PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Gina M. Raimondo convened today the state’s Children’s Cabinet for the first time since 2007 to set a vision to improve the health and well-being of Rhode Island’s kids. The group’s priority is to strengthen and grow opportunities for children and their families.
«All kids deserve the chance to make it in Rhode Island,» said Raimondo. «As a parent, I am focused on giving my kids every opportunity to succeed. We must provide every Rhode Island kid with that same opportunity. When we invest in our kids, we’re investing in our future, workforce and economy. Working together, across government and with the community, we can set our families and our state on a path for a healthy, stable future.»
In reconvening the Children’s Cabinet, Raimondo pointed to new national data from KIDS COUNT ranking Rhode Island 31st in the nation – and last in New England – for child well-being. In recent years, Rhode Island has recorded increases in the percentage of children living in poverty and families without secure parental employment. The Children’s Cabinet will work collaboratively across departments to improve services, especially for the most vulnerable and at-risk children and families in Rhode Island.
Raimondo appointed Health and Human Services Secretary Elizabeth Roberts to chair the cabinet and lead the group’s effort to improve the health, education and well-being of children and families across Rhode Island.
«Every child deserves an opportunity for a safe, healthy, successful and bright future,» said Roberts. «It is our responsibility as public officials – and as caretakers of the state they will inherit – to protect that opportunity. I applaud Governor Raimondo for reconvening the Children’s Cabinet and making a full-fledged commitment from the very top of state government to give every child and family the support they need to thrive.»
The Cabinet has three objectives:
- Create a five-year strategic action plan to improve outcomes and opportunity for children and families;
- Establish clear policies, goals, outcomes and performance metrics for each department;
- Measure progress on collaborative initiatives for children and align departmental resources to create a unified children’s budget that achieves better outcomes and opportunities for children and youth.
The newly-reconvened Children’s Cabinet took up several policy topics in its first meeting, including outlining a new agency-wide policy on human trafficking, child welfare, strengthening collaboration between the Department Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH), early childhood education, and an update on Medicaid reforms.
The Children’s Cabinet was created by the General Assembly in 1991 and has not met since 2007. During the 2015 legislative session, the Raimondo administration worked with the General Assembly to amend the Children’s Cabinet statute to better integrate and coordinate state services across departments and agencies, including adding the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Child Advocate and the Governor to the Children’s Cabinet. Other changes included a statutory requirement to develop a comprehensive plan and proposed unified children’s budget for the state’s child service system and language calling for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to provide staff support, replacing the Division of Planning.