MORE THAN TWO decades ago, a group of concerned citizens joined with the United Way to create a new organization charged with keeping an eye on the needs of Philadelphia's children - and monitoring services provided for them by public agencies.

Ever since, Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth has spearheaded efforts to get lead out of our houses and out of children's lives, assisted parents in finding health care for their sons and daughters, helped to simplify bureaucratic processes involved in applying for child-care subsidies and public assistance, pushed for full-day kindergarten and for placing qualified teachers where they are needed most in public schools, and much more.

PCCY was there last fall when thousands marched on Harrisburg to push the legislature to do something about gun violence. We can count on PCCY to not let the next mayor forget that the city has been promising a new Youth Study Center for nearly 30 years - and to remind our elected leaders that our schools need more resources if reforms that work are to take hold and boost achievement and graduation rates for our kids.

This evening, Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth is celebrating 25 years of speaking up and looking out for the interests of children in the city, region and state.

Congratulations to the staff of this able and independent watchdog organization and to its tireless executive director, Shelly Yanoff, who can be counted on to keep reminding us that the real bottom line is - always - children.

Fasaha Traylor

President, Board of Directors

Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth