We Won One for Children | July 2017

We Did It Together!  Immediate Threats to Health Care Stopped in the Senate


Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you across the country who over these last months have shared with Members of Congress and each other what the devastating House and Senate health care bills would mean for your own children and families as well as those of colleagues, friends, patients and others. Your outpouring of support for Medicaid and other key pieces of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), together with others, really made a difference. The defeat very early Friday morning of the “Skinny Repeal” bill that became the misnamed “Health Care Freedom Act” was a huge win for America’s children and families. That version of the repeal bill would have made 16 million more children and adults uninsured and raised premiums by 20 percent and because it would have been considered together with the terrible House of Representatives health bill in a joint House-Senate conference committee, it would have ended Medicaid as we know it. Senators Collins and Murkowski stood strong for a long time and were joined by Senator McCain to defeat the bill and end the immediate threats to health care. They deserve your thanks as do all others in the Senate who understood the harms and voted against various versions of the Senate Republican Leadership’s series of devastating ACA repeal bills.

A major battle has been won – and our efforts to move forward, not backwards, must continue. Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) must be extended by the end of September, and we must fight back any efforts to cut and cap Medicaid as Congress considers action on the 2018 Budget Resolution or tax reform bills. Thank you for your stepping out on behalf of children!


CDF’s Proctor Institute: Beloved Community, Builders for the Children’s Movement


Nearly 500 pastors, seminarians, young adult leaders, and other child advocates gathered for five transformational, informational, and inspirational days at CDF’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry at CDF Haley Farm earlier this month. While 30 children of participants enjoyed the Proctor CDF Freedom Schools® program, older teens and adults engaged in theological inquiry around justice, oppression, and children with Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, Princeton Theological Seminary’s Dr. Mark Lewis Taylor, and the Forum for Theological Exploration’s Dr. Patrick Reyes. Children and Justice plenary sessions opened conversation about “Where Are We? Poor Children in Rich America,” “Who Are We? Race, Class, and Power,” and “What Have We Learned? Education and Our Children.” Panelists and participants spoke from diverse perspectives, different generations, and first-hand experience. Advocacy actions and afternoon workshops (see below) were followed by dinner and then days ended as they began with preaching that proclaimed the prophetic, empire-challenging, oppression-upending, liberating and loving words for these times, and with music that fed our souls. CDF’s Proctor Institute defies words; one has to experience it to understand fully its power and purpose, renewal and unique community. Save the date now to join us next year to experience it for yourself: July 16-20, 2018.


Equipping Ourselves for Effective Action: Afternoon Sessions at CDF’s Proctor Institute


Eight different afternoon workshop tracks offered over three days at CDF’s Proctor Institute prepared participants for even more effective efforts to improve the lives of children in our nation. Building on the morning Children and Justice plenaries (see above), the Improving the Odds for Children NOW: Moving Forward, Not Backwards track provided policy updates, strategies and steps to make progress in the U.S. Capitol and in our communities in ending child poverty, dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline®, and leveling the education playing field. In The Power of Truth-Telling track, participants learned about preaching social justice with civil rights leader Dr. Otis Moss Jr., and then Beloved Community Center leaders led sessions on truth-telling and healing initiatives to address entrenched challenges of racial and social inequities. The Nonviolent Direct Action Community Organizing Track unpacked equity-building power, principles, and techniques and the historical, theological, and philosophical underpinnings of non-violent direct action organizing, with discussion of contemporary movements. The Education for Emancipation: From Sabbath Schools to Freedom Schools track explored how CDF Freedom Schools Program can inform Christian education, be sponsored by college and seminary campuses, and serve as an organizing model for nonviolent direct action. The Trauma and Healing track explored trauma theory and examined innovative approaches to care for traumatized children, youths, and communities. The Transforming Congregations, Becoming Beloved Community track offered models for nurturing multicultural congregations, working to make congregations places of celebration and safety for LGBTQ youths, and redefining prison ministry from the inside out. The Growing Strong Communities from the Grassroots Up track engaged participants in learning about participatory community health organizing, food justice, cooperative economics for access to good food, and popular education and art used to transform working and living conditions for farmworkers and their families through the Fair Food Program. The Creating Change in Your Community track ranged from an introduction to CDF’s Freedom School Program, to partnering with youth currently and formerly caged to dismantle pipelines to prison, and mobilizing leaders for healthy communities of color.  

Late Afternoon Sessions gave participants choices for exploring the arts and social change (music, visual art, and dance), self-care for activists, reflection on the day, a Howard Thurman seminar on “Finding God: Mapping Landscapes of the Spirit,” and sessions for the seminarians enrolled in the Proctor Institute for credit. Participants come to Proctor because they care about children and justice and are already engaged in direct service, advocacy, and organizing; they leave the Proctor Institute equipped with even more skills, strategies, models and partners to increase the impact of their efforts.

Seminary Course:  Over 60 seminarians from a consortium of more than 20 seminaries attended CDF’s Proctor Institute for graduate credit. A teaching team of professors from a number of the sending institutions led a day-long pre-session, post-session, and daily gatherings in the late afternoon to discuss readings, engage with speakers, and participate in deep theological reflection. After Proctor, the seminarians  will complete interactive assignments including listening to children and youths to learn from communities on the margins of theological education—in particular, those communities contending against systemic injustice that directly impact children and youths. 

Proctor Institute participants come because they care about children and justice and are already engaged in direct service, advocacy, and organizing; they leave CDF’s Proctor Institute equipped with even more skills, strategies, models and partners to increase the impact of their efforts to build the movement for children.


Together We Can End Child Hunger


There is an urgent need for child advocates to contribute a moral voice to the national conversation regarding the federal budget and the importance of maintaining or improving — not cutting — programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), school meals and summer feeding programs. On July 19, thousands of CDF Freedom Schools® children across the country participated in the 2017 National Day of Social Action to raise awareness about child hunger and the importance of programs that support child health, nutrition and development. The CDF Freedom Schools children, their parents and community supporters gathered at state houses, state capitols and other public venues holding Empty Plates to represent the children who go hungry each day across rich America. Their plates displayed statements, quotes and the number of hungry children in their states — helping to magnify a strong message supporting the importance of food for children. Our CDF Freedom Schools children need your help to effect change. Please speak up and start the conversation in your community or join social media conversations using the hashtags, #NoChildHungry and #CDFFreedomSchools.


The Road to Freedom Starts with You


“Something Inside so Strong” is the CDF Freedom Schools® motivational song that helps empower our children and builds their ability to overcome obstacles. You can help provide the necessary resources for children to overcome poverty, education inequities and close opportunity gaps that unfairly leave poor children and children of color behind. When you join the Road to Freedom you have the chance to encourage your network to help make a difference and change the odds for our children. Start your own fundraising campaign today, or give to someone else’s campaign. Help provide a safe and supportive community for children to see their full potential and fall in love with reading. Get started now and create your own Road to Freedom fundraising campaign page. Get started today, together we can ensure all children know what freedom looks like.


Mark Your Calendars!


The Children’s Defense Fund’s 2017 Beat the Odds® Celebration will take place November 7th at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. You, your family, friends and coworkers are all invited to celebrate and honor five extraordinary young people from the Greater Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area who have overcome tremendous adversity and managed to excel academically, be leaders in their communities and desire to go to college. We hope that you will join us November 7, 2017 at the Newseum for what will be a night to remember. Get your tickets today.


Coming Soon – The Child Defender Fellow Program


This fall the Children’s Defense Fund will launch a one of a kind program to connect those who care about children’s issues with resources and lessons necessary to turn that passion into positive political action and change. If you have a passion for policy, legislation, nonviolent organization and how to assess laws that impact children in their communities, then this new program is the perfect fit. Sign up on our website today and learn more about how you can become a Child Defender Fellow.


July Child Watch® Columns

Marian Wright Edelman’s July Child Watch columns remind readers and our elected officials of their moral duty to ensure all children are afforded a Healthy Start so they are able to thrive and survive. Her columns will renew your spirit and provide you with the tools you need to continue to fight to save health care for 37 million children across our nation. We must keep the pressure on to #ProtectMedicaid and #KeepKidsCovered.

"Keep Working and Never Ever Give Up!"

"An Open Letter to the United States Senate "

"Tell Congress to Stop Picking on Our Most Vulnerable Children!"

"Stand Up and Protect the Basic Human Right to Health Care"


The Children’s Defense Fund is dedicated to working 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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