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At the start of the 2017 legislative session, kids in Oregon faced an uphill climb. A significant funding gap in the state budget placed kids’ well-being at risk. However, Children First for Oregon’s United for Kids initiative showed up for children and their families, calling on elected leaders to advance our goal to make Oregon the best place to be a kid.

With over 100 advocacy organizations working together, United for Kids gave state legislators a roadmap of policy and investment solutions: the 2017 Children’s Agenda. Together, United for Kids partners promoted 56 legislative and funding priorities, and were successful in nearly two-thirds of the items in the Children’s Agenda. The 2017 Children’s Agenda shows what is possible when communities unite for kids.

At the close of the 2017 legislative session, we look back and celebrate these successes while looking forward to the continued need for legislation that didn’t cross the finish line this time. Making Oregon the best place to be a kid requires a strong, united voice that is sustained over time. United for Kids is that voice.

Let’s look at the legislative wins for kids that were achieved in 2017:

Economic Security

  • Allowed employees in several sectors an opportunity to know their work schedules in advance so they can plan ahead for child care and other needs.
  • Created enforcement mechanisms to ensure people in protected classes are paid equally for equal work.
  • Expanded Emergency Housing Assistance/State Homeless Assistance Program (EHA/SHAP) funding to end homelessness.
  • Funded More LIFT Bonds to promote homeownership.
  • Expanded Oregon Energy Assistance Program to help low-income families to pay their electric bills.
  • Improved employee awareness of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Protected Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Education

  • Improved Ethnic Studies Standards
  • Continued funding for Trauma Informed School Pilots
  • Created Safe Routes to School, making it safer for kids to bike and walk to school.
  • Increased Funding for Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education (EI/ECSE).
  • Found the best way to diversify preschool teachers, especially among Preschool Promise programs.
  • Protected preschool funding.
  • Developed details for the implementation of PE for All Kids.

Health & Safety

  • Expanded health insurance coverage for the nearly 18,000 Oregon kids previously denied coverage due to their immigration status.
  • Passed the Foster Youth Sibling Bill of Rights, which ensures that youth in care are supported in preserving and strengthening relationships with their siblings.
  • Raised the tobacco sales age to 21 years old.
  • Reduced diesel emissions in school buses by allowing more than one-third of the VW settlement money to be devoted to retrofitting school buses.
  • Protected funding for child abuse prevention.
  • Ensured newborns effectively receive Vitamin K.
  • Ensured reproductive health services are available to all, regardless of income.
  • Secured funding for the Family Preservation Project, which strengthens families and supports kids by keeping incarcerated mothers connected to their children.
  • Moved forward with a Bill of Rights for Children of Incarcerated Parents.
  • Increased funding for ODSVS to protect families from sexual abuse.
  • Allowed judges to issue Extreme Risk Protective Orders after reviewing requests from family members in the same house.
  • Required rear-facing car seats for Oregon’s youngest to help ensure their safety.
  • Directed the Criminal Justice Commission to develop a standardized method of collecting data on traffic stops and report its findings to the Legislature in order to prevent racial profiling.
  • Funded Farm to School and School Gardens.
  • Expanded WIC to help mother access fresh food.