Index Gauges How Much 'Kids Mattered' During 2021 Idaho Session
An organization has rated Idaho lawmakers on how they voted for measures that affect children in the 2021 session.
Idaho Children Are Primary, or ICAP, identified 20 bills and determined if the policy was good or bad for kids. The main focus areas for the Kids Matter Index were education, health care and economic security.
Dr. Noreen Womack is a pediatrician with St. Luke's Children's Pediatrics in Nampa and a member of ICAP.
"The Kids Matter Index," said Womack, "is the legislative bill-rating system that we came up with in collaboration with others that work for children like Idaho Voices for Children to basically give a voice for kids because kids don't have lobbyists."
Eleven of the bills ICAP supported passed the Legislature, including emergency rental assistance funding, COVID-19 relief for childcare grants and extending the age people can be in foster care from 18 to 21.
Diane Schwarz, one of ICAP's founders, said other organizations rate individual legislators on their votes for policies like gun rights. She said her group wanted to do the same for issues that affect children.
She said more than half of lawmakers scored 80% or above. However, Schwarz said she believes the bills introduced didn't go far enough to support children.
"Yes, they scored well based on the bills that were there," said Schwarz. "But I think it just shows that based on the bills, there's a lot more work that has to be done in Idaho in future sessions."
As Idaho has one of the youngest populations in the country, Schwarz said it's critical to support kids because they will in turn support a vibrant, growing Idaho.