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Lack of Concern for Students in LA County Court System

While attending public school at Crenshaw High, I saw first-hand how content proficiency, culturally responsive education, and committed educators can transform the trajectory of low-income and marginalized communities. The revelations of systemic inequities, uncovered in my Social Studies classes, inspired me to become an educator — ultimately leading me to justice-informed youth, a population I knew required the most support. Unfortunately, my years teaching young people in Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) court schools has shown me these inequities persist at alarming rates. Despite society claiming to want to correct racial inequities in the justice and education systems following the murder of George Floyd and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, students in court schools, 90% of whom are students of color, have been left behind. Our school district has received an ongoing “Red” or “Orange” — not [...]

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COVID-19 Response Perpetuates Inequities for Vulnerable Children & Families

CDF-CA Statement on COVID-19 For Immediate Release: March 14, 2020 Media Contact: Cadonna Dory, (323) 385-6342 COVID-19 Response Perpetuates Inequities for Vulnerable Children and Families In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA) releases the following statement: The COVID-19 pandemic is triggering a global emergency response that is shifting the daily lives of families across the nation and the world. While the incidence and risk of COVID-19 are lower for children, COVID-19 is adversely impacting their quality of life through school closures and their parents losing employment. Basic needs are at stake and we demand that officials pay attention to the needs of low-income, mixed-status, and Black, Brown and Indigenous families. “Despite what is being said, our children are not being spared from COVID-19. In fact, it is our most vulnerable -- poor Black, Brown and Indigenous children -- [...]

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CDF Freedom Schools® Spotlight: Elia Aguiñiga

Elia Aguiñiga knows what it’s like to grow up in a working-class neighborhood with under-resourced schools and where opportunities seem sparse. As she thinks back, Elia remembers times when poor decisions could have derailed her life. One of those times was an arrest when she was 17. “It was just dumb,” she said, shaking her head. Now, more than 10 years later, Elia uses her experiences to connect with her students as an instructional aide in El Monte where she grew up, and as a servant leader intern for the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program. CDF Freedom Schools is a six-week summer literary and cultural enrichment program offered in several states across the country. Children’s Defense Fund partners with schools, faith and community-based organizations, municipalities, colleges and universities to run the program in the communities that need them the most. In California, in [...]

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CDF Freedom Schools® Spotlight: Jessie Ryan

When Brooklyn Mataka was adopted at 3½ years old, she had a limited vocabulary. Her adoptive mother, Jessie Ryan, said it was evident that she had not had much exposure to books or verbal stimulation. Jessie immediately started reading and talking to Brooklyn regularly. And by the time she hit kindergarten age, Brooklyn was using appropriate words to communicate. However, she was still lagging behind in her literacy development, so much so that it was affecting her self-esteem. "She didn't even have the confidence to try to read or write," Jessie said. That is when she learned about the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program. She fell in love with everything the program had to offer. "I noticed a difference in Brooklyn almost immediately after starting the CDF Freedom Schools program," her mother said. "By the end of the first week, she [...]

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CDF Freedom Schools® Spotlight: Courtney Linsey

Courtney Linsey’s grandfather was a bishop for the Christian Episcopal Methodist Church, went to high school with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and was once even arrested with him for civil disobedience during one of King’s many protests against segregation during the Civil Rights Movement. One would think with a grandfather like that, Courtney’s path would have been clear from the start. But it wasn’t. It took a while before Courtney grew into his roots. He was a social teenager and did what teenage boys do. When he finally went to college, he started to see the world a little different. His first year at Cal State Fullerton was sprinkled with racism and it was where he got his first real exposure to activism. Several years later, he learned about the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program and went [...]

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Today is Children’s Health Day and this is my story …

Today is Children’s Health Day and this is my story … I had a speech impediment as a child. As a result, I was embarrassed to speak up in class. It wasn’t until the age of 24, when I had comprehensive health insurance, that I was diagnosed hard of hearing in my left ear by an ear, nose and throat specialist. It all finally made sense. At Children's Defense Fund-CA (CDF-CA), I advocate so that children of color do not grow up without access to healthcare. I make sure working families know about and enroll in programs like Medi-Cal so their children can see a specialist if they need one and not have to wait years like i did. CDF-CA works to protect, improve and expand health coverage for children and families of color who need it the most. Children in [...]

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Spotlight: Beat the Odds Alumna

Four years ago, Erica Cortez graduated from John C. Fremont High School and was a Children’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds scholarship recipient. While in high school Cortez participated in the financial aid workshops, college counseling sessions and any other life skills or mentoring opportunities the program offered. She also received a little financial support during her first year at Occidental College. But what has been most helpful is the emotional support she has received from Children’s Defense Fund-California staff throughout her college experience. “I’ve gotten other scholarships and been in other programs and none of them really care like CDF-CA,” said Erica, 22. “They just give you money and that’s it. But that doesn’t really help you in the long run. They have mentored me on what I should do and the best route to take in my life.” That [...]

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