ChildWatch uplifts policy and advocacy solutions to advance positive outcomes for California’s children—who remain the largest group living in poverty in the state.  With two million children experiencing poverty, created and exacerbated by historic and continuing economic and racial inequities, ChildWatch’s goal is to reinforce our shared obligation stand alongside young people and children, families and communities. Each year, we dive deeper with policy advocates, electeds, and directly impacted families to collectively build power, action and movements that keep the needs children front and center, especially Black and Brown children and youth.

Learn More about ChildWatch 2023

ChildWatch 2023 explored asked how child policy advocacy can be successful if not informed by a shared understanding our country’s history of systemic racism. Reduced to evaluating actions solely at the individual level, what policy can address economic inequities, disparities in school discipline, disproportionate incarceration, and premature deaths from pollution in Black, Brown, and poor communities? Finally, we asked what resistance looks like. How do we fight at the local, state, and federal level while also committing to build outside of conventional systems? Can CDF’s Freedom Schools play a role? What other efforts are moving forward across the country and in California that we can learn from?

Last year’s keynote speaker was Professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad, the Ford Foundation Professor of History, Race and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. He directs the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project and is the former Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a division of the New York Public Library and the world’s leading library and archive of global Black history. He most recently co-led the nationwide “Freedom to Learn” day of action focusing on the connections between efforts to suppress the teaching of history in K-12 curriculum and attacks on our democracy.

Following Professor Muhammad’s keynote address, he was joined by CDFCA’s state director Thomas Harvey and Children’s Defense Fund’s President and CEO, the Reverend Dr. Starsky Wilson for a panel discussing how America’s children are impacted by these relentless assaults on learning. This fight has a history that originates in laws prohibiting enslaved Africans from learning to read and write. That history includes resistance, including Freedom Schools, among other efforts to subvert and combat efforts to lie about and whitewash US history.

Watch Professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad’s keynote address