“Charity is no substitute for justice…We must never ignore the injustices that make charity necessary, or the inequalities that make it possible.” ― Michael Eric Dyson
Youth In Need has a vision of “equitable opportunities so children, youth and families in our region can thrive,” and we’re on a mission to “build on the strengths of children, youth and families so they find safety, hope and success in life." Fulfilling our mission and working toward our vision requires us to provide programs and work in partnership with our clients each and every day. It also requires us to advocate for systems change by giving visibility to communities that are facing discrimination and marginalization.
Endorsing and advocating for public policy issues is one way that Youth In Need works to change systems to improve the lives of children, youth and families. YIN’s advocacy efforts focus on issues that affect the resources we need to do our work and issues that impact those we serve. Current public policy issues that YIN is endorsing include:
Medicaid Expansion: This is a statewide ballot initiative (Amendment 2) in August 2020 that would open up access to healthcare benefits to parents and children with low incomes, people with disabilities and pregnant Missourians. As we know from the 38 states who have already expanded Medicaid, when parents and children have coverage, they are more likely to seek care, and moms and babies have better outcomes, including significantly reduced rates of infant mortality.
Ready by Five: This initiative aspires to reimagine our region’s early childhood education system, which is woefully underfunded. The first five years of a child’s life are the most crucial to their development, and investments in young children will have a tremendous positive impact on the futures of children, families and communities. Ready by Five seeks to establish the Early Childhood Economic Development Sales Tax in St. Louis County as a first step, through a ballot initiative in November 2020.
The Breathe Act: At the national level, Youth In Need works closely with advocacy groups associated with both early learning programs and youth programs. Of particular interest would be the development of federal legislation that transforms funding for the criminal justice and public safety systems and increases community-based alternatives as well as many supportive services like early childhood education, abuse prevention and intervention, supportive housing, healing from trauma and exposure to violence, better supports for foster youth, and health services in schools. Youth In Need has long supported therapeutic community-based services for young people, especially those experiencing homelessness. We support new approaches to better support children, youth and families, especially people of color.
Youth In Need has a proud history of public policy advocacy, including our former CEO, Jim Braun, helping to create the state statute that allows communities to establish children’s service funds, and then working to pass a ballot initiative in St. Charles County to begin the very first children’s service fund, among many other things. Jim believed in using his privilege and power to remove barriers to growth potential for children and young people, always coming from a deep sense of compassion and doing what is right and just. Please join me in continuing his legacy.
“If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” ― John Lewis, 2/1/40 – 6/17/20