In case you need convincing,
I want to revisit some of the key child health advocacy challenges from the
past year that serve as a reminder for why we must elect leaders who put
1. #SaveDACA. Last fall, the Trump administration ended the Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), which granted more than 800,000
vulnerable immigrant children residency in the United States. Many DREAMers
fled with their parents to escape violence and pursue the opportunity to learn,
work, give back, and thrive in our country. Thanks to DACA, these children
graduated college, served in our military, became nurses, teachers,
entrepreneurs, and have become integral parts of communities. Their future is
in limbo and will be decided by our elected politicians.
2. #ExtendCHIP. Almost 9 million children in the United States rely
on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
to access vital health care services such as preventative well child care,
vaccinations, and prescription medications. Funding for this program expired in
September 2017 and it was not until the end of January that Congress passed
long-term funding for the program, meaning months of uncertainty for families.
Moving forward, this program will need to be maintained and supported by our
3. #ProtectFamilies. We have all seen the horrific images and heard the
heartbreaking stories about immigrant children separated from their parents at
the border. These children and families often experience significant trauma in their
country of origin and are exposed to additional toxic stressors and unnecessary
harm once in the United States. We continue to speak out against the separation
of families and the use of family detention. The newest threat to immigrant
health – the public charge proposal – that could keep immigrant families and
children from accessing vital health services is equally concerning. Our
leaders must pass policies that support all children.
4. #EndGunViolence. Gunfire kills 1,300 children each year in the United
States and harms many more. This year, we’ve witnessed the courageous efforts
by children across the country as they publicly called on elected officials to
enact common sense gun safety laws. To date, legislators have failed to make
meaningful progress toward better protecting our children from gun violence.
Our future political leaders must act.
5. #Putkids1st. As residents, physicians, and health care providers,
we have a unique perspective on how policies and programs enacted by our
government and elected officials impact children and families in our
communities. I believe we must use our collective voice to tell lawmakers how
they can support programs and policies that put kids first!
"The midterm elections this year are expected to affect state and federal policies, including those involving children, for a decade or more.”
Put simply, there is a lot at
stake for children and families this election! Here are a few easy steps for
how to cast your ballot, no matter how busy your schedule:
- Step 1: Register to
Vote. This may be critical if you have recently moved. You
can find state specific information here.
- Step 2: Check Your Voter
Registration Deadline: Keep this date in mind and plan ahead to accommodate
your schedule. You can find state specific information here.
- Step 3: Know Your Voting
Options: You are busy, so check-out Early Voting
options that work with your schedule or send in an Absentee Ballot if you
can’t make it in person.
- Step 4: Vote! You
now have no excuses, and so many vulnerable children need you to use your
While children can't vote,
pediatricians and others who care for children can. We are just weeks away from
the important midterm elections, so now is the time to plan how you will
Note: Are you attending
the 2018 AAP National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando? The last day of the
conference, Tuesday, November 6, is Election Day. Many states offer absentee
and early voting options to ensure your ballot is complete and will be counted.
More information here.
* The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Molly Markowitz, MD, a
general pediatrics resident at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, is Executive
Coordinator of Medical Student Initiatives for the American Academy of
Pediatrics Section on Pediatric Trainees.
AAP Get Out the Vote
campaign. The national midterm
elections will be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, when federal, state and
local officials across the country will be elected. The AAP
Get Out the Vote campaign, #VoteKids, encourages pediatricians and others
who care for children to vote with kids in mind this election. The campaign
website, aap.org/votekids, includes information on what's at stake for
children, how and where to register to vote and what you can do to speak up for
children at the ballot box.