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The 2017 Champions and Defenders for Children AWARDS

Our nation’s children face an array of problems, including poverty, violence, abuse, neglect, hunger, education inequity, poor nutrition, homelessness, lack of health coverage, infant and child mortality, and family separation in mixed immigrant households that demand attention, policy solutions, political will, and action that make children a priority.

Unfortunately, kids are far too often an afterthought in Congress. The problem is that children don’t vote and don’t have Political Action Committees (PACs) that garner and demand attention.

Children need Champions and Defenders for Children, who are willing to focus on, support, raise their voices, and attach their name to legislation that would improve the lives of our nation’s children and actively oppose legislation that would harm kids. 

In an attempt to recognize those lawmakers in the 1st Session of the 115th Congress who are actively working on and trying to improve the lives of our nation’s children through public policy change, we are pleased to present our Champions and Defenders for Children Scorecard.

The First Focus Campaign for Children Legislative Scorecard

Congressional Champions for Children have the highest point totals (see methodology) in the House and Senate with respect to key votes, bill introductions and cosponsorships, and other actions where lawmakers have put their name out there in support of children across an array of issue areas. Champions for Children also have among the highest point totals for children. As a point of comparison, if our scorecard was on a letter grading system, Champions would receive an A+ and Defenders would receive a strong A for their outstanding support of children.

However, we must also solemnly reflect on the fact that we are still short of what it takes to enact meaningful change for children across all issue areas. For example, nearly 20 percent, or 1 in 5, of our nation’s children are living in poverty, and yet, Congress continues to pay little attention to that crisis. 

That inaction is unacceptable, and we must redouble our efforts to encourage the public to make children a priority when they vote and to get legislators to make children a priority when they arrive in Washington, D.C. Children are counting on us to hold our legislators accountable for representing and addressing their needs.

Methodology

Individual Lawmakers:

  • Key Votes: Accompanying this Scorecard is a “Key Votes” page on our website – just as many other national and state groups do for their legislative scorecards. However, First Focus Campaign for Children (FFCC) recognizes that not all votes are equal. Therefore, we weigh major votes more heavily than minor votes. We also give members extra points if they show the courage to vote in the best interest of children in the face of an opposing position from a majority of their party. 
     
  • Key Bills: Going a step further, the FFCC Legislative Scorecard recognizes that lawmakers often negotiate and make decisions on legislation well before House and Senate votes. Consequently, rather than just tracking votes on bills and amendment, the FFCC Legislative Scorecard includes a more in-depth analytical framework. Our Scorecard awards additional points to policymakers from our website’s “Bill Tracker” based on their sponsorship and co-sponsorship (original sponsors are awarded more points) of key legislation that helps or harms children. For a list of 2017 Key Bills, see page 9 of the full report.

Finally, we also award points based on membership in congressional caucuses specific to children and other actions (including major letters, floor speeches, hearings, etc.) policymakers engage in that would positively or negatively impact children. 

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Previous Award Recipients