Children in Adversity Update
Issue 10 – February 2015

News of Note

woman and two girls play outside

PEPFAR Announces DREAMS Partnership

On World AIDS Day, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Nike Foundation launched the DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS Free, Mentored, Safe) Partnership. The goal of DREAMS is to substantially reduce new HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women ages 15–24 in up to 10 eastern and southern African countries over the next 2 years. This $210 million investment will lower incidence among adolescent girls and young women by at least 25 percent by the end of 2016. DREAMS emphasizes assets critical to HIV prevention in this highly vulnerable group including adolescent-friendly health services, mentoring and safety from violence. Data collection efforts to evaluate impact will include tracking age of first pregnancy and serostatus at the community level, as well as ongoing Health Impact Assessments and Violence Against Children Surveys.

The Global Alliance for Children Announces New Executive Director

The Global Alliance for Children recently appointed a new executive director, Kathleen Strottman. Kathleen brings 15 years' experience as an advocate for vulnerable children, having previously served as the executive director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, the non-profit partner to the largest bicameral caucus in Congress and as the legislative director for Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Throughout her career, Kathleen has worked to increase the opportunity for positive dialogue and the exchange of best practices in child protection between leaders in the United States and developing countries.

Priority Country Updates

schoolgirls playing outside

Uganda to Host National State of the Child Summit and Promote National Violence Against Children Survey

Considerable efforts to assist children in adversity are underway in Uganda as partners continue to harmonize efforts and work within the APCA framework. USAID Uganda is organizing a National State of the Ugandan Child Summit for October 2015 to garner commitment and action to address agreed-upon critical needs in education, health, protection, and developmental outcomes of Ugandan children. This unprecedented gathering in Kampala will aim to increase national commitment to the implementation of evidence-based best practices and policies in child development that lead to tangible and positive social and health outcomes for children aged 0–15, especially girls and children in adversity. The end goal of the summit is to develop a sustainable vision for the well-being and future of Ugandan children.

CDC, with PEPFAR support, is finalizing a violence against children survey (VACS). The VACS will yield prevalence data on violence against children in households, schools, and the wider community. A government chaired working group has been established to guide this important endeavor, which will be implemented by researchers at the Center for the Study of the African Child (Africhild) at Makerere University in collaboration with the Uganda Bureau of Statistics. Several APCA supporters, including the Oak Foundation and the Bernard Van Leer Foundation, are also funding a complementary qualitative study looking at factors that contribute to violent and nonviolent households.

Cambodia: New Nationally Representative Data on APCA Objectives and Initiative to Reduce Number of Children Outside Family Care

Cambodia will have nationally representative data across the principal objectives of the U.S. Action Plan on Children in Adversity (APCA) later this year. USAID supported the recently completed Cambodian Demographic and Health Survey (CDHS). Using UNICEF’s Child Development Module, baseline data was collected on the percent of children age 3–5 years who are developmentally on track. In addition, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through collaboration with Columbia University is supporting the testing and optimization of a suite of measurement methods to generate national estimates of children outside of family care and ensure the government and others have the capacity to use the estimates over time. These children are invisible to traditional health, demographic and economic household-based surveys, such as the CDHS.

The 2013 Cambodia Violence Against Children Survey (CVACS) [PDF, 2.5MB] provides for the first time national estimates that describe the magnitude and nature of sexual, physical, and emotional violence experienced by girls and young women and boys and young men in Cambodia. This information is designed to help support efforts in Cambodia to develop and implement effective child-friendly prevention strategies as well as to improve service provision for all Cambodians, especially children, who experience violence. Conversations are underway with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Labor, and others to identify nationally representative child labor and violence indicators that can be measured over time.

In other news, USAID recently launched the Family Care First initiative to catalyze and sustain progress toward achieving APCA Objective 2 in Cambodia by co-creating and possibly co-investing in family-focused solutions to increase child development and protection and reduce the number of children outside of family care. Its success will be gauged not at the organization or project-level but by the cumulative impact of all resulting activities that contribute to measurable changes in the number of children outside of family care at the national level. An initial co-creation workshop will take place in March 2015.

Moldova Is the Newest APCA Priority Country

U.S. Ambassador William Henry Moser endorsed Moldova as an APCA priority country in May 2014. Since then, USAID and other APCA partners have been engaging with the Moldovan National Council for Children’s Rights, the nation’s main coordinating body for child care and protection, to forge a coherent agenda for the care and protection of the nation’s children. Chaired by the deputy prime minister, the Council includes all relevant government ministries, UNICEF, and major non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The Government of Moldova and the Global Alliance for Children signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in October 2014. The Lumos Foundation, the United States, and United Kingdom were key champions of this partnership agreement. The MOU acknowledges the importance of investing early in childhood; the significant progress the Republic of Moldova has made in the field of health, education, and social care of children; and commits both parties to establish the following core objectives of cooperation over the course of 5 years:

  • Build Strong Beginnings: Reduce the number of children less than 5 years of age not meeting key developmental milestones. Key focus: nutrition-stunting, social care, and early childhood development.
  • Put Family Care First: Reduce the number of children living outside of family care. Key focus: economic household level strengthening, positive parenting, de-institutionalization, and permanent family care.
  • Protect Children: Reduce the number of children who experience violence, exploitation, and abuse. Key focus: exploitive child labor, domestic violence, and safe schools.

Since signing the MOU, USAID, the Lumos Foundation, and the Global Alliance Secretariat have been working together to advance this ambitious agenda.

Updates on the Action Plan on Children in Adversity

group of kids outside

Objective 1: Build Strong Beginnings

Emerging Models in Community-Based Early Childhood Development for Children Ages 0–3

On February 2, the OVC Task Force hosted an event with visiting field staff from one of Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS’s) early childhood development (ECD) projects, THRIVE: Improving Early Childhood Development for Children Affected by HIV. Currently underway in Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania, this 3-year project provides 15,000 children under age 5 with a sustainable culture of care and support. Staff shared information on their programs and facilitated discussions around community-based early childhood development interventions. Topics of discussion included: ECD spaces (both community and facility-based); child health/station days; and positive parenting. ECD programming is widely recognized as a powerful tool that is key to children’s health, academic performance, and productivity as well as to a nation's development.

Science of Early Adversity: Is There a Role for Large Institutions in the Care of Vulnerable Children

It has been more than 80 years since researchers in child psychiatry first documented developmental delays among children separated from family environments and placed in orphanages or other institutions. Yet even today, an estimated 8 million children are presently growing up in congregate care institutions. Evidence shows that early interventions that place institutionalized children into families have afforded substantial recovery. The strength of this scientific evidence imparts an urgency to achieve de-institutionalization in global child protection sectors and to intervene early for individual children experiencing deprivation.

Objective 2: Put Family Care First

International Rescue Committee Releases Reports on the Value of Family Care

The Rights of Boys and Girls to a Family – Alternative Care Ending Institutionalization in the Americas

According to international human rights law, states are obliged to favor, in the broadest possible way, the development and strengthening of the family as a measure of protection. In this report, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights analyzes the obligations of the states derived from the right of the child to a family, and makes recommendations aimed at strengthening the protection of children and adolescents who are without, or at risk of losing, parental care.

LUMOS Advocates for Family-Based Care and Elimination of Children in Institutions in Europe by 2030

  • J.K. Rowling's Lumos Strives to End Institutionalization of European Children by 2030: An estimated 1 million children remain in European institutions, and of these, more than 80 percent have living parents who gave them up because of extreme poverty, discrimination or an inability to cope with a disabled child. Founded in 2005, LUMOS and its founder, J.K. Rowling believe it is possible to end this system of institutionalization and reintegrate all children living outside of family-based care into a positive family environment in Europe by 2030.
  • Behind the Walls: Today, in the European region, up to 1 million children live in institutions where they are denied their rights to a family life and locked away from their communities. A further 7 million children are estimated to live in institutions, also known as orphanages, around the world. A new film by LUMOS, Behind the Walls, depicts the desolation of life within these institutions and orphanages and advocates for the return to family-based care.

Objective 3: Protect Children from Violence, Exploitation, Abuse and Neglect

Integration of Prevention of Violence Against Children and Early Childhood Development

Child maltreatment is causally related to a broad range of negative outcomes across a lifespan, including major emotional and behavioral problems. Today, more than 200 million children – almost 40 percent – younger than 5 years of age in developing countries are not fulfilling their development potential and are subject to violence due to adversities including poverty, parental psychiatric disorders, and institutionalism. Often, there is substantial overlap between early child development and prevention interventions for violence against children. To capitalize upon this link, four separate recommendations are proposed within this article.

U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs Invests Millions to Combat Child Labor

World Vision and Columbia University Publish Research on Effectiveness of Child Friendly Spaces in Internally Displaced Populations Camps

During the Spring 2014, World Vision in collaboration with Columbia University [PDF, 995KB] conducted research on the effectiveness of child-friendly spaces (CFSs) in three internally displaced populations camps (IDP) in Goma, Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo entitled, Evaluating the Effectiveness of Child Friendly Spaces in IDP Camps in Eastern DRC: Goma Field Study Summary Report. The overall objectives of this study were to better understand the effectiveness of CFSs in providing and strengthening protection and psychosocial support for children during crises and to contribute to the development of improved monitoring and evaluation tools for such support.

Fearing Wrong – Why What Doesn’t Scare Us Should

World Vision and Ipsos Reid conducted research around the world [PDF, 4.5MB] to better understand public attitudes and perceptions about violence against children and how to protect them. In some cases, the attitudes and beliefs expressed in responses to the survey questions closely reflect the realities of violence committed against children. In many cases, they do not. Understanding public opinion in this area can help World Vision and other organizations address harmful myths about violence against children that can frustrate solutions.

  • Get more information about the research [PDF, 4.5MB].

Objective 4: Strengthen Child Welfare and Protection Systems

InterAction Launches Results-Based Protection Online Web-Forum

InterAction recently launched the Results-Based Protection online web-forum. The purpose of this online platform is to advance the discussion of results-based approaches to protection and to serve as a hub and repository for resources and guidance on results-based protection. InterAction will moderate thematically guided discussions as they relate to the key elements of results-based protection with the purpose of learning and strengthening the approach.

Strengthening Civil Registration Systems at the Country Level

National civil registration and vital statistics systems contribute reliable information for public administration and governance. In 2013, an assessment was carried out in Kenya in collaboration with MEASURE Evaluation PIMA in support of the Government of Kenya to assess its Civil Registration Department’s capacity to build sustainable monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and improve the effectiveness of the Kenyan health system. The assessment provided a beginning point to establish a capacity-strengthening program, improve the collection and use of quality information, and expand the availability of in-country capacity to meet the human resource needs of M&E health professionals.

If you have questions or comments, please contact Ryan Krysiak at

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