Attorney General Eric Holder Energizes KIDS COUNT Conference

Posted October 2, 2014
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog attorneygeneralericholderenergizes 2014

U.S. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Eric Hold­er cel­e­brat­ed the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion as a cham­pi­on for dis­ad­van­taged young peo­ple from coast to coast” that has bro­ken bar­ri­ers, strength­ened fam­i­lies and con­tributed to improve­ments in juve­nile jus­tice, in a stir­ring Oct. 1 speech dur­ing the Foundation’s KIDS COUNT con­fer­ence in Baltimore.

As we speak, through your extra­or­di­nar­i­ly active and gen­er­ous grant mak­ing — to wor­thy orga­ni­za­tions in all 50 states — you’re pro­vid­ing lead­ers on the ground with vital oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn, to grow and to make pos­i­tive changes in the com­mu­ni­ties they know so well and serve so faith­ful­ly,” Hold­er said. This is bold, impor­tant and, in many cas­es, life-chang­ing work.”

We have been proud to stand along­side, and work close­ly with, you and your part­ners around the coun­try to make the dif­fer­ence that America’s young peo­ple deserve,” he added. And we under­stand, like every­one in this crowd, that this isn’t an abstract dis­cus­sion. The stakes are real — and they could hard­ly be higher.”

While laud­ing the progress the Foun­da­tion has made in juve­nile jus­tice reform, often in con­junc­tion with the U.S. Depart­ment of Justice’s Office of Juve­nile Jus­tice and Delin­quen­cy Pre­ven­tion, Hold­er said a devel­op­men­tal­ly informed” approach is need­ed to spur addi­tion­al reforms and cre­ate a racial­ly equi­table system.

In far too many neigh­bor­hoods, chil­dren of all ages — and par­tic­u­lar­ly chil­dren of col­or — walk a well-worn path from the school­house to the jail­house,” he said. Accord­ing to data col­lect­ed by the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion, last year, stu­dents of col­or were sub­ject­ed to sus­pen­sions and expul­sions at a rate three times high­er than their white peers. They were far more like­ly to face refer­ral to law enforce­ment, or even arrest.” 

Hold­er called for an expand­ed part­ner­ship to enlist addi­tion­al phil­an­thropies, busi­ness lead­ers, may­ors, law enforce­ment offi­cers, edu­ca­tors and young peo­ple around a uni­fy­ing vision and frame­work to dri­ve, and to ampli­fy, the work of local leaders.”

His speech ener­gized the KIDS COUNT con­fer­ence, which brought togeth­er advo­cates from 49 states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, Puer­to Rico and the Vir­gin Islands to share best prac­tices in child advo­ca­cy. The con­fer­ence, held Sept. 30-Oct. 2, cel­e­brat­ed KIDS COUNTs 25 years of con­tribut­ing reli­able data that have improved deci­sion mak­ing on issues affect­ing chil­dren, while acknowl­edg­ing much more change is required to give all kids the oppor­tu­ni­ty to succeed.

In his intro­duc­to­ry remarks, Casey Pres­i­dent and CEO Patrick McCarthy cel­e­brat­ed the KIDS COUNT mile­stone and pol­i­cy changes over the years, called for sus­tained atten­tion to race equi­ty in child well-being and thanked Hold­er for the progress made dur­ing his tenure to end the school-to-prison pipeline.”

Mr. Hold­er has exem­pli­fied the dif­fer­ence between talk and action, between know­ing what’s right and doing what’s right, between bemoan­ing bad pol­i­cy and doing some­thing about it,” McCarthy said. We’ve had the good for­tune to part­ner with Attor­ney Gen­er­al Holder’s Depart­ment of Jus­tice in sev­er­al areas includ­ing expand­ing deten­tion reform to sev­er­al addi­tion­al states.”

McCarthy said that under Hold­er, the Jus­tice Depart­ment has demon­strat­ed that it is seri­ous about reduc­ing dis­par­i­ties and, giv­en the momen­tum you’ve estab­lished dur­ing your tenure, Mr. Attor­ney Gen­er­al, we have every rea­son to believe it will con­tin­ue to take action.”

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