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Statement Announcing the White House Conference on Children and Youth

October 26, 1969

ADDRESSING the Conference on the Care of Dependent Children in 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt said: "There can be no more important subject from the standpoint of the Nation than that with which you are to deal; because, when you take care of the children you are taking care of the Nation of tomorrow.

Sixty years have passed since Theodore Roosevelt spoke those words. The world has moved from the beginning of the Age of Flight to the beginning of the Age of Space. Yet, despite the numerous changes in practically every major field of human endeavor, one thing has remained constant: the importance of children in the life of our Nation. We must make certain that every child born in the United States of America has the opportunity to fulfill his potential.

Ever since that first conference, there has been a White House Conference on Children and Youth held upon the personal call of the President in each decade of this century. Each Conference has had the support and participation of State, Federal, and voluntary organizations.

The seventh decennial White House Conference on Children and Youth will meet in Washington, D.C., December 13-18, 1970. In the near future I shall appoint a National Chairman and a National Committee to direct the Conference.

This Conference will have a three-part emphasis and will focus upon:

1. Infants and young children from birth to age 5.

2. Children from approximately 6 to 14.

3. Youth aged 14 to 21. On April 14 of this year, in a message to Congress, I made clear that an area of deep concern to this administration is the most dependent constituency of all: the child under 5. A commitment to the first 5 years of life is one of the basic pledges of this administration.

Thus, while I am convinced that attention must be given to every age group of childhood and youth, I am particularly gratified to know that the early childhood years, of such vital intellectual and emotional importance to children, will be studied and discussed.

In keeping with the historic emphasis placed upon voluntary contributions to the success of the White House Conference on Children and Youth, and in keeping with this administration's conviction of the importance of voluntarism in our national life, I call upon all relevant private voluntary organizations to lend their support and provide leadership in this undertaking.

It is my hope that the States, voluntary organizations, professional groups, Federal departments and agencies, and the general public, including young people, will, working together, make this Conference as successful in its results as it is significant in its meaning.

America is a nation young at heart, and the needs of its youth are at the center of its concern. Nothing can be more important than making the coming generation the great generation.

Richard Nixon, Statement Announcing the White House Conference on Children and Youth Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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