ChildFund History and Story
The 1930s and '40s
A Vision: Child Sponsorship
ChildFund began in 1938 as China’s Children Fund (CCF), a non-governmental emergency relief organization created to help children displaced by the second Sino-Japanese War. China’s Children Fund, founded in Richmond, Virginia, by Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke, started helping children with a two thousand dollar donation followed by a $13,000 contribution to support a school and the KuKong orphanage.
The “child sponsorship” humanitarian development concept we know today stemmed from Dr. Clarke’s early vision: one sponsor donates one amount to help one child.
The Needs Grow: Asia and Europe
More than $372,000 in sponsorship donations were sent annually to China at the close of World War II and by 1946 CCF was assisting children in the Philippines and Burma. Dr. Verent Mills, a missionary in China, led expansion efforts into northern China, Korea and Japan; then into Malaysia, Indonesia, Borneo and India. Europe, where children were vulnerable to poverty and illness from World War II, was next. Programs began in Belgium, England, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and more European countries.
The 1950s and '60s
A Needed Name Change: “Christian Children’s Fund”
Lebanon, Syria and Palestine were added to the growing number of places where children lived in poverty and where China’s Children’s Fund helped them survive. As our work spread beyond China, the name was no longer relevant. The initials “CCF” now stood for “Christian Children’s Fund” and the organization focused its efforts on more than 10 million people in South Korea displaced by the invading North Korean army.
Assistance increased to more than 36,000 children in 50 countries with an annual budget of more than $4.5 million.
Christian Children's Fund of Canada was formed as the first official international affiliate.
The Revolutionary Shift: From Orphanages to In-Home Family Assistance
In 1960, the Korean Association of Voluntary Agencies expressed concern that parents were abandoning their children to get them into CCF orphanages. Our orphanages provided superior care and education. So we created unique “Family Helper Projects.” “Community advisors” administered sponsorship funds and implemented these projects by helping families in their own homes. This way of thinking revolutionized the way we approached child and community development.
Initially founded to rescue children from the ravages of war, CCF had come to understand that the threat of poverty was just as destructive to the well being of children. We continued this new program initiative. Staff at our projects throughout Latin America administered “family helper programs.” Financial support came from child sponsors and general contributions.
Lessons Learned: The Importance of Community-Based Development
In 1967, we adopted an important policy change: local programs were to be led by local leaders whenever possible. CCF had on-the-ground experience in 56 countries and we knew the value of having local people, familiar with the cultural nuances and the challenges facing their children, take the lead in developing community-based programs. We focused on the holistic view of the “whole child” and community-based interventions.
The 1970s and '80s
A Changing World: Africa, Accountability and Affiliates
CCF left Europe and the Middle East and we opened our first office in Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. This was the first of a number of programs throughout Africa, including drought and famine emergency services.
We created a strict “Code of Fundraising Ethics” to exemplify our high principles of accountability, integrity, stewardship and honesty. These guiding principles still stand today.
By 1985, more than 325,000 children were sponsored through CCF. We created affiliated organizations to serve Denmark, Germany, Great Britain and Australia.
In 1986, Dr. Chun Wai Chan, a former sponsored child in our “Faith Love Home” in Hong Kong, was elected to CCF’s Board of Directors.
In 1987, we received a Presidential “End Hunger Award” from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
We provided more $68 million to children in need around the world.
The 1990s and Turn of the Century
An Alarming Need: Emergency Response
War, civil unrest and natural disasters grow at alarming rates. We created “ChildAlert,” a fund providing emergency interventions and assistance to thousands of children living in the most desperate circumstances. ChildAlert allowed our emergency response teams to provide immediate relief and long-term psychosocial recovery assistance to children in war-torn Sierra Leone and Angola, to those affected by the Ethiopian drought and Hurricane Mitch, and to those affected by wars in Afghanistan and The Sudan, and the tsunami of 2004.
We established the first of our “Child Centered Spaces” to help children affected by war in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony annexed by Indonesia and now an independent nation. Child Centered Spaces help children recover, learn, play and heal. A return to “normalcy” in an uncertain world. Here they feel hope for the future. And communities become better organized to support their children. They are a hallmark of our emergency response and psychosocial interventions.
We became a leader in immediate, child-focused emergency response.
The Breakthrough in International Child Development: Voices of Children
Our three-part study on child poverty led us to re-invent our developmental programming approach. The study debunked many of the myths concerning children and poverty and revealed that children acutely feel poverty, not just through deprivation, but also through exclusion and vulnerability. The study is available to development professionals and all who fight to eradicate the roots of poverty.
Children have a voice when it comes to how poverty affects them and their future. We listen.
Funding Sources: Diversification for the Future
We looked to grant funding to expand our assistance to children, families and communities. A “Grants Unit” was founded and grants income has increased sevenfold since the year 2000.
Strength in Numbers: The ChildFund Alliance
Eleven international children's organizations came together as the “ChildFund Alliance.” The ChildFund Alliance is a global voice for children, making children's needs and voices heard, and utilizing best practices to assure the highest level of accountability. The challenges facing children today -- the HIV/AIDS pandemic, escalating child poverty, ongoing regional conflicts and major natural disasters -- require a globe-spanning organization that works to substantially impact the lives of children in need.
The ChildFund Alliance now has 12 members: ChildFund Australia; Christian Children's Fund of Canada; BORNEfonden (Denmark); Un Enfant Par La Main (France); ChildFund Deutschland (Germany); ChildFund Ireland; ChildFund Japan; ChildFund Korea; ChildFund New Zealand; Barnfonden (Sweden); Taiwan Fund for Children and Families; and ChildFund International.
Today and Tomorrow: ChildFund International
No matter where our work takes us, we listen to children. We ask them how they feel and what they need. We listen. We give a voice to impoverished children and we get, in return, a world of ways to help them reach their potential. We implement. We monitor our results. We adjust, as we need to.
We focus on childhood as the one window of opportunity for physical, cognitive, psychological, emotional and social development. Children become leaders and agents of community change.
We are now ChildFund.
We will improve the lives of children who are in the most distress. And the lives of communities where they live.
We can change the world. You can help.