Child Watch® Columns
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.
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.
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.
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.