Last week’s victory to raise the minimum wage in California to $15 an hour was a significant step forward to lift many working families out of poverty.
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People Powered Movements
Dear Child Advocate,

Last week’s victory to raise the minimum wage in California to $15 an hour was a significant step forward to lift many working families out of poverty. The victory is also a lesson in the power of movements driven by a righteous goal of social justice. In 2012, when workers and activists kicked off the “Fight for 15” movement, many dismissed the goal of a $15 wage as unrealistic and unachievable. But the movement continued across the nation led by courageous home-care workers, fast-food workers and allies- and it gained steam with local victories to raise the wage in San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, and Los Angeles. Cheers of “Si Se Puede” broke out as Governor Brown signed the bill to raise the wage to $15 an hour by 2022.

The movement for economic justice in California must continue – with one ambitious goal achieved, let’s set our sights on another: ending child poverty. The critics will again say the goal is unrealistic and unachievable, but we know better – research shows how we can end child poverty by investing in policies that are proven to work. The stakes are high. 1 in 4 California children grow up poor – greatly undermining their future.

California is taking steps in the right direction. Last month, an Assembly budget subcommittee took action to repeal the Maximum Family Grant rule in CalWORKs, which drives families with newborns deeper into poverty by denying them additional cash aid, and yesterday, the Senate Public Safety Committee voted in favor of Senate Bill 882 by Senator Hertzberg to end the criminalization of youth for riding transit without fare – an unfair punishment for the “crime” of poverty. Today, the Assembly Education Committee will vote on our sponsored bill to guarantee that low-income students have transportation to school – Assembly Bill 1572 by Assemblymember Campos.

But ambitious movements can only be successful when we all stand together – so I urge you to join us and take action today to urge our state lawmakers to #EndChildPoverty and level the playing field for California’s children.

Alex M. Johnson
Executive Director
Children's Defense Fund - California
Featured updates
Leveling the Playing Field for California's Children: an intergenerational conversation with women leaders
Last month, Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA) culminated Women’s History Month with a powerful event featuring Marian Wright Edelman, Senator Holly Mitchell, and other courageous leaders speaking about the importance of advocating for our youth. More than 300 people attended the March 31 panel discussion – Leveling the Playing Field for California’s Children: An Intergeneration Conversation with Women Leaders – which was held at the California African Museum. Panelists included: Edelman, founder and president of Children’s Defense Fund; Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU Local 2015; Patti Giggans, executive director of Peace Over Violence; Dr. Melina Abdullah, professor at Cal State Los Angeles; and Aurea Montes-Rodriguez, executive-vice president of Community Coalition. The panel was moderated by Nike Irvine, vice president of programs for California Community Foundation.
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Approximately 200 youth, parents, educators, and community members in Long Beach attended the Voices and Visions School Culture and Climate Town Hall on Saturday, April 4. The town hall focused on the importance of nurturing learning, growth and success in every student in advance of school board elections on April 12.
Youth Spotlight: Sarai Mckenzie
Sarai McKenzie is an 18-year-old artist, rapper, singer, writer, musician, and much more. The Long Beach resident identifies as “an alien that is queer, a fighter for peace, love, equality, and equity.” Currently a high school senior, Sarai is a Youth Leader and Action Scholar with the Children’s Defense Fund as part of their Every Student Matters campaign.
In the News
The Power of Art to Build Strong Youth and Heal Trauma
April 11, 2016 | Huffington Post
Recently, I joined hundreds of arts advocates at Los Angeles City Hall as a guest speaker for ArtsDay, part of an annual celebration of Arts Week 2016 focused on continuing and expanding investment in the arts. This collaborative effort is led by Arts for LA and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell with support from both the City and County of Los Angeles. [...]
Leveling the Playing Field with Children's Defense Fund
April 3, 2016 | Los Angeles Sentinel
The Children's Defense Fund gathered a panel of five women from different age groups and ethnicity at the California African American Museum to have an open conversation about what children need on Thursday, March 31. [...]
Alex Johnson: El bienestar de la niñez merece el primer lugar
April 4, 2016 | La Opinion
Alex Johnson recuerda el día que llevó al estudiante de secundaria David Sánchez a una tienda por departamentos a comprarse un traje para celebrar que el muchacho había recibido una beca para ayudarlo en sus estudios. [...]
Minimum Wage Hike Passes Legislature, Awaits Governor’s Signature
Apr 01, 2016 | Davis Vanguard
It was a different scene this week. The last two legislative sessions saw minimum wage efforts attempting to reach $13 by 2021 stall. Now, in less than a week’s time, both houses of the legislature passed minimum wage hikes along essentially party-line votes and now await the expected signature by Governor Brown on Monday. [...]
Probation Chiefs, Youth Advocates Support Bill Limiting Room Confinement Of Youth
Mar 30, 2016 | Senator Mark Leno
The Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC) and youth advocates announced today that they have joined forces to co-sponsor landmark legislation limiting the use of room confinement for youth in California’s juvenile facilities. [...]
California Legislature Approves $15 Minimum Wage, Bill Going To Governor Brown
Mar 30, 2016 | KHTS AM 1220
Senate Bill 3, which is is jointly authored by Senators Mark Leno, Kevin de León and Connie M. Leyva and designed to help lift California’s low-wage earners out of poverty, passed both houses of the Legislature on Thursday. [...]
An Army For Kids: Sf Nonprofit Vows To Boost Their Clout
Mar 22, 2016 | San Francisco Chronicle
In a chaotic, hyper-partisan election year, there might be one constituency everybody can agree to rally behind: kids. The problem, as longtime child advocate Robert Fellmeth put it, is that “while everybody wants to be kissing babies, children are vastly underrepresented.” [...]
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