Editor’s Note: The following open letter to Congress was released on August 3, 2020 by over 10,000 parents, educators, medical professionals, thought leaders and concerned citizens.
We, the undersigned, call on Congress to pass a Rescue Plan for Gen C, the generation of children living through the COVID-19 crisis.
If Congress fails to act quickly, a generation of kids — particularly Black, Brown and low-income children — could suffer irreparable, lifelong harm. Right now:
-Millions of families are running out of money for food and rent. One sixth of kids don’t have enough to eat.
-Anxiety, grief, social isolation, and food insecurity are contributing to a health crisis — both physical and mental — that will have long-term consequences for kids.
-Tens of millions of children have been left behind by remote learning, because they lack devices, internet access, academic support, or an adult with the time and skills to help them learn. Because of longstanding systematic discrimination, Black and Latinx students are suffering the most, and may start the next school year almost a full year behind. The state and local budget crisis will make this worse, by forcing schools to slash teachers, counselors and other needed supports, with cuts falling hardest on the schools that can least afford them.
-Our childcare system is on the verge of collapse, with 50% of childcare slots likely to disappear permanently by fall. Meanwhile, parents lucky enough to have jobs are being asked to do full-time work AND full-time childcare, putting both parents and kids in an impossible bind.
-Kids’ lives and education have moved online. But the platforms they’re using aren’t designed to keep kids healthy or safe. One example: reports of online sexual exploitation have gone up by 4X since February.
Tens of millions of children have been left behind by remote learning, because they lack devices, internet access, academic support, or an adult with the time and skills to help them learn. Because of longstanding systematic discrimination, Black and Latinx students are suffering the most, and may start the next school year almost a full year behind.
For some, the pandemic has piled trauma on top of trauma. Because of racism in our economic and health care systems, Black and Latinx kids have been more likely to see parents lose jobs and relatives die. Against this backdrop, hundreds of thousands of young Americans have risen up to demand safety, dignity, and the protection of Black bodies. Yet even as our young people take to the streets, our government is allowing their families to run out of money and their schools to fail. Gen C has been abandoned.
As parents, teachers, caregivers and advocates, we cannot stand by and allow this to happen. We call on Congress to:
-Give families ongoing support so that every child has a stable home and enough to eat.
-Double down on education. Rather than forcing schools to make deep cuts, pour support into schools as the frontline to helping our kids navigate and survive this crisis, giving focus to making schools more equitable and ensuring children of color, low-income kids, and children with learning challenges don’t get left behind.
-Provide emergency support to childcare programs and centers to make sure all families with babies and young children have safe, affordable care to return to — and pay childcare providers for the valuable work they do.
-Make sure every child and family has access to healthcare — including free mental health support.
-Demand tech companies design their platforms to support, not hurt, children.
-Make sure these benefits are available to all families regardless of immigration status — and release the migrant families in detention who are threatened by COVID-19,
-Support efforts to shift funding from police to social services — because Black and Brown children will not be safe until their bodies are safe from police violence.
We urge Congress to embrace these priorities and act with urgency. Children are suffering NOW. To be clear — we don’t just want to go back to a broken status quo. Because the system was already failing too many children. But the good news is, the steps that will get us out of this crisis — like supporting family incomes, strengthening schools and investing in childcare — are also the stepping stones to a brighter future for all kids.
To add your name to the ParentsTogether Action open letter to save GenC, visit: parentstogetheraction.org.
As a national, parent-led organization with community members in every state, ParentsTogether Action helps parents stay up to date on the issues affecting their families so that all of us can work together to build a stronger future for our children.
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