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There are more than 72 million children in the United States.  While most are thriving, many are suffering from the ill effects of poverty, lacking health care, not receiving adequate educational opportunities, dealing with neglect and/or abuse, or living in unsafe environments.  Their lives, like all of ours, are impacted both positively and negatively by decisions made daily in state capitols and city halls across the country.  And yet, they can’t speak out themselves.  They need voices to speak out on their behalf (Voices for America's Children, 2003).


What child advocates do:

An advocate typically represents or gives voice to an individual or group whose concerns and interests are not being heard.  A child advocate will try to prevent children from being harmed and may try to obtain justice.


  • WHY - Research clearly demonstrates the many benefits of high quality preschool, including:

1.    higher scores on standardized achievement tests in reading and math and better reading, language and math skills; 

2.    decreased likelihood of being held back a grade or placed in special education;

3.    increased likelihood of graduating from high school and decreased likelihood of dropping out of school than non-participants

4.   better social skills and peer relations.

  • HOW - Work with a broad coalition of stakeholders to lay the groundwork for a statewide system of preschool for all three- and four-year-old children, including work on AB 56 (Steinberg), a bill that includes provisions related to preschool for all children.


  • WHY - Ensure that no families lose child care subsidies, so that parents can ensure that their children are in high-quality early care and education settings that will help prepare them for school and for life.
  • HOW - Preserve subsidized child care services for older children.  The Governor’s proposed budget permanently eliminates subsidized services to 13-year-olds and allows services to 11- and 12-year-olds only when after school programs cannot be accessed (CCSF, 2005).
  • WHY - Children who have been trafficked face a range of dangers, including violence and sexual abuse. They are even arrested and detained as illegal aliens – often with little or no access to their parents or other support services.
  • Children who are trafficked into prostitution face dangers beyond the physical injuries and trauma associated with multiple sexual encounters (Free A Child, 2005).


  • Governments need to show a strong commitment to combat trafficking.
  • Children need to be aware of the dangers of trafficking so that they can protect themselves.
  • Media attention
  • Reintegration and rehabilitation for survivors of trafficking
  • WHY - Children work in hazardous conditions – including working in mines, working with chemicals and pesticides in agriculture or with dangerous machinery.

  • Millions of girls work as domestic servants and unpaid household help and are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

  • HOW - Governments need to ensure that all children have access to compulsory education
  • Laws that prohibit child labor need to be in place.
  • Children need to be removed immediately from the worst forms of child labor 
  • WHY - Children of educated mothers are more likely to survive and be healthier because of better nutrition and immunization rates.
  • Girls' education may be the single most effective weapon in prevention of HIV/AIDS.
  • Research has shown that for every year of schooling, wages for women as well as for men increase by a worldwide average of about 10 percent (UNICEF, 2005).
  • HOW - (Advocacy Video)
Alinksy, Saul.  "Rules for Radicals."  February 1972. 
Children's Council of San Francisco.  2005 Retrieved from

Ezell, Mark.  "Advocacy Practice of Social Workers."  Families in Society. January 1994.
Free A Child.  2005.  Retrieved from

Kirst-Ashman, K.K., & Hull, Jr., G.H. (2000). Understanding generalist perspective (3rd ed.) . Pacific Grove, CA:  Brooks/Cole


Mcnutt, John G.  "New Horizons in Social Work Advocacy."  Journal of social work. v.1 #1 February 2002
UNICEF.  2005.  Retrieved from
Valocchi, Stephen.  A Way of Thinking about the History of Community Organizing.  Retrieved from 
Voices for America's Children.  "2004 Voices Network Policy and Advocacy Priorities."  September 2004.  Retrieved from