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In the September edition of Philadelphia Magazine, Christine Speer LeJeune discussed our Place Matters Report and proposed the idea that Philadelphia should “have one person in City Hall whose sole focus is making Philly a good place to be a kid, no matter which neighborhood you live in.”
We applaud LeJeune’s focus on all children in Philadelphia. At the Foundation, we believe the city may very well benefit from a singular person dedicated to lead this issue. However, this person needs to be supported by a designated group of individuals that comprise something akin to a Children’s Cabinet or Council. At least 15 cities now have some version of a Children’s Cabinet including New York City, New Orleans, Newark, Denver, Oakland, Providence and Louisville, Kentucky. These cabinets generally consist of a panel of decision-makers from various entities that work with children who come together to coordinate their efforts.
A Children’s Cabinet can be led by city government, but membership should be more broadly defined and focused on assets, not just risks. Members may include leaders of government agencies, the school district, social service and other child, family, and youth serving organizations, business, academic, community members, and children whenever possible. Children’s Cabinets promote opportunities to develop partnerships and efficiencies, allowing a broad group of stakeholders to inform each other resulting in a greater cumulative impact on children and families.
A Children’s Cabinet goes beyond focusing on any single aspect of child wellbeing and instead takes a big picture approach to promote assets and address childhood risk, combining child and youth-centric efforts under one umbrella rather than allowing each entity its own piece of the pie. This allows for a concentrated, streamlined approach to children’s issues, as opposed to the disparate efforts that frequently occur when agencies work in silos.
We are not alone in our thinking as reported by the Philadelphia Citizen that discussed the idea of a Children’s Cabinet in Philadelphia last year. The article highlights The Forum for Youth Investment, which advises Children’s Councils across the country.
Will you join us and others in urging Mayor Kenney to consider what a Children’s Cabinet could look like for Philadelphia for his likely second term, starting in January 2020?
Read the full article on Philly Mag’s website here.