Children's Defense Fund
The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) is a national organization that promotes the social welfare of children. The CDF lobbies Congress for funding to support various children's programs and conducts national awareness campaigns. It regularly publishes reports on the health and social well-being of children. Much of CDF's efforts have focused on saving federal programs from budget cuts.
Marian Wright Edelman, the first black woman to pass the state bar exam in Mississippi, founded the CDF in 1973. Edelman first gained national attention in the 1960s when she successfully stopped the state of Mississippi from withholding federal Head Start program funds from black American children. By the late 1960s Edelman had established the Washington Research Project, a group dedicated to fighting racial discrimination. A staff attorney for the group was Hillary Rodham Clinton, who later became first lady.
In 1973 Edelman turned the Washington Research Project into the Children's Defense Fund to focus on the needs of children. After fighting year after year to prevent budget cuts, the CDF got a boost when Bill Clinton became president in 1993. Clinton signed two pieces of legislation promoted by CDF during his terms. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 provided the right for workers to take unpaid leave to care for children or family members in medical need, while the Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act of 1994 increased enforcement of child support payments.
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