WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s presidential victory could significantly reshape policies for youth and families during the next four years.
During the campaign, Trump offered scant details about the policies he would support for children and families in specific areas youth service workers watch closely, such as child welfare, youth homelessness, after-school programming and child nutrition.
But he made his support for broader changes that could significantly reshape families’ lives well known, such as harsher immigration measures, cuts in federal spending and repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
Under Republican control of both the federal legislative and executive branches, lawmakers would have more power to make major changes to some of the biggest programs and portions of the budget that affect children, including Medicaid and discretionary spending.
Children’s advocates will have to push hard for their voices to be heard under a Trump administration, said Bruce Lesley, president at the nonpartisan advocacy organization First Focus.
“I just think children will be completely off the radar screen,” he said.
Lesley also said he expected children’s advocates to spend time playing defense, trying to block policy changes and budget cuts that could undermine public schools, harm children’s access to health care and otherwise diminish support for youth and their families.
Though Trump’s own policy platform offers few clues about specific children and family policies, the start of the presidential transition and early days of the administration could provide some insight into how Trump will govern. Appointments to the Education and Health and Human Services departments could be telling, as will the administration’s initial agenda and budget documents.
Organizations that work on behalf of children and families will begin urging the administration to adopt the proposals they favor right away.
Christine James-Brown, president and CEO of the Child Welfare League of America, said the group always submits a transition document to the new administration, one that focuses both on child welfare and the underlying policies needed to make sure families can support their children.
“No matter who is elected to office they will face a tremendous number of challenges so it will take a major effort to help people connect the needs of children to the success of our country's future,” she said Tuesday afternoon, well before the election results were announced.
“CWLA will continue to work hard to bring the interests of children and families to the attention of the new president and Congress. We will also work to connect issues of immigration, equal pay for women, raising the minimum wages and other issues that have been addressed throughout the campaign to the needs of children,” she added.