It goes without saying children in every state are a most valuable resource and they deserve to be treated in a special manner by state leaders. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Sadly, the welfare of children in Alabama hasn’t always been a real top priority over the years for governors and the Alabama Legislature. That has been the case quite often and that must change. There is a great need in Alabama for both the governor and our state legislators to be made aware of the real needs of children in our state. That means groups must be available to help educate those elected officials. Alabama Children First (ACF) is one such group.
ACF is a combination of two entities: the Children First Alliance of Alabama and the Children First Foundation. Both are non-profit organizations that work to improve the overall well-being of Alabama’s children in the following ways:
- through Advocacy, with policymakers and political leaders;
- Awareness, to bring children’s needs and issues to the attention of Alabama’s policymakers, political leaders and citizens; and
- Accountability, to serve as a watchdog over children’s programs and services and over policymakers on children’s issues.
The Foundation primarily does lobbying work for children and the Alliance carries out the non-lobbying duties of the organization. Many believe ACF’s biggest accomplishment thus far has been the establishment of the Children First Trust Fund. Each year, an estimated $40 million dollars from this fund is dedicated solely to children’s services.
The organization has also been instrumental in the passage of legislation dealing with juvenile justice, child death, driver license requirements, school entry age and child abuse. In recent years, ACF worked very hard attempting to make sure the state’s General Fund Budget adequately funds children’s services, particularly the state’s Medicaid program. The “#IamMedicaid Campaign” was conceptualized, designed and promoted by Alabama Children First. The campaign has been instrumental in the delivery of the message of children’s needs to the governor and state lawmakers and also to the people of Alabama. Unfortunately, some of our leaders appear to have either refused to listen or for whatever reason, just don’t understand these needs. The needs in Medicaid are a prime example.
The primary focus of ACF is, and always has been, to provide a voice for children at the Statehouse on issues that affect children. It should be noted that all of the special interests have lobbyists who speak for them. Many of these special interests are extremely powerful and that makes the work of their lobbyists very easy. In an environment where children have so little voice, ACF is trying hard to provide that voice. Currently, the organization has a limited budget and a very small staff. It is critically important for Alabama Children First to be able to educate the governor and the Alabama lawmakers as they make decisions regarding funding and on other matters that directly impact children in Alabama and their families.
I encourage our Alabama readers to find out more about Alabama Children’s First. If you agree that Alabama children need a strong voice in the State House in Montgomery, support ACF. It would be a very good investment for Alabama’s children. Christy Cain is the Executive Director of ACF. You can contact her at 1425 I-85 Parkway, Suite C, Montgomery, Alabama, 36106 or by phone at 334-396-6314.