Children’s Defense Fund-California Sponsored Bill Signed by Governor Brown Will End Double Truancy Penalty on Poor Children and Families

For Immediate Release
October 1, 2014
For More Information Contact:
Michele Stillwell-Parvensky, (510) 663-1294,

Sacramento, CA – Governor Jerry Brown yesterday signed Assembly Bill 2382, authored by Assembly Member Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). This important bill eliminates an ineffective and inequitable double penalty for California’s poorest families when a child is unable to attend school regularly.

“Poverty – and associated problems like homelessness, eviction, job loss, limited transportation, and poor health – can be a significant roadblock for children attending school,” said Alex Johnson, Executive Director of Children’s Defense Fund-California, one of two co-sponsors of AB 2382. “This bill takes an important step to support our poorest students by ending an unfair penalty that destabilized poor families. We applaud Assembly Member Bradford for his strong and continued leadership on behalf of poor children, and Governor Brown for supporting this critical legislation.”

Under current law, poor children and families face twice the penalties for poor school attendance. All students and parents are subject to financial and civil penalties for truancy. In addition, poor families who receive CalWORKs benefits are subject to a reduction in their monthly basic needs grant if their child fails to participate in school regularly. AB 2382 will remove the CalWORKs penalty.

“Truancy penalties for poor families are ineffective and counterproductive,” said Jessica Bartholow, Legislative Advocate for Western Center on Law & Poverty, another bill co-sponsor. “Two separate academic studies have shown the CalWORKs truancy penalties on basic needs grants have no positive impact on children’s attendance.”

Brianna Moore, a 15-year-old scholar with the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools in Long Beach, shared her powerful story on how poverty makes it difficult to attend school: “Getting ready for school and leaving the house on time every day is a struggle because we have 11 people sharing one bathroom. And sometimes, my mother doesn’t have the money to pay for our bus passes to get to school.”


Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA) is the California office of the Children’s Defense Fund, a non- profit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. The Children’s Defense Fund champions policies and programs that lift children out of poverty, protect them from abuse and neglect, and ensure their access to health care and a quality education.

Western Center on Law & Poverty (WCLP) leads the fight in the courts, counties and capital to secure housing, health care and a strong safety net for low-income Californians.