PETITION TO OUR LEADERS: Make Ending Child Poverty a 2019 Priority

We have to make sure our California leaders know that for 2 million kids, ending child poverty can’t wait.

We’re at a key juncture as Governor Gavin Newsom revises his proposed California budget and legislators fight for their bills. SIGN ON to tell our elected leaders that the End Child Poverty Plan should be a key priority in 2019.

  • It’s comprehensive and achievable.
  • It invests in families and communities.
  • It will END extreme poverty in California for 450,000 kids.

Let’s do this! The End Child Poverty Plan letter has already been signed by over 60 esteemed California organizations. Seventeen pieces of legislation supporting the plan have already been introduced and the list is growing. We have to keep the momentum going so Governor Newsom and California State Legislators know this movement is only growing. Click to sign on:

Read the full letter below and click here for the press release. Help amplify the movement by sharing on social media:


Dear Governor Newsom and Budget Leaders of the California State Legislature:

We are writing as a broad coalition of Californians to ask that you urgently and immediately take actions to end deep childhood poverty and substantially reduce overall child and family poverty in California by implementing the End Child Poverty Plan.

One in five children in California live in poverty. We are the 5th largest economy in the world with the highest percentage and largest number of children living in poverty of any state in the nation. This is a human and a fiscal crisis that we have the ability to solve.

According to the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, the toxic stress of extreme poverty has a life-long negative impact on a child’s brain development. The same research indicates that the impact can be reversed by making the proven investments recommended by California’s Child Poverty Task Force that reduce or eliminate the need for more costly remediation in the future.

The Task Force’s End Child Poverty Plan is comprehensive, research-based, and community-informed. When fully implemented, the plan will end deep poverty for the 450,000 children in California living under 50% of the federal poverty line within four years and substantially reduce California’s highest-in-the-nation level of overall child and family poverty.

As children’s advocates, non-profits, religious leaders, business organizations, and concerned individuals we urge that the comprehensive End Child Poverty Plan be acted on immediately.

Reducing child and family poverty by 50% will also have a net positive impact on state and local government budgets of an estimated minimum of $12 billion annually in reduced remedial health, social service and educational expenditures and increased tax revenues.

The Governor’s proposed budget is an excellent starting point to begin reducing childhood poverty, especially for children living in deep poverty. The California Legislature can take the important step to eliminate deep poverty among families with children in the short term and to reduce overall childhood poverty by fifty percent by 2023 by adopting the Task Force’s science-based budget proposals. They include:

Primary Investments

  • Increase grants in the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program to bring families up above deep poverty as proposed in the Budget Act of 2018.
  • Increase and expand access to the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Adopt a Targeted Child Tax Credit (TCTC) that would put money back in the pocket of families and put it to work in the economy. This proposal also serves to provide a rental subsidy for families living in deep poverty or experiencing homelessness. Research conducted by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality shows that cash or near cash subsidies have a long-term positive impact on reducing childhood poverty and increasing the overall economic health of a community. The TCTC alone, when fully implemented will eliminate deep child poverty within four years.

Foundational Investments

  • Guarantee access to early care and education for children 0–8 years of age who are living in poverty in order to support child early development and families’ employment, education, health and upward mobility.
  • Expand voluntary home visiting programs to support pregnant women and families with young children.
  • Add 20 state-funded Promise Neighborhoods offering coordinated, community-driven support services.
  • Secure Healthcare for All Californians.
  • Fully fund transitional housing programs and supports for foster care youth up to the age of 21.

We urge these investments for the children of California today, to support the California Dream for each of our children.



Also signed and supported by:


Children Now

Children’s Defense Fund

County Welfare Directors Association of California

First 5 CA

First 5 Los Angeles

Fresno EOC Street Saints

Home Start, Inc.

Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

St. John’s Well Child and Family Center

Western Center on Law and Poverty

Youth Policy Institute

The Actors Gang

Alameda County Community Food Bank

Alliance for Children’s Rights

American Academy of Pediatrics

Barrio Logan College Institute

California Alternative Payment Program Association (CAPPA)

California Association of Food Banks

California Catholic Conference

California Emerging Technology Fund

California Interfaith Coalition


Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County

Child Care Law Center

Child Care Resource Center

Children’s Advocacy Institute

Children’s Institute

Children’s Network of Solano County

Clinica Romero

Council on American-Islamic Relations

Cradle to Career Fresno County

First 5 Alameda

First 5 Association of CA

Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County

Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission

Friends Committee on Legislation of California

Good Samaritan

Jamestown Community Center (The)

Jewish Center for Justice

John Burton Advocates for Youth

JPAC – Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California

Lutheran Office of Public Policy- CA

Marin Promise Neighborhoods


Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA)

Mission Graduates

National Association of Social Workers

National Center for Youth Law

National Council for Jewish Women

National Foster Youth Institute

Parent Voices

Pathways LA

Policy Link

Rise Together Bay Area

SALEF (Salvadorian American Leadership and Educational Fund)

Shields for Families

South Bay Community Services

United Way Bay Area

United Way California

United Way of Greater Los Angeles


cc: Members of the California State Legislature

Watch the Video: MLK’s Fight for Justice Continues in California

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy of fighting for racial and economic justice continues today in California. In December, we gathered with faith and moral leaders and MLK’s recently revived Poor People’s Campaign to make clear our goals: California must eliminate extreme poverty for children and families, and prioritize the needs of the poor.

Although poverty hits across racial divides, it disproportionately affects people of color in California. We want better for our kids. We’re going to be making sure our leaders know that in 2019 we want to see California’s groundbreaking End Child Poverty Plan that will eliminate deep child poverty enacted.

Watch and share this video as you honor MLK’s legacy:

Fifty years after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death, our country is more economically unequal. The need is urgent. Recommit to racial and economic justice, and get ready for action in 2019. Help out by sharing the video on Twitter, Facebook, or forwarding the link to a friend: http://www.endchildpovertyca.org/watch-the-video-mlks-fight-for-justice-continues-in-california/.

Thank you for being with us in this fight!

In solidarity,
Conway, Jackie, and the End Child Poverty in California Team
#EndChildPoverty #PassThePlan

PRESS RELEASE: State Poverty Task Force Issues Plan to End Deep Child Poverty

For Immediate Release

Contact: Yusef Robb, 323-384-1789



Action Plan Would Also Reduce Overall Child Poverty in California by 50%, Affecting 1.9 Million Children Yearly

SACRAMENTO — The state Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force issued a concrete plan today to end deep child poverty in California in just four years when fully implemented, affecting 450,000 children. Key elements of the plan include guaranteed childcare and early childhood education for children in poverty aged 0-8, a targeted child tax credit, and increasing enrollment in critical existing services through expanded outreach and improved technology.

The action plan would also reduce overall child poverty in California by 50 percent over 20 years, affecting 1.9 million children each year.

“We present the report from the Lifting Children and Family Out of Poverty Task Force, with a great sense of both urgency and hope,” stated Task Force Co-Chairs Will Lightbourne, Director, California Department of Social Services, and Conway Collis, GRACE CEO. “When implemented, these recommendations will end deep child and family poverty in California. California will become the first state in America to have done so and will provide a model for the country,”

“When it comes to poverty in California, children are the most vulnerable and suffer the worst. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem, but this Task Force Report shows that right now we have the opportunity to change the direction of the lives of children and ultimately the future of California,” said Assemblywoman Autumn R. Burke (D-Inglewood). “The Task Force’s recommendations are rooted in sound, evidence-based data. The research proves that these investments in our children are not only cost-effective, but key to unlocking opportunities in their lives. This roadmap builds upon the work of the past and sets us on course to bend the arc of California towards justice. This report shows we can, we should, and we must eliminate deep child poverty now.”

AB1520, authored by Assemblywoman Burke and sponsored by GRACE, directed the California Department of Social Services to convene the Task Force to develop a research-and-data-driven plan to inform policymaking by the next governor and the legislature to end deep child poverty and reduce overall childhood poverty by 50 percent.

Governor-elect Gavin Newsom said he would make ending child poverty a “North Star” of his administration. This plan would end deep child poverty by the end of his first term.

“The Task Force approached its job by shedding all sacred cows and asking a simple question: ‘Can we build an evidence-based plan that ends deep child poverty in California?’ We have shown that indeed we can. By drawing on the best data, the best research, and the inspiring ideas of community leaders, the Task Force has put together a plan that will make us the first state in the country that ends deep child poverty. It’s not a band-aid plan; it’s not a stop-gap plan — it’s a back-to-fundamentals plan that eliminates deep child poverty by taking on its root causes,” said David Grusky, Ph.D., Director of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality and a formal researcher to the Task Force, whose research and expertise was essential to its evidence-based approach and overall development.

“Having experienced prolonged periods of poverty as a child, I can tell you that poverty’s cruelty not only permeates a child’s body, but their spirit too,” said Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law and Poverty and the Task Force’s Safety-Net Subcommittee Chairperson. “In my 20 years of anti-poverty organizing, program development, and policy advocacy, I have never witnessed such an earnest attempt to design a future where no child is humiliated or harmed by the insult of poverty.”

“This is not some statement of general principles. The evidence shows that when this plan is fully implemented, California will end deep child poverty in the near-term and dramatically reduce overall child poverty in the long-term. That would change hundreds of thousands of lives,” said Task Force Co-Chair and GRACE CEO, Conway Collis. “The majority of California families in poverty are working families, and they simply can’t get ahead with the cost of living and the way our systems are currently structured. This plan provides the help that California’s families need to break out of poverty. It is based on comprehensive research from Stanford, Cal, and the best research in the country, along with extensive community input. This is about results and applying a data-driven, evidence-based, community informed approach.”

The Task Force Report also elicited strong support from the business community.

“Now is the time to focus on the type of economy we hope to build for our state’s shared future prosperity. The Lifting Children and Families out of Poverty report offers a roadmap for increasing California’s capacity to support economic growth and mobility,” said Task Force Member Matthew Horton, Associate Director, California Center, Milken Institute.

David Rattray, executive vice president, Center for Educational Excellence and Talent Development, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce added:

“This plan offers our state the opportunity to eliminate an enormous burden on our budget and our economy. It’s not just fiscally responsible, it’s fiscally and economically necessary. Additionally, this data will continue to amplify our efforts in ensuring all children have access to quality education from cradle to career.”

Additional responses from California leaders and Task Force members:

“The number of children living in deep poverty is a public health crisis in California and these recommendations are important steps to stem the tide of the crisis. In particular, the CalWORKs grant increases and the targeted child tax credits are effective and efficient ways to ensure that children suffering the most have the opportunity to live healthy and productive lives. There is no time to spare, we must act now on policy recommendations that will reverse this crisis,” said Frank Mecca, Executive Director of the County Welfare Directors Association.

“To truly lift children out of poverty, we must start during pregnancy, and address both the parent and child’s needs, including high-quality child care, paid family leave, and home visiting support. That is why the recommendations of the Child Poverty Task Force are so critical. Guaranteed early care for children 0–8 in deep poverty would be a lifeline for parents to help them create pathways out of poverty,” said Task Force Member Camille Maben, Executive Director, First 5 California.

“I cannot emphasize enough how detrimental poverty and deep poverty is to a child’s health and wellbeing. Poor children are more at risk of having developmental delays, behavioral problems, experiencing obesity, as well as increased stress, which can lead to depression and other physical or mental ailments. Implementing the recommendations of this task force would be a life-changer for millions of children across the state,” said Shimica Gaskins, Executive Director of Children’s Defense Fund–California and Task Force’s Special Populations Subcommittee Chairperson.

“The early years are ground-zero for California’s poverty epidemic. We have an opportunity to break an inter-generational cycle of poverty and that work begins with our kids,” said Task Force Member Kim Pattillo Brownson, Vice President of Policy and Strategy, First 5 LA and the Task Force’s Early Childhood Subcommittee Chairperson.

“One of our foundation’s areas of focus is strengthening children and families to prevent referrals to foster care. The report from the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force does an excellent job of outlining the challenge and offering key solutions to reduce child poverty in California by strengthening families,” said Task Force Member Winnie Wechsler, Executive Director, Anthony & Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation, Pritzker Foster Care Initiative.

“We believe that health is a fundamental human right, and the fact that the Task Force understood the direct relationship between health status and poverty and made strong recommendations that will improve the health of California’s children, is profound. Once again, California is a model for the nation,” said Task Force Member Jim Mangia, CEO of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center and the Task Force’s Health Subcommittee Chairperson.

Task Force Member Brian King, of Fresno EOC Street Saints, called the plan “an agile approach to make sure we don’t just move the needle on the issue of poverty, but eliminate it altogether.”

“It is no secret that many of the youth who find their way into California’s juvenile justice system live in poverty. We appreciate the Task Force’s practical policy recommendations to reduce poverty for California’s youth. CPOC strongly supports the important mission of the Task Force,” said Task Force Member and San Francisco Chief Probation Officer Allen A. Nance, Chief Probation Officers of California.

“Families in poverty struggle to find stable employment, housing, access to health care, healthy meals, and a quality education,” said Iris Zuñiga, Executive Vice President, Youth Policy Institute and the Task Force’s Coordinated Services Subcommittee Chairperson. “Place-based strategies like Promise Neighborhoods provide access to high-quality coordinated services to move families out of poverty in the short-term and decrease the chance that poverty will continue into the next generation.”

“These recommendations will advance efforts to build a comprehensive system of services to help move Californians out of poverty. The data sharing recommendations will improve the coordination and evaluation of the state’s various anti-poverty programs,” said Daniel Rounds, California Labor and Workforce Development Agency and the Task Force’s Workforce Training and Support Subcommittee Chairperson.

“With the highest rate of child poverty than any other state, California must prioritize setting the standard for supporting the well-being of children. The Task Force’s report provides the roadmap to support children in deepest poverty starting at birth. It’s time to move forward on these recommendations and ensure all of our children have the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Ted Lempert, President, Children Now.

“California is a place of opportunity and innovation, but it’s also a state where too many children are living in poverty. The issues the Task Force raises around early childhood, education, and workforce are especially aligned with Ballmer Group’s belief that every child, regardless of zip code or family circumstance, deserves a chance to achieve the American Dream,” said Task Force member Nina Revoyr, Executive Director-Los Angeles, Ballmer Group.

The report issued by the Task Force pegs the cost of the four-year plan to eliminate deep child poverty for 450,000 California children starting at 1.6 billion the first year. If concentrated as a population, 450,000 would represent the state’s eighth largest city — larger than Oakland, twice as large as San Bernardino, and just smaller than Long Beach. When fully realized, savings generated by lifting these children from poverty would total $12 billion annually, on an ongoing basis, representing a dramatic return on investment.

See report: http://www.endchildpovertyca.org/#theplan

See the report and additional Task Force information on the CDSS site here.

Task Force members: https://bit.ly/2xkBdR1 (EDS: For interview, contact Robb, above)

California has the highest number of children and highest percentage of children living in poverty of any state in the nation — almost 2 million children, who represent one out of every five California kids. Deep poverty is defined as families living at or below 50 percent of the federal poverty line, or less than about $12,500 for a family of four. In addition, 204,000 California children experience homelessness.

GRACE (Gather, Respect, Advocate, Change, Engage), was formed by the Daughters of Charity in 2012 and is dedicated to research, education, and advocacy to reduce child and family poverty in California. After collaborating on groundbreaking research with the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, last year GRACE sponsored legislation authored by Assemblywoman Autumn Burke that created the state Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force, which was directed to develop a comprehensive plan to end deep child poverty and reduce California’s nation-leading level of child and family poverty.


New Video About California’s Child Poverty Crisis

California can dramatically reduce child poverty with research-backed solutions. Legislation now in the State Senate will create a roadmap for California to cut child poverty in half over 20 years.

But most Californians don’t even know that we have the highest child poverty in the nation. That’s why we created this brand new video.

Child poverty is an invisible problem. Polling we conducted with Hart Research last year indicates that over half of Californians don’t realize we have crisis levels of child poverty in our state.

But, Californians who regularly see or hear things about child poverty are twice as likely to say that it’s a problem, and 86% of those who see it as a big problem are more likely to support efforts to reduce it.

It’s up to us to build the awareness and momentum to dramatically reduce child poverty in California.

AB 1520 Passes Senate Human Services Committee

On Tuesday, The Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Act (AB 1520) passed the Senate Human Services Committee by a unanimous and bipartisan vote.

Since its introduction, AB 1520 has been amended to create a statewide task force made up of leaders inside and outside of government charged with developing a comprehensive, data-driven plan to eliminate deep child poverty and reduce overall child poverty by 50% over 20 years.

This is a significant and necessary step forward for California. Sign on to support this legislation.

California has the highest rate of child poverty in the nation—affecting 1.9 million children. Although some progress has been made in reducing poverty, we still have higher rates of child poverty today than we did 10 years ago.

The AB 1520 task force is an important first step because it creates a road map for California to set a model for the nation to dramatically reduce child poverty.

AB 1520 now progresses to the Senate Appropriations Committee and hopefully to the governor’s desk soon, but we need your help to continue to build momentum to ensure its passage.

If you haven’t done so already, sign on to support AB 1520 today and share this development on Facebook and Twitter!

AB 1520 is heard at the Senate Human Services Committee meeting in Sacramento. Photo: Sandra Sanchez

Get the Facts on AB 1520, the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force

Assembly Bill 1520, the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force, creates an expert task force made up of leaders and stakeholders from inside and outside government that will develop a comprehensive, data-driven plan that lays the groundwork to end child poverty in California.

AB 1520, authored by Assemblywoman Autumn Burke and sponsored by the anti-poverty non-profit GRACE passed the legislature with bipartisan support and not one dissenting vote. The legislation is informed by the latest poverty research from the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality.

AB 1520 is now on the Governors desk awaiting his signature.


California has the highest rate of child poverty in the nation according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure that accounts for the high cost of living in our state. That translates to one in five children or 1.9 million California children affected. Almost one-third of African American children and one-third of Latino children in California live in poverty.

Efforts to invest in measures to reduce child poverty have been hampered by a lack of sustained focus and a defined, comprehensive plan for addressing the problem. AB 1520 takes the first step in addressing child poverty through the creation of a task force that will develop a comprehensive plan with proven, data-driven solutions to significantly reduce California’s child poverty rate.


AB 1520 addresses deep poverty and moves toward reducing the overall child poverty rate in California by creating the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force, which will provide a comprehensive plan to the Legislature and various state agencies.

The task force will consist of stakeholders that focus on family and child well-being, from birth to adulthood, in furtherance of the goals of reducing child poverty and alleviating family crises.

Expert analysis finds that over time, a comprehensive and data-driven approach will save taxpayers money in healthcare and social services, reduce overcrowded jails and prisons, decrease child abuse, and significantly reduce the number of children living in poverty, with an estimated 2:1 return on investment for taxpayers.

See the full text of the bill here.


  • GRACE (sponsor)
  • Alameda County Board of Supervisors
  • Bonnie M. Dumanis San Diego County District Attorney
  • California Alternative Payment Program Association
  • California Catholic Conference
  • California Coverage and Health Initiatives
  • California Legislative Black Caucus
  • California State Parent Teacher Association
  • California Health+ Advocates
  • Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
  • Children Now
  • Children’s Defense Fund
  • First 5 California
  • First AME Church of Los Angeles
  • First Focus Campaign for Children
  • Golden State Opportunity
  • Health Access California
  • Jewish Public Affairs Committee
  • Junior Leagues of CA
  • Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood
  • Los Angeles Urban League
  • Moneta Gardens Community Center
  • Mothers In Action, Inc.
  • National Association of Social Workers, CA Chapter
  • National Foster Youth Institute
  • One For All (OFA)
  • Public Counsel
  • San Diego County District Attorney
  • SHIELDS for families
  • Social Justice Learning Institute
  • South Bay Community Services
  • South Bay Universal Child Development Center
  • St. John’s Well Child & Family Center
  • St. Joseph Center Planting Hope & Growing Lives
  • University of Southern California
  • Western Center on Law and Poverty
  • Youth Policy Institute

IMAGINE: End Child Poverty California's Vision for a Just Future
ECPCA: 2019 Bus Tour
Gov. Newsom Signs Historic Budget
John Lewis, Civil Rights Leader

Twitter Feed