Child Advocacy Day ’07 focuses on health care

Parker Willis

Three main focuses dominated the speeches on Child Advocacy Day at the Capitol this year.

Patrick Daugherty, recently retired Senator and speaker at Child Advocacy Day, said the three focuses were healthcare, childcare and the foster system.

“The governor and legislature are talking about redoing health care so that it expands coverage for children,” Daugherty said. “Some people want what other states are going to, which is that there will be no child in the state that does not have some type of healthcare.

“That’s the challenge by some of these groups out here.”

He said another focus was quality childcare and the ability to afford childcare.

“We have the lowest eligibility criteria in the United States. It is more difficult nowadays for a parent to get childcare,” Daugherty said. “If federal minimum wage passes, a mother and a child would not be eligible for childcare in our state. The criteria is that low.

“So the push is to get more childcare for more working parents and making sure that it’s better quality childcare, it’s not just babysitting.”

The other major focus was foster care and the multiple problems with the state’s system today.

“The kids stay too long in the system,” Daugherty said. “Then those who reach 18, they call aging out, they’re too old for the system and yet they haven’t been given the tools they need to live out on their own.

“So increasing the services these kids have so they so they can be successful is a major focus.”

Other speakers included Gov. Matt Blunt, Rep. Ward Franz (R-West Plains) and Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons (R-St. Louis).

Child Advocacy Day takes place once a year at the Capitol. It brings together people from all over the state to address issues involving children including everything from healthcare and childcare to abuse and neglect.

“Any type of child advocacy organization that you can think of was here today,” Daugherty said. “I think there were about eight or nine hundred people.”

This year celebrated the 25th anniversary of Child Advocacy day. For more information please visit childadvocacyday.org.