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Monthly Newsletter


Dear Child Advocate,

Let me start off by saying thank you. With your support, we have successfully launched 21 CDF Freedom Schools® program sites across the state this summer serving more than 1,500 children. This program is critical in our efforts to prevent summer learning loss, boost academic achievement, and — especially for low-income and children of color in California — it is an opportunity to learn through a high energy, culturally enriching, and research-based curriculum. At Children’s Defense Fund, working to ensure that all children have the same opportunities to become successful productive leaders is our priority as an organization and as executive director of the California office, it is my priority for the children of this state.

My vision for Children’s Defense Fund-California is that we will continue to be a leader in advocating to change laws, policies and practices that keep our children and families from thriving. We will be fearless and persistent, pushing the governor and lawmakers to do what is right for our children – and for the future of our state. We will grow in our advocacy efforts to reform the juvenile justice system, ensure educational equity, guarantee health coverage for all children, and end child poverty. We will also be a resource for parents, providing them with information, tools and skills so that they too can advocate for their children, and we can work together in building the next generation of leaders. We plan to build on key policy victories over the past year, including strictly limiting solitary confinement for youth and expanding the California Earned Income Tax Credit to help more than one million working poor families – but we know there is much more that needs to be done to level the playing field for our children.

We must continue to fight against injustices – economic, social, political, and otherwise. Like Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In this current climate, we cannot afford to go backwards. The lives of our children are at stake. Stand with us, as you always have, and help us fight.

Shimica Gaskins
Executive Director

Featured Updates


More Reading, More Learning, More Fun

We're so excited and we just can't hide it: the Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program has finally kicked off in the golden state! This summer, 21 CDF Freedom Schools sites will be operating across the state - from Sacramento to Long Beach and in between - and bringing the love of reading and learning to over 1,500 children and youth. The CDF Freedom Schools is a child-centered program delivering in partnership with community-based organizations, schools, churches, and juvenile justice facilities to boost student capacity and motivation to read, eliminate summer learning loss, and connect the needs of children and families to resources in their communities. But don’t take our word for it: find out how you can experience the magic of the CDF Freedom Schools program yourself!


This is What Democracy Looks Like

Community came out in strength and unity last month at Long Beach Unified School District’s Public Hearing on the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP)! Long Beach youth, families, and community provided powerful testimonies during public comment to urge the district make high needs students—foster youth, English Learners, and low-income students—a priority by showing how Local Control Funding Formula funds are going towards resources, supports, and services for these students. Youth, families, and community shared their personal stories and made recommendations on increased and improved services for wellness, academic supports, relationship-centered schools, as well as increased transparency and community engagement in the district’s LCAP processes.


Marching Forward to End Child Poverty

Thanks in large part to the hard work and advocacy of partners like you, California took a big step last month to support working poor families. Lawmakers enacted a budget that significantly expands the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), a refundable state tax credit that provides an income boost to working families struggling to make ends meet. More than one million additional families will benefit from the expansion, including low-income self-employed workers and families with a full-time minimum-wage earner.


Ensuring a Positive and Inclusive School Climate

California could be the first state in the nation to end the practice of suspending students from school for willful defiance/disruption! Willful defiance/disruption comprises a range of low-level student behaviors such as getting up from your seat without permission, rolling your eyes—or, as was the case with Crystal Anthony, a CDF-CA youth—blurting out the correct answer to a question when your teacher has not acknowledged you. Crystal, a senior at Lakewood High School in Long Beach, traveled to Sacramento to testify beforethe Assembly Education Committee in support of SB 607 - the Keep Kids in School Act - to ban suspensions and expulsions for willful defiance/disruption for students in grade K-12.


Victory in Saving Violence Prevention Funds

Advocates succeeded in saving $9 million in violence prevention funding that had been slated for elimination in Governor Brown’s proposed state budget. The California Gang Reduction, Intervention & Prevention (CalGRIP) Program funds local programs to reduce youth violence, and is one of the most important state level-investments in the safety and well-being of our young people and communities. Thanks to the work of advocacy organizations, cities, and lawmakers, the funding was restored for 2017-18 in the final budget.


Support Our Work


You Can Make a Difference

CDF-CA 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 in 2017 and beyond.


From the Blog


The Difference Between Life and Death

In many communities, having access to Medicaid could be the difference between life and death. Medi-Cal made a profound difference in my life as a child.

I was always a sickly child. I suffered from chronic respiratory allergies and an undiagnosed skin condition that often resulted in open sores all over my body. I often wore long sleeves and my hair over my face to conceal the sores. As a result it was hard to make friends and I had very poor self-esteem which made my childhood very lonely. This was compounded by other factors resulting from living in poverty and a lack of access to medical insurance. When we could afford to pay a doctor my mother and I walked long distances or took the bus to the clinic to seek treatment, but without coverage we often relied on alternative and questionable methods of care that were mostly based on faith and hope. And these providers were not adequately trained to diagnose or treat my ailments. Read the full story ...

From Saira G. Soto, Deputy Executive Director
July 7, 2017

Working Families on Medi-Cal - the Safety Net Works!

Children and their families do not expect to need Medicaid (called Medi-Cal in California). The Medi-Cal safety net catches families who need help and prevents bankruptcy and crippling out-of-pocket health expenses. If the Senate passes the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the health care safety net for children will erode. The AHCA would cut $880 billion from Medicaid through a per capita cap. Medicaid serves children, children living in poverty, pregnant women, children and adults with disabilities, and the elderly. Working families often find Medi-Cal saves them from unintended financial instability and hardship. The AHCA will cut services for children and jeopardize the ability for states to care for families during hard times. Read the full story ...


News Roundup


Legislators Save $9.5 Million For Local Gang Prevention Programs

Assemblymember Reginald Jones Sawyer joined other California legislators last week in passing a state budget that allowed for $90 million for gang prevention programs. The California Gang Reduction Intervention and Prevention program had been cut earlier this year, from Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal. Read the full story ...

July 6, 2017

Advocates Celebrate the Expansion of the California Earned Income Tax Credit to Reach More than One Million Additional Low-Income Working Families

Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a budget that significantly expands the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), a refundable state tax credit that increases the economic security of low-income working families. Effective for the 2017 tax year, low-income workers with self-employment income and working families with incomes up to about $22,300 will be able to benefit from the credit. Initial estimates from the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy indicate that more than one million additional families could benefit under the expansion. Read the full press release ...

June 28, 2017

LA's new juvenile probation facility rejects 'boot camp' approach

The first group of kids arrived Monday at a new juvenile probation camp designed to signal a dramatic shift in the way Los Angeles County handles kids who get into trouble.ssThe facility is located in the hills above Malibu where the juvenile detention center Camp Kilpatrick once sat. Read the full story ...

July 4, 2017

In Malibu, doors open on a new approach to juvenile justice: Guest commentary

After years of a punitive, tough-on-crime stance in its juvenile justice systems, Los Angeles County is poised to change its approach to youth who violate the law.ssResearch on child development, echoed by numerous Supreme Court decisions, have reaffirmed that children are still developing and malleable, and that contact with the justice system — especially incarceration — often is ineffective or even harmful. Read the full story ...

June 22, 2017

Working Families Are Big Winners of California Tax Credit Expansion

The measure to expand eligibility for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), a refundable credit available to low-income working people, can add hundreds of dollars to a family’s annual income. The new CalEITC extends the benefit to a previously excluded group of contract employees – daycare workers, Uber and Lyft drivers, gardeners. Read the full story ...

June 22, 2017

Medicaid Provides More Access to Health Coverage for Rural Communities than Metro Areas Across California

Adults and children in small towns and rural areas in California rely on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – collectively known as Medi-Cal in California – more than those in metropolitan areas, according to a new report released today by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and the University of North Carolina NC Rural Health Research Project. Read the full press release ...

June 7, 2017
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