DEFENSE FUND’S SOUTHERN REGIONAL OFFICE
CDF/SRO opened in Jackson, MS in January of 1995 and works in the
states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
has been actively engaged in building a network of religious and community
organizations, children’s advocates, youth leaders and public
officials across the South. In January, 1997 as southern states
were beginning to adopt proposals for implementing new federal welfare
legislation, CDF/SRO worked with key leaders in southern states
to arm them with information and technical assistance they needed
to raise the lever of awareness among the public and to work for
the best possible implementation of state-based welfare reform policies.
CDF southern staff continued to build on this work, by assisting
these networks as other issues related to welfare reform began to
emerge – access to child care, health care, transportation,
education and job training.
1998, CDF/SRO worked with several organizations in Mississippi to
form a network of child care providers who served low income, mostly
poor, working families. This group, the MS Low Income Child Care
Initiative, is actively involved in work to make better quality
child care more accessible to the children of women trying to move
from welfare to work. Following passage of the federal Children’s
Health Insurance Program, CDF/SRO worked with its state partners
to develop state based Children’s Health Insurance Programs.
Massive, intensive campaigns were engaged in each state to inform
the design and implementation of companion state Children’s
Health Insurance policies.
1999, the CDF Southern Regional Office was chosen by the W. K. Kellogg
Foundation to serve as the lead state organization for the Mississippi
Devolution Initiative. The Mississippi Devolution Partnership was
formed to examine how well the state was implementing revolutionary
policies related to child care, health care and job training and
placement. CDF/SRO also currently serves as the state grantee for
the W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s Supporting Partnership to Assure
Ready Kids (SPARK) Initiative.
SRBWI state leads are the Federation of Community Controlled Child
Care Centers (FOCAL) in Alabama, and the Southwest Georgia Project
for Community Education in Georgia.
OF CHILDCARE CENTERS OF ALABAMA, INC.
is a 501 (c) (3) statewide nonprofit membership organization, comprised
of child care providers, parents and individuals interested in child
care issues throughout Alabama.
In 1972 FOCAL was organized to protect the interest of poor and
black communities threatened by the passage of a new Alabama law
regulating child day care. Its mission is to train, educate, support,
and enable poor and minority individuals to organize, unify, mobilize
resources, and build effective programs in the areas of child care,
public policy, and economic development.
During its 30 year history, FOCAL has been a vehicle and structure
for child care providers to support each other and combine their
voices to affect public policy in order to survive financially and
to improve the quality of care available to children in their communities.
FOCAL represents over 300 community-based child day care providers,
including center directors, staff, home providers, as well as parents
and community leaders. Our members directly touch the lives of over
5,500 poor and minority children and their parents every day. They
impact their broader community by serving as grassroots leaders.
FOCAL’s More is Caught than Taught Program builds on its thirty
years of pioneering work. Through out our history we have been led
by African-American women who have cared for their communities and
come together to accomplish extraordinary work. Hundreds of women
and men have developed positions of leadership in FOCAL, in local
communities and in the state. In addition to providing technical
assistance and partnering with numerous agencies and groups in the
United States, FOCAL has worked closely with children’s organizations
in Australia and England for the past seven years, sharing its model
of mobilizing disenfranchised individuals to take responsibility
for caring for children. FOCAL is recognized locally, nationally
and internationally, by the Alabama Legislature, numerous state
and local organizations, the Ford, Rockefeller, MacArthur, New World
and the Netherlands based, Bernard van Leer Foundations.
Additionally, FOCAL’s work has been sighted in publications
that range from national magazines to college textbooks.
GEORGIA PROJECT FOR COMMUNITY EDUCATION, INC.
Southwest Georgia Project was organized as a non-profit community
service organization in 1968. It was formed for the specific purpose
of organizing communities to address problems of social, economic,
health, education and racial disparities in African American communities.
more than 30 years, the organization has provided support to the
development of various community programs including the establishment
of minority business enterprises, youth leadership development,
education and training programs, and consults for the study of public
policy. The Southwest Georgia Project began operating programs to
serve low income minority youth as early as 1968 with the establishment
of summer enrichment and tutorial programs in Baker, Dougherty,
Calhoun and Lee Counties. Volunteers were recruited from these communities
and trained to work with the more disadvantaged youth to increase
reading and math skills and to provide a place for youth to gather
for arts and cultural awareness activities. These early years of
operation served hundreds of children and interacted with many families
and representatives of the business community. The program was probably
the first organized self-help program in these counties coming out
of the big anti-poverty programs of the early sixties and seventies.
first economic development project was a print shop that also served
as an employment training program for some of the youth in the communities
begin served. The business flourished and became a major center
of operations for nearly a decade.
One of the most important initiatives of the Southwest Georgia Project
was the organization of New Communities, Inc., a land trust. By
January 1970, the group had purchased nearly 6000 acres of land
in Lee County Georgia, which made it the largest single land mass
owned by Blacks in the United States. The purpose of the project
was to upgrade the quality of life of rural, poor, and mostly Black
communities by offering meaningful employment, creating economic
leverages to ensure and improve the income of small farmers, and
ownership opportunities for its settlers.
1969, the Southwest Georgia Project has worked almost exclusively
in African American communities and poor neighborhoods. Since around
1974, the composition of the organizational board has remained purely
African American. The Governing Board of Directors consists of 24
members. The organization reflects individuals from all walks of
life. The programs and services are primarily developed by African
Americans and designed for individuals and families who are in need.