Children's Defense Fund Action Council

The Children's Defense Fund Action Council's Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

We seek to provide a strong, effective and independent voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves. We pay particular attention to the needs of poor children, children of color and those with disabilities. CDF Action Council educates the nation about the needs of children and encourages preventive investments before they get sick, drop out of school, get into trouble or suffer family breakdown.

The CDF Action Council began in 1969 and is a private, nonprofit organization under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. We have never taken government funds.

Support CDF Action Council

With your financial support, the CDF Action Council is prepared to stand even stronger and fight even harder on behalf of our nation's children.

The CDF Action Council is a voice for the children who cannot vote, lobby, or speak for themselves. From advocating for policies and programs that ensure children a quality education, to securing health coverage for millions of children in poverty, everything we accomplish depends on the generosity of people like you.

Donate Online

Please help the CDF Action Council to continue pushing for ground-breaking change by making a gift today. As a 501(c)4 child advocacy organization, your donation to the Children's Defense Fund Action Council is not tax deductible.

Donate by Mail

Download CDF's "Donate by Mail" form that allows you to provide your information and designate your donation. Please mail your completed form to:

Children's Defense Fund Action Council
Attn: Development Department
25 E Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001

When mailing a check, please indicate your designation on the check's memo line.



Child Action Center

Congress Reauthorize the JJDPA

Congress has the opportunity to renew the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act—which hasn’t been renewed since 2007.

Help us dismantle the Cradle to Prison Pipeline® crisis. Call your Senators and Representative. Urge them to support reauthorization of the JJDPA.


Congress, Please #StopTheCuts

Tell Congress to stop program cuts and get rid of sequestration rules that prevent needed investments to lift children out of poverty.

We must move forward, not backward if we are to end child poverty.


Share Your Story

How have you or someone you know been affected by child poverty, budget cuts to federal programs supporting poor and low-income families, or harsh school discipline policies or racial bias and ended up in the juvenile justice system? Use the power of your story to make a difference. Congress listens to stories, and if we would like to share yours, we will follow up to ask permission.


Protect Children, Not Guns

Contact your members of Congress and tell them to protect children instead of guns. We are deeply shaken by the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. The 20 children and 6 educators slain there are the latest victims of America’s gun violence plague. Each week, 350 children and teens are killed or injured by guns—enough to fill 14 more classrooms of 25 students. What have we become as a people when even in the face of such sin and suffering, we continue to protect guns before children?


Save 8 Million Children's Health Care

Ask your Governor to urge your Congressional delegation to extend CHIP funding for four more years.

Millions of children in working families are at risk of losing health coverage or paying more for less coverage starting September 30, 2015. Congress MUST extendthe Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding for four more years before it's too late.


Demand Our Nation’s Most Vulnerable Children Receive A Quality Education

 Tell your Members of Congress to secure the future by providing a quality education for every child.

Today, over fifteen million children in rich America live in poverty. More than 20 percent of children under age five are poor, including more than 40 percent of Black children and 35 percent of Hispanic children. The best hope these children have of lifting themselves out of poverty is a quality education. Yet for far too long, the most vulnerable children in America have been denied this opportunity. Inequities in educational funding, resources and opportunities have placed poor and minority children in low-performing schools with inadequate facilities and ineffective teachers.


Act Now to Create a Strong Start for Children

Tell your Members of Congress to support the Strong Start for America’s Children Act.

Together we can help guarantee that all children have access to high-quality early childhood development and learning opportunities. Call Congress and tell them to support the Strong Start for America’s Children Act.


Act Now To Improve Access to High-Quality Child Care

Tell your Members of Congress to support the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014.

Together we can help ensure that young children have access to safe, developmentally appropriate, high-quality child care environments while their parents and guardians work to support their families. Call Congress and tell them to support the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014.


I Pledge to Protect Children, Not Guns

Together, our voices will be heard!

  • By Spreading the Truth about guns and sensible gun safety legislation

  • By Raising Awareness of the epidemic gun violence in my community, state and country

  • By Planning a Community March and Vigil to remember children and teens lost to gun violence

  • By Asking my elected officials to support universal background checks and other gun safety legislation

  • By Holding elected officials accountable
News & Media

CDF In the News

Read news stories featuring CDF’s work, campaigns, initiatives, and employees.

More CDF In the News

Latest News on Children's Issues

Stay up to date with news and stories on issues affecting children in the U.S.

More Latest News

Congressional Scorecard

How Well Did Your Members of Congress Protect Children?

Once again, that's the question asked by the Children's Defense Fund Action Council® 2011 Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard. We tracked votes that Senators and Representatives cast on important concerns affecting children and families in 2011, and each Member of Congress received a score based on how often his or her votes helped protect children.

2011 Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard

Download the full report to see how your Members of Congress voted to protect children.

How Your State Delegation Scored

Preface (66 KB, .pdf)

How the CDF Action Council Compiles This Congressional Scorecard (48 KB, .pdf)

Best and Worst U.S. Senators for Children (33 KB, .pdf)

Best and Worst U.S. Representatives for Children (40 KB, .pdf)

U.S. Senators & U.S. Representatives with Failing Scores for Children (49 KB, .pdf)

The Taxpayer Protection Pledge (48 KB, .pdf)

Votes Used in the Scorecard (32 KB, .pdf)

Congressional Members' Scores by State Delegation and Vote Descriptions (180 KB, .pdf)

Past Scorecards

Additional Information on How Children are Faring in America

Scorecard Preface

"The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children."
—German Protestant Theologian
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Congressional Deficit: Leaving Millions of Children Behind

After nearly one million children fell into poverty in 2010, millions of American children and families struggled with hunger and homelessness. Yet Congress in 2011 mostly ignored the 16.1 million poor children and the 7.3 million extremely poor children in need. The polarized and hyper-partisan 112th Congress passed not a single major bill to relieve their suffering and bickered its way through high-stakes deadlines to set a record as one of the least productive Congressional sessions ever.

The Ryan Budget

In April 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives launched an all-out assault on children and families in need by passing the “Ryan Budget.” This drastic budget proposed hundreds of billions in cuts from child investments; repealed the landmark health reform law that provides coverage to 95 percent of children; eliminated protections for more than 30 million children currently served by Medicaid; cut children and families from food subsidies; and chopped education subsidies for 9.4 million low-income college students. Ryanomics robs poor children of their futures, rewards the rich by extending the massive Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, and costs taxpayers $800 billion over 10 years. Ryanomics leaves no doubt—if we give more massive tax breaks to the richest 2 percent and corporations today, we don’t have the resources to protect and prepare our children for a strong America tomorrow.

The Anti-Child Taxpayer Protection Pledge

The “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” sponsored by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, is a written promise that asks every state and federal candidate to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”[1] By signing the pledge, elected officials promise to oppose 1) “any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and businesses” and 2) “any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”[2] A majority of our Members of Congress have so handcuffed themselves to the pledge that routine decisions like raising the debt ceiling created gridlock taking our nation to the brink of default. Their irresponsible abdication of judgment has put millions of our children and our nation at risk.

Income and wealth inequality have grown hugely, threatening the very fabric of our democracy. Since 1979, the highest-income Americans (top 1 percent) have seen their incomes grow by 275 percent, while the bottom 20 percent has seen only an 18 percent increase. The top 1 percent holds more net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined. In 2008, the 400 highest-income taxpayers earned as much as the combined tax revenue of 22 state governments with almost 42 million citizens. And yet Grover Norquist has convinced 279 Members of Congress to pledge not to raise a single dollar in taxes from those who benefit most from unjust tax cuts and loopholes that have enriched the rich, ravaged the poor and middle class, and jeopardized our economy with a housing bubble created by bad mortgages that required massive bailouts of corporations “too big to fail” while millions of Americans lost their homes and pensions.

If these reckless tax policies persist, cascading federal, state, and local budget cuts will continue to hurt millions of families, the misery of epidemic poverty will continue to grow, and a vanishing American dream will continue to disappear for millions of children. These facts led the CDF Action Council to include the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” as a vote against children in its 2011 Scorecard.

How Members of Congress Scored

On the whole, the 112th Congress was a “do-nothing” Congress. But many did respond to our calls to defend health care reform, invest in children, and prevent the national budget from being balanced on the backs of babies. Thanks to public pressure, child advocates in the House and Senate supported critical votes outlined in the 2011 CDF Action Council Scorecard. We are grateful that 141 Members of Congress scored 100 percent and 223 Members scored between 80 and 100 percent. Please thank them for voting against the following proposals that would have eliminated essential supports for low-income children and families:

  • Repeal of the landmark Affordable Care Act
  • The Ryan House budget
  • Elimination of Eligibility Provisions for the Food Stamp Program
  • Balanced Budget Amendment

The bad news is that 302 Members of Congress scored below 60 percent—a failing grade—and 21 of these Members scored zero on our Scorecard. If your members are among them, please let them hear from you and hold them accountable.

By “keeping score,” we remind our political leaders that we are paying attention. Our Scorecard makes clear that America’s greatest deficit is not one of money but of values and priorities. We cannot leave millions of children without hope or a vision of a future worth striving for in our materially powerful but spiritually poor nation. Let us demand that all our political leaders pledge not to ask children to sacrifice their hopes and health and food and education while asking for no sacrifice from powerful billionaires and corporations who have already reaped more than their fair share.