It’s over! The election is over. No matter how you voted or how you feel about the results, we can all breathe a sigh of relief, at least for the short while between now and the next election. In his acceptance speech, President Obama illustrated his vision for our future:

“Despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America’s future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teacher. We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”

In their acceptance and concession speeches, both President Obama and Governor Romney illustrated the importance of working together – of crossing the political aisle and focusing on our future. Now our elected officials at the local, state, and national levels must come together and work on laws and policies that will move our country forward. Most importantly, they must work to ensure children throughout Kentucky, and the country, can grow up safe, healthy, and ready to succeed.

Here’s a look ahead at some issues that we will be keeping an eye on in the near future at the state level:

  • We want to see policymakers in Kentucky work to reduce child deaths and near deaths due to abuse and neglect by making data more transparent and ensuring adequate resources are in place for proper investigations of child maltreatment.
  • Kentucky needs to stop locking up kids for things like skipping school and running away from home, and address the real reasons these youth are acting out – it’s better for the  youth, safer for the community and less expensive.
  • As a state, we also need to reduce children’s exposure to secondhand smoke by enacting a statewide, comprehensive smoke free law in all places of work.

At the federal level, the looming “fiscal cliff” (or sequestration) will be the next big issue for Congress to address. If Congress does not reach a debt-reduction deal by January 1, 2013, sequestration automatically kicks in. “Sequestration” is an across-the-board cut to most federal programs, including significant cuts to K-12 and early education. Some programs are protected from cuts, including SNAP, Medicaid, school meals, and refundable tax credits. Programs that will face cuts include: housing, WIC, child care, and job training. This is an area that requires policymakers to come together to reduce the deficit so we don’t pass down a legacy of debt to our children while also investing in vulnerable kids so they can be healthy, safe, and ready to become skilled workers in a 21st century economy.

In his concession speech, Governor Romney said:

“The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work, and we citizens also have to rise to occasion.”

So yes, the election is over and hopefully you voted, but this is not the time to sit back and see how all of this plays out. Here are some things that you can do now to help make a difference for kids:

  1. Contact your elected leaders regularly. If you have new elected officials, welcome them and share your hopes for kids.
  2. Talk  to your friends and family about how Kentucky children are faring
  3. Write a letter to the editor or respond to a letter
  4. Join us at Children’s Advocacy Day on February 7, 2013, in Frankfort.

We have to move on from November 6 and rise to the occasion to make Kentucky a better place for kids.