Progress 4 Children | September 2016

Children Remain Poorest Age Group in America


New data from the U.S. Census Bureau this month reveal there were 14.5 million poor children in rich America in 2015 — one million fewer than in 2014. While we celebrate that one million children were lifted out of poverty, it is a national moral disgrace that millions of poor children, nearly 70 percent children of color languish and fall behind in this land of opportunity for some. More than 6.5 million children — which exceeds the combined populations of Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming and the District of Columbia — are extremely poor. Research shows children who grow up poor are less likely to succeed in school, be healthy, and more likely to be poor as adults. More than 1 in 5 children under age 5 are poor; nearly half of them live in extreme poverty at the time of greatest brain development. Learn more about Child Poverty in America 2015. We can change the odds for poor children by expanding and investing in programs we know work, and holding national leaders accountable for their action or inaction to end child poverty now.


Let’s celebrate today that the number of uninsured children in America is at a historic low, and new Census data reveal 606,000 more children gained health insurance between 2014 and 2015. However, nearly 3.9 million children under age 18 remain uninsured. We must double down on our commitment to close the gaps between the haves and have-nots. The majority of uninsured children walk through the doors of our public schools, many are eligible but not enrolled in health coverage. The Happy, Healthy and Ready to Learn: Insure All Children toolkit, a joint offering from CDF and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, provides school districts across the country with an easy, cost-effective way to engage in school-based health enrollment through routine procedures that begin with a simple question: “Does your child have health insurance?” Taking action together now will not only benefit all children but will ensure a stronger economy tomorrow. Start a school-based health enrollment program in your community today.  We are excited to offer a new interactive map where with a simple click you can find the number of uninsured children in your state, and how many are eligible but not enrolled.


National Voter Registration Day was this week. The clock is ticking. Do your part to ensure all the eligible voters you know are registered. If you are not yet registered do so before voter registration ends. Find out the voter registration deadlines and processes in your state and share this information widely. Children cannot vote, so we all need to stand up and be responsible voters for them to ensure their voices are heard.

CDF President in the News
Untangling Slavery’s Legacy UVA Today, September 18, 2016
The Thomas Jefferson Foundation hosted the public event, “Memory, Mourning, Mobilization: Legacies of Slavery and Freedom in America” at Monticello, the founder’s mountaintop home, on Saturday. The meeting featured commentaries from a dozen participants, including historians, descendants of those enslaved at Monticello, cultural leaders and activists engaged in several far-ranging conversations on the history of slavery and its meaning in today’s conversations on race, freedom and equality. “How can we close the gap between creed and deed?” asked Marian Wright Edelman, who heads the Children’s Defense Fund.

Thank You for Taking Action to Keep Families Safely Together

FFA Twitter.jpeg

CDF is deeply disappointed the U.S. Senate left this afternoon for election recess without passing the Family First Prevention Services Act. This historic bill, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives 101 days ago, would benefit our most vulnerable children and help keep families safely together and children out of foster care. Each day in America 402 children are removed from their homes and placed into foster care. Thank you to those of you who have joined with CDF calling, emailing and tweeting for action on their behalf. We came so close to meaningful reform for vulnerable children, and we cannot stop now. Please thank your Senators and Representative who supported this bill. The Senate returns after the elections and we will keep you posted on next steps.

Progress in Juvenile Justice Reform
This month we have seen major progress not only in juvenile justice reform in California, but at a national level.

California Governor Signs Bill to Restrict Solitary Confinement at Juvenile Facilities
On September 27, California’s governor signed into law historic protections for some of our most vulnerable youths. Under the new legislation, children can no longer be held alone in a locked room for 23 hours a day for days, weeks and sometimes months at a time for purposes of punishment, coercion, convenience or retaliation by staff. Prolonged isolation causes extreme physical, psychological and developmental harm for young people.

We celebrate the result of a multi-year partnership of the Children’s Defense Fund-California with human rights advocates, experts on youth rehabilitation, faith leaders and government officials to make California a leader in the national trend toward establishing recognized best-practice standards to improve youth outcomes and meet the rehabilitative goals of the juvenile justice system.

Progress to Strengthen the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act
This month the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act of 2016 (H.R. 5963) — a critically important and long overdue update of the major Juvenile Justice law — was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The bipartisan bill includes key federal protections for justice-involved youths including a prohibition on incarceration for status offenses, requirements for removal of youths from adult jails and lock-ups and requirements to address the disproportionate number of youths of color in contact with the juvenile justice system. The bill includes new tools to prevent delinquency, curb gang involvement, and keep more youths home. The bill also bans the shackling of pregnant girls and takes steps to improve educational outcomes for detained youths. When the Senate returns after the elections, it must approve the Senate’s bipartisan reauthorization bill which includes similar protections will be waiting for action.

Faith Communities Close Opportunity Gaps for Children in America
With collective voices and concrete action, communities of faith can change the nation by improving the odds for children.


Candlelight Vigil Lifts Up Migrant and Refugee Children
The Children’s Defense Fund-New York along with UNICEF and faith organizations hosted a candlelight vigil asking world leaders to ensure that during the upcoming United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants any promise for action makes the needs of children central to any international commitment. “I think children are the most powerful conduits of information  —  both about their experiences and what their needs are and how they can contribute to this society, lifting up their voices is paramount,” said CDF-NY Executive Director, Naomi Post. Children make up half of all refugees, with 45 percent of child refugees under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees care in 2015 from Syria and Afghanistan. A UNICEF report states that 28 million children have been driven from their homes because of violence and insecurity — this includes 10 million child refugees.

The 25th Annual National Observance of Children's Sabbaths® Celebration
Plan now to join places of worship across our nation October 21-23, as we come together for the 25th annual National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths: "Children of Promise: Closing Opportunity Gaps" to celebrate the promise inherent in every child while calling adults to close opportunity gaps that leave millions of children behind in poverty, lagging in early childhood development, and in failing schools. Whether you are planning for your own place of worship or for a multi-faith gathering, easy-to-use flexible resources are available online to plan worship, education and action for the Children's Sabbath weekend and throughout the year. Commit now to do something so that you can join in this faithful movement to focus attention on children's needs, deepen our moral commitment to acting with love and justice, and generate immediate and long-lasting response to nurture and advocate for children.

A Night at the Newseum


Join Marian Wright Edelman and CDF Board Members to change the odds for children at the 2016 Beat the Odds® Celebration at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Buy your tickets today and bring your family, friends and others in your network for what promises to be an inspiring, extraordinary evening, as we honor and celebrate five high school seniors who have overcome tremendous hardships to excel academically and given back to their communities in meaningful ways.


Thanks to child advocates like you, CDF is able to offer college scholarships to these deserving youths and work to change the odds for all children in America. As caring adults who want to make a difference, join us on November 16 at the Newseum, and help us give them hope for a brighter future. Interested in sponsoring the 2016 Beat the Odds Celebration at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.? Learn more about how you can change the odds for all children in America. 

Marian Wright Edelman’s September Child Watch® columns explore the opening of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Insure All Children toolkit, the good and bad news in the new poverty numbers, teaching for success and a special joint column with the American Academy of Pediatrics President urged action on the Family First Prevention Services Act at this pivotal moment for children.

A Pivotal Moment for Vulnerable Children and Families

The National Museum of African American History and Culture: Changing America’s Narrative

Ending Child Poverty: A Moral and Economic Necessity

Teaching for Success: Welcoming and Respecting Every Child

Insure All Children!

Thank you for your continued support and dedication toward improving the lives of vulnerable children across the country.

Please share our message and mission with your networks, and encourage everyone you know to #ImpactTheVote this November and to help #InsureAllChildren in communities across the country. Please support our work by making a tax-deductible donation.

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