For two decades, Sen. John Chafee was a tireless advocate for some of the most vulnerable children in this country--children who have been abused or neglected and children with disabilities. The improvements he championed have offered new support for families in crisis to protect their children, strengthened family foster homes and group care settings for children who could not remain with their families and ensured adoptive families for tens of thousands of children across the country. He worked to improve health care and income supports for low-income children with physical, mental and emotional disabilities.

Sen. Chafee was a rare leader who pushed partisan politics aside and advocated for what was best for children. I bumped into him once giving a tour of the Capitol to a group of young students. His enthusiasm in working with and for children was genuine. He will be greatly missed.


Founder and President

Children's Defense Fund


The Oct. 23 editorial tribute to Sen. John Chafee omitted a defining aspect of his career: his unequivocal support of public education.

While on the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Chafee never saw a private school tuition tax credit bill that he liked and always led the opposition to every private school voucher bill that ended up on the Senate floor. He frequently teamed with other moderate Republicans in opposing the drastic cuts in elementary and public education proposed by President Reagan in the early '80s.

While not an apologist for public schools, Sen. Chafee had strong convictions about their importance in bringing people together, building a common interest and maintaining a separation between church and state. He saw vouchers as destroying the cohesiveness of communities.

Not many kids may realize they owe a debt to John Chafee because he took on their cause.



Public Advocacy for Kids