Stoneman Douglas Tragedy Demands Action | February 2018

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Stoneman Douglas Tragedy Demands Action:  Protect Children Not Guns

On February 14th, 14 students and three teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida died in another shooting massacre in the United States. Despite longstanding cries to Protect Children Not Guns, Congress has failed to act. The reality is that an entire generation of children is coming of age understanding that there is no safe space for them in America. A child or teen dies from gunfire every 2 hours and 48 minutes in the United States.

Every person who cares about protecting children and human life must stand up right now with urgency and persistence, join hands with these Stoneman Douglas students and others affected by gun violence and demand Congressional action to stop the scourge of gun violence that has killed more than 140,000 people and devastated thousands of families between Sandy Hook and the Parkland tragedy.



The Good News

On February 9th President Trump signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act. The bill offers historic and critical steps forward for vulnerable children, families, and communities including the bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First).This long time priority of CDF’s introduces long-overdue, historic funding reform, increasing the child welfare system’s focus on helping children at risk of foster care remain safely with their families.  For decades, the majority of federal child welfare funds have only been available for children removed from their families and placed in foster care. Beginning October 1, 2019, federal funds will be available for preventive services, along with other changes in federal funding to ensure children in foster care are placed in family foster care, rather than inappropriate group care settings. Family First provides guaranteed federal funding for substance abuse and mental health prevention and treatment and services to improve parenting skills to help keep children safely with their families and avoid the traumatic experience of foster care.  Learn more about the law’s other improvements for vulnerable children and youth.


The Bad News


The February 9th Bipartisan Budget Act left behind the nearly 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Dreamers) and the other Dreamers who continue to face a March 5th deadline that will end their hopes for their future. Without Congressional action, nearly 1,000 Dreamers a day will lose their protection from deportation and their ability to work. It is critically important that we all join the Dreamers in pushing for the extension of DACA and more before the March 5th deadline.


Are You Registered to Vote?


“Democracy is not a spectator sport…It is a moral imperative for each one of us to register and vote in our local, state, and national elections this year — and every year.”

Marian Wright Edelman

In a democratic society, whether we like what our political leaders are doing or not, we must make our opinions clear through our voices and our votes. We cannot accomplish positive change by staying home. Your local, state and national elections are closer than you may think. Now is the time to register to vote, request an absentee ballot, and/or update an address. Go to to check/update your voter registration. It’s easy.

Remember, children cannot vote, but you can and must raise children’s voices at the ballot box. Register to vote today or check your voter registration status. Share this link and encourage your friends and family to do the same.


Welcome Home!

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Welcome home! Every July hundreds of child advocates from across the country hear these words as they gather at the annual Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry (The Proctor Institute). They come to build skills and share success stories in dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline®, ending child poverty, and improving the lives of children in their communities. The Proctor Institute is far more than a “conference;” it is an experience of Beloved Community – an intergenerational, interracial, ecumenical gathering of people committed to putting their faith into action.

Register now and join us for CDF’s Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry, “Realizing Dr. King’s Vision for Every Child: Ending Child Poverty,” as we renew our spirits, refocus our vision, and strengthen the movement for all children in America! Whether you are a first-timer, regular attendee, or alum returning after time away, we are eager to welcome you home to CDF Haley Farm in Clinton Tennessee, this July 16-20, 2018, for an unforgettable week of preaching, teaching, workshops, singing, strategizing and building the movement for children.


Change the Odds for Children in Minnesota


On March 8, 2018, the Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota will host its 26th Annual Beat the Odds® Awards Celebration at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Join the CDF-Minnesota to honor five Twin Cities-area high school youths in recognition of their academic achievement while raising awareness around the need for continued investment and advocacy in support of children. Congratulations to Ben Gardner, Zarina Sementelli, Amarya Ward West, Misky Salad and Early Caruso.

Tickets are still available. Learn more about the event and the ways to support the program in Minnesota. 

Since 1995, the Beat the Odds scholarship and servant leadership program has supported hundreds of youths across the country. CDF holds awards events in California, OhioTexasNew York, and Washington, D.C. not only to celebrate the scholarship recipients, but to inspire community leaders and citizens to help all children who are struggling to overcome adversity.


CDF State Office Highlights


Early in February Children’s Defense Fund-New York joined the “Black Lives Matter Week of Action in our Schools” by planning and participating in a workshop about the state of restorative justice in city schools (photo above). During the week of actions, students, educators and allies across the country organized to raise awareness around three core demands: ending “zero tolerance” disciplinary policies and focusing on the implementation of restorative justice; hiring more Black teachers; and instituting a mandate that K-12 schools teach Black history and ethnic studies.

And in California, Children’s Defense Fund-California joins a coalition of partners urging state legislators and Governor Jerry Brown to pass SB 607. The legislative proposal, if it becomes law, would significantly increase instructional time for students who would otherwise be suspended or expelled from school for “disruption” or “defiance—a broad and highly subjective catch-all category covering a wide range of minor misbehavior. “When we remove students from the classroom for low-level misbehavior that is part of youth development, we eliminate the opportunity for both students and educators  to build a stronger classroom community, learn about one another, and to receive support that would address the root cause of the conflict,” said Angelica Salazar, director of education equity for the Los Angeles-based Children’s Defense Fund. “Study after study has shown that a reliance on suspensions to change student behavior doesn’t work.”

In Ohio, Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio continues its work on ensuring children are accounted in the upcoming 2020 Census. In February, CDF-Ohio with partners launched the Ohio Census Table – a cross-sector collaboration of organizations and individuals working to advocate for policies and resources and engage Ohioans to achieve a fair and accurate 2020 Census in Ohio. Data matters. Local and state governments, community leaders and non-profit organizations, use Census data to assess and allocate its resources providing critical programs and services to the most vulnerable populations, including children and older adults.

And in Minnesota, Children’s Defense Fund- Minnesota is working with others to strengthen the existing Child Care Assistance Program that provides early childhood learning and development opportunities to 30,000 children in the state.


Child Watch® Columns


Marian Wright Edelman’s Child Watch® columns this month focused on the significant victories for children offered in the Bipartisan Budget Act while urging us to speak out against the unjust and immoral President’s Budget; take action to Protect Children Not Guns; and stand up to protect Dreamers’ hopes and futures. 

How Long Until We Protect Children, Not Guns?!

Big Rainbows in the Political Clouds for Children: Some Really Really Good News

The State of the Union: Morally Dead and Leaving Vulnerable Children Behind




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