Addressing the Needs of Children and Youth
While parents have the primary responsibility for raising their
children, we all have a role in helping our nation's young people to
achieve their full potential. Mrs. Clinton has used her voice as First Lady to
remind Americans of our responsibility for helping all our children,
particularly those who are most vulnerable.
As the Administration's most prominent advocate on foster
care and adoption, Mrs. Clinton has worked on behalf of the over 500,000
children who live in foster care because of abuse or neglect. She has promoted
the adoption of children living in foster care and worked for passage of the
Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, landmark legislation which reformed our
nation's child welfare system by putting considerations of children's
health and safety first.
Mrs. Clinton has also taken a special interest in educating
Americans about the importance of children's earliest experiences to their
future development. In 1997, she hosted the White House Conference on Early
Childhood Development and Learning: What New Research on the Brain Tells Us
About Our Youngest Children. She has worked for Head Start expansion and
quality improvements and successfully advocated for increased funding for
programs serving young children. In 1997, the First Lady launched the
Prescription for Reading Partnership in which pediatricians and other health
professionals prescribe reading to new parents as an activity that
will enhance children's development.
Mrs. Clinton has also directed her attention to our
nation's youth, encouraging the development of positive opportunities for
young people and ways to help them avoid substance abuse, teen pregnancy and
delinquency. She helped to launch the National Campaign to Prevent Teen
Pregnancy and hosted the 1998 White House Conference on School Safety:
Causes and Prevention of Youth Violence and participated in the recent
White House Strategy Meeting on Children, Violence and Responsibility. The
First Lady was also instrumental in the development of the AmeriCorps National
Service Program through which young people may perform a year of full-time
service in exchange for scholarships or student loan forgiveness.