An event at the statehouse this morning kicked off an “Every Child Matters” campaign aimed at the presidential candidates who’ll be criss-crossing Iowa. Michael Petit, president and founder of the Every Child Matters Education Fund, says the group will build a grassroots network of Iowans who’ll pester the candidates on issues that’re key for kids. Petit says the President of the United States needs to be the champion of children. He says the public in Iowa wants to see more government investments in children and families. Petit says there need to be more investments in child health, child protection as well as preschool and after-school programs. Petit cites a poll commission by the group which found voters rank children’s issues rank just behind the economy in importance. Petit says there are increasing rates of child poverty, eight million kids still aren’t covered by health insurance, and two-thousand kids die every year from abuse and neglect. Petit says Iowa’s the perfect place for their campaign to pressure the presidential candidates because Iowa hosts the first test of the 2004 presidential campaign.