It’s a start

Dear Fellow Californian,

Last Friday, we took a step forward in our movement to end deep child poverty once and for all in our state. Thanks to the work of the California State Legislature and the Brown Administration — as well as the voices of concerned Californians like you — our new state budget strengthens the safety net for children and families in communities across California.

Here’s how the new budget helps children in need:

– A $360 million increase in CalWORKs funding to help keep food on the table for working families

– An extension of the Earned Income Tax Credit for Californians working at the new state minimum wage

– First-time state funding of $158.5 million for home visiting programs that provide vital pre- and post-natal services care to low-income children

– Expanded childcare opportunities so parents can get to work supporting their families

–$200 million in reserve to protect against future cuts during a recession

While this budget brings us closer to our vision of a California that gives opportunities to all children, it’s only the bare minimum. For instance, 1.4 million disadvantaged children still lack access to subsidized childcare. California’s new budget only provides for 16,000 additional slots. How can parents work without it?

Now is the time to create a comprehensive plan to end deep child poverty in our state. That begins by showing the many legislators who fought for these increases to the safety net that we stand with them and support their efforts. Real and sustained commitment to ending deep child poverty requires an army of Californians who demand it.

Please ask your friends and family to join this army and speak up for children. More than 35,000 Californians have joined the movement—with hundreds more joining every week. As the new budget shows, we’re starting to make our voices heard. Imagine what we can do to truly end deep child poverty once we reach our goal of 100,000 Californians by year’s end. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Conway Collis
End Child Poverty in California


Courage, compassion, and will

I’m frustrated and you should be, too. Here’s why: We know how to end child poverty in the fifth largest economy in the world. Yet 1 in 5 California children still wakes up hungry or on the edge of homelessness. Every. Single. Day.

The good news: There’s a simple way you can make a big difference today. Share this petition in support of Senator Holly Mitchell’s bill to raise CalWORKs in our state.

Please urge your community to expand this life-saving benefit for working families. Today, a family of three receives nine dollars less in CalWORKs than they would have 10 years ago. That makes no sense.

CalWORKs works, full stop. It puts food on the table, keeps lights on overhead, and gives children of hardworking parents the opportunity to become the best Californians they can be.

Change takes courage, compassion, and political will. We want to live in a California where every child can dream of becoming the next doctor, scientist, or governor of our state. Don’t you? Stand up for children. Share our petition today and give all kids a chance.

In solidarity,

Sandra Sanchez
End Child Poverty in California


Voices of the Movement: Laura Lomeli & Andre Shirley

When you were a child and needed help, who did you call? Maybe you leaned on a parent, an aunt, or an uncle for some much-needed advice or simply a comforting voice.

Ask a foster kid this same question, though, and you’ll most likely get a very different answer: nobody.

As former foster youth, we know this painful truth firsthand. We’ve experienced the struggle foster kids face as they try to navigate a complicated world completely on their own. We’ve seen with our own eyes how this lack of support can lead foster youth to homelessness, deep poverty, or worse.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If we want to truly make a difference, though, it’s going to take all of us.

Please, take a minute to share our video with your friends, family, and colleagues. Your voice will inspire more concerned Californians like you to join our movement to end child poverty. Let’s give our state’s most vulnerable kids the support they need to be healthy, happy, and safe.

Sincerely,

Laura Lomeli & Andre Shirley
Former foster youth


Voices of the Movement: Sister Julie Kubasak

 

You know the statistics. Nearly two million California children — that’s one in every five kids — lives in poverty. As a native Californian and a Christian, that pains me, as I’m sure it pains you and everyone who cares about the future of the state we call home.

But my message to you is one of hope, not pain.

We know how to fix this problem. We can change the statistics, we can change lives, and we can end child poverty for California’s children.

True change rests in our hands. For child poverty to end, we must start inspiring compassionate Californians like you to join the movement and finally speak out.

Please share this video and urge your friends, your family, and your co-workers to join with you in saying “enough” to child poverty. Together, we will make sure California’s leaders do the right thing and bring hope to millions of children.

Blessings to you and your family,

Sister Julie Kubasak
Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul


Voices of the Movement: Sharonda Wade

 

Here in California, we encourage our children to be anything they want to be. Maybe they dream of being a doctor, an astronaut, or even an actor. No matter who they are, though, one thing no child dreams of being is hungry.

That includes children from low-income families and especially children who live, breathe, and struggle with poverty. As a social worker, I see the challenges these kids face every day. Will there be food on the table? Will they have a place to sleep at night?

These are children just like your sons, daughters, nephews, neighbors. They want a chance to thrive in life. But they need the basic resources to get where they dream of going.

That’s why I’ve joined the campaign to End Child Poverty in California — our movement to give every kid the chance at a better future.

We can’t do it alone, though. To truly end child poverty, we need every concerned Californian in this state to join with us and put pressure on our elected leaders to develop and carry out the systems of support for our young people who need it most. So please share my video with your friends, your family, and your co-workers and help grow our movement.

Onward,

Sharonda Wade
Supervising Children’s Social Worker
Child Protection Agency


Do Your Taxes for Free. Get Your Money.

If budgets are tight in your family—and for most Californians, they are—then you probably dread tax season. But if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, taking the time to claim a good return can keep food on the table.

It takes an expert’s eye to get it right, but not everyone can hire an accountant. Luckily, our partners are forward-thinking organizations around California that provide low- or no-cost tax-prep services to community members.

So, embrace this tax season. Take a look to see if you’re eligible for services in your area, which could potentially save your family thousands of dollars.

CalEITC4Me
CalEITC4Me offers information on the Earned Income Tax Credit and a tool that finds free tax-prep services.

United Way of California
The United Way offers free tax software for households earning less than $66,000 annually. They’ll also help you find an IRS-certified tax expert at a volunteer income tax assistance site near you. Shout out to our partners United Way of Greater Los Angeles, United Way Bay Area, and United Way Capital Region for their tireless tax-prep work!

Rubicon Programs
Financial coaches through Rubicon Programs in the Bay Area coordinate volunteer income tax assistance.

Catholic Charities
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County maintains a list of local parishes that host free tax-preparation services.

YPI
So you got your refund. Great! Check out these tips on how to make the most of your EITC from our friends at YPI.

If affordable tax-preparation services help you save money and make ends meet each year, let us know. Tweet us, Facebook us, or email us to show how your tax savings made a difference. Use the hashtag #ItsYourMoneyGetIt. When we can point to the successes of anti-poverty tools, politicians listen. Even better, it pushes them to sustain or even expand the benefits—and make real progress toward ending child poverty.


What if your life was decided in six minutes?

 

 

A mere six minutes into her life, an infant born in poverty in California is already five times more likely to drop out of school and has a 70 percent chance of staying trapped in poverty as an adult.

For a state that prides itself on being a place of big dreams and limitless opportunity, California can and must do better.

Here’s the good news: You can make a difference.

Please share this video to raise your voice and inspire more compassionate Californians like you to join our movement. Together, we can rally support and demand change from our elected leaders, including our next governor.

Onward,

Sandra Sanchez
End Child Poverty in California


The Fight is On

You may find it hard to believe, but California — where 1 in 5 children lives in poverty — has never launched a comprehensive, research-backed plan to tackle this crisis head-on. We’ve done it for the environment. We’re doing it for transportation.

Now, thanks to the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force and your support, California can end deep child poverty and reduce child poverty once and for all. It is both immoral and stupid not to solve this crisis when we have the absolute ability to do so.

On Wednesday, the Task Force gathered in the state capital to continue developing solutions to accomplish that goal. As co-chair of the Task Force, I was proud to be in the room, and cannot wait to share more updates as the plan comes together.

For now, one thing is clear: True change will not come from Sacramento, but from your voice and those of an army of Californians like you. If we don’t join together to demand an end to child poverty in our state, it won’t be done.

As Michael McAfee of PolicyLink told the Task Force Wednesday: “If you think you’re going to end child poverty without a fight, then you might as well go home.”

Well, the fight is on — and it is going to take all of us. From individuals who are struggling to make ends meet every day to organizations working on the front lines to end child poverty to concerned Californians like you — everyone with a stake must step up. We can do this. Now is the time.

Your voice will raise awareness of our mission, push our Task Force forward, and encourage others to join the movement.

Onward,

Conway Collis
Co-Chair, Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force
GRACE President & CEO

 


The Housing Crisis in Boyle Heights

Just west of the 5 freeway in the center of Boyle Heights, across the street from Evergreen Playground park, sits Our Lady of Talpa School, a K-8 school run by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. We recently visited the campus and spoke with Principal John Rojas about some of the hardships faced by the families at his school, including the effect of the housing crisis in Los Angeles.

What are the biggest issues faced by the families at your school, and how does poverty affect your students’ school performance?

The biggest issue facing families at the moment is finding affordable housing. Boyle Heights is undergoing a period of gentrification. A significant number of new residents are moving into the community and are driving out the current residents—it is the simple law of supply and demand. A number of our families have had their rent increase significantly and have been forced to move in with other families in one apartment to divide the rent. When students and their families are worried if they are going to have a place to live, it is bound to affect their performance in school. If they are living in overcrowded apartments, they do not have a quiet place to study or do their homework.

Can you share some stories of things you’ve heard from families in regards to the struggle of living in poverty in LA?

Due to the housing crisis, we had a family that was essentially homeless. They were living in a dilapidated recreational vehicle which they were renting for $600 per month. The conditions were terrible—they had no access to electricity or running water. But in their minds it was better than living in a park or underneath a freeway. This is a new phenomenon that has arisen. Some people are renting awful RVs to families who simply cannot afford the astronomical rent prices. The owners take away the battery and keys from the renters, because they want to control its location. They typically are parked in unsafe, industrial areas where residents will not complain that they are permanently parked there.

If you could snap your fingers and change something for the children at your school and their families, what would it be?

If I could snap my fingers and change something for our families, it would be increasing access to safe and affordable housing. Having a roof over our heads is one of the most basic human needs. If students don’t have that sense of safety and security, it is very difficult to ask them to make gains in the classroom.


5 Articles to Get Smart on Poverty

 

Poverty is complex and and the path forward may not always seem clear or direct. We hear from a lot of people that the issue is overwhelming. As a result, they disengage.

We’ve put together a list of articles to help you get smart about child poverty. The truth is it’s not that complicated, and after you learn more about it, you’ll see that real solutions are everywhere.

Happy reading!

The Way to Beat Poverty | The New York Times discusses the importance of intervening early and addressing the opportunity gap in America.

What Poverty Does to the Young Brain | The New Yorker dives into the physiological effects that poverty has on children’s brains.

Child Poverty in the United States Today | The Academic Pediatric Association provides an overview of child poverty in the United States today.

The Safety Net Is Crucial for Kids | US News & World Report outlines the importance of the safety net and how government programs like tax credits and SNAP are proven to lower childhood poverty rates.

How Poverty Can Follow Children Into Adulthood | Frontline dives into the long-term effects of poverty for children and how it leads to negative outcomes in adulthood.

Poverty as a Childhood Disease | The New York Times discusses poverty as an underlying threat to health and development.


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