Raising our VOICES for all of Alabama’s children

Published 3:00 am Friday, February 10, 2017

In 1992, The Alabama Power Foundation convened a group of individuals who recognized the need for a statewide, multi-issue child advocacy group to call attention to the needs of Alabama’s children. The Children’s Hospital of Alabama, the Junior League of Birmingham and the Alabama Chapter of the Academy of Pediatrics partnered with The Foundation, each dedicated and committed to supporting Alabama’s children.  As a result, VOICES for Alabama’s Children came to life – and for 25 years has continued to work tirelessly to ensure the well-being of Alabama’s children through research, public awareness and advocacy.

As the incoming Board President for VOICES for Alabama’s Children, as well as the President of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, I have had the incredible opportunity to see how our state has developed during the past 25 years. And, during those 25 years, VOICES for Alabama’s Children has been at the helm of lifting up sound policy decisions that develop the best outcome for our children’s future success.

Before my current role at the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, I led the Chamber of Commerce in Prattville. While serving on our county’s Children’s Policy Council I used the Alabama Kids Count Data Book daily to see how our area compared to that across the state. I saw first-hand the policy work VOICES for Alabama’s Children did to help increase the awareness of children’s issues. Our chamber Education Committee assisted in fostering partnerships with local elected officials, business leaders and education leaders, all while utilizing numerous policy reports and advocacy items from VOICES for Alabama’s Children to help create and advance local issues related to the advancement of children.

As a business leader in the state of Alabama, I understand the importance of our future workforce and workforce development. Representing the business communities through the Chamber of Commerce allowed me to see the impact that children’s issues have on our economy. Access to healthy foods, pre-k and keeping our children healthy and safe all positively affect the children of today, who are the workforce of tomorrow.

If we want to create a workforce of tomorrow who can successfully move our state through the next 25 years and beyond, we can no longer ignore what we are seeing in the data.

According to the 2016 Alabama Kids Count Data Book, shifts in the demographics and diversity of our population require us as Alabamians to be more strategic in addressing the gaps in outcomes and achievements of our future workforce.

Through the establishment of the Statewide Child Death Review Process; establishment of the Foster Parents’ Bill of Rights; the Child Passenger Safety Law; Healthy Food Financing and advocating for the expansion of high-quality pre-k, VOICES for Alabama’s Children has been, and continues to be, instrumental in laying the foundation for our future workforce to have the opportunity to succeed.  As we begin a new year, it is vital that the children of our state have an advocate, and VOICES for Alabama’s Children is that advocate. Each year we are on the cutting edge of advocating for the best interests of our most vulnerable population.

To know that others from across the country look to VOICES for Alabama’s Children for guidance, direction and inspiration, is motivation to continue to excel, reach higher and achieve our goals on behalf of Alabama’s children.

The work of VOICES for Alabama’s Children is a labor of love that shares a common vision for our children, what those children can achieve and what those children must be for the sake of progress in advocating for a better tomorrow.  In order for one child to succeed, they all must have the opportunity. Let this be our call to action in 2017! Visit us at alavoices.org to learn more about VOICES for Alabama’s Children, and see how you can lend your voice!

Jeremy Arthur

President of the Chamber of Commerce Association