The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 19, 2012

Local legislative forum to focus on children’s issues

By Samantha Pidde
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — Legislative candidates will address children’s issues on Thursday.

“If children are our future we have to look at them and treat them as such,” said Shirley Darsidan, a court-appointed special advocate to represent children in the system and head of a grandparent support group.

A legislative forum will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at First United Methodist Church, 236 Seventh Ave. South.

Candidates will answer questions concerning child abuse, mental illness, education and daycare and nutrition and poverty.

The event is being held by the Rainbird Foundation, Grandparents and Others United for Positive Changes, Every Child Matters and Every Child Counts.

“Any questions surrounding children can be asked,” Darsidan said.

Darsidan encourages people to pose their own questions concerning children to the candidates. Time will be alloted to allow people to write down questions for the moderator to address.

Every Child Matters Iowa Campaign Director Tom LaPointe said his organization tries to generate awareness of children’s issues during election time. The organization’s national office has worked to try to get presidential candidates to debate on questions concerning child care, children’s health and child abuse. Darsidan and LaPointe feel these issues are important during the election.

“They (children) don’t vote yet, but they are very important to what our futures will be,” Darsidan said.

Darsidan is also working to form the Coalition for Ending Child Abuse to address issues concerning children. She said Clinton County ranks in the top 10 percent for reported cases of child abuse. She added that 25 percent of children from birth to 17 years old in Clinton County live below the poverty level.

Darsidan said that the coalition will use money from fundraising events, such as the walk held this June, to help prevent child abuse. She is looking for advocates for the coalition who really want to help children.

“It probably won’t happen instantly,’ Darsidan said.

LaPointe will be attending both the legislative forum and the coalition’s first meeting from noon to 2 p.m. in the Clinton Public Library. He is looking forward to visiting with Darsidan. He added that the future is determined by the children and people need to make sure they grow up whole and healthy.

Anyone interested in joining the coalition may attend the meeting or call Darsidan at (563) 613-2850.