Last week, Congresswoman Lois Capps was named a ‘Champion for Children’ by the national children’s advocacy group First Focus Campaign for Children for her history of prioritizing education during her career.

Capps, who represents the 23rd congressional district, was honored alongside 49 other congressional members for her work in sponsoring pro-education legislation, marking 2012 as her third year receiving the recognition. Each year, First Focus selects 50 senators and representatives as Champions for Children and 50 other policymakers as Defenders of Children to recognize their roles in improving education and other sectors that directly affect the nation’s youth.

According to Capps, funding education is vital to the welfare of California youth and also has the potential to improve various other areas of the state in years to come.

“Investments in our children are investments in our future. That means ensuring they have access to quality healthcare and education, safe places to live and access to opportunities to help them now and as they grow,” Capps said in a press release. “And these investments have a ripple effect, strengthening families and engaging communities.”

Ashley Schapitl, press secretary for Congresswoman Capps, said the representative received the award because she has made several decisions to develop better conditions for state-funded education, tackling major issues for higher education such as the rising costs of student loans and tuition.

Most recently, Capps voted for the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act in 2009, which excluded large banks from the process of distributing federal student loans, creating a pool of savings that directly increased funding for Pell Grants, Schapitl said.

Through the added funding, the grants — which currently provide students with up to $5,550 a year — are expected to increase to a maximum amount of $5,975 a year by 2017.

Capps also voted for the College Cost Reduction and Access Act in 2007 to support a slash in the cost of the interest rates of need-based federal loans, which were lowered from 6.8 to 3.4 percent.

According to Schapitl, Capps’ overall advocacy for higher education has also helped students stay better informed about the full extent of their education costs.

“While the main achievements were the interest rate reduction and increase in Pell Grants, they also contributed to having more transparency in college costs,” Schapitl said. “This legislation requires all universities to be more transparent with students on the costs of going to college.”

In addition, Capps’ policymaking has also aimed to increase the quality of elementary and high school education. Schapitl cited her sponsorship and leadership over the Teaching Children to Save Lives Act — which provides Department of Education grants to high schools for basic safety and medical training — as a prime example of such efforts.

“This bill would provide grants to high schools to teach them how to do CPR and use a defibrillator,” Schapitl said. “There’re many stories recently of students going into cardiac arrest during school athletics … [And] a lot of high schools don’t have the resources to provide this training.”