The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) started in 1968 as a gathering of consumer minded non-profit organizations. Today approximately 280 organizations have joined to gather information, analyze a broad range of consumer issues, and report to the public and government policy makers their findings and recommendations.
With a combined membership of over 50 million people, CFA focuses on four areas: advocacy, research, education and service. Based in Washington, DC, they lobby to further pro-consumer policies in Congress, the White House, federal and state regulatory agencies, state legislatures, and the courts.
Utilizing surveys, polls, focus groups, and existing literature, CFA researches topics, such as communications, energy, finance, food, agriculture, health, safety, housing, privacy, antitrust, auto sales, and air travel.
In the playground industry, CFA's research began in 1992 in conjunction with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG). Together they conducted periodic playground investigations to document safety hazards due to inadequate surfacing, the unsafe design of equipment or play environments, and the aging equipment.
While only eleven states were surveyed in 1992, the 1994 assessment involved 22 states and the 1996 survey included 25 states. In 1998 the CFA and PIRG organizations investigated 760 playgrounds in 24 states and Washington, DC.1 The volunteers were encouraged to assess the same playgrounds that were in the 1996 survey as well as to add a random mix of new playgrounds. The fifth survey done in 2000, involved 1,024 playgrounds in 27 states and Washington, DC.2 In 2002 the last playground survey was taken by the CFA and PIRG members when they investigated 1,037 playgrounds in 36 states and Washington, DC.3
In keeping with CFA's mission to make their research available and to educate the public, these playground findings have been published jointly with the US PIRG. The most recent survey's publication is entitled Playing It Safe, The Sixth Nationwide Safety Survey of Public Playgrounds, June 2002.4 CFA's resulting suggestions for improvement, “Model Law on Public Play Equipment and Areas,” has also been published for state and local governments. For parents and concerned citizens, the CFA has published the “Parent Checklist: How Safe Is Your Local Playground?” They also have further information through brochures and press releases available online.
As shown by the playground surveys, CFA communicates their research through their website, publications, news releases, and brochures. They also utilize conferences, books, resource centers online, advisory groups, and the newsletter, CFANews, that is published six times a year.
As a service organization, CFA supports organizations both in and out of their own federation who are also committed to consumer advocacy, research, and the education of the policy makers and also the public. Consumer Federation of America recognizes with their annual awards those in the government, press, and the consumer movement who give outstanding consumer service.
- 1. Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia
- 2. The same states as above minus Hawaii and Montana and with Indiana, Texas, South Carolina, Washington, and Wisconsin added.
- 3. The same states as in 2000 minus Alaska, but with Alabama, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont added.
- 4. “Playground Studies.” Consumer Federation of America. < http://www.consumerfed.org/health/playground.asp > 20 Aug. 2010.