New data from the U.S. Census Bureau on poverty released last month underscore the urgent need for action to reduce child poverty in California and across the nation. Nearly one in four (23.8%) California children were living in poverty between
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monthly newsletter

Dear Child Advocate,

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau on poverty released last month underscore the urgent need for action to reduce child poverty in California and across the nation. Nearly one in four (23.8%) California children were living in poverty between 2013 and 2015, according to a California Budget & Policy Center analysis of the Supplemental Poverty Measure. Nearly 800,000 California children live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $33 a day for a family of four.

While the number of California children in poverty dropped slightly, clearly we must do more as a rich state with the 8th largest economy in the world to protect our children against the harms of poverty. California cannot afford to continue allowing 1 in 4 children to grow up in poverty, harming their health and well-being and undermining their academic and future economic success.

I am excited to announce the release of our new report, Ending Child Poverty Now: Local Approaches for California. The report outlines six strategic priorities that cities and counties should consider when addressing child poverty, and highlights local child poverty solutions being implemented by communities across the state and nation. Building on previous CDF publications with federal and state recommendations to reduce child poverty, the new report underscores that we can end child poverty if we build the public and political will to make it happen.

I urge you to read the report and then join our #EndChildPoverty campaign to demand policy action.

Alex M. Johnson
Executive Director | Children's Defense Fund - California

top stories

Ending Child Poverty Now: Local Approaches for California

The crisis of child poverty devastates communities across the state. Child poverty has negative consequences that last a lifetime: poor children are less healthy, less likely to enter school ready to learn, and less likely to graduate from high school than their peers. As a result, these children are more likely to be poor as adults and more likely to become involved in the criminal justice system. The urgent challenge of child poverty leaves community members, policymakers and child advocates asking: what can be done at the local level to lift children out of poverty?

Ending Child Poverty Now: Local Approaches to California builds on previous Children’s Defense Fund reports on child poverty and outlines six strategic priorities that cities and counties should consider when addressing child poverty: 1. Enable Parents and Caregivers to Find Work that Pays a Living Wage; 2. Develop a Robust Safety Net to Help Families When they Fall on Hard Times; 3. Implement Financial Capability and Asset-Building Programs to Promote Youth and Family Economic Success; 4. Create Dedicated Funding Mechanisms to Support Local Anti-Poverty Strategies; 5. Identify Specific Local Needs and Develop Strong Partnerships to Coordinate and Target Resources; 6. Invest in Education, Health, and Youth Development to Break the Cycle of Poverty.
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Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition Townhall with Speaker Anthony Rendon

Approximately 200 youth from Los Angeles and Long Beach participated in a discussion about the most critical issues facing boys and men of color. The Oct. 6 townhall event, entitled “Youth-led Solutions to Improve Our Schools and Neighborhoods,” was organized by California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition.

The townhall was broken into three sections: education and school climate; decriminalization of youth; and youth empowerment and engagement. CDF-CA Executive Director Alex Johnson, one of the panelists, spoke about the importance of redefining what safety means in communities of colors. Safety is not increasing police presence in schools and neighborhoods, he said. Safety is having access to quality health care, mental health professionals and other resources that support the development of our youth.

CDF-CA Action Scholar CDF-CA Action Scholar Todd Bailey also participated in the program - welcoming attendees and posing questions to the audience.

Join us

Children’s Defense Fund-California is effective in large part because of the commitment and energy of our dedicated partners and individual supporters. Please show your commitment to our nation’s children, our future, by making a donation to support our efforts.

featured updates

Key Legislative Wins

CDF-CA celebrated three legislative wins this year as Governor Brown signed into law bills to end the use of long-term isolation for youth, decriminalize youth for riding transit without fare, and improve access to afterschool for homeless and foster youth. Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed a bill to protect Miranda rights for youth – setting the stage for continued advocacy to protect youth rights next year.
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Investing in Our Youth

About 50 Building Healthy Communities partners from Southern California recently gathered for a two-day meeting to discuss an ongoing communication strategy initiative by The California Endowment called Investing in Youth. The goal of the initiative is to advocate for policy, program and systems changes that transform the way we invest in youth and communities. The participants discussed the underlying assumptions about our youth and what is needed to change the narrative and gain more support from policy makers, as well as city and county officials who control the resources.
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Women in Leadership

One of our Beat the Odds scholarship recipients was a featured speaker at the "Women of Color in Leadership: Improving our Communities through Education," presented by the Office of LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Empowerment Congress Education Committee, Children's Defense Fund-California, Community Coalition, and LA Promise Fund. The Sept. 27 event, held at Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ Exposition Park District Office, was a discussion with Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Michelle King and Los Angeles County Office of Education Superintendent Debra Duardo.
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Beat the Odds Filmmaking

It’s a busy time for our 2016 Beat the Odds honorees. While they are completing their final year of high school, they are applying for colleges, going on campus tours and starring in their own documentaries. The five honorees each participate in up to 20 hours of filming at their schools, homes and other locations. The professional videos highlight intimate details of each honoree’s life, their successes and challenges.
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in the spotlight

2015 Beat the Odds Scholarship Recipient
"Aside from financial support CDF has continued to answer questions I have about financial aid or taxes. Even in solving personal/family problems someone at CDF has helped answer questions, clarify issues, and connect me with resources in order to resolve my problem."
Full interview

recent publications

Vision 2020 Youth Policy Platform
Brothers, Sons, Selves
This Youth Policy Platform lays out our vision for change that will create a more just world—policy change that we, the Brothers, Sons, Selves (BSS) Coali on believe is necessary to significantly improve outcomes for Boys/Bois and Men of Color (BMoC) by removing unjust barriers to their success. It serves as a living document that summarizes our vision for the future, how policies have impacted us and how our advocacy has posi vely impacted policy. Most importantly, it outlines several policy recommendations we believe are needed to bring about meaningful systemic reform. Read the report

news roundup

Sept 8, 2016 | The Huffington Post

Answering the Call to Serve: Reflecting on Two Years Leading Children’s Defense Fund-California

Two years ago today I joined the Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA) as Executive Director. Founded in 1998 as the state office of the Washington, D.C.-based Children’s Defense Fund, CDF-CA champions policies and programs to ensure that all of California’s children have a head start, safe start, healthy start, fair start, moral start, and successful passage to adulthood – a mission set forth by our visionary founder and president, Marian Wright Edelman.

As I reflect on the first two years in service to the unwavering goal of improving the lives of all children I am inspired by the journey thus far – and equally as motivated to continue helping to cement the building blocks necessary for children, families and communities to thrive.

I vividly recall my first morning as Executive Director back in September 2014.

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Sept 23, 2016 | Youth TOday

Autism: An Experience, a Story, a Proposal

My name is Benjamin Adams and I have autism. I was diagnosed with autism when I was 2 years old and have been dealing with its challenges ever since. Throughout my life, I have been extraordinarily lucky to be given a boatload of unique opportunities that helped me get to where I am linguistically and cognitively. I hope with this I can push for policies and programs that allow other families to experience similar, probably even better, opportunities so that others can reach their fullest potential. Read more ...
Sept 16, 2016 | KPCC Radio

The # of nonwhite children in poverty is a moral & economic crisis'

In California, children make up less than one-quarter of the state's population, but they account for nearly one-third of those living below the poverty line. There were, in total, 1.9 million poor children living in the Golden State in 2015 — many of them children of color. Read more ...
Sept 15, 2016 | The Huffington Post

Why California Must End Child Poverty

“Sometimes I would come home from school and there would be nothing in the fridge but mustard or ketchup.” Seventeen-year-old Alexandra of Los Angeles County shares a striking visual of what poverty means for her – and millions of other children across California and the nation. New data from the U.S. Census Bureau released today found that based on the official poverty measure, 1.9 million children (21.2%) in California lived in poverty in 2015. Read more ...
Sept 13, 2016 | The Chronicle of Social Change

The Rise of Voluntary Probation for LA County Youth

While Los Angeles County has seen a historic decline of the number of youth in its juvenile camps and halls in recent years, a “voluntary probation” program run by the Los Angeles County Probation Department has dramatically expanded during that time, alarming some advocates. Read more ...

save the date

You are invited to join the Children's Defense Fund - California and Hollywood's most luminous stars at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Thursday, December 1st as we celebrate the lives of five outstanding high school seniors who have overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve academic and personal excellence. Click here to learn more about the Beat the Odds Scholarship program and stay tuned for sponsorship and ticketing information.
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