Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has put forth an ambitious plan aimed at addressing the systemic neglect of the foundational needs of millions of American children.
With a vision of building a society that values and prioritizes the well-being of its youngest members, Williamson’s proposal encompasses a wide range of comprehensive measures to ensure that every child in the country has access to proper healthcare, education, nutrition, and support services.
President Joe Biden is drawing significant criticism over the expiration of the expanded child tax credit, which was a key provision of his American Rescue Plan that provided financial assistance to millions of families with children, helping to alleviate the economic strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Biden let the credit expire at the end of 2022, leaving more than 12 million children — or roughly 1 in 5 children under age 17 — in poverty.
In her position paper titled “U.S. Department of Children & Youth: A Plan to Make Our Children First,” Williamson highlights the urgency of tackling the issue head-on.
She asks, “If an individual neglects a child, we call this unethical at best and criminal at worst. So what do we call a society that collectively neglects millions of our children?”
At the heart of her plan is the establishment of a cabinet-level Department of Children and Youth, dedicated to championing the needs and rights of children across the nation.
“Under my administration, the systemic collective neglect of the foundational needs of millions of American children will come to an end,” said Williamson. “As president, one of my top priorities will be the care and advocacy for America’s children. I will bring together the best childhood experts and I will act on their most important insights. I will develop a cabinet level Department of Children and Youth.”
Williamson emphasizes the importance of bringing together leading childhood experts to inform and guide policy decisions that will shape the future of American children.
The key components of Williamson’s proposal include:
- Proper prenatal care, irrespective of one’s ability to pay, to ensure healthy pregnancies and the well-being of expectant mothers.
- Access to comprehensive healthcare for pregnant women, ensuring that their medical needs are met throughout the entire pregnancy.
- Maternal and Paternal leave, allowing parents to bond with their newborns and provide crucial care during the early stages of a child’s life.
- Universal childcare and Universal pre-K, providing affordable and accessible early childhood education and care options for all families.
- High-quality elementary and secondary schools for every American student, aiming to bridge the education gap and provide equitable opportunities for all children.
- Nutritional excellence in food served and sold at public schools, promoting healthy eating habits and combating childhood obesity.
- Mindfulness training in schools, equipping children with valuable skills for emotional well-being and stress management.
- Full wrap-around and anti-trauma services for at-risk youth and their families, addressing the underlying issues that hinder a child’s development and success.
- Conflict resolution, restorative justice, and peace-creation training, fostering a positive and inclusive school environment.
- Substance abuse treatment and family counseling for families in need, offering support and rehabilitation services to those struggling with addiction.
- Non-pharmaceutical mental health services for children, prioritizing holistic approaches to mental well-being.
- Implementation of best practices in schools and communities, ensuring that children are properly supported and cared for.
- Encouragement of Congress to pass the American Opportunity Accounts Act, which would institute a Baby Bond program, investing in every citizen from birth.
- Lowering the voting age to 16 to promote youth engagement and encourage their active participation in the democratic process.
Addressing the urgency of these measures, Williamson said, “A vulture, crony form of capitalism now reaches its tentacles into every corner of our lives, feeding on the desperation of people simply trying to get healthcare, a decent education, or even a place to live. Nothing is more heinous than making children the victims of that tyranny—a helpless population with zero capacity to defend or advocate for itself.”
“As president, one of my top priorities will be the care and advocacy for America’s children,” said Williamson. “I want children to eat well. I want them to have universal healthcare. I want them to be safe. I want them to have the best education in the world, all the way through higher education and tech school. I want them to be set up for good jobs and good lives. I want them to grow up into young adults who love this country because they know that their government has their back, supporting and not thwarting their dreams.”
Williamson’s plan has not received widespread attention but it garnered support from advocates of children’s rights and progressive policies.
Experts in childhood development have praised her holistic approach, emphasizing the long-term benefits that investing in children can bring to society as a whole.
The proposed Department of Children and Youth would serve as a central hub for coordinating and implementing these crucial initiatives. It would work collaboratively with existing government agencies, educational institutions, healthcare providers, and community organizations to ensure that the needs of children are met at every level.
Critics of Williamson’s plan argue that the proposed measures would be costly and could potentially lead to increased government intervention but Williamson remains steadfast in her commitment to prioritizing the well-being and future of America’s children.
She emphasizes that the benefits of investing in children far outweigh the initial costs, as a prosperous and healthy future for the nation hinges on the well-rounded development of its youngest citizens.
“To prioritize children and their futures, we first have to win the White House,” Williamson asserts. She believes that by electing leaders who are dedicated to safeguarding the rights and needs of children, the United States can take a significant step towards rectifying the systemic neglect that has plagued the nation for far too long.
As the 2024 Democratic presidential candidate, Marianne Williamson’s focus on addressing the collective neglect of American children has become a defining feature of her campaign. Her comprehensive plan, outlined in the position paper, reflects her unwavering commitment to ensuring that every child in the country has an equal opportunity to thrive, regardless of their background or circumstances.
With the presidential election drawing near, Williamson’s proposals have sparked a national conversation about the importance of prioritizing children’s well-being and investing in their future. As voters evaluate the candidates and their policy platforms, the issue of systemic neglect of American children will undoubtedly remain at the forefront, urging leaders and citizens alike to consider the moral imperative of creating a society that nurtures, supports, and protects its most vulnerable members.
Critics argue that the Biden administration’s inaction on gun violence indicates a neglect of children’s well-being, since gun violence has become the leading cause of death among children in the United States, prompting urgent calls for stronger gun control measures.
While Biden vowed to take action on this issue, critics argue that the legislation enacted thus far has been insufficient and ineffective— describing the law as “toothless,” because it fails to curb the escalating gun violence that continues to claim the lives of innocent children across the nation.
Some critics believe the Biden administration has neglected other needs of children.
Despite the significant impact of the pandemic on education, some critics argue that Biden has not done enough to ensure adequate funding for schools and support for students. They contend that additional resources are required to address the learning loss experienced by many children during the prolonged periods of remote learning and disrupted educational routines.
The treatment of migrant children at the border has been a contentious issue because the Biden administration’s approach to immigration has followed the same policies put in place by Donald Trump instead of prioritizing the protection of vulnerable children, particularly those who have been separated from their families.
Some argue that the long-term consequences of Biden’s policy decisions will exacerbate climate change rather than protect the environment for future generations.
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