Child Action Time | February 2017

Urgent Action to Protect Children's Health Coverage


Urgent Action Needed: Great harm could be done to children as Congress makes decisions about the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid. We must urge governors, state and congressional legislators and local officials to ensure Congress embraces the “Do No Harm” standard as it considers changes to these policies. More than 4 million children would lose coverage as a result of repeal of the ACA and millions more would be negatively impacted by their parents losing coverage. Children are better off when their parents have health insurance. In addition, the 37 million children who are guaranteed comprehensive, affordable health coverage thanks to Medicaid comprise half of all Medicaid recipients and would be seriously jeopardized if Medicaid were converted to block grants or per capita caps as is being proposed. With any cuts or changes to Medicaid, child serving systems, including early childhood programs, school districts, and child welfare agencies would also be unable to provide children with disabilities and other special needs the special care they now provide with the help of Medicaid to children in child care centers, schools and foster homes and group care settings. The lives of our nation’s children are at stake. Call now to protect America’s health coverage for children and ensure we do not move backwards. Take Action!

CDF-Texas Launches East Texas Project

Cover Texas Now Advocacy Day 2017 Masthead2

Last week CDF-Texas officially launched its Healthy Children = Healthy Communities project into three East Texas communities with a series of high profile activities in Smith, Shelby, and Nacogdoches counties. Local city officials, and leaders in health care, education, and nonprofit agencies came together to celebrate the new help for communities to improve the health of East Texas children. CDF’s project, funded by the Episcopal Health Foundation, is designed to connect uninsured children to affordable coverage options such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or to other available resources that can help to lift them out of poverty. The need is great. Nearly 16, 18 and 14 percent of children in Smith, Shelby and Nacogdoches counties respectively are uninsured, representing more than 12,000 uninsured children in the tri-county area. The month of March is absolutely critical for defending health care for children and vulnerable Texans from attacks in Congress and at the state level. Fight back! Monday, March 6 at the Texas Capitol - join CDF-Texas and others for the Cover Texas Now Advocacy Day and Rally to Save Health Care and Defend Medicaid from Radical Cuts. Register Now!

Tomorrow: D.C. "Break the Chains" Protest Action


Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the holy season of Lent. In Washington D.C. a new art installation titled, Dismantling the Cradle to Prison PipelineTM opens on the lawn in front of the General Board of Church & Society of the United Methodist Church Building facing the U.S. Supreme Court. Created by gifted artist, former death row prisoner and passionate advocate for justice, Ndume Olatushani, this is the first stop on a unique “Stations of the Cross” exhibition at 14 locations ending at the National Cathedral. It tells the story of the Passion of Christ in a powerful new way for people of all faiths and seeks to remind us of Jesus’s question when He was on the cross, “Why have you forsaken me?” A self-taught artist who came to work at the Children’s Defense Fund as an organizer in Nashville, Tennessee after nearly 28 years in prison, 20 on death row, Mr. Olatushani had been wrongly convicted of murder. His exhibit tells his story and the story of millions of other children and adults of color who have been snared by our morally unjust criminal justice system. Come tomorrow! All are welcome, including ALL REPORTERS!


CDF “Break the Chains” Protest Action to Demand Justice for All 


Thursday, March 2, 2017 -- 4:30 to 5 p.m.


Lawn of United Methodist Church Building
100 Maryland Avenue, N.E.
Washington, D.C.


Ndume Olatushani, artist and advocate
Rev. Michael Parker, Pastor, St. John United Methodist Church
Tai Dixon, Children’s Defense Fund National Director of State Offices and Field Operations


6:30 p.m. – Panel Discussion inside Church Building


Ndume Olatushani
Rev. Susan Crowe, General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society of the UMC
, for the Stations of the Cross exhibition

Breastfeeding: A Lifesaver for Vulnerable Babies


Determined to see all babies reach their first birthday, Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio released a new policy brief on February 27th: Delivering Better Outcomes for Black Babies through Breastfeeding. Nationwide, Ohio ranks as the 45th worst state for infant mortality, and Ohio’s Black infant mortality rate is the worst in the country. Black babies are three times more likely to die before their first birthday than White babies. The brief uncovers the benefits of breastfeeding on infant and maternal health and reports that exclusive breastfeeding specifically from the first hour after birth until a baby is six months old, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, improves a child’s chances of surviving infancy. But in Ohio the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only 18.6% of Black babies are exclusively breast fed for even their first three months after birth, compared to 41.4% of White babies. The report provides a robust series of recommendations to support and increase the number of breastfeeding mothers including covered home visits from lactation consultants, statewide paid family leave, hospital requirements to promote breastfeeding starting in the delivery room, and leveraging the Ohio Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children to better serve Black mothers. Read and share this important new brief.

Advocating for Homeless Children and Families


Last week, the National Alliance to End Homelessness hosted a national conference in Houston, Texas. The conference drew over 1,000 participants from across the country to talk about solutions, research-informed best practices, and efforts to prevent and quickly end the crisis of homelessness for families, children, and youth.  Richard Hooks Wayman, National Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund, delivered the keynote address on February 23rd.  He told the audience that children and youth stand in the center of every rural, suburban, and urban homelessness crisis and experience chaos and a lack of home during years of critical child development. Mr. Hooks Wayman encouraged everyone to confront and challenge the narrative that local communities or charities can end child homelessness without federal government resources, to focus on solutions like expanding the supply of affordable housing, conducting rapid re-housing of homeless people, and investing in youth-focus housing programs. He warned that current policy proposals in Congress would dramatically cut child programs and called on all leaders to keep showing up for children and draw a line around child-wellbeing – to ensure that our laws and policies “Do No Harm” to children.

Early Bird Registration Opens Today!


Register now for CDF's ​2017 Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry July 17-21 at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee. In these dangerous times the faith community needs to speak out for justice with the most imperiled children and their families. Join us for five days full of inspiration, skills and strategies to serve, organize, and advocate to improve the lives of children. Prophetic Preaching:  Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr. and Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III preach in the morning. Each evening includes a Great Preacher: Dr. Willie Francois III, Dr. Traci Blackmon, Rev. Cynthia Jarvis, or Dr. Luke Powery. Plenary Sessions: Interact with dynamic youth leaders and others including Sister Simone Campbell of NETWORK, Brittany Packnett of Black Lives Matter, Dr. Mark Taylor from Princeton Theological Seminary, and Dr. Terrell Strayhorn from The Ohio State University.  Small-Group Sessions: Opt for three out of over 20 interactive afternoon workshops on new organizing strategies, advocacy approaches and model programs. Family-Friendly: Bring your children to experience the fun and enrichment of the CDF Freedom Schools® program. Beloved Community: Together we must work with urgency to assure every child a Healthy, Head, Fair, Safe, and Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood. Register now for an Early Bird discount!  

Voices from the Field


The CDF Freedom Schools® program held trainings throughout the month for our partners in California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, North Carolina, South Carolina, and the state of Washington.


We caught up with Dr. Rev Hillstrom, Director for Educational Equity at the Osseo Area Schools, the fifth largest school district in Minnesota serving about 20,000 students pre-k through grade 12. A person of Cherokee descent, he says, "The CDF Freedom Schools Program is all about liberation and self-actualization for students. Our kids at Osseo schools have been transformed as they engage with the learning opportunities that the CDF Freedom Schools program provides. Not only are they doing well academically, they are finding themselves, their voice and their identity. They are able to experience that holistically.” 

The CDF Freedom Schools program incorporates the totality of CDF’s mission by fostering environments that support children and young adults to excel and believe in their ability to make a difference in themselves and in their families, schools, communities, country, and world with hope, education and action.  In 2016, organizations in partnership with CDF served over 12,500 children at 186 program sites in 98 cities and 30 states (including Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands). After-school and supplementary CDF Freedom Schools in Hawaii, Minnesota and South Carolina currently serve 1,250 children and youth.

National evaluations completed in 2015 and 2016 show that over 80 percent of students participating in the CDF Freedom Schools program maintain or gain an average of ten months in their reading levels. Students reading below grade level at the beginning of the summer experience the greatest gains in reading, i.e., an average of 1.2 years by the end of the summer! Research has established other positive effects that the CDF Freedom Schools program has on students’ attitudes about school and parents’ engagement in the education of their children.

Celebration Tonight In New York City


Tonight at The Pierre Hotel in Manhattan, the Children’s Defense Fund-New York Beat the Odds® Gala will honor five outstanding New York City high schools students who have overcome tremendous adversity, demonstrated academic excellence and given back to their communities. Started in 1990, the program supports students who have experienced significant hardship in their lives with scholarships to college, guidance through the college admissions process and invitations to CDF leadership training opportunities. The 2017 Beat the Odds scholars, Djino Timotis, Mamadou Ndiaye, Norma Degante, Rosemary Rodriguez and Windila Balbone will share their inspiring true grit stories.  Two media personalities, Deborah Roberts and Al Roker, will also be honored as champions for children. Hosted by CDF Board member Malaak Compton-Rock with presenters Katherine Bradley, Stephen Cassidy, Robyn Coles, Kwaku Driskell and Marva Smalls, this will be a night to remember! If you are unable to attend, please consider giving as generously as you can to support these youths and the critically important work of our New York office during this treacherous time for children. 

25 Years of Beating the Odds in Minnesota

2017 CDF Minnesota Beat the Odds Masthead, 2017 CDF MN BTO

Children’s Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman and CDF-Minnesota Executive Director Bharti Wahi cordially invite you to next month’s 25th Anniversary CDF-Minnesota Beat the Odds® Gala on March 30th. Join us for this special event at the University of St. Thomas in the Anderson Student Center to celebrate five outstanding Beat the Odds scholars from the Twin Cities-area who have overcome tremendous adversity in life to achieve academic excellence, demonstrate leadership in their communities and aspire to attend college. Outgoing St. Paul Mayor and long-time Beat the Odds supporter, Chris Coleman will also be honored at this year’s celebration. Jana Shortal from KARE11 will emcee and Marian Wright Edelman will be the keynote speaker. Please purchase tickets for a night of inspiration, stories of struggle and perseverance and find out how caring adults made all the difference.  If you cannot attend, please make a donation to support the work of CDF-Minnesota and its Beat the Odds program.

Congratulations to Ezra Edelman
The Children’s Defense Fund family congratulates Ezra Edelman, the youngest son of CDF President Marian Wright Edelman, on his Oscar win!  We are all very proud of him and his extraordinary work. Here’s how the Washington Post reported it: “The best documentary feature award went to “O.J.: Made in America,” ESPN’s revelatory 467-minute multi-part series about O.J. Simpson’s rise and fall. In his acceptance speech, director Ezra Edelman . . . dedicated the award to murder victims Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. ‘This is for them and their families,’ he said. ‘This is also for others — the victims of police violence, police brutality, racially motivated violence and criminal injustice.’”

CDF President in the News


“I hate barriers. And it was time to bring down barriers.” – Marian Wright Edelman
Back in 1968, the New York Times put the spotlight on the wedding of Marian Wright and Peter Edelman, only the third interracial couple to marry in Virginia after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that state’s law against interracial marriage in a lawsuit brought by Richard and Mildred Loving. This month, the New York Times celebrated the Edelman marriage as the beginning of one of the most notable partnerships of the civil rights era and beyond. Read this beautiful article: After Two Tradgedies, a Love to Bring Down Barriers.

Marian Wright Edelman’s February Child Watch® Columns
Marian Wright Edelman’s February columns celebrate Black History month with a spotlight on Dr. Dorothy Height and correct the record on the critically important legacy of Black civil rights leaders Dr. Fredrick Douglass and W.E.B. DuBois. Ripping America Apart is the story of a little known shameful chapter in American history after the Great Depression when millions of Mexican-Americans were deported, and Welcome to the Land of Opportunity lifts up the voice of one immigrant child in our land of immigrants.

A Time for Courage and Truth

Honoring Dr. Dorothy Irene Height: Great Civil Rights, Women's Rights and Children's Rights Leader

Confronting Oscar-Nominated Moonlight’s Moving and Powerful Truths

Welcome to the Land of Opportunity

Ripping America Apart

The Children’s Defense Fund is dedicated to work with child advocates like you, policymakers and others to ensure all of America's children remain a top priority in 2017.

Please show your support by giving as generously as you can and encourage others in your network to join our community.

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