The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) is a child support organization which started functioning in 1973. It is chartered for other than money-making activities. CDF has made relentless contributions in child advocacy for more than four decades in order to make sure that every child has a level playing field. It supports and promotes policies and programs for the uplifting of children who belong to poor background and/or have experienced abusive behaviors. Thus, The Children’s Defense Fund makes the accessibility to health care, excellent schooling and an ethical and spiritual base certain for all children. CDF does so with the support of charity and commercial funding as well as individual donations. This encouragement has helped the Children’s Defense Fund to promote its mission on a national scale. CDF supports children and provides the guarantee that children will be a priority until the end of time (“About Us”, 2012).
It is extremely important to mention here that CDF has established a special center in Clinton, Tenn., at Haley Farm for divine revitalization, character and headship improvement, intergenerational counseling, and exchange of ideas (by holding interracial/interfaith discussions) about the issues concerned with children (“About Us”, 2012).
CDF has a clear mission statement i.e. Leave No Child Behind. This mission simply ensures the provision of a hale and hearty, fair, safe, and ethically-strong start to the children for beginning their lives and making them competent to successfully pass to a mature age with the help of loving and compassionate families and communities. The Children’s Defense Fund provides a tough, effectual and self-determining platform for all the American children who have no voice of themselves. In particular, CDF takes notice of the needs of deprived, physically and mentally disable, and marginal children. CDF is also working to educate the entire American nation about the children’s needs. By making the nation aware, CDF seeks to encourage precautionary funds ahead of the times. By using such funds, CDF helps sick, dropped-out, abused, and neglected children (“About Us”, 2012).
The Children’s Defense Fund - History
Marian Wright Edelman founded The Children's Defense Fund in 1973 as a consequence of the Civil Rights Movement. Due to her exceptional personality and temperament, the Mississippi Bar admitted her as its first Black woman. She was also the director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office (Jackson). She also has the privilege of working with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She worked as a counselor for the Poor People's Campaign of King. Her early professional years were dedicated towards the defense of the civil liberties of people who struggled to alleviate their poor and discriminatory status. Mrs. Edelman started the Washington Research Project in 1969. It was a law firm that was solely established by her in public interest for monitoring federal programs for families with low incomes. It was out of the Washington Research Project that Mrs. Edelman established the Children's Defense Fund after four years (“Our History”, 2012).
This amalgamation of efforts has resulted in the uplift of millions of children. They have been given the required resources to reach their dreams and break away from their poor lifestyle with the receipt of better physical condition, child care, fostering, appropriate nourishment and schooling they deserve. However, it is not an untold secret that despite the mentioned measures, there are still millions of children in the United States of America that are lining a deprived life. The aim of CDF continues to be able to provide the downtrodden, little human beings reach their goals and use the potential given to them by God (“Our History”, 2012).
Marian Wright Edelman
As already mentioned, the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) was founded by Marian Wright Edelman in 1973. Mrs. Edelman has been an activist for destitute and underprivileged Americans since the start of her professional career. The Children’s Defense Fund has turned out to be the most powerful platform for voicing the needs and interest of the needy children and their families. It is the result of the efficient and dynamic leadership of Marian Wright Edelman that The Children's Defense Fund has reached this position.
As mentioned above, she worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and later started the Washington Research Project. Apart from establishing CDF in 1973, Mrs. Edelman was also the chairman of the Board of Trustees of Spellman College from 1976 till 1987. She was also the first female whom the alumni elected as the Yale University Corporation member. She served there for six years from 1971 till 1977 (“Marian Wright Edelman”, 2012).
It is extremely significant to note here that she is not only the founder of CDF but has also received more than 100 honorary degrees and countless awards. The most commendable ones include the Heinz Award, the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, and a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship. She was also given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000. This is the highest civilian award in the United States of America that is awarded to exceptional individuals from various fields. Mrs. Edelman has also been awarded with the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award. This particular award is given to her for being an outstanding writer. Her remarkable works are “Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change; The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours; Guide My Feet: Meditations and Prayers on Loving and Working for Children; Stand for Children; Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors; Hold My Hand: Prayers for Building a Movement to Leave No Child Behind; I'm Your Child, God: Prayers for Our Children; I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children; and The Sea Is So Wide and My Boat Is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation” (“Marian Wright Edelman”, 2012).
Marian Wright Edelman is also associated with the Robin Hood Foundation. She is an active board member of the Association to Benefit Children. In addition, she is working with “the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences” (“Marian Wright Edelman”, 2012) as a dynamic and energetic member.
Programs and Campaigns Supported by the Children’s Defense Fund
For more than four decades, the Children’s Defense Fund is working closely with the federal and state child advocate organizations/individuals to have equal opportunities for every child in the nation. This is done by a number of programs, initiatives and campaigns. Through such programs, the Children’s Defense Fund is triumphant in educating the American citizens about the risks children face in today’s world. CDF is trying to make the general public aware about the essential measures that can be taken to pressurize the political establishment for the improvement of children’s lives.
The current programs and initiatives of the Children’s Defense Fund have a tough base due to its extensive bequest of accomplishment. CDF supports and stands behind numerous policies, programs and campaigns to empower the destitute communities and also facilitates in creating the urgent changes needed by children in the country (Programs & Campaigns”, 2012).
CDF Freedom Schools® Program
The CDF Freedom Schools Program aims to provide summer and after-school enhancement for helping children to develop interest in reading. This program seeks to increase self-esteem in children and make them develop a more affirmative approach to learning. A model curriculum has been developed to teach children and to support them and their families achieve 5 necessary elements. These include first-rate academic improvement, participation of family members, involvement in communal development and social contribution, leadership development; and nourishment, healthiness and mental wellbeing (Programs & Campaigns”, 2012).
Youth Leadership and Development Training
The Children’s Defense Fund is also working to train and equip the next age bracket of youthful mature leaders. The aim of this initiative is to enable the youngsters to lead their respective communities to care about, protect and advocate children’s interests. The Youth Leadership Network for Children of CDF consists of numerous programs that include “CDF Internship program, the Beat the Odds® Scholarship program, CDF Freedom Schools program, and the Young Advocate Leadership Training (YALT®) program” (Programs & Campaigns”, 2012).
Cradle to Prison Pipeline® Campaign
Cradle to Prison Pipeline Campaign of the Children’s Defense Fund’s is a nationwide movement for engaging families, adolescents, communities and government officials in the increase and advancement of strong, protected and skilled children. The Cradle to Prison Pipeline is an insistent general calamity in the USA that has put children (mostly belonging to marginal groups) at risk of going to penitentiary. The fuelling factors driving the prison pipeline are lack of basic resources, ethnic and cultural differences, and insufficient health care for physical and psychological health, neglect gaps during earlier years, unequal opportunities in education, unending ill-treatment and disregard and overloaded and futile juvenile justice systems.
Thus, CDF is rendering endless efforts with countrywide partners for the development of action plans specifically aimed to take the pipeline apart. This is done by arranging community meetings and didactic and sponsorship resources (Programs & Campaigns”, 2012).
Children who are unfortunately put behind bars are also helped by the Children’s Defense Fund.
Faith-Based Action Programs
CDF has collaborated with nationally-renowned religious leaders and groups for more than two decades. It has also worked hands in hands with various state and regional authorities, local congregations and common people for the uplift of children’s needs. This has helped CDF to successfully accomplish the goals of Leave No Child Behind® movement. The National Observance of Children's Sabbaths® manual is produced by the Children’s Defense Fund on a yearly basis which is meant to help faith communities work efficiently for the enlightenment and execution of children’s needs all over the country (Programs & Campaigns”, 2012).
Black Community Crusade for Children
The Black Community Crusade for Children, abbreviated as BCCC, was launched in silence in 1990 for confronting an intensifying calamity faced by Black children. The purpose of its initiation was to call on the entire American nation to come forward for taking immediate preventative actions. It aims to eliminate the lethal concoction of resources dearth, illiteracy, ethnic/cultural difference, hostility and substantial custody that has affected the lives of millions of colored children.
Protect Children, Not Guns
Protect Children, Not Guns is another campaign supported by the Children’s Defense Fund. Every thirty minutes in the country, a kid dies or gets injured from gunshots. The lives of children in the United States of America have been saturated due to gun violence. CDF believes that this can be avoided if people stand up, protest, and arrange themselves by joining this campaign against guns usage. This is needed until the law enforcement authorities, President, and other leaders have a similar goal to protect children and not guns. The Children’s Defense Fund is making the public aware that the life of a child is sacred and it is the high time to realize and understand that sensible gun-safety laws are passed for the protection of children.
Be Careful What You Cut
CDF is running another campaign for the protection of children’s rights which is named The “Be Careful What You Cut” campaign. It aims to make people realize that they should not support any program/policy that cuts children from the yearly governmental financial plans. This is because such a cut will be harmful for the future generations. The campaign is all about highlighting the various devastative consequences of ignoring child investments. CDF is working hard to make people realize the importance of budgeting for children needs (Behar, 1982). This campaign is being regulated on the simple philosophy of protect now or pay afterwards. The “Be Careful What You Cut” campaign has brought the existent blunder of cutting child savings into limelight. It aims to make people understand how kids’ protection programs today can have a drastic impact on their futures. It may even save more money for the adults in due course. Thus, the main objective of this campaign is to let people notice, generate buzz and strike a chord that there are other better ways to slash the funds than to single out powerless kids.
Legislations supported by the Children’s Defense Fund
The Children’s Defense Fund lobbies for different legislations. One of the greatest achievements in this regard took place in 2012 when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States of America. The ACA was a revolutionary health reform in the country introduced in 2010. Its continuation is benefitting millions of American children and teenagers.
In addition, the Children’s Defense Fund is also supporting progressive Juvenile Justice Legislation. It is presently encouraging the nationwide policy to protect juvenile offenders from harsh punishments. It is particularly working in the state of California where the stress is majorly on “the importance of preventative and intervention services that deter youth from entering the system, creates alternatives to juvenile incarceration, and ensures that those detained receive human treatment and the resources they need to succeed” (Juvenile Justice”, 2012).
Children's Defense Fund in California is supporting state legislation that is extensively helping in assuring a level playing field for every child. It is especially passing bills for the development of more opportunities for children to acquire health coverage. It is also working to take legislative measures for dismantling the "school to prison pipeline" and improving the handling of children in the juvenile justice systems in the state. The Children’s Defense Fund is also promoting a positive and developmentally suitable approach for improving discipline in educational institutions. One of the examples is of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports for guaranteeing that every student is encouraged to continue and be successful in school.
There is no doubt that the step taken by Marian Wright Edelman proved to be a miracle for millions of lives in the United States of America. The achievements and accomplishments of the Children’s Defense Fund are innumerable and the impact of this organization on American society is colossal. It has made both the lay men and government officials realize their responsibilities towards protecting the rights of the children. By supporting several programs and campaigns, CDF has done a lot to ensure that every child in the country gets equal opportunities in education, healthcare, nourishment etc. The Children’s Defense Fund has entered in its fourth decade now but the organization is still working for its cause with the same vigor and determination for the betterment of children and their futures.
Marian Wright Edelman has been successful in touching so many lives since the inception of the Children’s Defense Fund. There is no doubt that her contributions have made a significant difference in the American society (Old, 1995). CDF has progressed immensely since its founding in 1973 and has triumphantly reduced the number of abused, abandoned, ill, unqualified and poor kids in the United States of America. The research, campaigns for public awareness, policy advocacy, and collaborations of the Children’s Defense Fund have contributed greatly for the improvement of children’s lives.
About Us. (2012). Children's Defense Fund. Retrieved March 28, 2014, from http://www.childrensdefense.org/about-us/
Behar, L. (1982). The Children's Defense Fund Analyzes the Impact of the Reagan Budget Cuts on Children. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 11(1), 89-93.
Juvenile Justice. (2012). Children's Defense Fund. Retrieved March 31, 2014, from http://www.cdfca.org/policy-priorities/juvenile-justice/
Marian Wright Edelman. (2012). Children's Defense Fund. Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://www.childrensdefense.org/about-us/leadership-staff/marian-wright-edelman/
Old, W. C. (1995). Marian Wright Edelman: Fighting for Children's Rights. Springfield, N.J., USA: Enslow Publishers.
Our History. (2012). Children's Defense Fund. Retrieved March 28, 2014, from http://www.childrensdefense.org/about-us/our-history/
Programs & Campaigns. (2012). Children's Defense Fund. Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://www.childrensdefense.org/programs-campaigns/