History and Accomplishments

The Founding

Just after the congressional hearings on financial child support problems in 1984, several individuals, most of whom had undergone custody battles, decided that a national non-profit organization needed to be established to focus on emotional child support.  

They met in the lobby of a building in northern Virginia, and decided to launch the organization.  Attendees at the meeting in late 1984 included Michael L. Oddenino, John Bauserman Sr., Elliott H. Diamond, Carl Friedman, David L. Levy, Ellen Levy, and Paul Robinson.  It was decided that the group would be gender-neutral and focus on the needs of the children whose parents were separated, divorced or never-married. 

Progress

Since then, the Children's Rights Council has blossomed into an internationally recognized non-profit organization that has testified before congressional committees over 20 times.  CRC submitted the first of 40 written statements for the record in congressional hearings in favor of access (visitation) policies and programs, joint custody (shared parenting), and welfare reform that would encourage two-parent families, mediation, and implementation of the Hague Convention Against International Parental Kidnapping. 

Historical Highlights

2007

  • A national strategic planning process was initiated to determine new horizons and directions where CRC could make the greatest strides in accomplishment of its revised mission statement.  The revisions involve serving the public interest by advocating for: the healthy development of children by strengthening families and reducing the acrimony of divorce, through social and legislative reform, parental mediation and education, conciliation and access, child financial support systems, and to minimize the emotional, physical, and economic abuse, neglect and distress, associated with children at risk of destructive behaviors caused by families involved in highly conflicted disputes.

2006

  • The French Ambassador to the United States, Jean David-Levitte and Mrs. Levitte, hosted a charity benefit for CRC at their residence in March. More than 125 socially prominent Washingtonians attended this event for the purpose of increasing awareness throughout the U.S. and France.
  • More than 300 college student interns from around the country have enjoyed a meaningful Washington experience through a semester’s internship with CRC.  In recognition of this important service, The Washington Center presented CRC the Non-Profit Intern Provider of the Year Award.
  • CRC launched a new website, www.CRCkids.org, offering general users and members unparalleled levels of access to family law practices, custody and access resources, shared parenting education, child support enforcement procedures, social research, and legislative initiatives at the federal and state levels.

2005

  • The Bush Administration proposed doubling of access (visitation) funds to the states from $10 million a year to $20 million a year, over a period of five years. 
  • CRC published Judges’ Access Center Handbook, designed to familiarize the bench with the benefits and processes of making court-ordered referrals to families.  Developed by CRC, the 32 page pamphlet was designed and printed by the generous support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
  • Dwight Twilley, the legendary pop star, CRC spokesperson, and native of Oklahoma, held benefit performances on behalf of CRC in Tulsa, Oklahoma in August

2004

  • Ernie Ashworth, a member of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and his wife Betty, became national spokespersons for CRC on behalf of grandparents’ interests. 
  • Hadassah Luther, an award winning country music star performed around the country as CRC’s child spokesperson about concerns facing children.
  • CRC hosted the 15th National Child Access Network Conference in Toledo, OH focusing on joint custody and the development and operation of Safe Haven Child Access Centers for neutral drop-off and pick-up of children and supervised access.

2003

  • Walter Benda, head of CRC Japan, represented the CRC at a White House Conference about the international kidnapping of children.
  • CRC started publishing the quarterly Family Facts, a one page pull-out highlighting facts that CRC members could easily distribute to policymakers, professionals, judges, and others who need information about the needs of children.
  • CRC hosted the annual “Equal Parents Vigil” in September in Washington, D.C.  Many other organizations held vigils in their states or countries calling for efforts to enable children to have frequent and continuing contact with their parents.

2002

  • David L. Levy met with President Bush following his signing a bill providing for the mentoring of children of prisoners, and to offer support for the Bush Administration’s Fatherhood Bill, which would provide $64 million for each of the next five years.
  • The State of Ohio officially declared the last week of September as “Parents’ Week” throughout the state, culminating with a panel discussion among state senators, representatives, mayors and judges addressing the role of government in helping families and parents.
  • CRC hosted the “Family Rights” Conference and the first Child Access/Safe Haven Training Conference in Baltimore, MD with special performance by country music star, Hadassah Luther.
  • CRC and its chapters established 17 Safe Haven Child Access sites in six states – Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia.

2001

  • CRC Honorary President Catherine Meyer held a benefit reception for CRC at her residence in the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. 
  • U.S. Office of Child Support Enforcement presented a “Lifelong Achievement Award” to CRC President David L. Levy for his “untiring efforts on behalf of the children of America.”
  • CRC hosted the “Shared Parenting – It Makes Sense” Conference in Bethesda, MD with Honorary President Lady Catherine Meyer.
  • President Bush issued a presidential proclamation marking Sunday, June 3, 2001 as National Child’s Day.

2000

  • CRC advocated for the modification of proposed language in federal laws to eliminate the opportunity of “emergency custody jurisdiction”; which encouraged custodial parents to forum-shop for increased child support payments through parental abduction to another state.
  • CRC joined in a Father’s Day demonstration march from the White House to the Capitol as part of the Fathers Day 2000 National Rally.
  • CRC successfully advocated for the return of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez to his father in Cuba.  In the process, CRC appeared more than 30 times in broadcast and mass media, to help the INS and the U.S. justice system understand the problem was not a political issue, but one of parenting, on the basis that the father was the only surviving parent of the child.
  • CRC formed partnerships with the nationally recognized organizations Co-Mamas, dedicated to helping improve the dynamics of parent/step-parent relationships; and Parenting Coalition International, a network building and resource funding group, as national affiliate organizations.

1999

  • CRC released the report, “Top 10 States to Raise a Child,” to immediate national attention, appearing on such programs as The Today Show, CBS This Morning, CNN, as well as in approximately 1,500 newspapers and on another 1,500 radio stations.
  • CRC led a successful campaign to again defeat an anti-joint custody resolution in the US House of Representatives.

1998

  • CRC hosted the “Keeping Children First in the 21st Century” Conference in Alexandria, VA with special guest speakers Lady Catherine Meyer, Hon. David Gray Ross, Kathleen Parker, and Cathy Young.
  • CRC Promoted the school-based “Banana Splits” program to help children of separation and divorce to attain stronger academic achievement.
  • CRC expanded its network of chapters to Alaska, Alabama, Connecticut, West Virginia and Philadelphia

1997

  • Sponsored by the National Parents Day Coalition, CRC received the “Legislative Achievement” award from First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton at the White House in recognition of David Levy’s outstanding contributions toward child advocacy.
  • CRC of California co-hosted a Fathers Symposium with guests including the Chief Judge of the Superior Court Family Law Section; Speaker of the California Senate; Director of Family Court Services; and President of the American Fathers Coalition.
  • CRC hosted 11th National Conference “Strengthening Families – Building Communities” in Arlington, VA with special guest speakers Richard Gardner, M.D., Sanford L. Braver, Ph.D., and Elizabeth Hickey.

1996

  • CRC helped obtain passage of presumption for legal and physical joint custody in the nation’s capital.  Chapters made strides in changing laws and attitudes in their respective states.
  • Parents Without Partners International presented CRC the “Distinguished Service to Children” award for 1996.
  • CRC hosted the “Family Values Means Valuing Families” Conference held in Atlanta, GA and used it as an opportunity to celebrate the tenth anniversary of CRC child advocacy services.  Special guest speakers included “Mr. Moby,” Isolina Ricci, Ph.D., Richard Sauber, Ph.D., and Vicki Lansky.
  • CRC opened its first international chapter with CRC of Japan, and Walter Benda as first international chapter coordinator.

1995

  • CRC published first annual “Top 10 States to Raise a Child” report, which received intense national media attention.
  • CRC’s General Council, Michael L. Oddenino published the book Putting Kids First.
  • Developed a multi-organizational welfare reform proposal through Kinship Care Act of 1995; requiring individuals seeking welfare involving dependent children to explore the kinship care network for child placement before receiving a determination of welfare eligibility.
  • Helped Congress establish the National Commission on Child and Family Welfare which, after deliberations, recommended more mediation, unified courts, and parenting plans.
  • Received personal message from President Clinton acknowledging the important work of a Candlelight Vigil highlighting children’s access to parents, and complimenting CRC’s “continued commitment to helping young Americans lead more stable, healthier lives”.

1994

  • The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement published CRC Economist Don Bieniewicz’s “Child Support Guidelines: The Next Generation” as a model for child support guidelines.
  • CRC advocated for the introduction of welfare reform, which would authorize $10 million in access program funding for the states.  

1993

  • CRC produced the book, The Best Parent is Both Parents, edited by David L. Levy, and published by Hampton Roads Publishing Co.  The book received special praise from First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton stating she was adding am edition to her personal library of important books.
  • Producers of the hit TV news series “48 Hours” aired a follow-up show featuring CRC, devoting an hour long episode to visitation problems across America.
  • CRC helped promote the establishment of the Commission on Child Welfare, providing a national forum to discuss child access (visitation) programming and the rights of non-custodial parents.
  • CRC presented Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Warren E. Burger the first “Distinguished Healer” Award.
  • David L. Levy offered critical congressional testimony at a hearing before the Human Resources Committee speaking in favor of a measure that would encourage family formation and preservation, as well as continued two parental access in cases of separation and divorce.
  • CRC hosted the “Beyond Rhetoric: Assuring a Child’s Right to Two Parents” Conference in Bethesda, MD, with a benefit performance by TV entertainer, David Brenner.
  • Jonathan M. Goodson, President of Mark Goodson Productions, Ms. Phyllis Diller, screen actress and stage comic; and David Birney, TV series star and Shakespearen actor; accepted invitations to join the CRC Advisory Panel in support of children’s issues.
  • The Stepfamily Association of America, the largest stepfamily organization in the United States, affiliated itself with CRC.

1992

  • CRC officially changed its name to “Children’s Rights Council” to promote the objective that children should come first.
  • CRC helped promote the enactment of the new “kinship care” law, which makes it easier for grandparents and other family members to provide for children when the parents delegate such authority, or are unable to perform a parenting role.
  • Congress followed CRC lead to designate the second Sunday in October as “Children’s Day.”
  • Grandparents United for Children’s Rights, a nationally prominent organization dedicated to grandparenting and children, affiliated itself with CRC.

1991

  • “48 Hours” aired a 15 minute segment featuring CRC as it explored the problems fathers have obtaining visitation with their children.
  • CRC met with the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition to discuss the issues of gun control, drugs and alcohol on the breakdown of the family structure.
  • CRC was named to a task force of the American Legislative Exchange Council to introduce a package of model bills to the bipartisan membership of state legislators.
  • Mothers Without Custody (MW/OC), Fathers for Equal Rights (FER); AND Pennsylvania Parents’ Equality and Children’s Equality (PEACE); representing more than a million non-custodial mothers and fathers affiliated themselves with CRC.

1990

  • CRC met with UNICEF, UNESCO, the Child Welfare League of America and others at the White House urging President Bush to send the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of the Child to the U.S. Senate for ratification.
  • CRC helped defeat legislation that would criminalize international abduction by non-custodial parents, but not the custodial parents. 
  • In 1990, CRC welcomed the first of 55 chapters in 38 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, France, Australia, and Sierra Leone.
  • CRC hosted its 5th annual national conference “New Approaches for Children in the Nineties” in Arlington, VA with keynote speakers Frank S. Williams, M.D. and David Lloyd, Esq.
  • David L. Levy and Isolina Ricci were featured speakers at the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Regional Conference to help improve the practice and procedures of family court services working with parents in highly conflicted disputes.

1989

  • CRC compiled and published the first “Directory of Organizations” listing more than 1,200 organizations dedicated to custody reform, mediation, and family assistance.
  • CRC hosted “Children in Divorced Family Systems: New Approaches” Conference with keynote speakers Michael Kerr, M.D., Emily Visher, Ph.D., and John Visher, M.D.
  • CRC was honored by the Prince George’s County Civic Federation with the “President’s Citation” for “improving the quality of life” in the county, including the first public employment of an Access Counselor.
  • CRC exposed pilot study that had been squashed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The study conducted by the Urban Institute in Washington DC was released only in legal response to the Freedom of Information Act detailing that fathers pay more in child support than previously reported.

1988

  • Filed the first of 20 amicus curiae briefs in support of a child’s right to two parents.  This first brief, filed before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Michael H. case, asked the court to uphold – which it did, by a narrow 5-4 majority — the right of an unwed biological father of a child to a hearing to determine if he should have visitation rights.
  • CRC honored Senator Robert Dole (R-KS) and Senator Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ) at the National Press Club for their efforts to urge states to enforce visitation rights; and the development of the Federal Parent Locator Service.
  • CRC hosted “Multiple Parenting Roles in Contemporary America” Conference in Arlington, VA with keynote speakers John Guidubaldi, Ed.D., Vicki Lansky, and James A. Levine, Ed.D.
  • Senator Dennis DeConcini and Abigal Van Buren joined CRC as members of an Advisory Panel of renowned legislators, legal researchers, health and human service professionals, and religious leaders.

1987

  • CRC staged the first of many rallies in front of the U.S. Capitol; coupled with numerous Candlelight Vigils, award breakfasts, and awards for “Best in Media,” “Healer Awards” and “Parenting Awards.”
  • CRC testified before Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s committee regarding modifying qualifications for financial aid for dependent children in intact indigent families, without requiring break-up of the family to receive AFDC payments.
  • Staging rallies and letter writing campaigns, CRC opposed and helped to ultimately defeat the automatic wage assignment proposal sponsored in S.869 and H.R.1604 as tantamount to treating responsible parents who pay their child support as if they were in contempt of court.
  • CRC hosted its annual conference “Helping Children of Separation and Divorce: At Home, School, and Workplace.”

1986

  • CRC introduced terminology concept to replace the term “visitation” with “access” based on the perception that non-custodial parents are not visitors in their child(ren)’s life, and because “access” focuses on the child’s right of connection with each parent.
  • CRC advocated resolution of a bill which ultimately passed in Congress urging the states to assure grandparents “visitation” rights.
  • CRC hosted its first national conference in Arlington, VA focusing on the theme “The Needs of Children of Divorce”.

1985

  • Incorporated The National Council for Children’s Rights and received IRS 501(c)(3)  nonprofit status, eventually involving the expertise, advice, and financial support of nationally prominent members of Congress, state legislators, judges, stage, screen and music entertainers, social researchers and educators, political and social activist groups, and parents from every walk of life around the country.
  • CRC published Judges’ Access Center Handbook, designed to familiarize the bench with the benefits and processes of making court-ordered referrals to families.  Developed by CRC, the 32 page pamphlet was designed and printed by the generous support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
  • CRC started publishing the quarterly Family Facts, a one page pull-out highlighting facts that CRC members could easily distribute to policymakers, professionals, judges, and others who need information about the needs of children.
  • CRC successfully advocated for the return of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez to his father in Cuba.  In the process, CRC appeared more than 30 times in broadcast and mass media, to help the INS and the U.S. justice system understand the problem was not a political issue, but one of parenting, on the basis that the father was the only surviving parent of the child.
  • CRC formed partnerships with the nationally recognized organizations Co-Mamas, dedicated to helping improve the dynamics of parent/step-parent relationships; and Parenting Coalition International, a network building and resource funding group, as national affiliate organizations.

1996

  • CRC helped obtain passage of presumption for legal and physical joint custody in the nation’s capital.  Chapters made strides in changing laws and attitudes in their respective states.
  • Parents Without Partners International presented CRC the “Distinguished Service to Children” award for 1996.

1992

  • CRC officially changed its name to “Children’s Rights Council” to promote the objective that children should come first.
  • Grandparents United for Children’s Rights, a nationally prominent organization dedicated to grand parenting and children affiliated itself with CRC.
  • Mothers Without Custody (MW/OC), Fathers for Equal Rights (FER); AND Pennsylvania Parents’ Equality and Children’s Equality (PEACE); representing more than a million non-custodial mothers and fathers affiliated themselves with CRC.

1985

  • Incorporated The National Council for Children’s Rights and received IRS 501(c)(3)  nonprofit status, eventually involving the expertise, advice, and financial support of nationally prominent members of Congress, state legislators, judges, stage, screen and music entertainers, social researchers and educators, political and social activist groups, and parents from every walk of life around the country.
  • Mitigate the long-term damaging effects to children caused by divorce and relationship break-ups;
  • Reduce total children at risk from developing harmful and destructive behaviors;
  • Encourage non-custodial parents to remain emotionally & financially supportive of their child(ren);
  • Advocate increased opportunities for access to non-custodial parents; and
  • Decrease the nature, burden and expense of legal disputes and court interventions caused by persistent parental conflict.

The Children’s Rights Council’s long-term goals are to lesson the damaging effects to children cause by divorce, relationships ending, and families breaking up. The hope of this organization is to reduce the number of children at risk, and to advocate for increased access and emotional and physical support of the non-custodial parent. The hope of the organization is to also lower the burden of expensive disputes in court cause be parental conflict.

The Children’s Rights Council provides access centers in 11 states in the country providing

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