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The State of the American Child

By carolyncastiglia |

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) is hosting a series of hearings, beginning today, on “The State of the American Child.”  According to the Hartford Courant, “The hearings will be sweeping in scope, touching on every aspect of childhood, from birth to adulthood.  The goal is to provide a comprehensive look at the issues faced by children and families so that Congress can draft legislation to address their needs.”

Though that sounds a bit vague, there’s no need to worry about whether or not Dodd’s intentions are good.  The senator helped launch the Senate’s Children Caucus in 1983, which ”championed early childhood education, funding for child care programs” and helped pass the Family and Medical Leave Act law in 1993, allowing workers time off to care for a new baby or a sick relative.

Dodd, whose days in the senate will end in January, says he’s most enjoyed “working on the children’s issues, child care, family leave … after-school [programs], Head Start. Those issues have given me the greatest sense of satisfaction from a public policy standpoint.”

Dodd said in his opening remarks today that “while Head Start has proven to be effective in preparing kids for kindergarten, it serves less than half of eligible children, and Early Head Start serves only 6 percent of eligible kids.”  He hopes to change that.  As I’ve mentioned previously, my four-year-old daughter has attended Head Start for the past year-and-a-half, and she’s benefited from it immensely.  She can read Dick and Jane books all by herself now!  (I never went to pre-school, which is maybe why I’m immature enough to laugh every time she says the male protagonist’s name.  Sigh.)

While illuminating what he believes to be “children’s issues,” Dodd said, “every 101 minutes, a child in the United States dies from an unintentional injury, such as a vehicle crash or a fire, making it the leading cause of death and disability for children ages 1 to 14 in the United States,” echoing what Dr. Robert Brent told me Friday when discussing summertime safety.

So, Dodd announced, he plans to “introduce legislation to create a national commission on children, in order to regularly and closely examine the needs of American families and identify solutions.”  I think that’s a great idea, but in addition to creating a commission on children, it seems we’re in need for more specific legislation on issues affecting children, don’t you think?

For example, after reading about the 2-year-old Milwaukee boy who accidentally shot and killed himself with his mother’s handgun this weekend, I’d love to see more legislation regarding gun ownership.  But that day seems like it will never come in the land of the second amendment.  What issues to you worry are affecting your kids?

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About carolyncastiglia



Carolyn Castiglia is a New York-based comedian/writer wowing audiences with her stand-up and freestyle rap. She’s appeared in TONY, The NY Post, The Idiot’s Guide to Jokes and Life & Style. You can find Carolyn’s writing elsewhere online at and The Huffington Post. Read bio and latest posts → Read Carolyn's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “The State of the American Child

  1. Jenny says:

    Maybe they should look into why I have to fight tooth and nail and e-mail my local government over and over to fight to keep our state run preschool for low income families in Pennsylvania. Because honestly there are about 50 kids in the one in our school district and more than 80% of the incoming Kindergarten class is coming from that 50 children. Obviously we need the program in our area.

  2. Anonimon says:

    While this all sounds lovely and “it’s for the children,” I don’t necessarily want the government involved in every aspect of my child’s life from “from birth to adulthood.” We seem to be come precariously close to having the government standardizing, codifying and regulating all aspect of parenting. I understand that we need rules to protect children from harm, but statements like “The goal is to provide a comprehensive look at the issues faced by children and families so that Congress can draft legislation to address their needs.” make me nervous. Government is not always the only or best choice when it comes to solving society’s problems.

  3. anon says:

    I agree…and, still, nobody asks the question (in policy forums anyway) of whether outside the home childcare from birth to 3 is beneficial, or even non-harming, to children. It’s just assumed that providing out-of-home childcare is a good thing. I find it a little incongruous that people are so concerned on one hand about “preparing kids for kindergarten” and on the other hand, as evidenced by so many of the comments on Babble and the NYT coverage of the potty-training issue, there’s a lack of urgency about teaching children basic self-care in “preparation” for kindergarten.

  4. carolyncastiglia says:

    I understand where you’re coming from – I haven’t yet enrolled my daughter in kindergarten because up until a few weeks ago she was having constant accidents and I didn’t want to make that her teacher’s responsibility. She still doesn’t wipe herself after #2, and until she can do that, she can’t go to school.

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