Children and Families

Amy On The Issues

A Voice for South Jersey’s children and families

I was born in Atlantic County and have lived here my entire life. I understand how our community is affected by issues like access to healthcare, childcare, and good jobs and schools. I am running for Congress so I can fight for families in this district. I want to make sure that our community remains a safe and healthy one where our children can succeed and thrive.

My campaign reflects those values. It is built around the issues that matter to working families: Investing in public education. Achieving universal health care. Ending child poverty. Investing in mental health. And keeping our communities safe. I will always be a voice for South Jersey’s children and families in Congress.

End Child Poverty

American Family Act, a bold but commonsense plan to increase family incomes by expanding the child tax credit. This important legislation would put more money back in the pockets of middle-class families, making sure that parents can keep up with the rising cost of basic necessities like housing, healthcare, and childcare. It would help more than one million children in New Jersey and cut child poverty in half nationwide. 

Invest in Public Education

Both of my parents were public school teachers, and I taught public middle school for more than a decade in South Jersey. I am proud that New Jersey has the best public schools in the nation, and I will be a champion for our students, educators, and support professionals in Congress.

While it is local governments’ responsibility to make the decisions about how best to educate students, it is the federal government’s responsibility to ensure equal opportunity and access. That means the federal government must give states and local communities the tools and resources they need to instruct, support, and inspire. The federal government must also play an important role in ensuring that our public education system equips all students with the skills they need to enter the modern, high-tech economy and find a good-paying job. For example, I support efforts to expand work-based learning opportunities, to invest in STEM education, and to connect students to work through apprenticeships. I also support efforts to increase teacher pay, reduce class sizes, and expand programs for at-risk and high-need students.

COVID-19 is an enormous challenge to our schools, teachers, students, and families. It is especially vital that Congress provide emergency funding to ensure that schools can reopen or remain open safely and to provide the digital infrastructure for remote education. I also support the Rebuild America’s Schools Act as part of a future recovery package. This important legislation will invest more than $100 billion to rebuild or modernize our schools while creating nearly two million good-paying jobs. And I will fight to protect existing jobs in our public schools throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The resulting recession has put an enormous strain on state and local government budgets and federal leadership is needed to protect teachers, staff, and services. I have been vocal in calling on Congress to act to avoid cuts and to make the public investments needed to help our economy recover.

Protect Children’s Right to Healthcare

Every child should have access to high-quality healthcare at low or no cost. America has long sought to meet this goal, which is why we expanded Medicaid in the Affordable Care Act and created the bipartisan Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. More than 800,000 children in New Jersey are covered by these two programs.

Sadly, children’s right to health care is in danger. Republican’s efforts to repeal the ACA threaten to take healthcare away from millions of New Jerseyans—including young children. Republicans have even proposed to end Medicaid as we know it. These attacks have already contributed to a stark increase in the number of uninsured children in America. Roughly 400,000 children lost their health insurance during the first two years of the Trump administration alone.

In Congress, I will stand up to any effort to take health care away from New Jersey’s children. I will fight to protect and expand the ACA, including by continuing to expand Medicaid where families still need it. I will protect children with preexisting conditions, oppose efforts to reinstate benefits caps on sick kids, and protect children’s access to preventative services at no cost to their families. I will work to bringing more competition into the health care exchanges, where many families purchase insurance, helping more people buy coverage and increasing the tax credits families use to subsidize the cost of ACA plans. And I believe that we should have a public option, so that any family who doesn’t have health insurance can buy into Medicare if they want to. Together, these steps will go a long way toward closing the coverage gaps that leave tens of thousands of New Jersey’s children uninsured.

Invest in Mental Health

As a mental health advocate, I know how important it is that we provide every child with access to mental health and wellness services. By prioritizing social and emotional learning from the earliest grades, we can help give our children the tools they need to succeed in school and throughout their lives.

In Congress, I will fight to increase funding for school counselors, nurses, and psychologists, so that every school or childhood learning center can provide children with a range of community services to help them thrive. To meet that goal, we need to require that Medicaid reimburse school-based mental health services and provide mental health literacy trainings for teachers and school personnel. We also need to invest in mental health and addiction services at colleges and universities and require colleges that receive federal financial assistance to invest in these critical programs.

I will also work to address and prevent bullying and harassment, especially towards LGBTQ students, which sadly remains widespread. Existing federal programs do not address the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ youth. That’s why I will work to enact the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which would require public schools to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, or religion.

Make Childcare Affordable

We have a childcare crisis in New Jersey. Childcare costs more than $10,000 a year on average, and across the country, COVID-19 has brought our fragile childcare system to the brink of collapse. Making childcare affordable and accessible is critical to helping New Jerseyans return to work as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

While parents can already get a tax credit if they spend money on childcare, the credit is capped too low and doesn’t benefit lower-income families. In Congress, I will work to give all working families a refundable childcare tax credit that actually offsets the cost of childcare. I will also support efforts to increase the federal investment in state childcare programs. And I will fight to make free preschool available to every child in America. 

Prevent Infant and Maternal Mortality

Atlantic City has by far the highest infant mortality rate in the state: a child born to an Atlantic City family is nearly twice as likely as a child born in Newark to die before her first birthday. And while we have made progress under Governor Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy’s leadership, South Jersey remains one of the highest-risk places in the country for pregnant women.

In Congress, I will fight for the investments we need to ensure all women have early access to local, high-quality pre- and postnatal care. In particular I will work to expand Medicaid coverage for new and expectant moms, including to one-year postpartum. Because Medicaid covers nearly half of all births, expanding coverage is the most important thing we can do to improve infant and maternal health. I will also fight to increase funding for clinical training and maternal care provider networks, especially in rural and other underserved areas where access remains limited.

End Child Hunger

Far too many families in our district faced food insecurity even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In Atlantic County, nearly one in five residents had run out of food and been unable to buy more, and nearly one in three could not afford to purchase healthy meals for their family. COVID-19 made these problems much worse, leaving our community food banks struggling to keep up with the rising demand for assistance.

I believe that no child should go hungry. I also believe that every family should have access to healthy, affordable food in their community. That’s why I will always fight to protect and expand funding for food stamps and other nutrition assistance programs, and to quickly ramp up these programs during emergencies like COVID-19. In addition to being one of the most effective ways to help families during recessions, food stamps benefit local retailers, who accepted nearly $1 billion in benefits last year; and local farmers, by driving demand for their products. I will also work to achieve universal access to free school meals, including during the summer months and during emergencies like COVID-19. 

Prevent Gun Violence

Firearms are the fourth-leading cause of death among children and teens in New Jersey. I am heartbroken by this loss. As a teacher and mother of five, I am outraged that our children have to spend so much time in active shooter trainings. And I am angry that our law enforcement officers must put their lives on the line every day to respond – all because politicians in Washington have failed to protect them.

That’s why I support commonsense gun safety reforms. By making background checks universal, we can close loopholes that allow violent criminals to buy guns. We also need new protections to prevent domestic abusers and other criminals from purchasing firearms, to make it easier for law enforcement to fight illegal gun crime, and to allow civil courts to temporarily remove guns from people who are in crisis. We can do all of this without infringing on the Second Amendment.

The vast majority of Americans support these policies. But Congress hasn’t gotten anything done because it is flooded with dark money from special interests. We need an independent voice in Washington who is not afraid to stand up to lobbyists and fight for our children.