Philadelphia Must be The Best Place to Raise a Family
In order to make Philadelphia the best place to raise a family, the next Mayor of Philadelphia must focus on making every day safer than the day before and that begins with addressing gun crime, head on.
Children are dying from gun violence at record levels. Tragically guns now are the leading cause of death among children. Just as chief executives directly led the efforts to combat COVID, the Mayor must assemble federal, state, and local partners to tackle this scourge.
The Mayor must directly oversee the implementation of proven strategies to reduce gun violence and doing so must be a priority. This is not a job that should be left to solely to the Police Commissioner, Managing Director, or even a new Public Safety Coordinator. This crisis requires the top attention and leadership of the chief executive of the city.
If declaring a state of emergency will expand the powers needed to save children, if creating new positions to leverage the resources of multiple agencies are needed, nothing should be in the way of taking these steps.
If surveillance cameras must be deployed, new methods for prosecution are called for, reforms to policing practices need be adopted, or programs need to be built to reform potential shooters, the Mayor must personally lead the charge and ensure that entrenched special interests are sidelined in the interest of saving our children.
The risk of death from gun violence for children and their parents must come to an end.
The work to make Philadelphia the best city to raise a family starts with ending gun violence, and it requires so much more.
At a minimum, the mayor must recognize that city services to children and parents need to be improved and expanded. Parents across the city express dismay that so much of the support they found at libraries, recreation centers or community institutions when they were growing up has disappeared leaving their children to grow up in enrichment deserts.
Now, nearly every family have all available adults going to work. Those parents depend on an early learning system that is safe, reliable and high quality. The mayor must build this infrastructure that so parents can go to work and so that every child gets the foundational learning needed for a life time of success. Ambitious efforts by mayors across the country to guarantee free access to pre-K and affordable child care are helping those cities attract and keep young families. Philadelphia must join that league of cities.
And, while the mayor does not run the schools, they must adopt the reform of the school district as a priority because it’s a priority that is shared by nearly every parent in the city. The fate of the city’s economy depends on it. Here again, mayors who’ve taken on the hard work of school reform directly, can point to impressive results that heretofore have eluded Philadelphia.
Philadelphia has among the highest child poverty rate of any major city in the United States. The city is also a beacon of light showing other towns how to make sure children are fed, housed, and receive good health care, especially those being raised in very low income families. Our proud legacy must be shored up. Our models for meeting the needs of the most vulnerable children can always improve. We must leave not stone unturned in compensating for the enormous toll that poverty takes on too many children in Philadelphia.
The Kids Campaign is defining the specific policies that the next mayor must embrace to demonstrate their willingness to use their power and the city’s resources to improve the lives of children.
A mayor that embraces these policies, and tackles gun violence, will be doing what it takes for Philadelphia to be the best place to raise a family.
Policy Papers Collective Footnotes