Children and Families

Governors and state leaders play a critical role in the protection and support of vulnerable children, families, and individuals. The Children and Families (C&F) team provides timely and individualized state-focused technical assistance to Governors, their human services policy advisors, and state agency leadership so they can improve policies and systems that will allow children, families, and communities to reach their full potential. With an emphasis on helping States develop opportunities and policies that support all communities, the C&F team aids Governors to advance and fulfill their vision for the children and families in their states.

Our Focus Areas

  • Whole-family Approaches to Serving Children and Families
  • Early Childhood Education and Care
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Human Services Data and Delivery Systems
  • Housing and Homelessness
  • Food Insecurity and Hunger
  • Family Economic Security
  • Anti-Poverty Solutions
  • Foster Care, Kinship Care, and Adoption
  • Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment
  • Empowering Families and Communities
  • Reducing Barriers to Opportunity and Equity

Meet The Team

  • Jordan Hynes
    Program Director
  • Jess Kirchner
    Senior Policy Analyst
  • Eli McCabe
    Policy Analyst
  • Ekaan Ahmad
    Policy Coordinator

Major Initiatives

Policy Academy on Strengthening Youth Mental Health  

This Policy Academy builds on last year’s Chair’s Initiative on Strengthening Youth, Led by Governor Murphy of New Jersey. NGA will support up to 6 states in intensive technical assistance and strategic planning to implement the Chair’s Initiative Playbook through 4 main policy pillars:  

  • Prevention and Resilience 
  • Increasing Awareness and Reducing Stigma 
  • Access and Affordability of Quality Treatment and Care 
  • Caregiver and Educator Training and Support 

Children & Families Core Advisors Board 

The NGA Children and Families Team established the Core Advisors Board (CAB) to provide feedback on governors’ top priorities impacting the lives of children and families. Each year, a small group of governors’ human services policy advisors and agency leaders are selected to provide critical input and feedback on the structure and content of the NGA Center’s work with the states on human services and early childhood education and care issues.  


Human Services Policy Advisor Institute 

The Human Services Policy Advisors Institute is a network of governors’ policy advisors and state leaders from social services and children and family-serving agencies that comes together on a monthly call to share innovations and best practices for serving the complex needs of children and families. This network serves as a regular check-in for updates, content, peer-to-peer exchanges, and networking for policy advisors to discuss multidisciplinary policy considerations. Recent topics include: Human Services Workforce; Integrating Eligibility Screening Systems; and Supporting Older Populations.  


Children and Families Library

NGA Welcomes 6 States into Youth Mental Health Policy Academy

NGA Welcomes 6 States into Youth Mental Health Policy Academy

Alabama, Hawai`i, Kentucky, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Virginia will participate in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) Policy Academy to Drive Thriving Youth Mental Health and ...
2024 Core Advisory Board

2024 Core Advisory Board

The National Governors Association announced its new Children and Families Core Advisory Board (CAB) for 2024. Each year, a small group of governors’ human services policy advisors and agency leaders ...
State Strategies To Address The Impact Of COVID-19 On Maternal And Child Populations: Child Care and COVID-19

State Strategies To Address The Impact Of COVID-19 On Maternal And Child Populations: Child Care and COVID-19

As Governors continue to address the consequences of the pandemic, policymakers and state leaders can consider how to strengthen the role of child care as a tool to support maternal, ...
Optimizing Federal COVID Relief Funds: State Perspectives on Bolstering Child Care and Early Childhood Systems

Optimizing Federal COVID Relief Funds: State Perspectives on Bolstering Child Care and Early Childhood Systems

States have proven they can build the necessary infrastructure and operations that fully appreciate the business model of the early childhood sector with consistent investments in resources, necessary flexibilities, and ...
A Best Practices Dozen – Publications 2023

A Best Practices Dozen – Publications 2023

As we welcome a new year, it is natural to reflect on the year that has passed. In the realm of information dissemination, this act of reflection takes on particular ...
Policy Academy to Drive Thriving Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing

Policy Academy to Drive Thriving Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing

The NGA Center for Best Practices Children and Families team is excited to announce the Policy Academy to Drive Thriving Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing. Built off the success of ...
Discussing Youth Mental Health at the 2023 Jed Policy Summit

Discussing Youth Mental Health at the 2023 Jed Policy Summit

NGA’s Jess Kirchner and Jillian Meinhardt highlighted the importance of youth mental health at The Jed Foundation’s 2023 Jed Policy Summit. Thank you to The Jed Foundation for inviting Jess ...
2023 Health and Human Services Policy Advisors Institute

2023 Health and Human Services Policy Advisors Institute

The National Governors Association (NGA) was pleased to welcome Governors’ staff from 32 states and four territories to the annual Health and Human Services Policy Advisors Institute in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, ...
State and Local Leaders Urge Congress to Extend TANF Program

State and Local Leaders Urge Congress to Extend TANF Program

The Honorable Ron Wyden ChairmanSenate Committee on Finance 2221 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 The Honorable Jason SmithChairmanHouse Committee on Ways and Means 1011 Longworth House Office BuildingWashington, ...
Strengthening Youth Mental Health: A Governor’s Playbook

Strengthening Youth Mental Health: A Governor’s Playbook

The Playbook is intended to serve as a tool for states to further impactful policy solutions that strengthen youth mental health. Nationally, the current state of youth mental health is often labeled ...
New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy Unveils “Maternal and Infant Health Initiative Playbook”

New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy Unveils “Maternal and Infant Health Initiative Playbook”

Atlantic City, New Jersey – In the opening session of the National Governors Association (NGA) Annual Meeting, New Jersey First Lady Tammy Snyder Murphy released the “Tackling the Maternal and ...
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Unveils Playbook for Governors to Address Nation’s Youth Mental Health Crisis

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Unveils Playbook for Governors to Address Nation’s Youth Mental Health Crisis

“Strengthening Youth Mental Health: A Governor’s Playbook” Includes Four Key Pillars and 35 Nonpartisan Policy Recommendations. Atlantic City, New Jersey – During the opening session of the National Governors Association ...