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For Immediate Release
July 14, 2009


For More Information Contact:
Ed Shelleby
(202) 662-3602


WASHINGTON, DC — 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 children.

“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