How One Group is Telling the Candidates to Invest in Kids

Posted: November 14, 2019 | By: Ian Klein Tagged: Blog

Just because kids cannot vote does not mean children’s issues are ignored during the Iowa caucuses.

That is, at least, the hope of E.J. Wallace, the state manager for Iowa’s chapter of the national group Save the Children Action Network (SCAN). Wallace and the rest of SCAN’s organization of volunteers are trying to send the message to presidential candidates that children’s issues are high on Iowans’ policy priority list. I sat down to chat with Wallace to find out more about his involvement with SCAN and its operations in Iowa.

Wallace said that his motivations for working with SCAN come from a deeply rooted belief in equity. Early education, according to Wallace, is a huge social determinant of success and health; therefore, Wallace is bothered by inequities that children and families face in access to early education. SCAN’s mission to hold politicians accountable to children attracted Wallace — when SCAN was founded in 2014, he was one of their first field hires.

As SCAN’s Iowa state director today, Wallace said it is his responsibility to “identify, recruit, and train volunteer leaders and students to be the political voice for kids.” Unsurprisingly, the Iowa caucuses provide these volunteers an avenue to raise awareness for children’s issues with the people who are seeking the highest political office in the United States. This experience is unique to Iowa: “I work with colleagues in New Hampshire and South Carolina and they are always jealous of the kind of person-to-person interactions that we have had with candidates,” Wallace said.

Indeed, Wallace estimates that SCAN volunteers have attended more than 100 candidate events across Iowa. Wallace hopes that getting volunteers out in the state of Iowa at candidate events will prove that children’s issues are on the minds of Iowa caucus-goers. Wallace cites 2018 polling data of Iowan voters conducted by SCAN that said: “76% of Iowa voters believe that childcare assistance needs to be fixed in order to help working families get to work.”

Wallace summarized the overall goal of SCAN during the Iowa caucuses: “I think the number one thing that we want candidates to remember is that children are 100% of our future even though they end up being 25% of our population.”