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Project Background

Since its founding in 1995, Children’s Rights has used strategic litigation, advocacy and public education to reform child welfare systems and improve the lives of thousands of children across the USA.

Children’s Rights’ work is focused on ensuring that child welfare systems actually do what they are legally required to do: protect and heal children. Through litigation and policy initiatives, the organization identifies failing and dangerous systems throughout the U.S. and promotes changes that will improve children’s lives.

Legal Reform - Children’s Rights goes to court to establish the rights of children to be protected from maltreatment and raised in safe, healthy, permanent homes—and to secure court orders that mandate top-to-bottom reform of the child welfare systems that violate these rights. The organization’s legal campaigns force open the doors of systems that lack the transparency and accountability necessary to identify and fix problems that often have plagued them for many years.

Policy Advocacy - Children’s Rights’ Policy Department is currently conducting a number of public policy initiatives to advocate for reforms on behalf of abused and neglected children. In November 2009, the organization released a major study of the barriers to placing children in foster care in New York City, into permanent homes.


CRI has won landmark victories affecting more than a million vulnerable children in more than a dozen states. Nationwide reform campaigns have secured well over $2 billion in additional child welfare funding and initiated improvements to ensure that funds are spent more effectively.

Some examples of Children’s Rights success include:

- Connecticut: 100% of front line treatment workers assigned to children in foster care now have acceptable caseloads, compared to only 51% in 2003; children are now placed in permanent homes more quickly; and the state’s child welfare budget has increased from less than $250 million in the 1990s to over $900 million.

- Georgia: The rate of children abused while in foster care has decreased by 50% over the past year; the state has improved the timeliness of its investigations into abuse in care; and caseloads of attorneys that represent children in the juvenile courts have dropped from 500 children per attorney in 2002, to less than 100 per attorney today.

- Milwaukee, Wisconsin: The percent of children remaining in foster care for more than two years has decreased by 43% since 2003; 94% of children now receive monthly face-to-face visits with their caseworkers, compared to only 10% in 2000; and the practice of placing children in shelters, including young children, has been discontinued.

Strategic Plan

In June 2008, the Children’s Rights Board of Directors adopted a Five Year Strategic Plan for Children’s Rights, the primary goals of which are:

  • Reach more children, by expanding the number of reform campaigns that Children’s Rights undertakes, exploring new legal strategies, and increasing the impact of the organization’s work through policy advocacy.
  • Improve Children’s Rights’ effectiveness, by expanding Children’s Rights’ Policy Department and its role in the organization’s reform campaigns, and using its expertise to inform and guide the development and implementation of plans for reforming failed child welfare systems.
  • Build a stronger organization, through expanded fundraising and the development of the organization’s Board and staff.

CRY America’s grant to CRI in 2009-2010 will be directed towards general operating expenses to enable the organization to significantly improve their ability to defend the rights of neglected and abused children and enable sustainable systemic changes through need based litigation.

For more information about Children’s Rights: please visit

Grant Amount: $25,000