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Leadership & Results Part 3: Protecting the Nation’s Most Vulnerable

Under the leadership of Chairman John Kline (R-MN), the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has been working hard on behalf of students, small business owners, teachers, and working families. And by improving education, retirement, job training, and more, the committee has delivered impressive results. This is the third in a series of releases that will look back at some important reforms the committee has advanced under Chairman Kline’s leadership—reforms that will help more Americans pursue a lifetime of success and prosperity.

Chairman Kline and Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) visit Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School in Minnesota in April 2015. (Source: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune)

President Ronald Reagan once said, “America’s future is in the hands of our children.” And helping our children enjoy a bright and promising future is a leading priority for the Committee on Education and the Workforce.
The 40th U.S. president delivered those words in 1984 at the launch of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). To those who would dedicate their lives to the children and families served by the center, President Reagan said:

Your dedication and hard work will give our children a chance to live well and live full, healthy, and happy lives.

In 2013, under Chairman Kline’s leadership, the committee extended the NCMEC program to ensure its work continues to bring hope to families and children impacted by the most heinous crimes. It's one part of the committee’s effort to protect those who need help the most.

Another part of that effort was the committee’s work across the aisle, and the Capitol, to improve the Child Care and Development Block Grant program. The program has long been an important source of support for low-income working families, and committee members believed it was important to strengthen these services by empowering parents, improving child safety, and enhancing coordination. As Chairman Kline explained:

Working moms and dads have pursued a career, earned a degree, or acquired new skills and training because of the support available through this program. The commonsense ideas included in this bipartisan, bicameral agreement will only strengthen our support of these working families.

Identify a need. Meet it. That’s the tact the committee took with childcare, and that’s what guided the committee’s efforts to address the shocking challenges facing Native American schools.
As members learned through the committee's oversight and reporting by the Star Tribune, many students and teachers are in schools plagued by falling ceilings, broken water heaters, and rotten floors. A bungling bureaucracy at the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) is undermining the health, safety, and education of Native American students.
In response, the committee led an effort to shine a spotlight on a crisis that had been festering for decades, demanded BIE develop of plan for reform, and secured additional resources to improve the conditions at Native American schools. Explaining the importance of this work, Chairman Kline said:

Nobody can visit one of these schools and not say, "We need to fix this." We have a bureaucratic mess. We all owe it to these kids to get past the confusing [bureaucracy] and stop saying it’s somebody else’s problem. It’s time now for it to be all of our responsibility.

And that’s what the committee did—took responsibility, both in helping Native American students and in helping some of the most vulnerable victims of the opioid epidemic.
While protections were already in place to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect, a Reuters investigation revealed the Department of Health and Human Services was sending taxpayer money to states that were not meeting their commitments under the law, with deadly consequences.

To help solve this problem, the committee advanced—and the House passed—reforms requiring the department to better ensure states are meeting current child welfare requirements, particularly protections for infants born with illegal substance exposure. At a time when substance abuse is destroying lives and communities across the country, the committee’s work became an important part of a broader effort aimed at combating America’s opioid crisis.
As Chairman Kline said at the time:

We have a moral responsibility to do better.

And we did—one of many steps taken in recent years to help all children enjoy a bright and promising future.
To read other releases in the Leadership & Results series, click here.

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