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Defense of PeachCare Health Insurance for Children
The very first issue that ICM addressed was the threat to defund PeachCare for Kids, a program providing health insurance for children. The interfaith communication from religious leaders on this health issue “made a real impact we heard on many legislators and then of course there was showing up and being present and giving one’s voice to it.
Juvenile Code Rewrite Includes “Children in Need of Services” (CHINS)
In 2013, Georgia passed one of the most progressive Juvenile Justice Codes in the country. ICM travelled the state as one of four partners in the JustGeorgia Coalition. Georgia had not reformed its juvenile code in 43 years. It was a four- year journey, full of disappointments, but we worked to make it happen. The CHINS section provides therapeutic alternatives to juvenile prison.
Child Sexual Trafficking State Constitutional Amendment
ICM is an active partner in addressing child sexual trafficking. Georgia voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2016 that funds programs which support children who have been trafficked. As part of ICM, many churches, mosques and synagogues raised their voices in favor of the amendment. Over 10 years, advocates have ensured juveniles are treated as victims, not jailed as prostitutes.
Making Local School Suspension Policies Unbiased
ICM was very active in passing the “Too Young to Suspend,” bill in 2016 (HB 135). Now students in pre-kindergarten through third grade cannot be suspended without a school review. During the 2013-2014 Georgia school year, 14,292 children in those grades were given an out-of-school suspension. ICM continues to mobilize our members to voice concern about school suspension policies - the beginning of the “School to Prison Pipeline.”
Strengthening Families to End the Need for Foster Care
Parents love their children, yet difficult family circumstances can cause life-affecting trauma for children. Then damaged children are sent to foster care. ICM partners with state agencies to encourage churches, mosques and synagogues to learn how to support families, and to help care for children in the foster care system. The Department of Family & Children’s Services, Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) are ICM’s main partners.
Helping Youth Find Their Voices
Annually, the Interfaith Youth Alliance meets with legislators during “ICM Youth Day at the Capitol.” The Alliance brings together young people from varied faiths, races and economic status to meet as friends. They talk deeply about issues important to them and their siblings and “learn by doing” to speak their truth to power.
Praying Together for Our Children
ICM’s Annual Call – to - Action Prayer Breakfasts are large multi - faith gatherings loved by many as “the most diverse event of the year.” At the Breakfast, folks of many faiths, ethnicities, ages and genders gather to celebrate the gifts children bring to the world and to pledge, again, to “be a voice for all children.”
ICM Day at the Capitol
ICM’s first “Day at the Capitol” was in 2002. Day at the Capitol gives ICM members a chance to meet their legislators and ask for their votes for (or against) pending legislation. Laws and policies are ripe for action, and regular meetings throughout the year and regular newsletters keep these activists up to date.
Expanding “Awareness” to Create “Activists“
The path to “activist” begins with “awareness”. ICM works with our advocacy partners to provide “issue specific” training for our supporters and their worship communities. We work with our faith partners to transform the “awareness” to “concern” to “active advocacy.” Examples: How to recognize child abuse. How all childhood traumas affect developing brains. How to start a local “School Suspension Action Group.” How to be an advocate.
Beloved Community Across Faiths
As an interfaith movement, ICM sponsors faith – focused gatherings each year to enable persons to experience the rituals of other faiths. The Jewish Passover Seder, the Christian Advent Service, the Muslim EID gathering at the end of Ramadan provide a meaningful introduction to the faiths of friends made thru the ICM movement.