For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Ed Shelleby (202) 662-3602

Nearly 12,000 Youths Hold Rallies and Marches in 27 States Urging Health Coverage Reform for Children

Youth Participate in CDF Freedom Schools® National Day of Social Action

WASHINGTON - Yesterday, nearly 12,000 youths across the nation held rallies,
marches, Congressional visits, and letter-writing campaigns urging
Congress to support health reform for all children. The events were
part of the Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools® National Day of Social Action, a day of civic engagement for children involved in the CDF Freedoms Schools summer learning enrichment program. Approximately 135 CDF Freedom Schools
sites in 27 states participated in the event to urge health reform for
children. Several sites partnered with other organizations to join in
the events, including Health Care for America Now state affiliates.

"More than 10,000 children in 27 states across our nation
are visiting their Congress people today urging them to ensure real
health reform this year for all 9 million uninsured children and the
millions more underinsured children,"
said CDF President Marian Wright Edelman. "It's
critical that House and Senate health care legislation ensure every
child in America access to affordable, equitable, comprehensive health
coverage regardless of where they live."

There are 9 million uninsured children in America-that's one in
nine.  Even with the recent expansion of the Children's Health
Insurance Program, 5-6 million children will still be uninsured and
millions more underinsured.  The U.S. Senate Finance Committee is in
the final stage prior to mark-up of health care reform legislation
expected this week, and CDF's Health Coverage for All Children campaign is urging them to include these principles for children:

  • Coverage Must Be Affordable.
    Establish a national eligibility floor of 300 percent of the federal
    poverty level for all children and pregnant women, with an affordable
    buy-in based on a family's income for those over that income level.
  • Benefits Must Be Comprehensive. Guarantee every child access to all medically necessary services to maximize a child's health and development. 
  • The System Must Be Simple and Seamless.
    To ensure children get enrolled and stay enrolled, simplify the
    application and enrollment process to make it easy for all children to
    get covered and stay covered. This must include eliminating known
    barriers to enrollment and instituting automatic enrollment of eligible


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"The thousands of 5- to 15-year-old CDF Freedom Schools
scholars demanding a national health safety net believe health coverage
is a right and that every child's life is of equal value,"
said Edelman. "I
urge every person to speak up and demand that our leaders treat
children fairly and provide them the national health safety net our
senior citizens rightly enjoy. If we are serious about prevention,
children should be the cornerstone of national health reform."

Since 1995, the CDF Freedom Schools program
has provided free summer and after-school reading and cultural
enrichment programs for children across the country.  Through
partnerships with community-based organizations, foundations, local
businesses and civic leaders, the program has provided culturally
relevant and literacy-rich learning opportunities for more than 70,000
children. This year, 142 program sites are operating in 79 cities and
27 states.  The social action and civic engagement component of the CDF Freedom Schools model teaches youths to engage in community service and social justice advocacy.

For more information on the CDF Freedom Schools program, visit


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The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) is a non-profit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for 35 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. We champion policies and programs that lift children out of poverty; protect them from abuse and neglect; and ensure their access to health care, quality education, and a moral and spiritual foundation.

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