Architecture of U.S. Government Assistance

U.S. international assistance to children is substantial and channeled through more than 30 offices in seven U.S. Government departments and agencies – the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, and Labor, and State; the U.S. Agency for International Development, and Peace Corps – in more than 100 countries.

Efforts to assist vulnerable girls and boys in low- and middle-income countries have traditionally focused on single vulnerability cohorts and categories – for example, children affected by HIV and AIDS, in emergencies or in the worst forms of child labor, including those who have been trafficked. Although such efforts have produced substantial benefits, this diffused approach can result in a fragmented response. Coordinated, multifaceted action helps to ensure that children in adversity benefit fully from policies and services. Before 2012, there had been no overarching policy or guidance for U.S. international assistance for children.

With its significant investments in international development, the technical expertise and research capabilities embedded within key agencies, and diplomatic outreach, the U.S. Government is well positioned to lead and mobilize around a sensible and strategic global agenda for children in adversity. This agenda is articulated in the U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity, the first-ever whole-of-government strategic guidance for U.S. Government international assistance for children.

A Commitment: From Evidence to Action

In 2011, U.S. Government interagency partners actively began a process to establish whole-of-government guidance and a strategy for children in adversity.

The process was informed by a U.S. Government Evidence Summit on Protecting Children Outside of Family Care, an interagency initiative under Public Law 109-95. A key result of the summit was the commitment of senior U.S. Government interagency leaders to establish guiding principles and a U.S. Government strategy for assistance to these children – the very first of its kind. This commitment was published in The Lancet on December 12, 2011. Under the leadership of the U.S. Government Special Advisor for PL 109-95, an interagency team worked collaboratively over 10 months to develop the U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity.

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