Supporting the Nation's Future

Article excerpt

Where do the presidential candidates stand on the wellbeing of America's children?

This November 4, Americans all over the country will head to their polling places and cast votes for the 44th President of the United States. Professionals concerned with the well-being of our nation's children may wonder where the presidential candidates stand on such issues. This is especially pertinent considering CWLA's call for the next president to reestablish the White House Conference on Children and "fouth in 2010, focusing specifically on child welfare.

What related legislation have the presidential candidates introduced or supported? How have they voted and what public statements have they made? And perhaps most important where do they see child welfare going? It's necessary to consider how Senators Barack Obama and John McCain would, if elected, improve situations and outcomes for vulnerable children and families, as well as improve the systems themselves, including securing a qualified and supported child welfare workforce.

Senator John McCain

Born to a U.S. Navy officer and his wife in Panama in 1936, McCain's family eventually settled down in Northern Virginia. McCain graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958 and embarked upon a 22-year career as a naval aviator, during which he earned the honors of the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Senator McCain was a prisoner of war for five and a half years during the Vietnam War, experiencing episodes of torture. He retired from the Navy in 1981 and was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives to represent Arizona's 1st Congressional District in 1982 and later to the U.S. Senate in 1986. In the 1 10th Congress, Senator McCain serves as the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee and also sits on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and the Indian Affairs Committee.

Prevention and Intervention of Abuse and Neglect

McCain has said that "America's most precious asset is its children." McCain has taken a particular interest and lead in protecting children from online predators. In the 110th Congress, McCain is a cosponsor of the KIDS Act (S. 431), which would require convicted sex offenders to provide for inclusion in the National Sex Offender Registry and keep current any Internet identifiers, including e-mail addresses and instant message names. In the past, McCain introduced the Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act of 2006 (S. 4089) that would require sex offenders to register and update all Internet identifiers in a national online database, to be used by law enforcement to investigate crimes against children. Use of the Internet, under McCain's legislation, would be considered an aggravating factor in sex crimes against children - adding 10 years to any prison sentence.

Adoption

In 1993, McCain and his wife, Cindy, adopted a young Bangladeshi girl from Mother Teresa's orphanage and they have personally witnessed the benefits of adoption. According to his website, www.johnmccain.com, McCain views adoption as the ideal first option for "women struggling with a crisis pregnancy."

McCain is also a member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Caucus, a bicameral, bipartisan caucus of members of Congress dedicated to improving adoption policy and practice and to focusing public attention on the advantages of adoption. He has cosponsored legislation that would prohibit discrimination against families with adopted children, provide adoption education, and permit tax deductions for qualified adoption expenses, as well as remove barriers to interracial and interethnic adoptions. Some controversy was created this summer when in a July 13 interview in the New York Times, Senator McCain indicated that he did not believe in gay adoptions. This raised some concerns and in response, his campaign issued a statement that McCain's "position on gay adoption is that it is a state issue, just as he made clear in the interview that marriage is a state issue. …