Chil­dren need elected lead­ers who will pro­tect their ac­cess to qual­ity health care

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - HAVE YOUR SAY - By Lau­ren Pal­ladino

As a pe­di­a­tri­cian who works with chil­dren in our state ev­ery day, I am priv­i­leged to play a part in help­ing them grow up healthy and reach their full po­ten­tial. In fact, be­ing able to work and speak up on be­half of chil­dren who de­pend on us to be their voice is what drew me to pe­di­atrics, and it’s ex­actly why I’ll be cast­ing my bal­lot with kids in mind this Novem­ber.

The na­tional midterm elec­tions are less than a month away, and there is a lot at stake for chil­dren and their fam­i­lies. With so many is­sues fac­ing fam­i­lies, we need elected lead­ers who will pri­or­i­tize chil­dren and in­vest in our fu­ture. The sta­tis­tics are daunt­ing.

In Con­necti­cut, nearly one in three chil­dren lives in a low-in­come fam­ily and about 15 per­cent are food in­se­cure. Con­necti­cut’s rates of opi­oidrelated deaths con­tinue to rise, and chil­dren re­main some of the most vul­ner­a­ble vic­tims of the cri­sis, as ev­i­denced by ris­ing num­ber of fos­ter care place­ments, in­fants born ad­dicted to opi­ates, and un­in­ten­tional over­doses by chil­dren. In 2016, al­most 5,000 chil­dren and young adults were killed by guns na­tion­wide. Cur­rently, thou­sands of chil­dren are de­tained at the bor­der, and more than 200 chil­dren re­main sep­a­rated from their par­ents, con­tin­u­ing to en­dure sig­nif­i­cant toxic stress that com­pro­mises their health.

De­spite these num­bers, my young pa­tients con­stantly re­mind me that they are the keys to a brighter fu­ture. I’m re­minded of chil­dren from Afghanistan who tell me about their love of art classes and play­ing cricket with new friends, speak­ing English more con­fi­dently each time I see them; the sin­gle mom who ex­cit­edly tells me about the healthy meals she cooks for her chil­dren when I point out their im­prov­ing BMIs; the shy teenager who plans to go to en­gi­neer­ing camp over the sum­mer while his par­ents, both im­mi­grants from Mex­ico, beam with pride.

Chil­dren need elected lead­ers who will pro­tect their ac­cess to qual­ity health care through Med­i­caid and the Chil­dren's Health In­sur­ance Pro­gram, healthy foods through WIC and school break­fast and lunch pro­grams, and fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance for their fam­i­lies like the Earned In­come Tax Credit. Chil­dren fac­ing vi­o­lence do­mes­ti­cally and abroad rely on lead­ers who will work for gun safety, fight dis­crim­i­na­tion of im­mi­grant fam­i­lies, and pro­tect them from in­hu­mane treat­ment at our bor­ders. Since kids can­not vote, we are their voice on these is­sues.

While chil­dren only make up 25 per­cent of our pop­u­la­tion, they are 100 per­cent of our fu­ture. Our sup­port for them is an in­vest­ment in more just, peace­ful, and suc­cess­ful com­mu­ni­ties. Please con­sider join­ing me and vot­ing with chil­dren in mind on Novem­ber 6.

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