Children in Adversity Update
Issue 11 – May 2015

Nepal Update

girls in Nepal after earthquake

On April 25, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal with its epicenter just 50 miles east of Kathmandu, the capital. This was followed, a little more than two weeks later, by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake on May 12, 2015 southeast of Kodari. In the aftermath of the earthquake various actions were undertaken to ensure the protection of affected children. The child protection and gender-based violence (GBV) sub-clusters have been active in Kathmandu and districts since 2008. They are led by the Department of Women and Children and co-led respectively by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). More than 50 organizations are currently members of the child protection and GBV sub-clusters. The sub-clusters are operational in 14 affected districts.

Protection responses have included increased vigilance and surveillance of cases of gender-based violence and increased awareness of the risk for trafficking. As of today, there are no reported cases of unaccompanied children and psychological issues are being addressed through the use of interventions; however, many other concerns remain.

News of Note

Three Country Child Care Reform Exchange Workshop in East Africa

Significant efforts to strengthen family care for children are underway in Burundi and the U.S. Government's Action Plan for Children in Adversity (APCA) priority countries, Rwanda and Uganda. In keeping with Objective 2 of the Action Plan on Children in Adversity, USAID's Children in Adversity/Displaced Children and Orphan's Fund (CECA/DCOF) is working in all three countries to provide funding and technical support for national child care reform efforts with the ultimate goal of preventing unnecessary child-family separation and placing children who are living outside family care into family care.

Recognizing that the implementing partners from all three countries are addressing similar objectives, CECA/DCOF organized a workshop, held March 23–26, 2015, in Kigali, Rwanda, to foster technical exchange among key project personnel as well as representatives of the government ministries that oversee child care policies from the three countries. The 45 workshop participants participated in structured exchanges on approaches, methods, and tools being used as well as challenges experienced by the five USAID-supported projects in Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda.

To maximize exchange and learning between countries, participants were assigned to groups that included representatives of each of the three countries. Simultaneous interpretation bridged the language barrier. On the second day of the workshop, participants visited the Noel Orphanage in Rubavu District, from which more than 500 children have been reintegrated into their immediate or extended families, placed in foster care, or assisted in beginning to live independently. Participants also were briefed by the vice-mayor in charge of social affairs and made visits to four community sites to discuss how children have been reintegrated. On the final afternoon of the workshop, participants worked in country teams to develop action plans to apply learning from the workshop.

Following the workshop, participants have continued to exchange information through a Facebook page. A full report and advocacy documents are being produced for sharing, learning and results from the workshop.

Priority Country Updates

schoolchildren in Cambodia

Cambodia: Solving the Problem of Children Outside of Family Care: A New Way of Doing Business?

USAID’s mission in Cambodia, the Center on Children in Adversity and the Global Development Lab are working together under a new Development Innovation Accelerator Broad Agency Announcement to reach out to potential partners and, literally shoulder-to-shoulder, to co-create and co-design a development solution to the problem of Children Outside of Family Care. This is a radically different approach for USAID partnerships; it begins before the concept stage and maintains constant engagement with partners throughout the award process while still meeting the requirements for competition. This tool gives the Agency great flexibility in crafting the final relationship with partners; the instrument or relationship type does not have to be determined until the development problem and solution set are fully understood. This allows USAID to (1) reach out to potential partners with recognized expertise, and (2) co-create, co-design, co-invest, and collaborate with partners to identify new or improved solutions that build on past successes and have the potential for large-scale impact.

Family Care First Cambodia was launched in November 2014. In March 2015, experts from around 30 local and international organizations came together in Phnom Penh with USAID and other donors in a three-day “co-creation” workshop to layout collaboratively a strategy to reduce the number of children growing up outside of families in Cambodia, without considering cost. The workshop used the group’s collective expertise to identify and refine the best ideas and to kick-start future partnerships and collaborations. Family Care First Cambodia is the first phase of a global initiative to prevent child-family separation and encourage reintegration of separated children into family care in response to the Action Plan on Children in Adversity (APCA). Cambodia is an APCA priority country for the U.S Government.

The USAID Family Care First team is currently engaged with the workshop participants and their organizations to further co-create and co-design detailed concepts based on the workshop output. Stay tuned for updates on our activities in Cambodia and next steps at

Republic of Moldova to Release Child Protection Action Plan

On May 6–8, representatives from UNICEF, the Global Alliance for Children (GAC), Lumos and Oak Foundation participated in a three-day strategic planning workshop on the implementation of the Moldovan Government’s five-year child protection strategy. Key government and civil society stakeholders collaboratively identified actionable strategies for preventing and responding to violence against children as well as promoted work and family balance for parents with young children. The final recommendations from this meeting will form the foundation of a government action plan to be released in the coming months. This work built upon a prior planning session late last year, which developed a plan for objective one of the child protection strategy – ending the institutionalization of children and developing a system of inclusive health, education, and social services that provide family and community-based alternatives to residential care. The previous session was co-facilitated by Lumos (a GAC member) and the Government of Moldova, with full involvement of all key non-governmental organizations, including the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) partner organization, Partnership for Every Child Moldova. It was based on a comprehensive strategic review of the system of residential care.

The Moldovan Government has maintained its commitment to addressing the needs of children at the highest level, most notably by keeping this work within the office of the prime minister. The Global Alliance for Children also met with the ministers of health, education and social protection and reaffirmed the global commitment to supporting these efforts. GAC intends to hold a donor conference in the near future with the intent of engaging additional public and private partners in this work.

Updates on the Action Plan on Children in Adversity

participants in an Orphans and Vulnerable Children program

Objective 1: Build Strong Beginnings

Review of the Implementation of the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings

Released in 2007, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings are the “first inter-agency consensus about what are the essential first steps to be taken in an emergency” and represent a significant achievement in terms of offering conceptual and practical clarity about the role, definition and scope of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS). This review aims to provide an overview of the impact of the guidelines on MHPSS programs in emergency settings, looking at existing practices and lessons learned since the release of the guidelines.

  • Read the full article. [PDF, 6.7MB]

How Brains Are Built: The Core Story of Brain Development

Research indicates that experiences we have early in our lives affect the architecture of the brain’s development. Positive interactions between young children and their caregivers builds the architecture of the developing brain and helps ensure a positive base for good mental function and overall health throughout life. Developed in partnership with the Harvard Center on the Developing Child and Frameworks Institute, the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (AFWI) released a short animated video that addresses this concept and presents the core story of brain development in an accessible and visually engaging format for public audiences.

Effect of Early Institutionalization and Foster Care on Long-Term White Matter Development: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Children raised in institutional care often face a high ratio of children to caregivers, limited access to language and cognitive stimulation, and insufficient caregiving. This lack of care early in life is associated with compromises in brain development including significant alterations of white matter pathways. Although early intervention has been shown to support more normative trajectories of brain development, specific improvements of white matter pathways are unknown. This clinical trial, also known as the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, examined the associations among neglect in early life, early intervention, and the microstructural integrity of white matter pathways in middle childhood to call for an end to institutional care.

Objective 2: Put Family Care First

JK Rowling at the top of the Empire State Building, and a shot of the building from afar at night

J.K. Rowling Launches LUMOS in NYC – Ending Orphanages in Our Lifetime

On April 9, 2015, Founder and President J.K. Rowling officially launched LUMOS, a non-profit organization that helps millions of children in institutions worldwide regain their right to a family. At the New York City launch, J.K. Rowling addressed the media and expressed why she believes we need to end the institutionalization of children worldwide by 2050 and promote the reintegration of children into loving families. Encouragingly, a ‘tipping point’ has been achieved: Most countries in that region have plans to end institutionalization. Furthermore, the U.S. Government and the European Union are taking a lead in changing the way foreign assistance is delivered, to move the focus onto protecting and supporting families.

The United Nations is in the process of defining a post-2015 development agenda. This 15-year agenda will be launched at a summit in September 2015, which is the target date for realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). J.K. Rowling is advocating for inclusion of families and children outside of family care within the Sustainable Development Goals, so no one is left behind in the post-2015 agenda.

Positive Parenting in South Africa – Why Supporting Families Is Key to Development and Violence Prevention

Preventing and reducing violence by supporting parents is critical to national development. This policy brief explains how positive parenting relates to violence prevention and national development and why the national implementation of evidence-based programs to support positive parenting is both necessary and achievable.

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

From a Whisper to a Shout: A Call to End Violence against Children in Alternative Care

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has identified “children not living with their biological parents, but in various forms of alternative care” as one of the groups of children who are “likely to be exposed to violence.” To mitigate this risk in 2009, the United Nations endorsed the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children. This report by SOS Villages International and the University of Bedfordshire draws on evidence from an extensive global literature review and assessments of the implementation of the guidelines in 21 countries around the world. It makes bold claims about high levels of vulnerability and risk of violence facing children in alternative care but concludes that violence is not inevitable and, with an emphasis on providing quality care, it is possible to mitigate the risks of harm for all children.

  • Learn more about the report [PDF, 2.1MB].

Malawi Violence against Children Survey

The Violence against Children and Young Women Survey (VACS) Malawi is the first national survey of violence against children in the Republic of Malawi. The findings from the survey indicate that violence against children in Malawi is a serious problem. One out of five females and one out of seven males in Malawi have experienced at least one incident of sexual abuse prior to the age of 18 years, and physical and emotional abuse is even worse. This violence not only has profound consequences on the individual child and his/her family, but also the community and society at large. To combat this widespread use of violence, this survey recommends the development of key prevention and response strategies in Malawi.

  • Get more information about the survey.

Global Strategies to Reduce Violence by 50 Percent in 30 Years

In 2014, the University of Cambridge and the World Health Organization jointly organized the Global Violence Reduction Conference, which brought together 150 leading representatives from international organizations, academia, civil society institutions, and philanthropic organizations to discuss a reduction in violence. The main message of the event was that a 50 percent reduction in violence was achievable in 30 years if policymakers harness the power of scientific evidence on violence reduction. This report aims to contribute to the development of a global roadmap to achieve this reduction with a set of six key policy recommendations.

  • Read the full article [PDF, 1.73MB].

Funding Opportunity

U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs Announces $13 Million to Improve Employment Outcomes for At-Risk Youth

On April 10, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs announced the availability of approximately $13 million for one or more cooperative agreements to fund a technical assistance project(s) in El Salvador and Honduras. The project aims to improve employment outcomes among at-risk youth and prevent their engagement in the worst forms of child labor. The project will target youth ages 14 to 17 years who are susceptible to the worst forms of child labor, as well as youth ages 18 to 20 years who are susceptible to hazardous and exploitative working conditions, primarily targeting youth who reside in communities with high levels of crime and violence.

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

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