A young boy stands in red monk's robes


Investments in early child care and developmental protection, with sustained support throughout adolescence, can mitigate the deleterious impact of poverty, social inequality, gender biases, and disability discrimination, ultimately resulting in long-lasting gains that benefit children and youth, families, communities, and countries.

Protective and permanent family care and positive childhood experiences have immediate and long-term beneficial effects. Investments in evidence-based interventions, such as strengthening the economic status of families, preventing violence within and outside households, rescuing children from exploitative labor situations, and removing children from institutions and placing them into protective family care, are associated with:

  • Reduced mortality
  • Improved physical growth
  • Higher IQ scores
  • Less grade repetition
  • Increased school completion
  • Decreased future criminal activity
  • Less drug use/abuse
  • Fewer teen pregnancies
  • Higher earning potential

A Focus on Results

While the Action Plan on Children in Adversity applies to U. S. Government assistance globally, it also identifies a more targeted starting point for these efforts: to achieve three core outcomes in at least six priority countries over a span of five years. In these countries, through U. S. Government collaboration with other government, international, private, faith-based, and academic partners, the plan calls for significant reductions in the number of:

  1. Children not meeting age-appropriate growth and developmental milestones
  2. Children living outside of family care (by placing them in appropriate and protective family care)
  3. Children who experience sexual violence or exploitation

The Action Plan promotes actions to help harness global efforts and build capacity to establish and sustain national surveillance systems to track these core results.  The plan also calls for measuring specific outcomes within target populations of U. S. Government-funded projects when feasible, as well as tracking activities and important project-level outputs.

Photo credit: Voishmel/AFP

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