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Monthly Newsletter


Dear Child Advocate,

I am thrilled and humbled to be joining CDF-CA as executive director this week – and diving head first into the critical work to create a level playing field for California's children. I'm kicking off the week at the CDF Freedom Schools National Training in Tennessee with nearly 2,000 college students, educators, and civil rights leaders getting prepared to launch our 20 CDF Freedom Schools sites in California later this month. We are all excited about the opportunity to help children fall in love with learning this summer by providing access to culturally relevant books and positive teachers.

Back in California, our team is hard at work advocating for policies to lift children out of poverty, ensure all children have access to health coverage and a quality education, and reform the juvenile justice system. Five of our sponsored bills have been passed out of their first house of the state Legislature, including bills to end the prosecution of children under 12, strengthen youth Miranda rights, and end school lunch shaming.

We're also urging Governor Jerry Brown and the California Legislature to prioritize children in the 2017-18 state budget by investing in proven strategies to reduce child poverty, improve child health, and prevent violence. I hope you will read CDF Founder and President Marian Wright Edelman's powerful column highlighting why, in the face of President Trump's misguided budget, California must lead in protecting our poorest and most vulnerable children by strengthening the safety net. Please visit our Children's State Budget Watch webpage to learn more and take action.

In Solidarity,

Shimica Gaskins
Executive Director

Featured Updates


Recognizing an Emerging Civic Leader

Our very own Saira Soto, deputy executive director for Children's Defense Fund–California, was recently recognized by Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas and the Empowerment Congress for the exemplary leadership she has provided to her community and the next generation of young professionals.

The Emerging Civic Leaders committee of the Empowerment Congress engages leaders under the age of 40 in opportunities surrounding civic engagement, advocacy and philanthropy, which aims at developing a pipeline of dedicated community advocates throughout Los Angeles County. Saira, along with 39 other individuals, were honored last month.


Bill to Prevent Prosecution of Children Under 12 Moves Forward

Our sponsored bill to exclude children under age 12 from juvenile court prosecution – SB 439 authored by Senators Holly Mitchell and Ricardo Lara – passed out of the state Senate on a 24-13 vote on May 15 and now heads to the Assembly Public Safety Committee. SB 439 is part of an #EquityAndJustice legislative package jointly authored by Sens. Ricardo Lara and Holly J. Mitchell with major justice reforms that put greater emphasis on prevention, rehabilitation and maintaining family cohesion.


Kicking off the 2017 Ella Baker Child Policy Training Institute

This week, thousands of college students, teachers and probation officers are gathering at CDF Haley Farm and the Knoxville Convention Center in Tennessee to gear up for the 2017 rollout of CDF Freedom Schools. Over the course of a week, participants will engage in a wide array of workshops and trainings around the Integrated Reading Curriculum, a proven education model that exposes children to books, images, ideas and activities relevant to who they are.


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.


In the Spotlight


Danielle Lafayette
Senior Community/Political Organizer

We are excited to welcome Danielle Lafayette to our team. Danielle is the senior community/political organizer with Children's Defense Fund-California. In this role, she leads our regional efforts to dismantle the cradle to prison pipeline through organizing, engagement and mobilization and the development of the leadership capacity of Long Beach youth to organize local campaigns on educational achievement, dignity and equity, transforming justice systems for youth, and ending child poverty.


Take Action


Fight Child Poverty in the State Budget

Urge Governor Brown and legislative leaders to enact a 2017-18 state budget that takes an important step toward ending child poverty in California by expanding the state Earned Income Tax Credit to reach more low-income working families and creating the CalWORKs Baby Wellness and Family Support Home Visiting program.


News Roundup


Moving Forward For Children In California And Nationally

Alameda County in California straddles the San Francisco Bay area and stretches from Silicon Valley north to Oakland and Berkeley. A major branch of the San Andreas Fault lies beneath the most densely populated part of the county. That’s where Betty lives. She was hard at work full time in the health care field, with her own catering and massage therapy business on the side, raising four children as a single mother when a series of health crises created an earthquake that shattered her life. After three surgeries on her spine she could not work, struggled, and slid into homelessness with her two youngest children. Living in shelters and transitional housing, it took three years before they could find affordable housing through a federal housing assistance program. Read the full story ...

June 2, 2017

Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas Recognizes 40 Emerging Civic Leaders in Los Angeles

Last week, Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas recognized Los Angeles' change makers who are under the age of 40 at the 2017 "40 Emerging Civic Leaders Under 40' Awards. Hosted in collaboration with the Empowerment Congress and the Office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.Read the full story ...

May 25, 2017

What Californians are saying about Trump's budget plan

The Trump budget recklessly turns its back on America’s children, denying them basic supports that would enable them survive and thrive. It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of harm the Trump budget would inflict on California children and families, especially the nearly 1 in 4 California children living in poverty. Read the full story ...

May 23, 2017

Children's Defense Fund – California Taps Former DOJ Staffer Gaskins as New ED

The Children's Defense Fund – California announced last week that it has hired former Department of Justice staffer Shimica Gaskins as its executive director.sssShimica GaskinsssGaskins, who will start on June 5, is replacing Alex Johnson as head of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that operates as a state office for the national child advocacy organization founded by Marian Wright Edelman. Read the full story ...

May 23, 2017

Statement from Children's Defense Fund-California on Governor's 2017-18 May Revision Budget Proposal

In today's press conference releasing the May Revision budget proposal, Governor Jerry Brown said it was cruel to fund programs now only to cut them later – but the real cruelty is failing to use available state resources to help the 1 in 4 California children who live in poverty or support vulnerable children and families across the state. Read the full story ...

May 11, 2017

José Alberto Aceves, el mexicano que fue aceptado por las más prestigiosas universidades de EEUU

A pesar de que tuvo muchas dificultades para acceder al estudio, su familia siempre lo impulsó para salir adelante. Aunque está en carpeta de instituciones como Harvard, Princeton y UCLA, se decantó por el Instituto Tecnológico de Massachusetts para iniciar su carrera como investigador de biotecnología. Read the full story ...

May 8, 2017

You're Invited


Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry
July 17-21, 2017 | CDF Haley Farm | Clinton, TN

Join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children for spiritual renewal, networking, movement-building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the intersection of race and poverty. Gain new inspiration, information, and ideas from preachers and noted plenary speakers who are making a difference to end child poverty and dismantle the Cradle to Prison PipelineTM. Come for an experience of Beloved Community and join in the intergenerational, interracial and multi-ethnic conversation with people who share your passion for justice for our nation's children.


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