The Children's Defense Fund grew out of the Civil Rights Movement under the leadership of Marian Wright Edelman in 1973. For more than 40 years, CDF has worked tirelessly to level the playing field for all children and move forward our Leave No Child Behind® mission to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. The Children’s Defense Fund-Southern Regional Office (CDF-SRO) opened in Jackson, Mississippi in January 1995 to improve policies and programs for children in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Since 1995, CDF-SRO has built a network of religious and community organizations, children's advocates, youth leaders and public and elected officials across the South. Over the years, CDF-SRO has worked with black caucuses in southern states on their states' legislation to implement the Personal Responsibility Act of 1996; helped form the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative; increased the number of Mississippi children enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) from less than 700 to more than 60,000 in four years; and worked with legislative leaders and community partners to ensure that the Mississippi Adequate Education Program is fully funded to secure additional funding for the state's at risk students.