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The Children’s Defense Fund Pursuing Justice for Children and the Poor with Urgency and Persistence A Community and Youth Empowerment Conference

Sunday, July 22 – Wednesday, July 25, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio

Register Now at The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) is hosting a national conference for 3,000 leading child advocates including 1,500 young adult leaders July 22 - 25, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Through cutting edge plenary sessions and dozens of compelling workshops, we will focus on the latest research, best practices, and community building models, as well as 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. America’s top experts, leading practitioners, and most committed activists will help shape a national conversation on economic inequity and catalyze systematic action for children and the poor in 2012 and beyond as CDF continues the critical work of helping build a transforming movement to change America’s priorities and create a just playing field for every child to survive and thrive. In our first national conference since 2003, we will showcase all of the community building and engagement models that CDF and our allies have quietly developed in recent years, from Beat the Odds® youth leaders to the CDF Freedom Schools® program to staunch summer learning loss to Young Advocate Leadership Training to Children’s Sabbath networks to the Harlem Children’s Zone and Promise Neighborhoods. We will share a wide range of best practices to implement laws passed for health enrollment that have linked tens of thousands of eligible children with health coverage; showcase home visiting models to reduce child maltreatment and promote maternal and child health; and engage leading researchers and parent advocates to harvest insights from the latest brain development research to empower parents and practitioners about how they can best support and nurture children in the early years. We will confront racial profiling and hate crimes and come together to promote the urgent need for racial healing. Throughout, we will stress the importance of a comprehensive continuum of care from birth to adulthood, with emphasis on high quality early childhood models to get children ready for school and

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enable parents to work without worrying about the safety and development of their children. We will place special emphasis on the challenges facing young Black boys ages 9-13 in partnership with the Educational Testing Service (ETS), highlight public schools—traditional and charter—that foster achievement as well as the best out-of-school programs that are inspiring children, engaging parents, stopping summer learning loss, and teaching social justice through service and civic activism. We will examine strategies to close off the major feeder systems fueling the pernicious Cradle to Prison Pipeline®, including: poverty, racial disparities in all child serving systems, zero tolerance school discipline policies, the huge achievement gap between poor and nonpoor children, and mass incarceration—our new American apartheid. We will explore how the last fifty years of racial and social progress is threatened by growing child and family poverty, child illiteracy, racial and income divisions, continuing disparities in every child serving system, and widespread efforts to disenfranchise voters. Along with a focus on organizing and voter registration for everyone, we will equip 1,500 young adult leaders with intensive and specialized training so that they can return home and continue to sow the seeds to catalyze and sustain a powerful movement for children for years to come. Each July at CDF-Haley Farm, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry brings faith leaders together for five days of great preaching, teaching, music and skill building. This year Proctor will be a part of our national conference to enable you to experience its rich offerings. For those who wish, we will begin each morning with devotion led by some of the nation’s greatest spiritual leaders, who will prepare our hearts and minds for the challenges that will be shared through a series of plenary sessions, mini-plenary sessions and workshops that follow. We will bring together Sweet Honey in the Rock, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary and other nationally known musicians across generations to rekindle our spirits and remember the transformational role of music in building courage, vision and voice for those of us who are pursuing justice for children and the poor with urgency and persistence.


Table of Contents Program Plenary Sessions Day 1 — Sunday, July 22 ...........................................................................................................5 1:00p.m. - 4:00p.m. Child Watch® visits to see firsthand the needs of hungry, homeless and incarcerated children. 6:00p.m. - 9:00p.m. Multi-faith Children’s Sabbath Observance and Concert • Lift Every Voice: The Vital Role of Music in Building a Movement for Justice Day 2 — Monday, July 23 ...........................................................................................................5 Economic Inequality: Closing the Gap between Rich and Poor How Far Have We Come on the Road from Slavery to Freedom? Are We in the Second PostReconstruction Era? Beat the Odds Scholarship Awards Ceremony Day 3 — Tuesday, July 24 ..........................................................................................................5 Closing the Achievement Gap In and Out of School Ending the New Apartheid: The Cradle to Prison Pipeline and Mass Incarceration Saving Democracy: Creating One America Day 4 — Wednesday, July 25 ....................................................................................................6 Building Public Will to Transform America’s Priorities Author's Plenary: Writers Reflect on Growing Up in America Politics, Policy and Society’s Soul 5:30p.m. - End of Closing Plenary Conference Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops Our more than sixty mini-plenary sessions and workshops to date are designed to dig more deeply into best practices and arm participants with tools to be more effective advocates for children in their organizations and communities. Sessions will continue to be updated as the conference approaches. Policy and Practice What are the major challenges confronting children and families today? These sessions will systematically examine the feeder systems funneling children into the Cradle to Prison Pipeline and identify promising approaches to replace the prison pipeline with one towards college and productive work. Economic Inequality and Child Poverty Sessions ....................................................................................... .6 Child Health and Nutrition Sessions ............................................................................................................ .7 Early Childhood Development Sessions ...................................................................................................... .8 Parent Empowerment Sessions .................................................................................................................... .9 Education Sessions ....................................................................................................................................... .9 Child Welfare Sessions .............................................................................................................................. 10 Community and Youth Violence Sessions................................................................................................. 11 Juvenile Justice and Mass Incarceration Sessions ..................................................................................... 11 3

Skills and Capacity Building How do we build the skills to successfully challenge injustice and close the gap between what we know works and what we actually do for children and the poor? Organizing and Nonviolent Social Action Sessions .................................................................................. 13 Communications and Media Training Sessions ......................................................................................... 14 Community Engagement How do we reweave the fabric of family and community to provide children and youths with a solid start in life and transition to successful adulthood? Youth Engagement Sessions ...................................................................................................................... 15 CDF Freedom Schools Sessions ................................................................................................................ 15 Faith Communities Sessions ...................................................................................................................... 16


Program Plenary Sessions Day 1 — Sunday, July 22 Multifaith Children’s Sabbath Service

Our work starts on Sunday afternoon with Child Watch visits from 1:00pm to 4:00pm to community institutions that serve children and youth who are hungry, homeless, or held in juvenile justice facilities. At 6:00pm that evening, after exposing conference participants to urgent child and youth needs, we will hold a multifaith Children’s Sabbath service—held in thousands of congregations each October to lift up child needs. We will draw on our shared spiritual, moral and professed national values to fuel our work and strengthen us to move the mightiest mountains blocking the paths of millions of children. This service will unite community and faith leaders and conference participants in prayer, song, and reflection as we hear and heed the call of all great faiths to pursue justice for children and the poor.

Lift Every Voice: The Vital Role of Music in Building a Movement for Justice

To complete the first day and focus our minds and refuel our spirits for the work to come, we will enjoy a concert with Sweet Honey in the Rock, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary and other nationally known musicians across generations to remember the vital role of music in movement building, as songs of courage, commitment, and comfort give vision and voice to those of us who are pursuing justice for children and the poor with urgency and persistence.

Day 2 — Monday, July 23 Economic Inequality: Closing the Gap between Rich and Poor

Our opening plenary will highlight America’s vast and growing income inequality and remind us of the daily struggles and vanishing dreams poor children and families face. Leading economists and policy makers will speak about steps we can take as a nation to close morally obscene wealth and income gulfs between rich and poor and ensure that our children and grandchildren will not fare worse than our generation.

How Far Have We Come on the Road from Slavery to Freedom? Are We in the Second PostReconstruction Era?

Monday’s second plenary will examine how far we have come on the road from slavery to freedom, the dangerous threat of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline and mass incarceration for our future and the urgent need for racial healing. A rich intergenerational and interracial conversation will permeate the whole conference. This plenary will feature civil rights leaders who will share lessons learned on the course they charted for America, so that we may all build upon their legacy and continue their work.

Beat the Odds® Scholarship Awards Ceremony

Monday evening, we will be inspired by a wonderful Beat the Odds scholarship awards program that honors five high school seniors from across Ohio who have overcome tremendous obstacles to pursue their education while contributing to their communities. About 700 youths have received Beat the Odds scholarships over the last 20 years and are among our nation’s most exciting young leaders. Currently, CDF hosts Beat the Odds celebrations in eight cities. We hope you will be inspired to affirm young people and launch Beat the Odds scholarships in your communities.

Day 3 — Tuesday, July 24 Ending the New Apartheid: The Cradle to Prison Pipeline and Mass Incarceration

Tuesday’s first plenary will explore the Cradle to Prison Pipeline, a national crisis that leaves a Black boy born in 2001 with a one in three lifetime chance of going to prison and a Latino boy a one in six risk of the same fate. The toxic cocktail of poverty, illiteracy, racial disparities, profiling and mass incarceration of Black males is sentencing millions of children to dead end, powerless and hopeless lives and threatens to undermine the past half century of racial and social progress.

Closing the Achievement Gap In and Out of School

Tuesday’s second plenary will focus on closing achievement gaps in and out of school. Over 60% of all children in all income groups and over eighty percent of Black and Latino children are unable to read and do math at grade level in 4th, 8th, and 12th grade if they have not already dropped out—a reality that contributes mightily to children entering the prison pipeline.


Saving Democracy: Creating One America

Tuesday’s final plenary will focus on the diverse democracy that our children will inherit, which is increasingly threatened not only by educational disparities and resegregation in American life but also by efforts to suppress the voices and votes that are key to preserving our democratic heritage.

Day 4 — Wednesday, July 25 Building Public Will to Transform America’s Priorities

Wednesday’s first plenary will focus on the imperative of increasing citizen awareness, building public and political will for investing in children through more effective organizing and nonviolent strategic action campaigns and closing the courage gap that keeps us from demanding what we know works for children and the poor.

Author’s Plenary: Writers Reflect on Growing Up in America

A panel of distinguished writers will put a human face on what prison does to the prisoner, to the family member and the community and reflect on how we can change the paradigm from punishment as a first to a last resort and provide preventive and early investment measures to help children grow up healthy, educated and whole.

Politics, Policy and Society’s Soul

A final plenary session Wednesday afternoon will highlight the urgent need to ensure a level playing field for every child in the debates and decisions of America's political system in a grossly uneven alchemy infested with money and powerful special interests. To help shape a national conversation about children in 2012, we will draw upon diverse perspectives of leading public officials to explore how children's needs can be addressed more effectively in the political arena and steps you can take back home. This session will end at 5:30p.m.

Policy and Practice Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops: What are the major challenges confronting children and families today? These sessions will systematically examine the feeder systems funneling children into the Cradle to Prison Pipeline and identify promising approaches to replace the prison pipeline with one towards college and productive work. Economic Inequality and Child Poverty Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops Budget Choices and America’s Values: How Can We Ensure Justice for Children and the Poor?

Child poverty rates reached record highs while American corporations reaped profits of more than $1.5 trillion last year. Each minute, $195,967 is lost to corporate tax breaks and loopholes – $11.8 million every hour. Where are our nation’s priorities? How do we join the fight to protect children from federal, state and local budget cuts and ensure that the wealthiest and most powerful Americans pay their fair share?

State Budget Choices: The Recession’s Continuing Impact on Children and the Poor

Many states and municipalities face enormous budget cuts that put children and vulnerable families in great peril. The expiration of emergency federal aid, stagnant state revenues and proposed federal budget cuts will hit education, health care, nutrition and other critical child investments harder in 2012 than at any time since the recession began. Learn how you can influence the tough budget choices in your state and protect children back home.

What Works to Reduce Poverty

The American social infrastructure is an often-confusing conglomeration of federal and state tax credits, tax refunds, direct payments, job training and other support programs. This session will train advocates on policies and programs designed to lift children and families from poverty, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, how to get all those eligible enrolled, and how to advocate for stronger anti-poverty investments.


The Invisible Crisis: Homeless Children in America

There are 1.6 million homeless children, or one in 45, each year in America. The recession and slow recovery have increased the numbers of homeless children and families. In addition to those who rely on shelters or stay on the streets, a rising number of children spend the night in motels or doubled-up with friends or relatives. Explore changing trends in homelessness and take action to stop the normalization of shelters and the dislocation of families.

A Downward Spiral: The Erosion of Employment Opportunities for Teens, Young Adults and Young Families

This session will focus on the often invisible and unaddressed economic plight of young workers ages 16 to 29 who face an increasingly bleak job market and grave economic prospects. This age group has been the hardest hit by the recession, with employment plummeting from 67.3% in 2000 to 55.3% in 2010, the lowest employment rate since the end of World War II. This is the first time in history that inequality in family incomes is greater among young adults than any other age group in society. Examine the high rates of unemployment and underemployment among teens and young parents and learn about promising community and state-based program and policy approaches to strengthen education and employment opportunities for teens, young adults and young families.

Child Health and Nutrition Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops What’s Next for Health Reform? Ensuring Affordable Health Coverage for Every Child

Children and young adults have seen great health coverage gains since passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Learn about the early coverage gains for millions of children, young adults and families and explore the road ahead 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.

Sign Them Up! Best Practices in Child Health Enrollment

There are about 8 million uninsured children in the United States, about 4 million of whom are eligible for but not enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid. It’s time to sign them up! Hear about hands-on successful strategies that community, business, faith and school leaders can use to enroll uninsured children in health coverage.

Healthy Children are Better Students: Closing the Achievement Gap through Strong Health and Nutrition Programs

Good health and proper nutrition are essential to a child’s well-being and ability to perform in school. Low-income and minority children are more likely to be uninsured and living in food insecure households than their White peers. This session shares research linking disparities in health and nutrition to educational outcomes and emphasizes the importance of addressing health and nutrition in closing the achievement gap. Promising school-based strategies to link children with health coverage, provide on-site health services, and ensure no child goes hungry during the school day will be highlighted.

Fighting Childhood Obesity

Experts estimate one-third of American children are currently overweight or obese, and these rates have tripled among children ages 12 to 19 since 1980. Diseases once associated only with adults, like type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, are on the rise at younger and younger ages. Right now our country spends $150 billion a year treating obesity-related diseases— nearly 10 percent of all medical spending. Childhood obesity has become an epidemic that threatens our future national health, productivity, and security unless something can be done to stop and reverse the trend. This session will explore promising approaches to fight childhood obesity and promote healthy eating habits and physical activity in children’s homes, schools and in the larger community.


End Child Hunger in Rich America Now

How can we ensure every child starts the school day without an empty stomach and doesn’t go to bed hungry? Almost 32 million children are fed each year in the National School Lunch Program. Less than half of those children participate in the School Breakfast program and only one-in-nine in the summer feeding program. Explore strategies to expand access to and the quality of vital food supplement programs with long track records of success, including the WIC program (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children), SNAP/food stamps, the School Lunch and School Breakfast programs and summer feeding programs. These investments not only make it possible for millions of children to eat well, they also improve their overall health.

Early Childhood Development Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops The Economic Case for Investing in the Early Years

Some of our nation’s most respected economists agree that support for early childhood development is a sound investment policy and yields higher graduation rates, earnings and tax revenues while reducing involvement in the criminal justice system. Advocates will hear about the dollars and sense of early childhood investment and how to make the most effective case to expand investments in young children’s lives.

What Somebody Else Learned in Kindergarten: CDF’s National Campaign for Full-Day K

Did you know in some states parents are paying tuition for their children to attend full-day kindergarten in public schools? Some children in kindergarten receive 2½ hours of daily instruction, while others receive five or more. Only 10 states currently require by statute full-day kindergarten as part of the K-12 educational system and other states are rolling back kindergarten programs due to budget cuts. Even though 44 states have committed to implementing the K-12 Common Core Standards, in many of them kindergarten is a broken step, with children getting off to a very different start depending on whether and how they are making the transition from PreK to first grade. Join CDF’s national campaign for Full-Day K and learn why this grade is so pivotal.

The PreK to Third Grade Initiative: An Approach to Early Care and Education that Delivers Results

Providing high quality PreK programs for four-year-olds followed by a full day of kindergarten and the deliberate alignment of standards, curriculum, assessment, leadership and teacher professional development from PreK through third grade is showing promising results in closing the achievement gap. This session will explore two examples of schools and school districts in various stages of the PreK to Third Grade Initiative and how it is paying off.

Lessons Learned from Head Start and Early Head Start: Innovations that Inform Early Childhood Care and Practice

Head Start and Early Head Start served more than 1 million low-income children and families in 2010. New Head Start standards will strengthen the program and accountability for services provided. Participants will learn about the best of Head Start and how local communities can partner and benefit from this unique American contribution to the early childhood field.

Focusing on the Needs of Black Male Infants and Toddlers: Building the Foundation for School Success

Black boys fare worse than their peers throughout their life course in education, social and economic domains. It doesn’t have to be this way. Infant and toddler service providers can take steps early in life to close the pervasive gaps and make sure Black boys get off to a strong start. Panelists will discuss how intentional programming built around the specific needs of infant and toddler Black boys could have a positive impact on later life outcomes.

Embracing Children Birth to Three: Comprehensive Services through Community Level Planning

A growing body of research has documented the crucial importance of early brain development in setting the foundation for a child’s future. Infants’ and toddlers’ physical, social-emotional, and cognitive development happen simultaneously and meeting the needs of this population must occur across developmental domains. This session will provide an overview of the interconnectedness between early childhood programs, health and mental health care, in the lives of infants and toddlers with a special focus on the needs of the most vulnerable young children—those in the child welfare system.


Parent Empowerment Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops Quality Home Visiting Programs: Connecting Young Children and Parents to the Help They Need

Home visiting programs reduce child maltreatment and promote maternal and child health, positive child development, greater school readiness and parental involvement. They deliver support to parents where they are and on their own terms and link families to community resources. Learn about effective home visiting approaches and strategies to expand their reach across the country.

Parenting: The Key to Success for Young Children

Dr. Ron Ferguson, Director of Harvard University’s Achievement Gap Initiative, will facilitate a discussion of leading researchers and parent advocates on ways that parent behaviors and practices affect child and youth development and how parents can support and nurture their children.

Maternal Depression: Helping Mothers, Helping Children

Undiagnosed and untreated maternal depression is not only dangerous for a mother but can have long-term harmful effects on her children. Infants and toddlers are very vulnerable to the effects of parental depression because of their total reliance on their caregivers. These risks continue to accumulate over time, making children more likely to suffer behavior and emotional problems, delayed language development, learning disorders and depression. The good news is that maternal depression is treatable but promising policy approaches are often not fully implemented and effective programs operate on a small scale. Learn how states and communities can invest now in solutions that identify at-risk mothers and help them get the treatment they need.

Strengthening Fatherhood

More than 20 million children in America—one in five—live in absentee father homes. Over half of Black children are living without their fathers. Children living without their fathers are five times more likely to be poor. Learn about the importance of fathers in children’s lives and creative community and Black fatherhood initiatives to help men build strong and healthy families.

Education Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops The Harlem Children's Zone and Promise Neighborhoods: Models that Work

Building on the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone, the U.S. Department of Education established the Promise Neighborhoods program in 2010 to support comprehensive community systems to provide children high-quality health, social, community and educational support from birth through the transition to adulthood. Geoff Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, and Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of Policy Link, will share results of the Harlem Children’s Zone and current opportunities and challenges experienced by Promise Neighborhood grantees.

Bolstering Black Male Achievement

Only 47% of Black males graduate on time. Twenty-five percent of Black males repeated a grade in school and Black males are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as White males. This session shares promising approaches and community engagement strategies to bolster achievement of Black males both in and out of school. We will focus special attention on research and best practice for Black males ages 9-13.

Closing the Achievement Gap through Summer and Afterschool Enrichment Programs

Expanding out of school time learning has the potential to significantly reduce the achievement gap between White and Black children. During the summer months, poor children often lack access to essential resources that support their academic performance and healthy development and experience well‐documented setbacks in academic skills which contribute to growth in the achievement gap. High-quality afterschool programs improve children's personal, social and academic skills, yet 15 million school-aged children are on their own after school—including one million K-5 students. This session will discuss strategies to improve access to affordable, quality summer and afterschool programs for all children.


America’s Public Schools: Still Unequal and Unjust

Millions of children in America are denied the opportunity to receive a fair and high quality education. In March, the U.S. Department of Education released new information showing that children of color face harsher discipline, have less access to rigorous course offerings, and are more often taught by lower paid and less experienced teachers. Instead of serving as “the great equalizer,” American public education is serving as a portal to the Cradle to Prison Pipeline for millions of poor children of color, stunting their lives through school dropouts, arrests, and incarceration. Learn from leading education advocates about what you can do to improve equity in the classroom and ensure a high quality public education for every child.

Promoting College Readiness and Success

Schools and communities send powerful implicit and explicit messages to children about life expectations beyond high school. Learn what school districts and communities can do to increase college preparation, access, and success and to transform schools into launch pads for higher learning. Promising models to be highlighted include the American Association of School Administrators Ready by 21 initiative and other compelling approaches that build systems of support for children from birth to adulthood to ensure that all children are ready for college, work and life.

Misclassification of Children in Special Education: How to Get Children the Help They Need!

As we work to level the playing field for all students, we must stop the inappropriate placement of children in special education—a longstanding problem in school districts across the country. A child's race, gender and ethnicity significantly influence the child's probability of being misclassified and inappropriately placed in special education programs. Learn more about the misclassification of children in special education and steps you can take on behalf of individual children and groups of children.

Child Welfare Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops Helping Children Who Witness Domestic Violence

As many as ten million children witness acts of domestic violence each year. If left untreated, negative consequences follow them to school and throughout their lives. The best way to help many of these children is to help their abused parent. Learn how to aid the silent victims and families enduring domestic violence.

Strengthening Families to Protect Children from Abuse and Neglect

A child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds; almost 80 percent of them are victims of neglect. Many of these maltreated children receive no services. This session will examine strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect and keep children safely at home with their families and what advocates can do to promote needed federal reforms.

Finding Permanent Families for Children in Foster Care

More than 107,000 children in foster care are waiting for permanent adoptive families. An estimated 28,000 youth age out of care each year without being reunified with family members or adopted. Participants will learn about efforts to find permanent families for children and connect children with relatives when they first enter foster care.

Educational Stability and Success: A Goal for Every Child in Foster Care

Many of the more than 400,000 children in foster care have multiple special needs and face unique educational challenges. The trauma of abuse, neglect and removal from their families, compounded by multiple moves from home to home and school to school, creates enormous barriers to success. This session will examine how child welfare and education agencies are working together to ensure greater educational stability and success for children.

Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children: Supporting Our Unsung Heroes

More than 2.8 million grandchildren live with grandparents who are responsible for them, many of them in three-generation households. About one-third of these children are being raised by grandparents without their parents present. Grandparents and other relatives are stepping in to care for children whose parents are challenged by substance abuse, mental health and other problems. Learn how you can help support these caregivers and children in your own communities. This session will also focus on the thousands of school-age children caring for adult relatives with special needs who need your support.


Community and Youth Violence Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Trauma and Violence in the Lives of Young Black Men

Youth violence has tragic impacts on children, youth, young adults, families and communities across generations. Hear from those directly affected by trauma and violence about how communities can address the root causes of the rising epidemic of youth violence, which the crime curve tells us peaks at ages 16 and 17.

Racial Healing: Building bridges and Overcoming Racial Division

This session will share the stories of extraordinary families who have experienced hate crimes and yet chosen a path of forgiveness. We will discuss opportunities to come together to promote racial healing and overcome past divisions and what we can do stop the rising number of hate crimes that devastate families and communities.

Take Action to Protect Children, Not Guns

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). As a nation we can’t afford to keep waiting for common-sense gun control laws that would protect our children and all of us from indefensible gun violence. Join CDF to work to end gun violence and learn how to speak up for effective gun control and take action to protect children, not guns.

Dismantling Structural Racism in All Child Serving Systems

The evidence is clear: racial discrimination and overrepresentation of minority children plague our child serving systems. The same is true when youths interact with police in juvenile and criminal justice settings. This session will challenge participants to analyze the structure of power and privilege that leads to injustice and learn how to effectively address structural racism in their work.

Preventing Youth Violence and Bullying

Prevention and early intervention efforts in schools and communities can help stop violence before it starts. Learn about successful strategies to build community supports for youths, resolve conflicts in nonviolent ways, stop bullying, and keep youths engaged and learning.

Enslaved in America: Sex Trafficking and the Criminalization of its Victims Rather than Perpetrators

Every year, as many as 300,000 children between the ages of 11 and 17 are at risk of being sold for sex as part of the child sex trafficking industry in America. Most are girls lured, tricked or coerced by pimps into the sex trade. Too often they are treated not as victims, but as criminals. Learn more about the domestic sex trafficking of girls, the role of the internet, and how to stop this modern enslavement.

Juvenile Justice and Mass Incarceration Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops Ending Zero Tolerance School Discipline Policies and the Criminalization of Children at Increasingly Younger Ages

The U.S. Department of Education projected that there were 3.329 million out-of-school suspensions and 128,570 expulsions in 2006. 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.


Prosecutorial Discretion, Racial Profiling and the Unjust Incarceration of Black Males

The epidemic of mass incarceration has created the most dangerous crisis for the Black community since slavery or racial apartheid in this post-reconstruction era. This session examines the role of the criminal justice system in perpetuating a system of racial control while professing to be color blind; the dramatic increases in mandatory sentence lengths even for nonviolent offenses; the farreaching consequences that come with being classified as a felon even after a sentence is completed; and what advocates can do to take action against this historically punitive role of social control and social death and place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

Profiting from Mass Incarceration: The Privatization of Prisons

America is the world’s biggest jailer and our prison population has exploded from 300,000 to more than two million in a few short decades. Over the past 15 years, the number of all prisoners in the United States increased by 49.6 percent, while private prison populations increased by 353.7 percent. With combined revenues of $2.9 billion in 2010, the two largest private prison companies—Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group—reap profits from public dollars while aggressively expanding their reach. The Corrections Corporations of America (CCA) has proposed to 48 governors that they contract with CCA to run their prisons for 20 years with a 90% guaranteed occupancy rate. Learn about the role these two corporations, aided by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), play in fueling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline and mass incarceration of Black males and what you can do to stop the rampant growth of incarceration and privatized prisons.

Promoting Fair and Developmentally Appropriate Sentencing for Youths

In the 1990s policymakers across the country expanded laws sending more children to adult court, imposed mandatory sentencing laws, and lowered the age at which children could be prosecuted as adults. Today approximately 200,000 children and youths are tried, sentenced, or incarcerated as adults every year. More than 2,500 people have been sentenced to die in prison with no opportunity for parole for acts they committed as children, and the vast majority of these individuals are people of color. New research reveals that children who have committed serious crimes are capable of becoming productive members of society because their brains are still developing. As the Supreme Court found in Graham v. Florida, “juvenile offenders cannot with reliability be classified among the worst offenders.” Learn about action you can take to promote fair and developmentally appropriate sentencing policies and rehabilitative services for incarcerated youths, end the holding of children in adult jails and challenge death in prison sentences for juveniles.

Innovations in Juvenile Justice System Reform, Diversion, and Reentry: Moving Children Out of the Pipeline

Every night approximately 87,000 youth are housed in juvenile facilities and 10,000 youth are held in adult jails and prisons. Children of color constitute about two-thirds of youths in the juvenile justice system. This session will examine juvenile justice reform strategies including front end diversion programs to prevent children from entering the juvenile justice system; approaches such as the “Missouri Miracle” that have significantly reduced recidivism through a focus on rehabilitation of youths in detention facilities; and promising reentry programs to facilitate children’s return to community.

The Last Chance: Meeting the Educational Needs of Youth in Detention

Children in the juvenile justice system disproportionately struggle with learning disabilities; nearly half function below grade level. The quality of education in juvenile justice facilities varies dramatically within and between states. Discuss the great educational challenges facing detained youth and best practices for ensuring children truly benefit from this “last-chance opportunity” to get back on track.

Reaching Children of Incarcerated Parents

More than 1.7 million children have a parent in prison, and about 45 percent of these children are Black. Black children are more than seven times as likely and Hispanic children more than two and a half times as likely as White children to have a parent in prison. More than 800,000 parents of minor children are in prison. About eight percent are mothers. How are children affected by the incarceration of their parents? How are entire communities affected by intergenerational incarceration? This session will focus on effective strategies for addressing the unique needs of children of incarcerated parents.


Dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline: Successful State and Community Efforts

The Cradle to Prison Pipeline is a national crisis that leaves a Black boy born in 2001 with a one in three chance of going to prison in his lifetime and a Latino boy a one in six risk of the same fate. The pipeline is fueled by racial disparities, pervasive poverty, trauma, inadequate health and mental health care, gaps in early childhood development, disparate educational opportunities, chronic abuse and neglect, and overburdened and ineffective juvenile justice systems. Learn how CDF-led coalitions in New York, Massachusetts, California and Mississippi have organized to take action on specific pipeline impact points, such as closing costly and ineffective youth prisons and promoting alternatives to zero tolerance school discipline policies.

Don’t Forget the Girls!

Girls are the fastest growing population in the juvenile justice system and face increasing risk of entering the Cradle to Prison Pipeline and adult prisons. A Black girl born in 2001 has a one in seventeen lifetime chance of going to prison and a Latina girl a one in forty-five risk of the same fate. The majority of girls in the system have histories of abuse, an estimated 70 percent have been exposed to trauma, and as many as three-quarters have a diagnosed mental health disorder. Increasingly, girls from the child welfare and juvenile systems and girls who have run away are being pulled into sex trafficking. Join a vibrant discussion about what’s happening to girls at risk and what you can do to keep them out of the prison pipeline.

Tough Immigration Laws: Tough on Children

Alabama has passed the toughest immigration enforcement law in the country. Now children born in the U.S.A., American citizens, are living in fear. Some children are afraid to go to school. In Alabama, 85 percent of the children of undocumented immigrants live in ‘mixed status’ families, often meaning the children are citizens but one or more of the parents are not. The result is that thousands of Alabama parents and children now live in constant fear of separation. In the first six months of 2011, more than 46,000 mothers and fathers of U.S.-citizen children were deported. There are at least 5,100 children currently living in foster care whose parents have been either detained or deported. These deportations destroy families and endanger the children who are separated from their families. This session will focus attention on the devastating impact of harsh immigration laws and deportations on immigrant and citizen children and their families and what you can do to take action against fear, repression, and profiling and protect and care for all children.

Skills and Capacity Building Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops: How do we build the community and political will to close the gap between what we know works and what we actually do for children and the poor? Organizing and Strategic Nonviolent Social Action Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops Organizing Back Home – Launching Children’s Action Teams in Your Community

This interactive session will train participants to launch Children’s Action Teams – CATs – to mobilize people in their communities to build the will to do what we know works for all children; to resist severe budget cuts that threaten critical child and family investments; to resist pernicious voter suppression efforts which undercut hard earned civil and human rights protections; to get out the vote as never before; and to vote for—and hold accountable—those who promise to protect our children’s and nation’s futures.

Organizing 101

This interactive session will teach organizing techniques, including mapping power; developing and executing campaign plans and effective strategies with measurable and achievable goals; and mobilizing people to take action to combat injustice.

How Nonviolent Strategic Action Can Realize Change for Children

During the Civil Rights Movement and the Birmingham Children’s March, young people were inspired to take action and through intensive training, discipline and dedication achieved their goals. Dr. Vincent Harding, Dr. Bernard Lafayette and Reverend Jim Lawson will reflect on their experiences as student leaders in the Civil Rights Movement and share their vast expertise on nonviolent social action as we examine how to create social change in today’s complex and polarized environment.


Against all Odds: Organizing Strategies that Worked

This session will feature leading organizers who have mounted effective advocacy campaigns. Participants will learn promising approaches that they can use to launch campaigns in their communities.

How to Effectively Make Your Case for Children

A panel of state and local elected officials and seasoned child advocates will provide guidance on how child advocates can be effective spokespersons for children and what messages and methods capture their attention.

Voter Suppression Today: Turning Back the Clock on Civil Rights

Voting restrictions will impact millions of voters in the 2012 elections, especially Blacks, Latinos, the poor, elderly and students. Be aware of aggressive attempts to roll back voting rights and learn what you can do about it in your community.

Communications and Media Training Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops Overcoming Divides in Politics and Religion and Learning to Communicate Across Boundaries

This interactive session will present the cutting edge research of Dr. Jonathan Haidt, author of the new bestseller The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, and his framework to overcome the heat, anger and division of polarizing issues and instead adopt an approach of wonder and curiosity. Joining the dialogue will be leading advocates and public figures who are working together with grassroots activists to chart a new communications paradigm to build bridges across boundaries and advance the needs of our most vulnerable.

Media Matters: How to Get Reporters to Cover Your Story

This session will feature a panel of national and local reporters and effective child advocates. Through the reporters’ eyes, participants will learn how to frame a story to best capture a reporter’s attention. Advocates will focus on how to get more attention for unreported and underreported stories about children.

Organizing with Social Media to Create Change

No one knew about the tragic death of Trayvon Martin until a petition on changed that in a matter of days. Protests and marches were organized in communities around the country as traditional media scrambled to catch up. This session will examine the Trayvon Martin case, and learn how to better use social media to organize and create change.

How to Write For Social Media

Build your social media skills, bring your questions and learn how to ratchet up your online engagement. This session will focus on writing for maximum social media engagement and how to make bloggers and opinion writers your advocates.

Media Training for Advocates

Expert media trainers will provide an interactive basic media training session for interviews conducted in all media platforms. Learn why preparation is the key component for controlling an interview, how to make your message cut through and ensure that your answers are better than the interviewer’s questions.


Community Engagement Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops: How do we reweave the fabric of family and community and help youths transition to successful adulthood? Youth Engagement Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops* “Nothing About Us, Without Us!” The Powerful Voices of Foster Care Alumni

Foster care alumni are joining together to raise their voices across the country for change for their brothers and sisters still in care. Learn about their efforts to link youths in care with siblings, find permanent families, pursue higher education, and transition successfully to adulthood.

CDF's Ladder of Youth Leadership: Building a Critical Mass of Next Generation Leaders

CDF will train 5,000 new young leaders of color, half Black males, over the next five years to catalyze a transformational, intergenerational movement to change the odds for all children. This session will highlight CDF’s youth leadership development training programs and alumni who are working for change in their communities.

Strengthening their Voice: Community Models of Youth Engagement

Young people are often left out of organizing efforts to challenge the systems that directly affect their lives. This session will showcase successful youth engagement programs from around the nation that are building courage among young people to challenge injustice and make a difference in their communities.

Empowering Youths through the People’s History: Zinn Education Project

Historian and educator Howard Zinn believed in the power and courage of young and ordinary people. This session will illustrate how Zinn's Voices of a People’s History of the United States is used to empower youths through the stories of ordinary people like themselves who used their voices throughout history to challenge the status quo, to ask the hard questions, to demand and shape change and to know that one person can make a difference.

*Along with these mini-plenary sessions and workshops, intensive and specialized training will be provided to 1,500 young servant leaders invited to join a separate Young Advocate Leadership Training (YALT) track.

CDF Freedom Schools Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops Overview of the CDF Freedom Schools Program with Preparation for Tuesday or Wednesday Site Visits

Examine the concept and vision behind this successful summer and after-school enrichment program for youths preK – 18. The CDF Freedom Schools program integrates reading, conflict resolution and social action in an activity-based curriculum that promotes social, cultural and historical awareness. Since 1994, about 90,000 children have had a CDF Freedom Schools experience and about 9,000 college students have been trained to deliver this child and youth empowering model. A 2010 evaluation by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte found that CDF Freedom Schools in Charlotte, North Carolina and Bennettsville, South Carolina staunched summer learning loss for 90% of children with significant reading gains for 60%. This session provides an overview of the CDF Freedom Schools program and is mandatory preparation for participants for site visits to Cincinnati Freedom Schools on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Building a Teacher Pipeline Through the CDF Freedom Schools Program

Research indicates that children of color and low-income children thrive with mentors and teachers who demonstrate their care for them in a culturally sensitive manner. Only 7% of public school teachers today are Black and 7% are Latino, and less than 4% are Black or Latino males. At a time when one million teachers will retire over the next three to four years, we have an opportunity to bring needed diversity to the teaching profession and transform child outcomes in a major way. This session will share the unique potential of the CDF Freedom Schools model to create a pipeline of Black and Latino teachers in rural and urban learning environments.


Fundraising and Capacity Building to Sustain Your CDF Freedom Schools Program and Other Out of School Learning Models

Ron Fairchild, President of the Smarter Learning Group and former founding CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, will provide instruction and support to organizations seeking resources to fund their out of school time programming. This intensive fundraising session will include the following topics: fundamentals on school district partnerships, including Title I, Title II and other federal and state funding streams; researching donor prospects; preparing for and making funder requests; developing budgets and proposals; and practicing good stewardship. Registration required in advance for this session.

Engaging Key Community Partners to Support and Advance Your CDF Freedom Schools Program

CDF Freedom Schools sites partner with public schools, community-based organizations, faith congregations, colleges and universities, cities and juvenile detention centers to operate program sites. A unique feature of the CDF Freedom Schools model is its adaptability for different organizations serving diverse community and student populations. Community leaders from across America will share their unique models for growth and sustainability. Strategies to be discussed include developing a business plan for CDF Freedom Schools expansion in your community; engaging a vast array of community partners; and leveraging public and private funds to sustain sites.

Faith Community Mini-Plenary Sessions and Workshops Hearing and Heeding God’s Call to Pursue Justice in Sacred Texts

What do sacred texts from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam say about our call to pursue justice for children and the poor? How do they guide and sustain our child advocacy work? Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders will share their insights, and then in small group breakouts, participants will explore the sacred texts from these and other religious traditions that inform and sustain justice work for children.

Safe Sanctuary: Congregations Reaching Out to Vulnerable Children and Families

Almost 700,000 children are abused and neglected each year; more than 400,000 children are in foster care; and an estimated 28,000 children leave foster care annually at age 18 or older without permanent families. Learn about the multiple ways faith communities are extending a hand to vulnerable children and fragile families in the child welfare system to help keep children and youths out of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline and on to paths of promise.

Building Authentic Relationships Across Barriers of Race, Ethnicity, and Income

How can we who serve and seek justice for children and the poor build relationships with them that move past differences in race, ethnicity, and income? How can we forge partnerships so that we are advocating with and not just “for” children and families in poverty? Learn in an honest conversation that addresses what is too often ignored.

How Faith Communities Can Develop a Stronger Voice to Close the Achievement Gap and Ensure a High Quality Education for Every Child

Religious congregations have a long history of nurturing children’s learning both within the congregation and in the community. Learn about ways that faith communities can be a strong and vital voice for education reform. This session will focus on the advocacy and direct engagement role your congregation can play in closing the achievement gap and ensuring all children have a high quality education.

MultiFaith Organizing for Children: How to Build Inclusive and Powerful Coalitions

Building a strong, powerful religious movement to secure justice for children requires the participation of people of all religious faiths. Learn how to build inclusive and powerful multifaith coalitions to advocate for children, including how the annual multifaith National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths can support these efforts. The conference will begin with a Children’s Sabbath service at 6:00pm on July 22 with multifaith leaders to lift up child needs.


Conference Overview Workshops  

Conference Overview Workshops

Conference Overview Workshops  

Conference Overview Workshops