Marian Wright Edelman's Child Watch® Columns

Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman is a lifelong advocate for disadvantaged Americans and is the President of CDF. Under her leadership, CDF has become the nation's strongest voice for children and families.

Her Child Watch column is sent every Friday to subscribers and posted to The Huffington Post weekly.


Child Watch Column Archives

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  • 10/13/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Healing the Gaping Open Wound: An Urgent Call for More Aid and Fair Treatment for Puerto Rico

    Three weeks after Hurricane Maria ravaged the entire island of Puerto Rico, the children who have returned to school for a few hours a day in a building with no power are some of the lucky ones. Most of Puerto Rico’s 1,113 public schools have not reopened yet. Some are still being used as emergency shelters for families who lost their homes in the storm.
  • 10/06/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Congress Is Holding CHIP and Children Hostage

    States and families across the country are in this crisis mode because Congress let the deadline to extend funding for CHIP pass at midnight on September 30th leaving nine million children like Dr. Falusi’s young patient uncertain about their health coverage.
  • 09/29/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Kneelers of Conscience

    Many President Trump observers believe he throws out inflammatory and divisive comments to distract in moments when the news cycle is critical of his erratic, inappropriate and contentious conduct. That appeared to be true last week when more than three million suffering Americans without power or enough food and water in hurricane devastated Puerto Rico were desperately crying for more federal help.
  • 09/22/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    The Continuing Mean Assault on Our Children’s Health

    It’s back. The assault on our children’s health coverage has been resurrected for a final last-minute attempt at passage and is even more dangerous and cruel than ever. The latest Graham (R-SC)-Cassidy (R-LA) revision of the health repeal bill feels like a Halloween movie cliché with a zombie-like villain that refuses to die if its threats to children, seniors, and more of America’s most vulnerable weren’t so deadly serious.
  • 09/15/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    A Prayer to End Child Poverty in Our Time

    We know what to do to end child poverty if we want to in rich America. The U.S. Census Bureau reported this week that the number of children in poverty declined slightly again for the second year, but that children shamefully are still our poorest age group.
  • 09/08/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    CONGRESS: ACT ON CHIP

    Now 20 years after CHIP put an entire generation of children on the path to a healthy adulthood, we stand at another pivotal moment: Unless Congress takes action, funding for this essential, popular, highly successful program will end after September 30, 2017. Without this funding millions of children could lose health coverage or pay more for less comprehensive coverage, leaving millions of children significantly worse off than they are today.
  • 09/01/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Praying and Standing for Children

    As a new school year begins I want to share prayers for our children, all of them, and for caring adults to be God’s hands and feet standing for children everywhere in these very difficult times in our nation and around our shared world.
  • 08/25/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Welcome to America

    I recently had the privilege of meeting five outstanding high school students the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio’s Beat the Odds® program was honoring for overcoming tremendous adversity, demonstrating academic excellence and giving back to their communities. One of these inspiring young people was Sara Abou Rashed.
  • 08/18/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Please Take Sides: This Is No Time for Silence or Inaction!

    There are not two sides to Nazism. There are not two sides to White supremacism, bigotry, and racial and religious hatred and intolerance. Heather Heyer – a nonviolent protester against racial intolerance – is not as much at fault as the man who violently and deliberately hit and killed her with his car on a Charlottesville street.
  • 08/11/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    A Success Story to Inspire Us All!

    I recently received this beautiful letter from one of our extraordinary Beat the Odds alumna that lifted my spirits in these difficult national times
  • 08/04/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    A Child Advocate’s Beatitudes

    Below is a prayer for child advocates. Teachers and school administrators are always on the front lines advocating for children so maybe one of them could use this today as s/he is preparing for the new school year.
  • 07/28/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Happy Birthday Medicaid from the Millions Who Love and Need You

    President Lyndon B. Johnson said this fifty-two years ago on July 30, 1965 as he signed the bipartisan legislation that established the federal Medicaid Program and thanked former President Harry S. Truman and the many members of Congress from both parties who had laid the groundwork and worked tirelessly over many years to make the Medicaid program and its protections reality.
  • 07/21/17

    Child Watch® Column: "Keep Working and Never Ever Give Up!"

    As Senate Republicans spent the last few days in closed door meetings frantically trying to plot new ways to achieve their wretched plans to destroy the Affordable Care Act and end Medicaid as we know it, hundreds of people of faith spent our week gathered at the annual Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry to rekindle our shared conviction that all great religious traditions call us to acts of love and justice especially for children who are impoverished, vulnerable, marginalized and excluded and to renew our deep and shared commitment to resisting evil and injustice with unrelenting determined nonviolent action.
  • 07/14/17

    Child Watch® Column: "An Open Letter to the United States Senate "

    I learned my first lessons about injustice and health as a little Black girl growing up in segregated Bennettsville, South Carolina. I remember my parents’ and my sadness over the senseless death of little Johnny Harrington, who lived three houses down from our church who died before he reached 10 because his hard working grandmother didn’t know about the need for or have the money for him to get a tetanus shot after he stepped on a rusted nail. I also remember being awakened in the middle of the night after a Black migrant family’s car collided with a White truck driver’s vehicle on the highway in front of our parsonage, and the horror I felt when my Daddy, my siblings and I witnessed the White ambulance driver and attendants arrive on the scene only to leave behind the seriously injured Black migrant worker after they saw that the White truck’s passengers were not hurt.
  • 07/07/17

    Child Watch® Column: "Tell Congress to Stop Picking on Our Most Vulnerable Children!"

    It is unfathomable to me that week after week I must continue to defend the Medicaid program that for more than 50 years has protected the health and well-being of tens of millions of America’s most vulnerable. We know many of the 37 million children enrolled in Medicaid today are from poor or low-income families and that 40 percent of children with special health care needs benefit from Medicaid. Among these children are almost half a million foster children, nearly 40 percent of them under age six. These children, invisible to many, are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.
  • 06/30/17

    Child Watch® Column: "Stand Up and Protect the Basic Human Right to Health Care"

    Every July 4th Americans come together to celebrate the promise of our Declaration of Independence. We know for millions of Americans our nation has never fully lived up to that creed, but for all who still believe in the American ideal this has never been a reason to give up. Instead in every generation a new group of women and men and youths and even children have come forward to do their part in pushing America closer to its full promise. The current administration and Congress show how far we still have to go.
  • 06/23/17

    Child Watch® Column: "Prayers for a More Just Nation"

    Our nation has lost its way as Congress stealthily debates dismantling the Medicaid and health safety net for the neediest children and adults. And as we await the Congressional Budget Office’s cost and impact report and the final outlines of the Senate health care proposal the only thing I can think of at this moment is to pray for our leaders to rediscover some semblance of common sense and moral decency and protect the 37 million children on Medicaid and the millions of disabled adults and others for whom it is an indispensable lifeline.
  • 06/16/17

    Child Watch® Column: "Saving Medicaid – An Urgent SOS"

    This is an urgent SOS. Right now Republican Senators are working behind closed doors on their own version of the terrible American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed by the House of Representatives in early May that would rip away health coverage from 23 million people.
  • 06/08/17

    Child Watch® Column: "Reflections on Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook: A Great Teacher and Role Model"

    When Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook passed away May 29 our nation and world lost a very creative and distinguished political scientist, trailblazing Black scholar, and towering oak role model for his students. I was blessed to be among them as a Spelman College student in his political theory course at Atlanta University.
  • 06/02/17

    Child Watch® Column: "Moving Forward for Children in California and Nationally"

    Alameda County in California straddles the San Francisco Bay area and stretches from Silicon Valley north to Oakland and Berkeley. A major branch of the San Andreas Fault lies beneath the most densely populated part of the county. That’s where Betty lives. She was hard at work full time in the health care field, with her own catering and massage therapy business on the side, raising four children as a single mother when a series of health crises created an earthquake that shattered her life.
  • 05/26/17

    Child Watch® Column: "President Trump's War on Children"

    Our nation’s budget should reflect our nation’s professed values, but President Trump’s 2018 Federal Budget, “A New Foundation for America’s Greatness,” radically does the opposite. This immoral budget declares war on America’s children, our most vulnerable group, and the foundation of our nation’s current and future economic, military and leadership security. It cruelly dismantles and shreds America’s safety net laboriously woven over the past half century to help and give hope to the 14.5 million children struggling today in a sea of poverty, hunger, sickness, miseducation, homelessness and disabilities. It slashes trillions of dollars from health care, nutrition and other critical programs that give poor babies and children a decent foundation in life to assure trillions of dollars in tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires and powerful corporations who do not deserve massive doses of government support.
  • 05/22/17

    Child Watch® Column: "Summertime, When the Livin’ is Hard for Hungry Children"

    The 100 percent federally-funded Summer Food Service Program will once again this year be a food lifeline for millions of low-income hungry children during the long hot summer. Right now many community sponsors, including school districts, local government agencies, camps, and private nonprofit organizations are working through their state agencies to be ready to serve healthy meals to millions of children this summer.
  • 05/12/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Saving Amazing Young Grace and Her Medicaid

    Glaros wrote that he and his wife chose to have this precious child they named Grace and “trusted our society – our government, Republicans and Democrats both – to ensure a safety net for her life after our choice was made.
  • 05/05/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Flipping the Switch

    By Marian Wright Edelman What if boosting a toddler’s brainpower was as easy as turning on a light switch? In fact, “Flip the Switch” is one of the simple activities suggested by Vroom, an initiative that provides creative tools and materials to help families turn daily interactions with children into “brain building moments.”
  • 04/28/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Banning "Lunch Shaming"

    Here’s a test with just one question: If a hungry child can’t afford to eat, should the adults in her school punish and humiliate her for not having lunch money? As disgraceful as this question is, adults in schools across the country fail this test every single day. New Mexico has just become the first state in the nation to ban “lunch shaming” — policies that penalize children who don’t have enough money to buy a hot lunch in the cafeteria. New Mexico’s new law, the “Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights,” is a welcome move that has helped put a spotlight on a common form of cruel and unusual punishment against poor children.
  • 04/21/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    The 5th National GrandRally: Building a Community of Hope

    The Biles family has helped shine a spotlight on the importance of loving families. “Kinship care families” or “grandfamilies” as they are sometimes called are relatives raising their grandchildren or other kin when their parents cannot due to death, military service, or challenges like opioid or other substance abuse, mental health problems or domestic violence. Some children are removed from their parents’ care by the state and placed with relatives in foster care. In other cases, children are placed informally with relatives outside of formal foster care.
  • 04/11/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    The Continuing Scourge of Poverty, Hunger and Hopelessness in Rich America

    In March 1967 when I was working as a young civil rights lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in Mississippi, I was asked to come to Washington to testify before the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare’s Subcommittee on Employment, Manpower, and Poverty about how the War on Poverty was working in the state. I told the committee I had become deeply and increasingly concerned about the growing hunger in the Mississippi Delta.
  • 03/31/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    A Time to Break Silence

    Fifty years ago on April 4, 1967, our prophet Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the historic speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” at New York City’s Riverside Church. It was his first major public antiwar speech and a powerful warning that a rise in racial hatred, militarism and violence could destroy America.
  • 03/17/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    A Time for Penance and Action to Help Our Immigrant Brothers and Sisters

    After the new administration’s first Black History Month event included a general reference to 19th century lion Frederick Douglass as “somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more,” Frederick Douglass’s descendants jumped in with their own clarification.
  • 03/10/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Congress: Don’t Hurt Children

    The Children’s Defense Fund has made giving every child a healthy start a core part of our mission for all of our 44 years. We are extremely concerned that the American Health Care Act under consideration by Congress right now would undo more than 50 years of progress made expanding comprehensive child-appropriate health coverage to tens of millions of children.
  • 03/03/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Pursuing Justice in America for Lent

    On March 1, Ash Wednesday began the holy season of Lent. Rooted in the ancient Jewish tradition, Christians celebrate Lent as a time for penance, fasting and reflection leading up to Easter. In Washington D.C. a new art installation opened on the lawn in front of the United Methodist Building (100 Maryland Avenue, N.E.) facing the U.S. Supreme Court. Created by gentle gifted artist, former death row prisoner and passionate advocate for justice Ndume Olatushani, this interactive exhibit is the first stop on the unique “Stations of the Cross” exhibition at 14 locations across our capital city ending at the National Cathedral.
  • 02/24/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    A Time for Courage and Truth

    After the new administration’s first Black History Month event included a general reference to 19th century lion Frederick Douglass as “somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more,” Frederick Douglass’s descendants jumped in with their own clarification.
  • 02/17/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Honoring Dr. Dorothy Irene Height:
    Great Civil Rights, Women's Rights and Children's Rights Leader

    During the Civil Rights Movement, while so many women were playing vital roles that weren’t featured in the spotlight, Dorothy Height was always up front with a seat at the table. She was often the only woman in the room with Dr. King and the rest of the “Big Six” group of male leaders as they planned many key strategies of the Civil Rights Movement.
  • 02/16/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Confronting Oscar-Nominated Moonlight’s Moving and Powerful Truths

    Everyone should watch the film Moonlight nominated for eight Academy Awards. Why? Because it’s a very powerful story of a poor Black boy’s struggles to reach adulthood with countless odds stacked against him. Because it’s a relatable story for children and youths struggling to make it to adulthood without being derailed by sexual orientation, violence and drugs. Because it’s my or your story if we faced perilous hurdles to survive, learn in school and have a safe place to sleep at night. Because it’s a too common American story – one not everyone wants to tell and too few want or are ready to hear and do anything about.
  • 02/10/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Welcome to the Land of Opportunity

    At a time when the national conversation is focused on building walls and closing doors against immigrants, Carlos is an immigrant with another goal. He’s setting an example of what’s possible when hardworking smart young people come to America determined to beat the odds and make a difference.
  • 02/03/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Ripping America Apart

    If you are reeling from the series of Executive Orders and Memoranda issued by President Trump in his first two weeks in office, and horrified by what clearly seems to be an unconstitutional, un-American and unjust ban on Muslims from seven countries that has caused outrage at home and abroad, keep reading.
  • 01/27/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Leslie Dunbar: An Indispensable One

    A number of years ago, I heard a deeply moving story at a Children’s Miracle Network event, a charity that raises money in partnership with children’s hospitals around the country and helps serve sick and injured children in their local communities. A speaker shared this heart-wrenching story of a father and son with the audience and agreed to let me share it with others after I requested a copy.
  • 01/19/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Scott's Story: Lessons Children Teach Adults

    A number of years ago, I heard a deeply moving story at a Children’s Miracle Network event, a charity that raises money in partnership with children’s hospitals around the country and helps serve sick and injured children in their local communities. A speaker shared this heart-wrenching story of a father and son with the audience and agreed to let me share it with others after I requested a copy.
  • 01/13/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Moral Courage: Standing Up for What is Right

    On Wednesday, Senator Cory A. Booker (D-NJ) and Representative John Lewis (D-GA) joined the list of speakers testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee against the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for Attorney General of the United States. Both were assigned to a panel at the very end of the hearing process, a slot fellow panelist Representative Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA), the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, called “the equivalent of being made to go to the back of the bus.” Several Senate committee members who have already publically supported Senator Sessions left before Senator Booker’s and Representative Lewis’ important testimony began. But that didn’t deter them from speaking out against the threat they see to the civil rights progress our nation has made if Senator Sessions becomes Attorney General.
  • 01/06/17

    Child Watch® Column:
    Keep Your Hand on the Plow! HOLD ON!

    I begin each year with a women’s spiritual retreat at Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Haley Farm in Tennessee. This year Reverend Janet Wolf, Director of CDF Haley Farm and Nonviolent Organizing, shared a meditation based on Langston Hughes’ brilliant 1943 poem “Freedom’s Plow” that she had been using in her ministry on Tennessee’s death row consisting of both incarcerated “insiders” and “outsiders.” All of us were caught up in the poem’s descriptions of centuries of American struggle against oppression and for America’s promised dream of freedom and justice for all.
  • 12/30/16

    Child Watch® Column:
    Prayers for the Work Ahead for Our Children

    As we look to a new year, here are a few prayers to help guide us for the work ahead.
  • 12/22/16

    Child Watch® Column:
    A Prayer to End Poverty In Our Time

    In December 1967 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached what would be his last Christmas sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. At the end Dr. King spoke about the day he told the nation at the March on Washington that he had a dream for America’s future, but said in the uncertain years that had followed that dream sometimes felt like it was turning into a nightmare. But Dr. King said he was never willing to give up:
  • 12/16/16

    Child Watch® Column:
    I Agree With Donald Trump

    The hugely over-budget F-35 fighter jet program recently returned to the headlines when President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that “The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.”
  • 12/09/16

    Child Watch® Column:
    Love Trumps Hate

    This is usually a season of familiar scenes in schools across the country, with holiday programs featuring messages of peace and goodwill to all. But this year many teachers and students have been seeing another story.
  • 12/02/16

    Child Watch® Column:
    Stay Strong: Fight Back

    At one of my very discouraging times, I heard my beloved late spiritual director Gordon Cosby of the Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C. read this “Request for Transfer” by an unknown author which I return to at very tough times.
  • 11/23/16

    Child Watch® Column:
    A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Our Nation to Stand Up for All Our Children

    Lord I can’t preach like Martin Luther King, Jr. or turn a poetic phrase like Maya Angelou but I care and am willing to serve and stand with others to move our children forward and save our children in this time of Thanksgiving.
  • 11/11/16

    Child Watch® Column:
    Bringing America Together for Our Children's Sake

    What kind of people do we want to be? What kind of people do we want our children to be? What kind of moral examples, teachings, choices — personal, community, economic, faith, and political — are we parents, grandparents, community adults, political leaders, and citizens prepared to make in this new century and millennium to make our children strong inside and empower them to seek and help build a more just, compassionate, and less violent society and world?
  • 11/04/16

    Child Watch® Column:
    Keep Moving Forward on the Path Towards Justice

    You must vote for better futures for the millions of children left behind and for closing our country’s morally obscene and killing income, wealth, and educational gaps. Get out and vote and say thank you to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Medgar Evers and Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer who were beaten, bombed and killed for your and my right to vote. Get out to vote for Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner and Sandra Bland who can’t vote to stop renegade law enforcement practices. Get out to vote for all those hungry and homeless and illiterate children who have no voice in the political process and have to make their way daily through gun saturated streets of terror. Get out to vote to help ensure that another Newtown tragedy does not occur at the hands of an unstable adolescent wielding a gun loaded with large capacity ammunition magazines that have no business in the hands of unstable youths.
  • 10/21/16

    Child Watch® Column:
    Hope for the Future Through Your Vote

    Hope for the Future is a series of twelve meditations that include Scripture passages, moving true stories, and examples from other movements and faithful leaders to inspire all those working to create a better world for our children. It’s a book that could be used as a devotional or in group discussions by everyone from parents to pastors. Rev. Daley-Harris has long been speaking out on the call to care for children in every major faith tradition and calling on people to turn faith into action. As the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF)’s Religious Affairs Advisor and Director of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Child Advocacy Ministry Institute for two decades, she coordinates the National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths® Celebrations. Every year congregations of many faiths observe the Children’s Sabbath by drawing on Rev. Daley-Harris’s resources and the texts and teachings of their religious traditions to hear and respond to the holy and eternal call for love and justice that urges special care and protection for children, especially those who are poor.
  • 10/14/16

    Child Watch® Column:
    The Early Childhood Infrastructure Our Children and Nation Urgently Need

    Whether children will have a strong foundation is in large part determined by the social and physical environments in which they grow up. The first five years of a child’s life are the time of greatest brain development. If young children’s basic needs are met by experiencing consistent, nurturing interactions with loving adults, they are far more likely to meet their full potential. The United States has not made the necessary investments to support young children and families after the seismic shift from stay-at-home moms and two parent families to the current reality of two-parent-working families, or often single working moms with young children today. The major advances in what we now know about early childhood brain development make these investments more urgent. Our aging early childhood infrastructure is in dire need of repair. While we wait for critically needed investments, there has been important progress.
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