Policy and Advocacy

Children’s Defense Fund champions policies and programs to improve the odds for America’s children and youth. We focus our advocacy on the whole child, because we believe children don’t come in pieces.

2024-2030 CDF Policy Agenda for Child Well-being

The CDF Pathway to Change calls CDF into ongoing conversation with the communities we serve to inform and endorse CDF’s policy agenda for child well-being. The process for recalibrating our policy agenda began in summer 2022 and was informed by a number of crucial inputs, including CDF Freedom Schools Executive Listening Sessions, the annual State of America’s Children report, and ongoing conversations with the Black Student Leadership Network, faith organizers at the annual Hall-Proctor Institute, and CDF Freedom Schools scholars and families as part of our child well-being narrative project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This agenda recognizes that children themselves cannot be the only locus of intervention for their well-being. Their life outcomes are first impacted by the environments, families, school systems and neighborhoods in which they sing, dance and play. These communities much be transformed in order to change their lives significantly and sustainably.

This document delivers on CDF’s Pathway to Change capacity of a “Common agenda for child well-being authorized by children and youth.” We are committed to community listening not as an event but as a modus operandi, which will prompt us to regularly revisit this document and reassess priorities.

Hover over a policy ring to learn more.

Safe spaces where neighbors assume a collective responsibility for the well-being of all children so they can thrive without fear A stable, nurturing home for each child and the aspiration for each generation to advance economically The well-being of all youth, nourishing meals, active lifestyles, and positive social environments Comprehensive education that equips every student for lifelong success and active civic participation The early nurturing of every baby and toddler, high-quality prenatal care, and early bonds with caregivers J u s t & C a r i n g C o m m u n i t i e s F a m i l y S t a b i l i t y & E c o n o m i c M o b i l i t y C h i l d r e n s H e a l t h & H e a l i n g E d u c a t i o n f o r C i v i c L i f e & W o r k E a r l y L e a r n i n g & D e v e l o p m e n t

AYPF powered by CDF

In August of 2023, American Youth Policy Forum’s board of directors reached a strategic agreement to merge its resources into Children’s Defense Fund to consolidate efforts to amplify young voices. At this critical time when the nation’s youth are becoming more politically engaged and vocal, the impact of AYPF’s 30-year legacy and the ongoing advocacy of CDF will be best leveraged by joining together to benefit the nation’s young people.

Learn More
Young men with with fists raised in power.

Take Action Now to Support an Expanded Child Tax Credit

We need to act now and advocate for the expanded Child Tax Credit to provide economic relief for families in their 2023 tax returns!

Act Now
Young men with with fists raised in power.
Young girl holding her sibling on her lap.

2023 State of America’s Children® Report

Children’s Defense Fund’s 2023 State of America’s Children® Report summarizes the status of America’s children. Explore the report’s findings across 11 areas of focus including child population, child poverty, income and wealth inequality, housing and homelessness, child hunger and nutrition, child health, early childhood, education, child welfare, youth justice, and gun violence.

Explore the Report

Latest Policy Research