Moe Hickey: We can’t wait for Godot to help Utah children

Everyone should speak out for the needs of children.

(Sara Krulwich | The New York Times) Patrick Stewart, left, and Ian McKellen in Samuel Beckett's "Waiting For Godot" at the Cort Theater in New York, Oct. 25, 2013.

In the classic play “Waiting for Godot,” the characters are waiting for Godot to arrive, and he never appears. Throughout the play, they discuss many important topics which they want to address with Godot on his arrival. Because he never arrives, the issues are never addressed and implemented.

This play could be a metaphor for the current status of policies affecting children, both nationally and locally. We have the research and the data to show what works, yet we just keep talking and not implementing. The recent Child Tax Credit is just one example. It was proven to reduce childhood poverty to its lowest level in decades but was not reauthorized in the Omnibus Bill recently passed.

Utah has the youngest population in the USA, with approximately 30 percent of our population in the 0-18 demographic. This provides us with so many opportunities, but also many challenges. We need to acknowledge the issues, stop talking and start acting.

We need to fund and implement policies such as:

  • Guaranteed health insurance for every child in Utah

  • Expand to a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit

  • Establish a Utah Child Tax Credit

  • Provide paid parental leave and expand home visitation

  • Fund the child care sector long-term

  • Provide pre-K stipends to low-income families

  • Expand mental health services immediately

  • Increase funding for K-12 Public Education

This is not the whole list, but it is manageable and based on good policy and research. We have traveled the state and can assure you that these are not divisive topics for parents and community members with whom we have met in 2022. These should not be made into political issues but should be a common cause for all of us who care about our children and the future of Utah.

I recently spoke to a middle school class and urged them to advocate for issues that affect them. A 12-year-old student asked me, “Why?” Because they could not vote, nobody was going to care. This highlights the challenge we face unless we unite as one voice and prioritize the needs of those with no voice. We all must become the megaphone of students and come together to advocate for necessary change.

We must stop waiting for Godot, and instead take the lead. Our children and grandchildren need us now, so that they can have the best future imaginable.

Please get involved with local groups, contact your legislators, show up at local and state school board meetings. This is the time to create a movement based on sound policy and a moral obligation to the next generation.

We at Voices are committed to work on behalf of all our kids. We will gladly share data and research with partners and community members. Please reach out to us and find out how to get involved. Let’s start this year focused on investing in Utah kids!

This is our chance not to be Godot, but to become the voice of Utah children.

Moe Hickey | Voices for Utah Children Executive Director

Moe Hickey is the executive director of Voices for Utah Children