The Children's Leadership Council (CLC) is a coalition of child advocates representing 57 leading national policy and advocacy organizations who are working everyday to improve the health, education and well-being of children and youth in order to prepare them for school, work, and life. Collectively, CLC's organizational members have affiliates, partners, and members in every state in the nation. The CLC is a strong, unified group of organizations speaking with one voice to achieve a singular mission - building the public awareness and creating the political will necessary to make greater federal investments in America's children and youth a reality.
The CLC provides value-added to other coalitions' efforts by addressing the investments needed across the age spectrum from birth to young adulthood, and across the issue spectrum including: children's health; early care and education; prevention, early intervention and treatment for vulnerable children; youth development; and economic support for children and families to ensure that children's basic needs of food, clothing and shelter and economic stability are met.
The CLC believes investing in children, youth and families is investing in America. By making all of our children – from birth to young adulthood – a priority, we strengthen our country and secure everyone's future. And when we help children grow and succeed, we are paving the way for our country's next generation of workers and leaders. Improving children's health, education, and well-being is not just the right thing to do; it is one of the smartest investments we can make for our nation's future.
Early Care and EducationThe CLC is focused on the early, critical years of a child's life, from birth to five; this includes early education, preventative health care, and ensuring children have access to resources that promote healthy social and emotional development.
Economic Support for Children, Youth and Families
We are dedicated to securing assistance for low-income families. We also focus on economic issues outside of child specific policies that impact children, youth and families such as the federal budget, child tax credits, budget process legislation and spending caps.
The CLC works to ensure children have the opportunity to grow up healthy. That means that all children have access to affordable, quality, age appropriate comprehensive health care that addresses the unique needs of children.
Prevention, Early Intervention and Treatment for Vulnerable Children
We work to improve the lives of the most at-risk children, including those with physical, mental and developmental disabilities and those children involved with the Child Welfare system, especially those affected by abuse and neglect.
The CLC addresses the needs of the millions of disconnected youth who are dropping out of high school and disconnecting from the education and mainstream labor market.
Chair: Alan Houseman, CLASP
Alan W. Houseman is Executive Director of CLASP, the Center for Law and Social Policy.
CLASP advocates for policies that improve the lives of low-income people. In addition to directing CLASP, Mr. Houseman is currently counsel to the National Legal Aid and Defender association (NLADA) and is a leader of national efforts to preserve and strengthen the federal legal services program. He has written numerous articles, manuals, papers and books on legal services, poverty law advocacy, and welfare policies, He has been involved in a variety of capacities with the American Bar Association (ABA). In 1969, he founded Michigan Legal Services. From 1976 to 1981, he was a senior staff member at the Legal Services Corporation and director of the Research Institute, which he founded and developed.
Mr. Houseman has been an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center and previously taught at Wayne State University Law School. He has received numerous awards and honors including the National Equal Justice Award and the Oberlin College Distinguish Achievement Award. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Oberlin College, Executive Vice-President of the Consortium for the National Equal Justice Library, vice-chair of the Children's Leadership Council and a board member of the Coalition on Human Needs.
First Vice Chair: Linda Smith, NACCRRA
Linda K. Smith is the Executive Director of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) .
NACCRRA's mission is to ensure that every child has access to high- quality, affordable child care. As a nonprofit membership association, NACCRRA represents more than 750 state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs). These agencies serve more than 7 million families each year and train over 500,000 child care workers annually. NACCRRA also provides child care fee assistance on behalf of the Military Services to over 20,000 children of military families.
Prior to coming to NACCRRA, Ms. Smith served in various positions within the Department of Defense, including serving as the Director of Child Development and Youth Programs and the Director of Family Policy for the Secretary of Defense. During her tenure with the Secretary of Defense, she was the lead staff person responsible for writing policy for the landmark Military Child Care Act of 1989. Before retiring from federal service in 2002, Ms. Smith served as a Legislative Fellow, and subsequently as a Professional Staffer on the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee under the Chairmanship of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Ms. Smith is a native of Montana and graduate of the University of Montana. She has two grown children and three grandchildren.
Vice Chair: Michael Petit, Every Child Matters
Michael Petit founded the Every Child Matters Education Fund in 2002 with the mission of making children’s issues a political priority.
Mr. Petit served as deputy director at the Child Welfare League of America and as Maine’s commissioner of human services. He has consulted extensively across the US on a wide variety of children’s issues. Mr. Petit also was a delegate to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in Helsinki, Finland.
Mr. Petit is a Maine native with three grown daughters and four grandchildren. He holds a Bachelors degree from Bowdoin College and a Masters in Social Work from Boston College.
Vice Chair: Deb Weinstein, Coalition on Human Needs
Deborah Weinstein came to the Coalition on Human Needs as its new executive director in June of 2003. Debbie brings over thirty years of advocacy experience to CHN on a wide range of issues at both the state and federal level.
Prior to coming to CHN, Weinstein served for nine years as director of the Family Income division of the Children's Defense Fund. At CDF she worked on policy strategies to lift children and theirfamilies out of poverty, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), child support, jobs and wages, housing, nutrition, unemployment insurance, and equitable tax policy.
From 1983 to 1993, Weinstein was executive director of the Massachusetts Human Services Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy organization made up of human service providers, religious organizations, labor, and advocacy groups and focusing on the needs of Massachusetts people, especially those with limited income.
Weinstein has been the recipient of many awards from human services and advocacy groups. She has a Master of Social Work degree from San Diego State University.
Treasurer: Matthew Melmed, ZERO TO THREE
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Since 1995 he has guided the considerable growth of the organization’s activities in support of professionals, policymakers and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers. Under his leadership ZERO TO T
Mr. Melmed currently serves as the first elected Chair of the Children’s Leadership Council, a coalition of 55 leading national policy and advocacy organizations working to improve the health, education and well-being of America’s children and youth. In addition, he serves as Vice-Chair on the Board of Generations United and was recently elected a Trustee of the Turrell Fund in New Jersey.
Mr. Melmed served for 13 years as Executive Director of the Connecticut Association for Human Services and prior to that was a Managing Attorney for Connecticut Legal Services. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of SUNY Binghamton and received his Juris Doctor degree from SUNY Buffalo.
Secretary: David Kass, Council for a Stronger America
David serves as the President of the Council for a Strong America, the nonprofit parent of America's Edge, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, Mission: Readiness, and Shepherding the Next Generation, where he directs their overall operations.
Previously, David served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislation at the U.S. Department of Housing, managing the agency's Congressional affairs office. He also worked on children's issues as a staff person on Capitol Hill and for several nonprofits. David received his master's degree from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs and his bachelor's degree from Amherst College.
Convener/Secretariat: Bill Bentley, Voices
Bill provides strategic and organizational leadership to the Voices network. He is also a founding member of the Children’s Leadership Council, a coalition of over 50 leading national child advocacy groups.
Before joining Voices, Bill was the Executive Vice president and COO of the Points of Light Foundation and served as a member of the senior leadership teams with the Corporation for National and Community Service, Florida state government and the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services. Bill holds a M.S. in Social Work and a B.S. in Education from Florida State University.