– January 26 2021
Open Letter to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris
Neil Ghosh, CEO of SOS Children's Villages USA, urges the new administration to make children a priority.
Dear President Biden and Vice President Harris,
President Biden, listening to your inaugural address on January 20, I was inspired by the civility and care you so clearly expect of all Americans—to “listen to one another. Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another”—and by your conviction that we can, and indeed must, leave “a new and better world for our children.”
Vice President Harris, listening to your victory speech on November 7, I was moved by your words to the children of this nation: “Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way that others may not, simply because they’ve never seen it before, but know that we will applaud you every step of the way.”
And I am hopeful that with your leadership, children and youth will have the opportunities they deserve for tomorrow, and the safety, security and care they need for today.
Across the country and all around the world, vulnerable children all too often don’t have a voice. Children depend on us—adults, policymakers and organizations like SOS Children’s Villages—to advocate for their interests and rights. More than 220 million children worldwide are without parental care or are at risk of losing it. And in the United States, 1 in 8 children are abused or neglected.
Vast numbers of small children and adolescents in the U.S. are victims of poverty and its knock-on effects, such as homelessness, violence and joblessness. For the most vulnerable young Americans, the challenge isn’t tomorrow. It’s right now.
The connection between the crisis in children’s rights and policymakers is unmistakable. By the time you read this letter, there will be more children, different children, to aid or even to grieve. This is a systemic humanitarian crisis that reverberates through our economy and society. With a child poverty rate of over 20%, the United States now ranks 32nd among developed nations—behind Mexico—according to data compiled by the OECD.
Your administration is in a unique position to help reverse these trends. The concerns of our young people are deeply embedded in every significant area of policy and at every level of government. This is why, as an advocate for vulnerable children and youth, I believe we desperately need a national conversation on the challenges they face, and on how we as a society can and must meet them.
I believe that all children and young people have the right to grow up in a family environment. So do the 196 countries and territories around the world that are parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, committing themselves to uphold this right.
The successful efforts of many organizations working in this field demonstrate that a truly holistic approach can not only rescue children from the deadly spiral of poverty or neglect but provide a compassionate and empowering framework for a life of purpose and social worth. Our organization (SOS Children’s Villages) is fighting to protect orphaned and abandoned children and youth in 136 countries and territories, including the United States.
And with other child-focused organizations, we are leveraging our combined capacity, experience and knowledge to advocate for the world’s children and youth. For example, Joining Forces, an alliance of the six largest organizations, has undertaken a child-led initiative to change cultures and social attitudes toward children and violence. The logic behind this initiative is that legislation matters, but so does raising awareness in local communities.
What we need now are leaders who are willing to elevate the desperate concerns of those without a voice to the level they deserve among other national priorities.
We need leaders who will put these stories on the front page.
We need leaders who can forcefully express the needs of children from the highest positions of power.
I call upon both of you to be that leader.
Neil Ghosh, Chief Executive Officer
SOS Children’s Villages USA
We want you to get to know SOS USA and our leadership. Please note that the views expressed in Neil’s News solely reflect those of Neil Ghosh, CEO of SOS USA. Although these perspectives often align with SOS USA as an organization, they may deviate at times. Thank you for your interest in reading Neil’s News!