For more than 25 years, KIDS COUNT has been the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s flagship investment for providing public officials and child advocates with data, tools and policy recommendations to improve outcomes for vulnerable children. This investment has been substantial — more than $128 million to date — but so, too, have been the returns. In 2014 alone, the network of KIDS COUNT grantees achieved policy wins in 33 states, resulting in $8.3 billion in new or defended policy investments that will benefit an estimated 20.6 million children and more than 11 million families.
A new report, From Project to Platform: The Evolution of KIDS COUNT, tells the story of the transformation of a single data book documenting measures of child well-being into a mission-critical vehicle for building bipartisan support for proven solutions and policy change. Today, KIDS COUNT includes:
- a network of independent advocacy organizations in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands;
- a continuous stream of data and research products on the well-being of children; and
- a coordinated communications and capacity-building strategy ensuring that this information is heard.
From Project to Platform also includes insights that the Foundation has gained from its long-term investment in a vehicle for shaping and amplifying policy on a broad scale. Among these lessons learned:
- Stay the course: Patient investing for the long-term can pay off
- Build a broad presence: A footprint that covers every state can create potent leverage for policy and practice change
- Continuously strengthen the capacity of your network’s leaders while learning from them
- Don’t be afraid to expand the brand and diversify your offerings, even as you protect your gains
“KIDS COUNT is a critical mechanism that not only advances all of the work of our Foundation, but also serves as a resource for other advocates, organizations and policymakers working on behalf of children,” says Lisa Hamilton, who manages the initiative in her role as vice president of external affairs at Casey. “The network informs, amplifies and measures the power of our programmatic ideas. And if you can’t get the ideas out there, you can’t do as much good in the world.”
Read From Project to Platform