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Policy Forum 2024: No family left behind

To kick off the new year, the Child Care Resource Center will host our annual Policy Breakfast to discuss the state of family well-being across California’s diverse economies and communities. CCRC’s annual Policy Forum is a space for intimate discussion about critical child and family issues, where experts explore family-centric policies that ensure access to supportive programs, services, and resources.

This year’s theme is No Family Left Behind. As the cost-of-living increases, more families are left struggling to pay for housing, food, child care and other essentials. Safety nets that protect families will be one focus of the conversation.

“We know that families are struggling in California to make ends meet, everything is just so expensive. We see that a lot of families are moving out of the county, out of the state, to go somewhere more affordable. We know families are also struggling with food insecurity, health care access, and we know child care is expensive. That’s why we’re hosting this policy forum, to identify what’s going on and ways that policy could change to make life easier for children and families,” said CCRC Government Relations Specialist Yvonne Perez.

The forum is being held Jan. 5 at the California State University, Northridge Grand Salon. Registration is currently open, with in-person and virtual options. Reserve your spot here. The event is being sponsored by First 5 LA.

Here are the confirmed speakers:

Keynote Manuel Pastor, Ph.D. is a distinguished Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California (USC) where he directs the USC Equity Research Institute. He is the Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change at USC. He holds an economics Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Panelist Michael Williams is the Policy Director at The Child Abuse Prevention Center. Along with legislative and administrative policy advocacy, his purview includes support for the California Family Resource Association (CFRA) and Strategies Technical Assistance, a partnership with the Children’s Bureau of Southern California that facilitates county-level collaborations for child abuse prevention. Michael serves on the Policy Committees for Prevent Child Abuse America and the National Family Support Network, California Essentials for Childhood, and the Data and Research Subcommittee of the California Mandated Reporting to Community Supporting Task Force.

Panelist Shimica Gaskins is the President & CEO of GRACE/End Child Poverty CA and a Rosenberg Foundation Leading Edge Fellow. She has worked in law and public policy specializing in legislative, regulatory and policy issues associated with children’s rights, economic inequality, and criminal justice reform. Her current work focuses on eradicating child and family poverty through advocating for systemic and transformational policies such as baby bonds. Prior to joining GRACE, she was Executive Director of Children’s Defense Fund-California, where she led statewide advocacy, programs and organizing efforts to improve child and family well-being. A former Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy (OLP) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), she worked to develop and implement innovative policy initiatives of the department and administration.

Panelist Ken Craft is the founder and current Chief Executive Officer of the Hope the Mission. Since Ken served Hope’s first meal to the homeless of the San Fernando Valley in 2009, he has been a visionary leader. His compassion for those living in poverty has lead Hope’s regional expansion beyond the San Fernando Valley to San Bernardino, Victorville, Bakersfield and beyond. Under his leadership, the organization has become a leading provider of housing and homeless services in the state of California. Ken is considered one of the leading practitioners in homeless services and is a highly sought after speaker in faith communities and conferences on issues of housing and poverty.

Panelist Angela M. Vázquez, MSW, is a Policy Director at The Children’s Partnership, where she leads the development and execution of TCP’s policy and advocacy agenda, specifically focusing on mental health and child well-being. Throughout her career, Angela has worked to ensure marginalized young people, like foster youth, have better access to mental health services and education supports for which they are entitled to through policy and administrative regulation analysis and advocacy. In doing so, she has always worked to uplift the voices of impacted communities. In 2020, Angela was appointed to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission where she centered community voice throughout an 18-month process to redraw the state’s legislative and federal elections boundaries for the first time in 10 years.

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