"Beyond our own doorsteps and our own children"

02 December 2014 Written by  

Jose A Warletta child in doorway

Photo by Jose A Warletta

Today is Karen Crompton's final day as President and CEO of Voices for Utah Children.  We are deeply grateful for her efforts on behalf of Utah children over the past thirteen years and look forward to her continued leadership in a new capacity as Director of Human Services in Salt Lake County.

In an effort to bask in Karen's wisdom one last time before she leaves, we are posting her speech from Voices for Utah Children's recent Children's Champion Awards event, which beautifully explains the principles that have served us well as advocates for children under Karen's leadership. As we move forward, may we continue to look "beyond our own doorsteps," seeking opportunity for all children that we would want for our own.

The beloved Mr. Rogers said it best: “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” This is our 27th annual gathering to celebrate the Heroes who are making life better for children in Utah.

Every parent wants good schools, safe communities and access to the services their children need – all key factors in the complex equation that positions children for success. But, the odds are stacked against too many children living in poverty and children of color, who along with their families, disproportionately lack those resources.

We can spend a generation trying to help kids one child at a time. Or we can work to create, and improve, policies that equip parents and children with the income, tools and skills they need to succeed. Policies that expand job-training, educational and career opportunities. Policies that give parents more flexibility at work, such as paid time off; an increase in the Child Tax Credit for low-income parents of very young children; and adoption of a state Earned Income Tax Credit.

There is a new conversation about poverty in our state and we are beginning to see the use of existing child, adult and neighborhood programs to build evidence for practical pathways out of poverty for entire families. However, we need to do much more to connect early childhood, K-12, home-visiting, job-training and supportive housing programs with one another to help parents with financial coaching, job-readiness assistance, education and other tools to achieve financial stability, while also ensuring their children have access to high-quality care and schooling. Much of our work at Voices for Utah Children is focused on two-generation strategies that help both parents and children succeed together.

From the time our children are born, we imagine a bright future for them – a solid foundation of education and development in their early years, excellent health care, high school graduation, a good college education and a career path that launches them toward lifelong achievement and economic self-sufficiency. As parents, nothing will stop us from doing everything within our power to make that happen.

But our concern must extend beyond our own doorsteps and our own children. We can act to ensure that all children are able to reach their full potential in life regardless of their race, ethnicity or zip code. We must act because the fairness with which we treat other people’s children will determine the success of our own children and Utah’s future prosperity.

April Young Bennett 300April Young Bennett, Communications Director, joined the organization in 2014. She received her Master of Public Administration from the University of Arizona and her Bachelor in Community Health Education from Utah State University. Prior to joining Voices for Utah Children, April worked for the Utah Department of Health for over a decade, addressing health disparities among minorities and other underserved Utahns. She completed internships and fellowships with the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System, the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy and the U.S. Senate.