile of children’s issues with candidates vying for your vote.
What about our kids?
As the saying goes, all politics is local. As you learn about the needs of kids in your county or legislative district, you may discover that your neck of the woods has, for example, a higher percentage of children living in poverty or higher rates of child maltreatment. Take this opportunity to educate candidates about the status of kids. Change has to start somewhere; it might as well start in your neighborhood or county.
Do your policies serve the needs of all kids?
Do not be afraid to ask candidates if their ideas will serve the needs of all children. We must elect leaders who will prioritize equity among urban and rural, racially diverse, differently abled, and economically disparate children. Access to essential services, like high quality child care and safe, liveable environments, are critical to ensuring children get the opportunities they need to lead successful, fulfilling lives. No child should be denied these basic supports and services.
What have you done for kids lately?
Whether the candidate you’re speaking with is an experienced public official or new to running for office, check their track record. If a candidate is an elected official and has little or no positive impact on children to show for their time in office, ask why. Check your candidate’s voting record, and see if they have been publicly recognized for their support for kid-friendly bills, or have voiced their concern for the needs of children in local media. If your candidate has not yet held elected office, ask what their personal, professional, and community commitments have been to kids and families.
Whether it be by ensuring children receive the nutritional services or healthcare they need, or that kids are treated fairly in the juvenile justice system, there is no shortage of children’s issues for candidates to address. Make sure that they made their time in office count, or make room for someone new.
Thank you for putting kids first!
This last point isn’t exactly a question, but a heartfelt “thank you” is powerful. Amidst all the toxicity of politics and criticisms in our capitals, gratitude and positivity can go a long way. Imagine if more voters praised politicians who actually put kids first — their peers might just start to pay attention and do the same. Remember that it’s your voice that can have an impact on who wins their election–and who is left throwing away old yard signs the next morning. Use your praise (or scorn) wisely and make an impact for kids!
Throughout this election season, Kentucky Youth Advocates will be engaging candidates at the state and federal levels. We invite you to:
- Participate in our upcoming virtual candidate forums:
- Kentucky House District 13 candidates, Representative Jim Glenn, Jr. and candidate and former Representative DJ Johnson — watch a recording of the forum HERE
- Kentucky House District 33 candidates, Representative Jason Nemes and candidate Margaret Plattner — watch a recording of the forum HERE
- Kentucky House District 32 candidates, Representative Tina Bojanowski and candidate Hunt Rounsavall — watch a recording of the forum HERE
- Conversation with U.S. Senate Candidate Amy McGrath — watch a recording of the forum HERE
- Utilize this Electoral Advocacy Toolkit in preparation for or as a guide when speaking with candidates
- Prepare for the 2020 election:
We encourage you to learn the tools of the children’s advocacy trade and be sure to ask candidates a question or two from the list above. Let’s make kids count in this election, Kentucky!