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Monthly Newsletter


Dear Child Advocate,

Thanks to a grassroots outcry across the country demanding we protect health coverage for children and families, the latest Republican health care effort to dismantle Medicaid and repeal the Affordable Care Act was defeated in the U.S. Senate last month. As I said in our statement on the defeat of the bill: “Tonight, we celebrate the relentless advocacy of parents, children, and supporters across the nation who shared stories of the devastating impact of the proposal bill and called their members of Congress to urge them to vote against any plan that would harm children.”

This important victory for children’s health highlights that our advocacy and organizing can make a difference. When we stand together and raise our voices against injustice, we can protect our children from harmful proposals at the federal level. And here in California, we can use that righteous activism to win positive policy changes at the state and local level as we did earlier this summer by expanding the California Earned Income Tax Credit to help more than a million more low-income working families.

Let us celebrate these victories to rejuvenate our spirits, and then turn back to the long struggle for justice and equity for our children. We must remain vigilant against any proposed changes that would jeopardize the health or well-being of children and families.

Thank you for your continued advocacy to level the playing field for California’s children!

In Solidarity,

Shimica Gaskins
Executive Director

Featured Updates


Engaging Parents to Support Students

We have successfully concluded the CDF Freedom Schools® Parent Engagement Institute. The pilot initiative – which included two programs ran in partnership with Read Lead and Success in Challenges – served approximately 30 parents from Compton, Lynwood and Long Beach areas. Parents participated in six two-hour sessions which focused on helping parents increase capacity to support their children’s academic development, strengthen communication and interaction, and to hone in on their leadership skills to effectively engage in their children’s education. As part of the Institute’s curriculum, the last pilot session focused on civic engagement and ensuring that both parents and children embrace the history and struggles of our ancestors.


CDF Freedom Schools Scholars Take Action

Last month, thousands of youth from Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools® program sites across the country – including hundreds from Los Angeles, Long Beach, Sacramento and the Bay Area – made their voices heard in an organized civic action to end child hunger. “Freedom Schools we need change. We need food to feed our brains,” "SNAP, crackle, pop - child hunger has got to stop," “No Hungry Child,” and “My family matters” were just some of the chants of scholars. As a part of Children’s Defense Fund’s (CDF) 2017 National Day of Social Action, the goal is to raise public awareness about food insecurity as well as the need to strengthen federal programs critical to give all of America’s children a healthy start in life.


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



My parents both worked full-time jobs. Yet, in 1994, they made less than $15,000 a year. Times were tough. Feeding a family of five on their salaries became increasingly difficult. I still remember the day that I accompanied my mother to the local Department of Health and Family Services to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps). I could tell she was embarrassed to stand in that long line and ask for help to feed her children. She was college-educated, worked two jobs, and never envisioned herself seeking government assistance. I was in high school and working at a local grocery store to help contribute. But even with three incomes, we still did not have enough food by the end of each month. Even now it’s hard to fathom how a hard-working family – like mine and so many others – could be in such a situation. How can children and families go hungry every night in America, a country with so much wealth? The answers to this question are often multifaceted and include low-wages and lack of opportunities. But the solutions are not complicated. Read the full story ...

July 21, 2017

News Roundup


Read Lead Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Help to Close Achievement Gap

Read Lead, an organization focused on literacy and leadership, partners with Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program to run four sites around Los Angeles, serving more than 200 youth between the ages of 6 to 17. The six-week summer program helps keeps the children’s brain active and ready for the challenges of the following school year by increasing their self- esteem, generating more positive attitudes toward learning and creating a love of reading. Read the full story ...

Aug 04, 2017

Summer program helps narrow the gap for Sacramento kids

As students begin returning to school next week, hundreds of children from Del Paso Heights and south Sacramento will have a leg up after honing their academic skills this summer at Freedom School programs held around the city. The six-week literacy program, held at six Sacramento schools, helped mainly low-income children in pre-K to 12th grade avoid losing academic ground during the summer. Teacher Jasmine Perring said she watched students develop a “joy for reading” as the weeks progressed. Eventually, the students were competing to see who could read the most, she said. Read the full story ...

Aug 04, 2017

Law increases access to free lunch for low-income students

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill authored by District 15 Assemblymember Tony Thurmond to ensure that low-income students have access to the free lunch they are entitled to.ssOne of the biggest barriers for low-income students’ access to free lunch in California lies within the state’s involved process of identifying and enrolling those qualifying individuals, according to a press release issued by Thurmond’s office. Read the full story ...

July 30, 2017

Part of National Effort to Heighten Awareness of Child Hunger, Students Will March to City Hall With Empty Plates

Pasadena students will march from the Pasadena’s Central Library down the street to City Hall today holding symbolic empty plates as a part of a national rally created by the Children’s Defense Fund to represent the millions of children in the United States who struggle with hunger each year.ssThe goal is to raise public awareness about food insecurity as well as the need to strengthen federal programs critical to give all of America’s children a healthy start in life and to teach local youth about the importance of civic engagement. Read the full story ...

July 19, 2017

What it looks like when Altadena kids hold a protest

Dozens of Altadena Elementary school-aged children marched with empty plates from the Pasadena Library to Pasadena City Hall on Wednesday morning to raise awareness about food insecurity. As part of Children’s Defense Fund’s 2017 National Day of Social Action, the youth joined thousands of counterparts around the country in a call to end child hunger. Read the full story ...

July 19, 2017

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