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Learn about our work for children.

From the time they are born, children face a range of challenges that affect their development and their ability to thrive. Some children are more vulnerable than others because they face abuse and exploitation or poor social and environmental determinants of health.

No child should be unhoused or live in a toxic environment, be denied sanctuary from oppression, or suffer because they are kept from meeting their basic needs.

We advocate for more ambitious international frameworks and national policies that acknowledge the right of a child to a healthy and safe home, community, and environment. We do so through work with other organizations, leaders, and activists to advance public policy and to change consumer and industry practices to help end certain forms of child exploitation such as trafficking.

Read on to learn more and to join us in the fight for children.

Child Trafficking and Exploitation

Children are trafficked all over the world, including in the US. They are trafficked for labor, for war, and for sex. Child labor is one of the most common forms of trafficking and exploitation. The food and fiber industries, in particular, are some of the worse offenders.

In some parts of the US, children as young as 12 may work in agriculture, where they are exposed to toxins and other health hazards. The clothing and textile industry also exploits children at every stage of production, including picking cotton and other fibers, spinning yarn, sewing, and tanning leather.

To raise awareness about the problem of child labor, we partner with other organizations to foster changes in consumer practices, including the promotion of goods produced without child labor.

We have also endorsed the CARE Act, or the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety Act, which you can help support. This important legislation would remove the exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act that allow children to work unlimited hours in agriculture beginning at the young age of 12.

Phoenix Zones Initiative supports the bill’s advocates in building a strategy and cross-sectoral coalition to champion its introduction and adoption. We’re working to add the voices of physicians and public health experts to those of farmworker advocates and children’s rights groups.

Phoenix Zones Initiative also joins the fight against “child marriage,” another form of child trafficking, through public education and awareness-raising initiatives that focus on the importance of local and global interventions, including ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Read on to learn more.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an international agreement that describes the basic rights of children. It is the most comprehensive framework for helping governments ensure that children are protected from exploitation and abuse and that children are provided with what they need to live, grow, and thrive.

We advocate for US ratification of the CRC. Since Somalia’s ratification of the Convention in 2015, the US remains the only member of the United Nations that has not yet ratified the CRC.

US ratification of the CRC would be a significant step toward continuing to improve the lives of children around the world, including by

  • ensuring that children are not exploited by industries seeking cheap and compliant laborers;
  • ensuring access to adequate healthcare, including mental health services;
  • ensuring children are able to attend school;
  • ensuring adequate access to healthful food and clean water;
  • improving the status of children without permanent shelter;
  • ending the forced marriage and sex trafficking of children; and
  • ending the prosecution and incarceration of children as adults, including incarceration practices such as solitary confinement.

Learn more.

Upholding the CRC Principles

In lieu of the US ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Phoenix Zones Initiative works with other organizations to identify ways to uphold the spirit of the CRC in national policies and practices.

Leadership to Advance the Rights of Children

We have partnered with First Focus on Children and the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights to convene a coalition of leaders in children’s rights, medicine, case law, and legislative advocacy. The group has prioritized various policy initiatives as pathways to advance many of the rights and protections set forth by the CRC.

One of the avenues we’re pursuing is the establishment of an office or entity with the authority to oversee and coordinate children’s interests across all federal agencies and programs.

This effort elevates child protection issues into the realm of other issues with cabinet-level positions. Using other national and state offices as a model, the position would advocate for federal services that foster child and family wellness; address social and environmental determinants of health for children; and coordinate between federal agencies to better serve the interests of children.

child with t-shirt about hope

Coalition-Based Efforts to Protect Children

Phoenix Zones Initiative has also joined a coalition of child advocacy organizations urging President Biden to appoint a senior White House position to oversee children’s issues. The coalition is asking the Administration to designate a leader and structure within the Domestic Policy Council to coordinate and advance federal policy on children and youth.

Phoenix Zones Initiative has supported an additional slate of specific child protection initiatives, including a federal framework that would explicitly include racial equity, the “best interests of the child” standard included in the CRC, and practices recognizing that children have fundamental rights and voice.

Questions about our work on behalf of children? Please reach out.

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