What is Public Policy?

Decisions that affect children's lives

Public policy affects us all. Public policy refers primarily to rules, laws and budget decisions made at all levels of government – local, county, state and federal. These decisions lay out what we, as a society, are expected to do, what government’s role is in the lives of its citizens and the type of support the government will provide for children, families and others.

Public policy can take the form of legislation at the state and federal levels, ordinances at the local level and annual budgets, struck at all levels of government. In addition, state and federal governments routinely adopt rules, known officially as “regulations,” that affect our daily lives.

Example:  Years ago, smoking was allowed in most public places. Over the years, states and the federal government enacted laws prohibiting smoking in most places. This is an example of a fundamental shift in public policy that affected nearly all Americans.

How does public policy affect children? Decisions are made every day that affect a child’s chances of growing up safe, healthy and educated. For example, state and federal laws and rules largely drive what your child is taught each day in school. Funding decisions determine which services and programs will be available to children and their families. The healthcare children receive, the protection the government provides from abuse and neglect and a myriad of other issues that directly affect children are determined through public policy decisions made every day.

Since children cannot speak up for themselves when these decisions are being made, Advocates for Children of New Jersey and its many partners help to elevate their needs and inform decision-makers to arrive at choices that help all children.

Learn more about ACNJ’s work.