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Children Matter. Act Now! (with Comment by PHB)

Children's Defense Fund

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May 28, 2015

NOTE:  Do we create more government aid to help children, or do we create better conditions and jobs, so families can provide for their own children?















Ending Child Poverty NOW

CDF President Marian Wright Edelman took the message about ending child poverty NOW to a full house of foundation leaders, business leaders and service providers at the City Club of Cleveland on May 22, 2015. Her speech kicked off a series on Family Resilience and highlighted why ending child poverty is key to promoting resilience in families. Watch this powerful, emotional speech and learn how you can make a difference in your community. If you haven’t read CDF’s report, Ending Child Poverty Now, take the time and share it with your networks. The United States has the second highest relative child poverty rate among 35 industrialized countries despite being the world’s largest economy. A child in the United States has a 1 in 5 chance of being poor and the younger she is the poorer she is likely to be. Growing up poor has lifelong negative consequences, decreasing the likelihood of graduating from high school and increasing the likelihood of becoming a poor adult, suffering from poor health, and becoming involved in the criminal justice system. Yet in the city of Cleveland, more than half (54 percent) of children lived in poverty in 2013, more than 1 in 4 children in extreme poverty (at less than half of the poverty level) and more than two-thirds of the children (67 percent) lived in areas of concentrated poverty (where the poverty rates were 30 percent or more). And 58 percent of children lived in families where no parent had regular full-time employment.


We can reduce child poverty by 60% now.

Watch Marian Wright Edelman's powerful speech.


Learn about one Cleveland family's resilience in this exceptional example. Watch Britiny's Story

Legislative Action

CDF never gives up. For more than 40 years we have worked to level the playing field for children by advocating for the policies and programs that support children from birth through a safe passage to adulthood with the help of caring individuals and communities. With your support we will continue to champion policies that give America’s children the fair and head start they need to thrive. When you speak up for children, you speak up for the stability of our nation’s future.

Supporting Investments for Young Children

The Strong Start for America’s Children Act introduced on May 19th by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representatives Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) highlights the continuing importance of increased investments in the development and learning of our youngest children. 

The bill—over 10 years—will expand and improve critical early learning opportunities for children birth through age 5 with a full continuum of supports including voluntary home visiting, Early Head Start, Head Start, child care, pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten.

We need your help to show broad support for this Strong Start bill which is very similar to the one introduced in the last Congress.

Call or tweet your members of Congress.

Urge them to co-sponsor the Strong Start for America’s Children Act.

Ensuring Success for Neediest Children

The Senate is expected to begin debate on the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, in June or July. It is critically important that improvements be made in the bill before it is approved by the full Senate to ensure the poorest children, children of color, English Language Learners, children with disabilities and children in foster care have the opportunities and supports they need to achieve. CDF is working with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and others to ensure a final Senate bill will hold states accountable for progress for these children, ensure resource equity so all can truly achieve and ensure a strong federal role when children aren't progressing.

Call or tweet your Senators. Urge them to support amendments that promote state accountability for vulnerable groups of children, resource equity and a strong federal role when children are not achieving and states are not helping them make progress.

20 Years and Growing


The 20th Anniversary CDF Freedom Schools® Ella Baker Child Advocacy Training Institute, our national training, is nearly here. We’re ready to meet and greet nearly 2,000 college students from 108 cities who will come together at CDF Haley Farm in Tennessee to learn cheers and chants, more about the Integrated Reading Curriculum and classroom management, and how to make learning fun for the scholars they will be teaching and mentoring this summer. We are excited to make this milestone anniversary a summer that CDF Freedom Schools children will never forget. Since 1995, we’ve trained more than 16,000 college students and recent graduates to deliver the CDF Freedom Schools award-winning model. Many have gone on to become teachers and principals and professors after helping more than 135,000 children fall in love with reading and inspiring them to make a difference in their lives and communities. We’re grateful again this year to our strong partners and for their powerful commitment to offer opportunities, skills and healthy meals, and to put college in sight for needy children in their communities.

CDF-Minnesota is piloting two American Indian-focused Freedom Schools that will serve 80 scholars at two American Indian organizations in Minneapolis—Division of Indian Work and the Minneapolis American Indian Center. We are pleased to welcome our new American Indian partners and servant leader interns to national training. Nation Wright, CDF-MN 21st Century Programs Coordinator said:

"Our Minneapolis American Indian students graduate at a rate between 20-30% and many of them drop out at a young age. The CDF Freedom Schools model will provide a positive learning environment that reflects and values our Native children. We are extremely excited to be able to provide this program to the American Indian community in Minneapolis and believe that it will be a game changer for our scholars. We’re eager to begin the program this summer and are hopeful that it will be a model that tribal communities can use across Indian Country to positively impact outcomes for our Native children and their families.”

The CDF Freedom Schools model celebrates diversity, inclusiveness, and carefully selects books that reflect the lives of the children and can inspire them to strive to reach their full potential. Donate today to support this important work.

New Strategies, Skills and Effective Models


When you attend the 21st Annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry you will have a unique experience that will leave you informed, inspired, equipped, connected, and ready to put your faith even more effectively into action to seek justice for our nation’s children. Check out our great lineup of speakers and preachers and explore which of the 18 workshops would strengthen your skills to better advocate for children in your community. Hone your organizing skills, recommit yourself to making a difference for children, and recharge with an intergenerational, interracial, and culturally diverse community of the faithful. This year we have special scholarship opportunities available on first-come first-served basis — if you want to learn more about this opportunity please reach out to a CDF office in your state or email the Rev. Janet Wolf

We hope to see you, your family, your friends, and members of your congregation at the Proctor Institute this July 20-24 at CDF Haley Farm. Please print and share this flyer and registration form or register online.

"Orange" You Ready to End Gun Violence?

On June 2nd advocates across the country will wear orange for the first National Gun Violence Awareness Day. The classmates of Hadiya Pendleton, who lost her life to gun violence in Chicago just days after marching in President Obama’s inaugural parade, wore orange to honor her life — the color hunters wear to alert other hunters to their presence. Their action has inspired a movement. CDF has long advocated that we must Protect Children, Not Guns. Show your support by wearing orange June 2nd and for more information, go to Make sure to tweet @childdefender your pictures wearing orange with the hashtag #ProtectChildrenNotGuns.

The First Lady and Marian Wright Edelman Take the Stage

I’m also a little giddy to be joined on stage by another one of my heroes, Marian Wright Edelman. Her moral leadership on behalf of children in this country has inspired me throughout my career, as well as my husband, the President of the United States. – First Lady Michelle Obama

Marian Wright Edelman addresses Oberlin College & Conservatory's 2015 graduating class. Watch now.

Oberlin College & Conservatory’s commencement with First Lady Michelle Obama and CDF President Marian Wright Edelman was a historic occasion. Nearly 50 years after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed Oberlin’s graduating class of 1965 with his commencement speech “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” the college honored the First Lady and Mrs. Edelman. During the ceremony the First Lady encouraged graduates to carry on the Oberlin legacy of service and social justice. Marian Wright Edelman encouraged graduates to be leaders and teachers, to come together, to stand and speak up for justice and to live a life of service to spark the change so badly needed.

America is going to hell if we don’t use her vast resources to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life. — Martin Luther King Jr.

Ending child poverty is just the critically important start to improving the lives of children across the nation.

If you missed any of Marian Wright Edelman’s Child Watch® Columns this month — here's a recap.

"All in the Family"

"Criminalizing Poverty"

"Healing a Child’s Broken Heart"

"Overmedicating Children in Foster Care"