Many of us will probably be glad to see 2020 in the rearview mirror and cannot wait until 2021 gets here. We get it, it’s been tough.
Nonetheless, in spite of its many challenges, 2020 was a productive and meaningful year for CDF-Texas. We advanced our policy and program priorities and responded to the movement for racial justice and the pandemic with a renewed dedication to our mission and purpose.
Here are a few highlights from the year.
We beat the odds with our 2020 Beat the Odds program and event.
As the public health emergency unfolded in the spring, we had to make hard choices about our planned in-person celebration. Thanks to the leadership of our amazing event chairs Alie Pruner and Melanie Gray; the support of our friends at Sterling and Constell Media; and, the energetic determination of Clarissa and Cecilia, we made the decision to move to a virtual format. Clarissa rocked it as emcee and each of our five scholarship winners felt celebrated. And, through it all we were still able to meet (and even beat) our fundraising goals! Thank you to all who “attended” and supported us. You can relive the event and meet the 2020 Beat the Odds finalists here.
Healthcare Policy & Advocacy
When 2020 began we had already mapped out a bold plan to make sure that the 2021 Legislative Session would finally be THE session to address our “worst in the nation” health coverage status. In the early months we built out our grassroots #SickofitTX campaign and began planning for a series of public mobilization events to ensure that any candidate running for state office in 2020 would need to have an answer to how they were going to fix Texas’ health care “system.” And then the public health crisis hit and laid bare the inadequacies and inequities of health care in Texas. Together with our partners in the Cover Texas Now and Children’s Health Coverage Coalitions we quickly called upon the state to take advantage of an array of policy and program flexibilities during the public health crisis. We also moved to convert in-person events to virtual ones, with a very successful set of “vigils” around the state for Medicaid Expansion as part of the Southerners for Medicaid Expansion initiative. You can see a nice piece about this work on the Community Catalyst website.
As we prepare for the 2021 Legislative session, we are working closely with coalition partners and key lawmakers to get bills filed to expand Medicaid, streamline children’s access to the program and extend coverage for post-partum women, among other health policy priorities. We are hopeful that the pandemic has added new urgency to these long-needed changes. Lastly, we have invested in innovative research to learn the messages and messengers that can help move more moderate and conservative constituents to demand action on health coverage from their elected Representatives and Senators. Stay tuned!
The Movement for Black Lives
As protest spread across the country this summer in response to another tragic killing of a black man by law enforcement, CDF-Texas renewed its commitment to racial and social justice. CDF was birthed out of the civil rights movement and that origin informs our work every day. Here is the statement we released back in June and a three part strategy we are implementing to support the movement for black lives.
Healthy Children = Healthy Communities
Our amazing outreach and enrollment teams in East Texas and the Rio Grande Valley have adapted and responded to the public health crisis as they continue to serve the community. While in-person case assistance has had to be curtailed, the teams have creatively utilized social media and other technology tools to stay in touch with families, provide assistance virtually and help connect individuals to an array of other resources that are much needed during the pandemic-related economic downturn. Follow their Facebook pages to see all their good work: East Texas & Rio Grande Valley.
Protecting Immigrant Children & Families
It has been a busy year in the immigration space, mostly pushing back against the anti-immigrant rhetoric and regulatory changes coming out of the current administration. Additionally, we have continued our leadership roles in the End Family Detention Coalition, the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign and the Children Thrive Action Network. In an effort to quantify the negative impact of the public charge rule on the willingness of immigrant families to access key public health and nutrition services, we conducted research over several months through interviews with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), free clinics, hospitals, food banks, community-based organizations, advocacy groups, and more, to learn about their experiences with families afraid to apply for (or even dis-enrolling from) Medicaid, CHIP, SNAP, etc. due to Public Charge and the overriding climate of fear in migrant communities. The result was a groundbreaking report: Public Charge and Private Dilemmas: Key Challenges and Best Practices for Fighting the Chilling Effect in Texas, 2017-2019. The report was covered by the New York Times and resulted in an invitation to write about the report in MS. Magazine. You can keep up to date with this important work by subscribing to our twice-monthly immigration-focused newsletter.
The CDF Freedom Schools programs in Texas faced a daunting task this past summer. Faced with restrictions on gatherings, many opted out for 2020, a few turned to virtual programming, and one remained in person, with reduced numbers. We know it was very challenging for these dedicated sites, and we look forward to better options for the summer of 2021.
Youth Civic Education & Engagement
With 2020 an important election year, our youth civic education and engagement program was very busy. From working with partners to drive high school voter registration and youth turnout, to sharing information about voting and voting rights, our team played an important role in the record-setting turnout even in the midst of a pandemic. We also published an important report on the need to engage youth who are not in school as part of any effective turnout strategy. Lastly, the team has launched a new “young advocates” initiative, with listening sessions, advocacy training and other creative strategies. Stay up to date with all of this amazing work by subscribing to the monthly newsletter.
From all of us here at CDF-Texas, a great big thank you for following and supporting our work. Have a wonderful holiday season, and we’ll see you in 2021!
Patrick, Laura, Cheasty, Maggie, Cindy Ji, Ana, Emma, Cecilia, Clarissa, Amber, Gracie, Mary, Tina, Cindy Ross, Crystal & Stephanie