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Monthly Newsletter


Dear Child Advocate,

In this last month, I have been reminded of the late football great Walter Payton’s famous quote “We are stronger together than alone.” Although Children’s Defense Fund-California has a unique strategy to addressing the needs of children through a whole-child approach – defined by tackling mental, physical, emotional, and educational needs through programs and advocacy – the work we do is so important that often we do it in partnership with others to make bigger impacts. We recognize that other organizations are also doing significant work that improves the lives of children and families, and that there is strength in numbers.

A recent example of effective partnership and collaboration culminated last week with Senate Republicans’ failure – for now – to repeal the Affordable Care Act and destroy Medicaid. The Children’s Defense Fund and all its state offices worked closely with organizations across the nation to rally against the Graham-Cassidy proposal that would have jeopardized the lives of millions of children. We harnessed our collective power to stop a dangerous bill and achieve a greater good.

On a more local front, we participated in two events with Los Angeles-based organizations and advocates to discuss improving public safety and addressing poverty. These significant issues require strategic thought and collaboration. There is too much at stake to fight these battles alone.

And, that is why we also appreciate and value your partnership. The support you provide allows us to advocate for polices that expand opportunities for youth to grow up in safe neighborhoods, have access to quality health care and be educated in positive learning environments. It also allows us to continue collaborating with other organizations as we work to ensure that every child has a chance to thrive and succeed.

In Solidarity,

Shimica Gaskins
Executive Director

Featured Updates


Key Legislation Awaits Governor’s Signature

The California Legislature ended their 2017 session last month with the passage of a number of bills that will help level the playing field for children. Many of these bills are now waiting for Governor Brown to sign the legislation into law in the next two weeks. Three bills co-sponsored by Children’s Defense Fund-California have passed the Legislature and we are urging the Governor to sign them. Senate Bill 394 would end juvenile life without the possibility of parole sentences. Senate Bill 395 would require that youth ages 15 and under facing custodial interrogation consult with an attorney before waiving their constitutional rights. Senate Bill 250 would prevent school lunch shaming by preventing schools from denying a meal or publicly shaming students because their parents had unpaid school meal debt.


LBUSD misallocated millions in funds meant for high need students

In a response to an administrative complaint brought by parents and community organizations, including CDF-CA, the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) has found that the Long Beach Unified School District misallocated $24 million in funds meant to increase or improve services for high need students last year. As a result, the school district will have to make significant adjustments to its education spending plan to provide increased services for students this school year.

While the California Department of Education has ordered districts to correct their spending, this is the first time that a county office of education has found that a district improperly credited itself as having spent funds for high need students, and called for the district to redress this error by increasing its expenditures to high need students in the subsequent school year. 


New Census Data on Poverty Released

On Sept. 14, the U.S. Census Bureau released new data on poverty showing that 1.8 million California children lived in poverty in 2016. Children of color continue to be disproportionately poor, with poverty rates for Latino and Black children nearly triple the poverty rate for White children. While the child poverty rate declined slightly from the prior year, the data underscore the need for continued action to enact policies at the state and local level to reduce child poverty, while defending against proposed federal action and budget cuts that would harm the social safety net.


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


When it comes to education and learning, actions speak louder than words

Children learn much more from what we do than from what we say. As a former middle school teacher, I knew my actions spoke far louder than my words. Now that I am an advocate with Children’s Defense Fund- California (CDF-CA), one of my jobs is to monitor the actions of Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) to make sure they are upholding the same values we hope our youth are learning—particularly accountability, dignity and equity.

Last April, CDF-CA joined two parents and two nonprofit organizations (Latinos In Action-California and Public Advocates) to file a formal complaint against the budget actions of the Long Beach Unified School District—Californian’s third largest district. We estimated that about $40 million in state funds were misspent on basic districtwide expenditures when they should have been spent on additional supports specifically for high need students, including low-income, foster youth, English Learner, and homeless students. Read the full story ...

From Angélica Salazar, Director of Education Equity
Oct 3, 2017

News Roundup


LA County Office admits it shouldn't have approved Long Beach's LCAP

The Los Angeles County Office of Education has issued a mea culpa in a ruling with potentially far-reaching implications. It acknowledged that it mistakenly approved Long Beach Unified’s accountability plan last year that shortchanged low-income children, foster and homeless youth, and English learners $24 million under the state’s funding formula. Read the full story ...

Oct 3, 2017

Dispute continues over Long Beach Unified’s spending plans

Long Beach Unified School District leaders’ decision to spend $24 million on textbooks and teacher pay didn’t line up with a state law intended to direct money to California’s neediest students, according to a recent finding. Public Advocates, a San Francisco-based firm, said this week that the Los Angeles County Office of Education issued a finding in favor of its clients, which include the Children’s Defense Fund-California, Latinos in Action and parents of Long Beach Unified students. Read the full story ...

Sept 28, 2017

County Office of Education Rules that LBUSD Misallocated $24 Million for High-Needs Students

The Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) has ruled that the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) inappropriately allocated $24 million in funds meant to benefit high-needs students by applying the funding to buy textbooks and other common core materials that affect the district’s population as a whole. In a release put out today, attorneys and community groups representing the complainants in the suit filed in June last year praised the findings by the county just over one month after they gathered outside Washington Middle School to announce they would appeal to the county and the California Department of Education that the district’s budget was not in compliance with state law. Read the full story ...

Sept 27, 2017

Los Angeles County Office of Education Finds that Long Beach Unified Misspent $24 Million Intended for High Need Students

Long Beach, CA - In a response to an administrative complaint brought by parents and community organizations, the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) has found that the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) misallocated $24 million in funds meant to increase or improve services for high need students last year. Read the full story ...

Sept 27, 2017

New Underwear Is Just One Way California’s Juvenile Detention System Could Live Up to National Standards

For the past nine months, advocates have been mounting a campaign to improve the living conditions of youth incarcerated in California’s juvenile halls, camps and ranches.\s\sChanges up for approval include requirements that correctional staff respect the gender identity of youth, and that incarcerated youth are granted visits from their children. Also, for the first time, chemical spray would no longer be used as a behavior management tool.Read the full story ...

Sept 07, 2017

Featured Video


On Sept 6, our own Dominique Nong joined state officials and advocates from across to state in reviewing and revising the Minimum Standards for Juvenile Facilities that apply to all juvenile halls, camps and ranches in the state's 58 counties. These standards govern nearly every aspect of a youth's experience while incarcerated, including what food they receive and how much, allowable forms of punishment, and who is allowed to visit and how often. Click here to watch the video


Take Action


Protect Youth From Life Without the Possibility of Parole

In California, youth under the age of 18 years old are sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. They receive sentences to die in prison—sentences the Supreme Court has equated to the death penalty for adults. This is a sentence that should never be imposed on teenagers; it is a violation of international law and fundamental human rights. SB 394 would give youth who are sentenced to life without a parole a chance to work toward release.


Protect Youth's Constitutional Rights Against Coercive Interrogation

Currently in California, children—no matter how young— can waive their Miranda rights. Studies have demonstrated youth often do not fully comprehend the meaning and consequences of waiving their Miranda rights. Youth are much more likely than adults to waive their rights and to confess to crimes they did not commit. Senate Bill 395, by Senator Ricardo Lara, will help to preserve youth’s constitutional rights and protect the integrity of our criminal justice system by requiring youth under the age of 18 to consult with legal counsel before they waive their Miranda rights.


Help fight child hunger in our schools

In recent years, there have been reports of students who are punished and publicly shamed for the school meal debt that went unpaid by their parent or guardian. The lack of a standard statewide policy puts children in harm’s way and puts school workers, who are often forced to make these decisions, in a difficult position with little or no guidance. School meals are extremely effective at fighting the devastating effects of child hunger. SB 250 seeks to make sure that every child who needs one receives one and to prevent the use of a school meal from being used to discipline a child or coerce the child’s parents to pay an unpaid school meal debt.


Recent Resources


CDF Freedom Schools – the vision of Marian Wright Edelman – are in essence an educational paradigm shift. In Other Words: Stories from Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® Sites in California seeks to capture the uniqueness and transformative power of CDF Freedom Schools through those who live it – the scholars, servant leader interns, trainers, parents, and administrators.


Untold Stories Behind One of America's Best Urban School Districts focuses on recent education equity and racial justice trends in LBUSD related to school climate. The report explores how students, especially students of color and high-need studentshave been impacted in recent years by exclusionary school climate practices.

Our 2017 policy agenda, Leveling The Playing Field for California Children, identifies the steps that California lawmakers can take today to lift children out of poverty, provide quality health care to every child, ensure educational equity, and transform the juvenile justice system to focus on prevention and rehabilitation.


© 2017 Children's Defense Fund - California. All rights reserved