Where do the candidates stand on the health and well-being of children?

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Follow me on Twitter @drClaire

This has been an interesting election, to say the least — one in which it’s been a bit hard to keep track of the issues in the midst of the latest news story. But those issues matter, because the decisions the next president makes will affect the lives of each and every one of us.

They will also affect the lives of our children — who do not get to vote. The health and well-being of children has everything to do with their health and well-being in the future, and the decisions of the next president could have a long-reaching impact on them — and, since our children are our future, on us.

The American Academy of Pediatrics sent four questions to the Clinton and Trump campaigns.

  • More than one in five children lives in poverty in this country, and its impacts on children’s health can be severe and lifelong. How do you propose to help lift children and families out of poverty?
  • In 2014, there were 2,549 children under age 19 who were killed by guns. How do you plan to protect children from gun violence?
  • More children have health insurance in the United States than ever before. How will you continue to build on this trend and ensure access to affordable, high-quality health care for all children, no matter where in the country they live?
  • Children are 25% of the U.S. population and 100% of the future. How do you propose to provide for the future by investing in children?

What did they have to say? You can see the unedited texts of the responses of Clinton and Trump on the American Academy of Pediatrics website, but here is a brief summary:

To lift children and families out of poverty…

  • Clinton would:
    • work on economic growth and job creation.
    • increase access to education through increasing Early Head Start, working toward universal preschool, investing in public schools and making it possible for students to attend public college in their state without debt.
  • Trump would:
    • work on economic growth and job creation.
    • work on education reform.

To protect children from gun violence…

  • Clinton would:
    • enact comprehensive background checks, closing the gun show and internet sales loopholes.
    • keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, violent criminals and the seriously mentally ill.
  • Trump would:
    • educate the American people about gun violence.
    • make neighborhoods as secure as possible.

To ensure the access of children to high-quality, affordable health care…

  • Clinton would:
    • expand the Affordable Care Act and bring country closer to universal health care.
    • increase telemedicine.
    • increase funding to health centers and rural health clinics.
    • work to expand Medicaid so that everyone who is eligible for coverage can get it.
  • Trump would:
    • streamline the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and give funds as block grants to states, giving them flexibility to meet the needs of children in their state, cut costs and raise reimbursements to encourage more doctors to participate.
    • repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act so that fewer people need CHIP and Medicaid.

To invest in children…

  • Clinton would:
    • combat climate change.
    • improve public education — and also be sure that children in trouble get support, not just discipline.
    • increase access to child care.
    • strengthen the economy in general.
  • Trump would:
    • ensure quality education by providing more educational choices, using resources created by reforms in other areas.
    • put resources into the military and into securing borders, to make the world safer.

Read the full texts — and before you vote, decide which candidate you think can truly help our children. Since kids can’t vote, we need to vote for them.

For more information and resources, check out the American Academy of Pediatrics #VoteKids website.