Advocates for Kids Are a Powerful Force

Save the Children was founded nearly a century ago on a simple belief--that every child has the right to a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.

In 2014, I founded Save the Children Action Network--or SCAN--because I was tired of hearing politicians promise to help kids, but then not do enough to fulfill those promises.

As the political advocacy arm of Save the Children, we hold lawmakers' feet to the fire to make sure they are held accountable when it comes to kids' issues.

That's why I'm so excited that more than 175 of our advocates--including 65 high school and college students--from 25 states are traveling to Washington, D.C. this week to participate in the 14th annual Invest In Kids Advocacy Summit, hosted by Save the Children and SCAN.

These are people who know that investing in kids is critical to our future.

By age five, a child's brain is almost completely developed--yet two out of five American kids are not enrolled in preschool. Many never catch up. And the consequences are significant.

Through mountains of research, we know that quality early childhood education results in greater success in K-12, better health outcomes and more resilient communities.

And every day, 16,000 children die from preventable causes around the world, like pneumonia and malaria. That is nearly 5.9 million children dying each year from illnesses we can treat.

The survival of newborns and their mothers should not be determined by the location of their birth, and no child should be prevented from seeing their fifth birthday when we have solutions that could help them survive and thrive.

These aren't just numbers. These are kids' lives. And we know how we can fix these problems.

We know the best way to improve the chances for lifelong success of children who live in poverty is to reach them early--either with access to high-quality early learning programs or simple health solutions, like clean medical tools and trained health workers.

Fortunately, we have many champions in Congress and in statehouses across the country. And SCAN has thousands of determined advocates who volunteer their time and talents to make sure kids everywhere have an equal opportunity to succeed.

I am constantly inspired when I hear about all of the great work they are doing. Whether it's hosting a panel discussion about early learning or writing a letter to the editor asking members of Congress to sign on to the Reach Every Mother and Child Act for their local newspaper--our advocates are making a real difference.

During the Advocacy Summit, which begins this afternoon, attendees will participate in dynamic workshops and hear from powerful change-leaders and elected officials, including Dakota Fanning, a Save the Children Artist Ambassador, Gayle Smith, Administrator of USAID, state Sen. Mike Johnston of Colorado and pollster and millennial expert Kristen Soltis Anderson.

They will learn techniques on how to mobilize around early learning and global health and have the opportunity to interact and socialize with their fellow advocates.

I hope they will leave the event inspired and fired up to get to work for kids.

It's so critical for constituents to use their voices and let their elected officials know what is crucial to them.

By advocating for the essential issues of maternal and newborn child health and early childhood education, our supporters are making a difference in the lives of countless children in future generations. I hope you'll join us. Find out more at SavetheChildrenActionNetwork.org.