Children’s Defense Fund, Bonta Call on State to Level the Playing Field for California’s Children

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bonta’s Bill to Identify, Prevent, and Heal Childhood Trauma Receives Strong Support from CDF

(Sacramento, CA) – Today at the State Capitol, the Children’s Defense Fund of California (CDF) released its 2016 plan to end child poverty, ensure educational equity, provide access to health care, and transform justice systems for youth. Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) authored a key part of the plan with his AB 1644 which helps schools identify, prevent, and heal the impacts of violence and trauma on children and youth. The bill is sponsored by the Office of the Attorney General, Children Now, and Time for Kids.

“AB 1644 will help combat one of the greatest public health crises of our time: adverse childhood experiences and trauma,” explained Bonta.

“Childhood exposure to abuse, neglect, and other traumatic experiences has lifelong health impacts. Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACES, expose children to toxic stress, keeping them in a constant state of fight-or-flight, taking years off their lives and damaging their health. The earlier we address the impacts of ACES on children, the more likely they are to succeed in school and in to adulthood.

“To help children exposed to abuse, neglect, and other traumatic experiences, including gun violence, we need to build systems instead of silos. We can do this through a more complete integration of educational, criminal justice, healthcare, mental health, and public health services as well as private sector solutions.”

Bonta concluded, “I’m proud to author AB 1644 with the support of Attorney General Kamala Harris and a stellar group of advocates, including the Children’s Defense Fund. AB 1644 will provide children suffering from trauma with the healing services they need to survive and thrive."

CDF-CA Executive Director Alex Johnson, explained the critical need for the bill and the CDF’s larger priorities. “Too many children in California – especially poor children, children of color, and children with special needs – face odds stacked against their success. We must come together to fight for policies that lift children out of poverty, connect families to quality health care, ensure fairness and equity in our schools and build a juvenile justice system that focuses on prevention and rehabilitation.”

The Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA) is a state office of the Children’s Defense Fund, a national child advocacy organization founded by Marian Wright Edelman that has worked relentlessly for over 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. www.cdfca.org

Visit Leveling the Playing Field for the full text of the plan.
Visit AB 1644 for the full text of the bill.

Assemblymember Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro. Bonta Chairs the Assembly Health Committee, the Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, and in the second Extraordinary Session, the Public Health and Developmental Services Committee. He is also a member of the following committees: Appropriations, Budget, Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services, Joint Legislative Budget, Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management, Natural Resources, and Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security.