One-hundred-and-twenty members of Congress fought to protect the interests of children in 2023, according to a new analysis by First Focus Campaign for Children, advancing bills to promote their health and well-being amid a growing national crisis.

“Our nation’s children are in crisis, with child poverty, homelessness, uninsured rates and even mortality rates of infants and children on the rise,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children. “We are grateful to these lawmakers for working to reverse these trends and for putting the best interests of children first. We hope this accomplishment will inspire their colleagues to do the same.” 

First Focus Campaign for Children identifies 40 Senators and 80 members of the House of Representatives from both parties as “Champions” or “Defenders” of children in its 2023 Legislative Scorecardreleased today. Champions and Defenders earned their title by repeatedly using their legislative power to prioritize the well-being of children at home and abroad — sometimes against the instruction of their party leadership. See the list of winners here.

Women in Congress have always been more likely than men to be Champions or Defenders, but this year, they are nearly three times as likely as their male peers. A total of 42% of all women currently serving in Congress earned the distinction compared to 15% of men. This year also marks the first time that women outnumber men on the scorecard, by 63 to 57. Despite making up just 29% of Congress, women comprise a majority of the Champions and Defenders of Children in the 118th Congress

Support for our nation’s children also breaks down distinctly by region.

  • The Northeast is the Region of Champions. 45% of House and Senate members (48 members in total) from the Northeast (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware) were Champions or Defenders of Children in 2023. In fact, the Northeast has more Champions and Defenders than the bottom three regions combined.
  • The West holds strong but continues to slip. The Western region (Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Nevada) had 31% of its House and Senate members (28 in total) named as Champions or Defenders of Children — down from 34% in 2022 and 35% in 2021. As recently as 2019, the West had led all regions in this category.
  • The Midwest remains in the middle. In 2023, 15% of House and Senate members (18 in total) from the Midwest (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri) qualified as Champions or Defenders of Children.
  • The Southwest and Plains States need more Champions. The Southwest (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas) and Plains states (Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota) had 12% of their members (12 out of 103) represented on our list.
  • The Southeast still lags behind. The Southeast region (Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas) produced just 10% of their delegation as Champions or Defenders.

First Focus Campaign for Children’s 2023 Legislative Scorecardranks policymakers according to votes and bill sponsorships taken during the first session of the 118th Congress that promote — or imperil — our children’s best interests. The new report examines key pieces of legislation designed to protect children from toxic chemicals, sexual abuse, and other dangers; provide high-quality, affordable child care; build wealth and promote stable financial futures; prevent child labor; promote mental health access in schools and address other issues critical to advancing the needs of all children everywhere.

Download the full report here.