Mary Lou Dickerson Children’s Campaign Fund Board Member

Keeping children safe leads our work with the Children’s Campaign Fund.

One critical way to help is to support policies that remove toxins from environments in which children live, learn and play.

I am proud to say that Washington state is a leader in this area. Washington Toxics Coalition, as well as several other children’s health, public safety and environmental groups which have banded together to make products for children safer through hard-won legislation such as the Toxic Toys Bill, Safe Baby Bottles Bill and the bill that phased out polybrominate biphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

The next step forward is to pass The Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act. This legislation bans six toxic-flame retardants on Washington’s Children’s Safe Products Act list of “Chemicals of High Concern for Children,” and would make it more difficult for manufacturers to replace them with chemicals that have effects that are equally bad or worse.

The bill was introduced two years ago by Rep. Kevin VanDeWege and each year has passed the Washington State House of Representatives but has died in the Senate. It will be re-introduced in the next session.

Here are a couple links I recommend to learn more about this topic:

  • A recent HBO documentary,Toxic Hot Seat, gives an examination at how the chemical industry has interfered with the regulation of toxic flame retardants. Toxic Hot Seat

  • A Chicago Tribune 2012 feature on big tobacco companies involved in drafting U.S., fire safety standards, put in place to protect people from home fires. Critics have said it provided a distraction to the leading cause of fire-related deaths—smoking cigarettes. The Chicago Tribune “Playing with Fire” series with multimedia features The Chicago Tribune feature “Big Tobacco wins Fire marshals as allies in flame retardant push” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention factsheet on Fire Deaths and Injuries states “smoking is the leading cause of fire-related deaths”

  • Washington state firefighters are supporters of legislation such as Toxic-Free Kids Act to remove toxic flame retardants from consumer products in the state. Firefighters and those exposed to smoke from house fires are also exposed to dangerous levels of chemicals from the burning flame retardants. The Capital Record Feb. 2014 article “Firefighters want ban on chemical flame retardants in children’s products” WA Toxics Coalition blog article “Firefighters Take a Stand for Safer Chemicals”

  • These harmful flame retardants that leach out of products are linked to cancer, learning disabilities and reproductive difficulties. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states the additive process of applying flame retardants “increases the potential for the flame-retardant chemical to leach out of the product to which it is applied.” It also states children and firefighters are two of the three populations most at risk for exposure. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Flame Retardants webpage

  • A PBS Newshour of KCTS 9 of California discusses the recent change in California law related to furniture flammability standards discuss several sides of the issue from concerned parents and firefighters to a chemistry professor and a toxicologist. PBS Newshour program “Calif. law change sparks debate over use of flame retardants in furniture”

Pediatricians, nurses, faith groups, firefighters, disability rights advocates, community and environmental groups support banning these flame retardants. When you attend a state legislative campaign event, be sure to ask how the elected official intends to vote in the bill in the upcoming session.

Susanna Block CCF Board Member

We know reading to children is important. The degree of importance of early literacy can make for a child is astonishing.

Many important reading concepts begin before kindergarten. The first three years of a child’s life are a critical period to promote parent-child reading. Studies show us that a child—from birth to 3 years of age—benefit greatly from an abundant early literacy environment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a new policy statement on June 24, 2014, recommending pediatricians and policy makers promote reading aloud to children daily, beginning in infancy. Read the article in the news-magazine of the American Academy of Pediatrics here.

Early literacy plays a crucial role in school success and reading ability. Frequent positive literacy experiences in preschool are directly correlated with:

Improvement in teacher rating of oral skills at age 5 and reading comprehension at age 7.

Reading achievement success in second grade.

But early literacy does not mean early reading. Early literacy emphasizes positive exposure to a reading-rich environment. Research tells us there are short term and long lasting benefits from exposing children to books and language at an early age.

Children enter kindergarten with different knowledge levels. Those who enter with the least knowledge of beginning reading skills are most at risk to struggle academically.

A U.S. Department of Education report from February 2000 demonstrates that kindergarteners who are living in poverty, from single parent homes or non-English speaking families have fewer reading and math skills and exhibit more behavioral problems in school.

The benefits of early literacy does not stop at kindergarten, it continues throughout the school years.

The frequency of parent-child reading increases when parents receive support from policies that encourage early literacy. There is a demonstrated increase in the expressive and receptive language scores of children who are involved in reading promoting programs.

In an exciting progression in Washington state, the idea of early literacy has moved from academia to policy! Supporting parent engagement and early literacy programs are a core part of Washington’s Early Learning System.

Some parents and caregivers don’t have the tools to read aloud to their children daily. Others are unaware of the importance and do not give it a priority in their children’s lives.

Early childhood learning continues to be a fundamental area of interest for the Children’s Campaign Fund.

Thank you to all the Children's Campaign Fund supporters who joined us

Your generous support helped make the Children's Campaign Fund annual fundraising event a success. Your contribution helped us raise $20,000! The event was great fun--with fabulous music, delicious food and wonderful friends!

Children, especially those most at risk, need strong advocates in the legislature and every dollar of your donation goes to electing Champions for Children. As we continue the Children's Campaign Fund endorsement process (read the CCF endorsements here), we are excited to help advocates for children as they take on some of the most competitive races across the state.

But as the campaigns speed up, we would like to take a moment to slow down and thank all the amazing people who have improved the lives of children and families in Washington. You are one of those people.

Thank you for your continued support.


Rene Murry and Joe Cunningham

Co-chairs, Children's Campaign Fund

Honoring Rep. Mary Helen Roberts

Representative Mary Helen Roberts is also one of those amazing people.

CCF honored Roberts for her years of fiercely supportive and inspiring service in the Washington House of Representatives and to the Children's Campaign Fund.

Representative Roberts, a founding board member, served as the first chair of CCF. She was on the board from 1990 until she was elected to the House in 2004. Roberts served five terms for the 21st Legislative District, which includes most of Edmonds, Mukilteo, a portion of south Everett and surrounding unincorporated areas.

By all accounts, she focused her efforts on improving the lives of children and families.

Most recently, Roberts served as the vice-chair on the House Public Safety Committee as well as committees that addressed issues of education, labor, children, justice and human services. She worked with law enforcement agencies and youth advocates for legislation to established alternatives to incarceration for youth, ensure youth offenders are tried in juvenile court and expand options for youth offenders with mental health issues.

Mary Helen brought a passion to the legislature for children and families, in particular for children and families affected by incarceration. She expanded how we look at vulnerable children. She sponsored three different extended foster care bills, which expanded the definition of what a foster child is, so we don't just dump them out of the street when they are 18.

"[Recently] I looked at the statistics of the number of children that leave foster care and become homeless. Mary Helen has been responsible for changing the law so that happens much less frequently." -- Rep. Ruth Kagi.

"[The Children's Campaign Fund Board] was so excited to have Mary Helen Roberts in the legislature. She continued the advocacy she did with CCF and translated it into action to improve the lives of children and families. We can't thank you enough." -- Susan Weiss, CCF board member

Thank you to the CCF and event sponsors!

First, a BIG thank you to Rep. Ruth Kagi, a founding CCF board member, who hosted our event at the lovely Dunn Gardens in northwest Seattle.

CCF Champion Sponsors ($500+)

  • Connie Ballmer

  • Bobbe and Jon Bridge

  • Martha Kongsgaard

  • Janet Levinger

  • Carol Maurer

  • Ann Ramsay-Jenkins

CCF Event Sponsors ($200-$499)

  • Phoebe Sade Anderson

  • Janis Avery

  • Charles and Nancy Bagley

  • Ana Beltran

  • Paul Benz

  • Becky Bogard

  • Bright Spring Consulting

  • Linda Brown and Larry True

  • Kathy Burgoyne

  • Sheila Capestany

  • Kathy Carson

  • Craftsman Plumbing

  • Bob Crittenden

  • Joseph Cunningham

  • Suzanne Dale Estey

  • Pam Daniels

  • Ben Danielson, MD

  • Mary Lou Dickerson


  • Pat and Susan Dunn

  • Mercedes Elizalde

  • Ginny English and Steve Holt

  • Mark and Benita Gjurasic

  • Danette Glassy, MD

  • Linda Hanson

  • Bill Hochberg

  • Marty Jacobs

  • The Hon. Fred Jarrett

  • Lonnie Johns Brown

  • Mike Kasprzak and Betty Williams

  • The Hon. Lynn Kessler

  • Kurose and Nathan Rothman

  • Jean Leonard

  • Laurie Lippold

  • The Hon. Steve Litzow

  • Trisha Matthieu

  • The Hon. Marcie Maxwell

  • Leah Medway

  • Lance Morehouse

  • Chuck and Rene Murry

  • Maren Norton

  • The Hon. Al O'Brien

  • Donna Patrick

  • Linda Quan, MD

  • The Hon. Renee Radcliff Sinclair

  • Kristen Rogers and Nick Federici

  • Majken Ryherd

  • Susan Sandall and Tony Williams

  • SEIU 775

  • The Hon. Tana Senn

  • Don Shifrin, MD and Bobbi Chamberlain

  • Shari Song

  • Cynthia Shurtleff and David Shurtleff, MD

  • Jeffrey Stolz, MD

  • Theresa Tanoury

  • Gayle and Jack Thompson

  • Jessica Wallace and Joshua Thompson

  • Eric Trupin, MD

  • Susan Abby Weiss

  • Kim Wesselman

  • Trina Westerlund

  • Sam Whiting

  • Kinnon Williams

  • Reid Yamamoto