History

 

The 1930s A Man With A Plan In 1937, the second Sino-Japanese War began in Asia as Japan once again invaded China, displacing millions of families and children. J. Calvitt Clarke, a Presbyterian minister in Richmond, Va., was determined to spend his life helping children in need.

Aware of the plight of children in China, Dr. Clarke successfully set up China’s Children Fund, and it was chartered in Virginia by the fall of 1938. He was determined to help children in China affected by the war, many of whom had become orphaned and displaced.

Clarke had an uncanny ability to raise money for people in distress. In the early stages of his work, he had managed to organize the largest collection of used clothing for Armenian refugees.

CCF Sends Its First Contributions The plight of children in Japan-occupied China weighed heavily on his heart. On Feb. 21, 1939, just four months after CCF's official founding, CCF's Board voted to send its first contribution, $2,000, immediately to the authorities in China. Dr. Clarke continued his work, and by late 1939, China's Children Fund had sent more than $13,000 to assist the KuKong orphanage and a school in China.

Pioneering Sponsorship By 1941, Dr. Clarke had unveiled his plan for individual, person-to-person child “sponsorship,” and donors began sending $24 per year, per child. This new concept enabled people who were able to send smaller amounts of money on a regular basis to help an individual child – pioneering the philosophy of child sponsorship.

The 1940s The Great Escape In 1942, Dr. Verent Mills was serving as a missionary in China. He personally led 142 starving Chinese orphans on a trek to escape the invading Japanese army. Their journey took them more than 300 miles on foot from Toishan, China to the CCF-assisted KuKong Orphanage. Along the way, Rev. Mills stopped to save an abandoned infant, lying near death on the roadside, who would become the youngest resident of the KuKong Orphanage. Mills named him Lo Duk, which means “begotten of the road.”

Expansion in Asia At the close of WWII, and just seven years after its founding, CCF was sending over $372,000 in sponsorship donations annually to China. By 1946, CCF had extended its assistance to the Philippines and Burma. Dr. Mills was asked to lead CCF’s expansion into northern China, Korea and Japan, and eventually CCF began serving children in Malaysia, Indonesia, Borneo and India.

Expansion into Europe The needs of the European community became obvious after the devastation of WWII, which left many children in Europe vulnerable to poverty and illness. During the next few years, CCF began operations in Belgium, England, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, eventually moving into other countries in Europe.

The 1950s Leaving China In 1951, Dr. Mills became CCF’s Overseas Director, with headquarters in Hong Kong. Soon, assistance was given to orphanages in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. Sadly, around the same time, the spread of communism in China meant CCF had to give up the 46 orphanages it had established there, leaving the very country where its assistance had begun. CCF focused its efforts on serving more than 10 million people in South Korea displaced by the invading North Korean army. CCF orphans in Seoul were, in some cases, rescued by military planes and flown to a new CCF-created orphanage on Cheju island. One such dramatic rescue effort inspired the 1956 Rock Hudson film, "Battle Hymn".

In 1953, CCF owned 23 orphanages serving more than 4,000 children. By 1955, CCF had expanded into 15 Asian countries, working in hundreds of orphanages.

A Name Change After leaving China, it became apparent that the name China Children’s Fund was no longer appropriate. The Japanese specifically expressed they were no longer comfortable with the name. Although many feared the loss of recognition involved with a name change, a solution was found. The initials CCF would be retained, but not as China Children’s Fund. Beginning Feb. 6, 1951, following approval by the board of directors, those initials stood for Christian Children’s Fund. Yet the new name still raised problems in Indonesia as the government filed a complaint. Dr. Mills went to the Ministry of Religion to explain that, “we operated on the Christian principle of loving thy neighbor, but we did not and would not proselytize.”

The 1960s CCF Goes International In 1960, Christian Children's Fund of Canada was formed as the first official international affiliate of CCF outside the United States. CCF was assisting more than 36,000 children in 50 countries with an annual budget of more than $4.5 million.

From Orphanages to "Family Helper Programs" In 1960, the Korean Association of Voluntary Agencies expressed concern that parents were actually abandoning their children to get them into CCF orphanages, which offered superior care and education. In response, CCF created unique “Family Helper Projects” in several countries, which sent community “advisers” to administer sponsorship funds along with programs that helped families in their own homes -- addressing their specific needs.

This model would revolutionize the way Christian Children’s Fund approached child and community development. CCF, initially founded to rescue children from the ravages of war, had come to understand by the 1960s that the less obvious threat of poverty was every bit as destructive to the well-being of children.

In 1964, CCF continued its new program initiative of assisting children living with their families, using this model throughout its programs in Latin America. In this “family helper program,” children received services administered by staff at a CCF project. CCF projects were set up throughout Latin America, to conduct programs supported by both children’s sponsors and general contributions.

Realizing the Importance of Community-Based Development In 1967, Christian Children’s Fund adopted an important policy change: that national programs were to be headed by nationals whenever possible. At this point, CCF was working in 56 countries and understood the value in having local people, who are familiar with the challenges and culture of the children served by CCF, take the lead in developing community-based programs to address these specific challenges. CCF began to develop our new community development approach to helping children in need, with a holistic view of the “whole child” and community-based interventions.

The 1970s Africa Joins the Fold CCF opened its first office in Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. This was the beginning of a number of programs throughout Africa, including emergency services in times of drought and famine.

By now, CCF was assisting 133,555 children, of whom 88,455 were in orphanages or boarding schools.

Etching Our Ethics in Stone In 1976, CCF adopted a strict “Code of Fundraising Ethics,” to establish in black and white our high principles of accountability, integrity, stewardship and honesty for which our organization stands. Sally Struthers, famous for her role on the television show, “All In The Family”, began appearing in CCF television ads.

The 1980s By 1985, more than 325,000 children were sponsored through CCF. Affiliated organizations existed in Denmark, Germany, Great Britain and Australia.

Sponsored Child Elected to Board of Directors In 1986, Dr. Chun Wai Chan, who had been a sponsored child in CCF’s Faith Love Home in Hong Kong from 1959 to 1967, became the first former CCF-sponsored child to be elected to CCF’s Board of Directors.

Presidential Recognition In 1987, CCF received a Presidential End Hunger Award from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For the fiscal year 1987, CCF provided more $68 million to children in need around the world.

The 1990s ChildAlert In 1990, CCF established “ChildAlert,” an emergency fund that operates outside CCF’s normal sponsorship program. Donations made to ChildAlert are used to provide emergency interventions and assistance to thousands of children around the globe living in the most desperate of circumstances–caused by war, civil unrest or natural disasters.

New Home for CCF On May 10, 1991, CCF moved to its current International Headquarters, in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia. Construction of CCF’s facilities, was paid for with bequests and other reserve funds — not with sponsorship funds.

Child Centered Spaces The first CCF Child Centered Space was established in 1999, as a part of the effort to help children affected by war in East Timor to recover, learn, play and heal. CCF Child Centered Spaces are a hallmark of CCF’s emergency response and psychosocial intervention methods.

The 2000s CCF Emergency Response By the 2000s, thanks to our donor support of the ChildAlert Emergency Fund and a new effort to obtain grants, CCF became a leader in immediate, child-focused emergency response.

From the late 1990s to the present, CCF emergency response teams provide critical emergency relief and long-term psychosocial recovery assistance to children affected by war and natural disasters around the globe--addressing children’s needs in war-torn Sierra Leone and Angola, the Ethiopian drought, 1998’s Hurricane Mitch, the rebuilding of East Timor, and most recently, children displaced by war in Afghanistan and Sudan. CCF continues to offer support for long-term rebuilding in countries ravaged by the tsunami of December 26, 2004.

New Look at Poverty Through an in-depth three-part study on child poverty, CCF is revamping programs to implement sustainable activities that address issues of poverty as they affect children. The study debunked many of the myths concerning children and poverty and revealed that children acutely feel poverty, not just through depravation, but also through exclusion and vulnerability. One of the many results of the study was the formation of a new developmental approach that targets the countries where children are most affected by these three indicators.

New Emphasis on Grants Also in this decade, CCF is putting more emphasis on obtaining grants in order to expand our assistance to children, families and communities. A grants unit was founded, and grants income has increased sevenfold since the year 2000.
To Help More Children Now CCF was among 12 international children's organizations that joined together in June 2002 under the charter and banner of ChildFund Alliance. 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 to donors and those we serve. 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 will work to substantially impact the lives of children in need. Current members of ChildFund Alliance are: CCF Australia; Christian Children's Fund of Canada; BORNEfonden, Denmark; Un Enfant Par La Main, France; CCF Kinderhilfswerk, Germany; CCF Ireland; ChildFund Japan; Korea Welfare Foundation Inc; ChildFund New Zealand; Barnfonden, Sweden; Taiwan Fund for Children and Families; and Christian Children's Fund, U.S.A.
New Strategy, New Name In April 2009, CCF’s Board of Directors approved a new strategy and new name – ChildFund International – that takes effect July 1, 2009. Leading up to its 70th anniversary, CCF put the entire organization under the microscope by studying best practices in its sector, reviewing programs on the ground, consulting with experts in child development and child-centered community development and talking with donors. The name ChildFund International reflects the true breadth and international scope of the organization’s work and recognizes the affiliation with the ChildFund Alliance.