Pursuing Justice for Children and the Poor with Urgency and Persistence

EVENT:                      The Children’s Defense Fund National Conference

DATE:                        July 22-July 25, 2012

LOCATION:              Cincinnati, Ohio

REGISTRATION:     Registration closes July 13, 2012

The Children’s Defense Fund National conference, “Pursuing Justice for Children and the Poor with Urgency and Persistence” will gather 3,000 leading researchers, educators, policymakers, practitioners, faith leaders, and advocates including 1,500 young adult leaders from July 22nd – July 25th in Cincinnati, Ohio.

As stated in the CDF National Conference materials, “When 16.4 million children are poor, 8.3 million children don’t have health care, and a majority of children cannot read or compute at grade level in the fourth, eighth, and 12th grades – we have a growing national crisis that demands an urgent response in these politically volatile and polarized times.”

The event promises exciting, essential programming, cutting edge plenary sessions, dozens of compelling workshops that focus on the latest research and best practices, community building models, and community and youth empowerment strategies to close the gap between what we know works and what we actually do for our most vulnerable – children and the poor.

The Children’s Defense Fund National Conference’s list of impressive confirmed panelists and moderators for some of the mini-plenary sessions include:

Ending Zero Tolerance Discipline Policies and the Criminalization of Children at Increasingly Younger Ages

Zero tolerance school discipline policies are a key feeder system into the Cradle to Prison Pipeline, increasing the use of suspension and expulsion for students who do not pose a threat to school safety, disconnecting students from school and criminalizing children at increasingly younger ages. How can 6, 7 and 8-year-old children be arrested and handcuffed on school grounds for nonviolent offenses without a huge community outcry? This session will address the role of zero tolerance school discipline policies in fueling the drop out crisis and profile compelling organizing strategies that have engaged youths and parents directly affected by harsh discipline policies in successful campaigns to modify school policies and procedures; institute restorative justice models; and create positive learning environments for all children.

Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education

Judith Browne-Dianis, Advancement Project

Janet Connors, Community Fellow and Trainer, Center for Restorative Justice

Ricardo Martinez, co-director, Padres y Jóvenes Unidos


What’s Next for Health Reform? Ensuring Affordable Health Coverage for Every Child

Learn about the early coverage gains for millions of children, young adults and families since the passage of the Affordable Care Act and explore the road ahead since the U.S. Supreme Court decision as states work to develop health insurance exchanges and design a simple and seamless system for families to enroll in coverage. Take action to protect and improve Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and learn about promising strategies to enroll uninsured children in health coverage including the Connecting Kids to Coverage Challenge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education and CDF’s partnership with the American Association of School Administrators to enroll uninsured children in health coverage through local schools.

Moderator: Elisabeth Wright Burak, senior program director, Center for Children and Families

Donna Cohen Ross, senior policy advisor, Centers for Medicaid and CHIP Services

Sharon Adams-Taylor, associate executive director, American Association of School Administrators, AASA

Amy Swanson, CEO, Voices for Ohio’s Children


Take Action to Protect Children, Not Guns: Community Responses to Address Trauma and Violence

In 2008 and 2009, 5,740 children and teens were killed by guns, more than all the U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The leading cause of death among Black teens ages 15 to 19 in these two years was gun homicide. The number of preschoolers killed by guns in 2008 (88) and 2009 (85) was nearly double the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2008 (41) and 2009 (48).Learn about the inspiring work of community leaders who are working to end gun violence, address the root causes of youth and community violence and take action to protect children, not guns.

Moderator: Toby Hoover, executive director, Ohio Coalition to Stop Violence

Daniel Webster, co-director, Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research

Dr. Victor Garcia, trauma surgeon at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

Reverend Ray Hammond, co-founder, Boston TenPoint Coalition

Roy Martin, senior youth development specialist, Boston Public Health Commission

Closing the Achievement Gap through Quality Summer and Afterschool Enrichment Programs

Learn about collaborative models that work to close the achievement gap through early literacy initiatives in doctor’s offices, partnerships with faith communities to reweave the fabric of family and community and expanded summer and after-school enrichment programs. This session will discuss strategies to expand successful models to close the achievement gap both in and out of school.

Moderator: Ron Fairchild, CEO, Smarter Learning Group

Lauren Gilbert, Vice President of Programs, Bell Foundation

Emily Raine, Manager, Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time Initiative

Mary Nell McPherson, Executive Director, Freedom Schools Partners, Charlotte, NC

Dwayne Crompton, Kansas City Freedom School Initiative


A Conversation with Educator and Author Jonathan Kozol

About his first book in 10 years, Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America, Jonathan states: “The heart of the book poses the question: What are the ingredients of character, and what are the enlightened interventions, that have enabled many of the kids I’ve followed ever since I met them in the 1990s to rise above the terrible obstacles they faced in rock bottom, totally segregated, and unequal schools? How did they transcend it all and grow into contributive maturity, while others never did recover from the damage that they underwent in those early years?” Come meet and hear this great teacher and prolific writer and be revived and encouraged in your own efforts to protect every child’s right to learn, thrive and contribute.

Source: The Children’s Defense Fund

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art


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