Children in Adversity E-Newsletter
Issue 4 – June 2013

It has been nearly 6 months since the U.S. Government launched the Action Plan on Children in Adversity at the White House. The Action Plan represents the first-ever whole-of-government strategic guidance for the U.S. Government’s international assistance for children. We are working together now to take the rubber to the road, ensuring that our programs are comprehensive, coordinated and effective where they count most – at the country level.

News of Note

Find updates below on the progress the U.S. Government and its partners are making on the six objectives of the Action Plan.


  • Objective 4: Strengthen Child Welfare and Protection Systems
  • Objective 5: Promote Evidence-Based Policies and Programs
  • Objective 6: Integrate Action Plan within U.S. Government Departments and Agencies

Objective 1: Building Strong Beginnings 

The Child Survival-Development Connection

On May 4, 2013, The Lancet published "Linking child survival and child development for health, equity, and sustainable development," a statement by Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization.

According to Dr. Chan, considerable progress has been made to reduce under-5 mortality over the last decade. Now, she urges, the global community must work toward linking its achievements in increased child survival and health to child development in the early years of life. “The ability for children to develop to full capacity is a human right,” states Dr. Chan. This ability also helps prosperity to be equitable and the progress of societies to be sustainable.

Dr. Chan writes, “By ensuring that all children have the best first chance in life, we can help individuals and their communities to realize their maximum potential, thereby expanding equality and opportunity for all.” She sees this as a collective effort – one that calls for cohesion, coordination and communication among many actors: “As in the case of child survival, the promotion of early child development requires common understanding, shared commitment and united action across government sectors and by all development agencies and institutions.”

Dr. Chan’s full statement is available on The Lancet website. Viewing it requires registering for a free subscription to the journal.

Child Development as a Cornerstone for All Development: How Will It Be Reflected in the Post-2015 Development Agenda?

2015 will be a watershed year for the global development community. It is the year when the current commitments under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire. It will also be a year when new development commitments for the post-2015 period will be agreed.

To quote the Statement of National Policy in the Action Plan on Children in Adversity: “The Plan is grounded in evidence that shows a promising future belongs to those nations that invest wisely in their children, while failure to do so undermines social and economic progress. Child development is a cornerstone for all development, and is central to U.S. development and diplomatic efforts.”

The High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda recently issued its recommendations [PDF, 3.4MB] for an overall framework and 12 goals to succeed the MDGs through 2030. This report is designed as a starting point for debate and discussion over the next 2 years.

A number of efforts are currently under way to ensure that children’s wellbeing is adequately reflected in this agenda. UNICEF has drafted key messages, which are available here [PDF, 515KB]. The international child protection community has also released a joint statement [PDF, 367KB], specifying goals and targets.

In addition, the Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development is in the process of assessing this 2015 development nexus from the perspective of the early childhood development community. Positioning Early Childhood Development in the Post-2015 Development Framework [PDF, 178KB], a background paper, provides an overview of the influences and processes that are shaping the priorities on the post-2015 development agenda.

Similarly, the Institute of Medicine has released a commentary written by three participants in the Investing in Young Children Globally planning meeting held in March. In it, the authors argue that the post-2015 development agenda should include an integrated goal on early childhood development. They propose targets and indicators that span the sectors of nutrition, economics, education, health and social protection. Indeed, 9 of their 12 proposed targets appear in the just-released recommendations of the High-Level Panel. The authors welcome comments on the proposed goal and targets, as well as ideas for action steps to ensure that the world’s youngest children are embraced and supported by the global development agenda for the next two decades.

Evidence Summit on Population-Level Behavior Change to Enhance Child Survival and Development

  Our real opportunity rests in harnessing the true power of invention - scientific, technological and behavioral - on behalf of the develping world.
   
USAID’s Global Health Bureau, in collaboration with UNICEF and through a partnership with the American Psychological Association, the Communication Initiative Network, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, hosted a Population-Level Behavior Change Evidence Summit on June 3-4, in Washington, D.C. The summit marked the first anniversary of the Child Survival Call to Action: A Promise Renewed, a global movement of country governments, civil society organizations and faith-based organizations united by the goal of ending preventable child deaths by 2035. The goal of the Evidence Summit was to provide expert review of the evidence on effective and sustainable practices and policies to achieve population-level social and behavior change for child survival and development.

For more information on the Evidence Summit, please contact Stephanie Levy (slevy@usaid.gov).

In The Lancet: Maternal and Child Nutrition

Maternal and child undernutrition was the subject of a Series of papers in The Lancet in 2008. Five years after the initial series, the problems of maternal and child undernutrition have been re-evaluated. The Series also examines the growing problems of overweight and obesity for women and children and their consequences in low- and middle-income countries. Many of these countries are said to have the double burden of malnutrition: continued stunting of growth and deficiencies of essential nutrients, along with the emerging issue of obesity. The Series also assesses national progress in nutrition programs and international efforts toward previous recommendations. All Series materials and resources are now available on The Lancet website along with detailed information on The Lancet launch events taking place around the globe.

Improving Education, Food Security and Health of School-Aged Children in Developing Countries

The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program (McGovern-Dole) provides for the donation of agricultural commodities and the provision of financial and technical assistance to improve the education, food security and health of school-age children, especially girls, in developing countries. Commodities are made available for donation through agreements with private voluntary organizations, cooperatives, intergovernmental organizations and foreign governments. The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is focusing McGovern-Dole resources toward improving the education and health of school-aged children. FAS expects an appropriation of approximately $184 million in FY 2014. Grants provided under McGovern-Dole normally average $15 million. FAS typically awards 7 to 10 grants annually for McGovern-Dole. Funded projects are anticipated to start in September 2014 and are normally implemented for 3 years. All applications must be submitted to USDA by 5:00 p.m.(EDT), August 2, 2013. For further information regarding the McGovern-Dole solicitation, please visit the FAS website.

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Objective 2: Put Family Care First

Standard Operating Procedures for Family Reintegration

Retrak has released a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for family reintegration. In this new resource, the organization documents what it does to ensure that children, families and communities receive the same quality standard of care. Retrak invites the community of street-child practitioners to use the SOPs, which are available here, as a guide that may improve services for street children. Retrak has also developed a curriculum that is based on the SOPs to train social workers and other staff involved in reintegration efforts. The curriculum was piloted in Ethiopia, and Retrak now uses it for workshops in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique.

The reintegration tool and curriculum are components of a training package that Retrak is providing to interested parties. Requests may be submitted to mailbox@retrak.org.

Finally, Retrak just published the findings from its 2-year research pilot project on the effectiveness of helping children return home from their own perspective. Evaluating Outcomes [PDF, 1.05MB] adds to the evidence base that finds that helping children return home (reintegration) is a successful endeavor and provides children and families with opportunities for a positive future.

Faith-Based Action for Family Care

The Christian Alliance for Orphans’ annual summit has become the national hub for what Christianity Today recently called “the burgeoning Christian orphan care movement.” Summit 9, which took place on May 2-3, 2013, at Brentwood Baptist Church in Nashville, TN, drew more than 2,000 pastors, grassroots advocates, organizational leaders and church ministry heads from 49 states and 25 countries. The U.S. Government Special Advisor and Senior Coordinator to the USAID Administrator on Children in Adversity, Dr. Neil Boothby, participated and presented the Action Plan, highlighting the power of coordinated and synergistic action among actors from faith, government, civil society and academic communities on behalf of children.

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

Combating Child Labor Globally

The Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) is pleased to announce competitive solicitations for cooperative agreement applications (SCAs) to combat child labor globally, including in Burma, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Rwanda. A solicitation to apply for a cooperative agreement to expand the knowledge base on child labor through data collection and analysis and updates on country-level statistics covering child work and education has also been posted. The full solicitations are available online here and at www.grants.gov.
 
photo of a young boy

World Day against Child Labour – June 12, 2013

This year’s theme for World Day against Child Labour is “NO to Child Labour in Domestic Work.” Worldwide, there are millions of child domestic laborers, mostly girls. Many of these children are below minimum age for employment, while those who are above the minimum age find themselves largely unprotected by laws geared toward formal sector employment. Learn more about the activities around this day and the new report being released by the International Labour Organization on June 12 entitled Ending Child Labour in Domestic Work.

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Objective 4: Strengthen Child Welfare and Protection Systems

Connecting People, Transforming Lives: The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance

The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance was launched on June 6-7 through an open webinar. The alliance works toward a world where a well-planned, well-trained and well-supported social service workforce effectively delivers promising practices that improve the lives of vulnerable populations. The mission of the alliance is to promote the knowledge and evidence, resources and tools, and political will and action needed to address key social service workforce challenges, especially within low- to middle-income countries. For more information, contact Amy Bess (abess@capacityplus.org).

Economic Strengthening Programs as Drivers of Child Well-Being: Understanding and Measuring Outcomes

Economic strengthening programs have an impact on children and youth, whether intentionally or unintentionally.  How do we understand the factors that impact child well-being? How do we research and measure them? A June 6 seminar explored examples of field-based practice, including discussions on key initiatives taking place within the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the U.S. Government, and covered what we still need to explore as development practitioners. The meeting also launched the redesigned Children, Youth, and Economic Strengthening Network's website. Currently in beta, you are invited to visit the site and offer comments.

Sharing Best Practices in Inclusive Education

Date: June 25, 2013 – 9:00-11:00 a.m. EDT

This webinar brings together a panel of experts on inclusive education that will provide information about the hallmarks of good projects in this sector. Panel members from USAID and other organizations will provide definitions of key terms, place inclusive education within a context of human rights and international agreements, and provide strong examples of best practices in inclusive education programming both domestically and internationally, including case studies from a number of USAID Missions. This webinar is expected to stimulate timely and critical dialogue and ultimately lead to stronger programs that address the educational needs of these especially vulnerable children.

Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo (USAID) as moderator of the webinar will discuss the international legal framework for inclusive education and related USAID policies, and will generally introduce the webinar. Luba Fajfer (USAID) will provide background and basic definitions.

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Objective 5: Promote Evidence-Based Policies and Programs

UNICEF: The State of the World's Children 2013

State of the World's Children report cover.  
   
Each year, UNICEF’s flagship publication, The State of the World’s Children, closely examines a key issue affecting children. UNICEF's The State of the World’s Children website includes digital versions of report components such as supporting data, statistics and stories, in addition to online-only features. On May 30, UNICEF launched The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities. The report and additional multimedia content – including focus panels and perspective essays not featured in the print edition; videos and films of or by young persons with disabilities; and accessible versions of the print publication – can be found online at www.unicef.org/sowc2013. If you would like a print copy of the publication, please send your updated postal address to SOWC@unicef.org.



All Children Count, But Not All Children Are Counted: How Many Children Are Living Outside of Family Care?

Limited evidence exists on how many children currently live outside of family care – a data gap for measuring one of the core outcomes of the Action Plan on Children in Adversity. Currently, we are unable to make international comparisons or trend analyses to monitor change over time for this important issue.

In February 2013, the USAID Center on Children in Adversity hosted a 2-day workshop in Washington D.C., bringing together technical experts from the U.S. Government, the Government of Tanzania, UNICEF, NGOs and academia. The objectives of the workshop were to:
  • Operationalize the existing definition of children outside of family care (COFC).
  • Examine categories of COFC and develop a conceptual framework to guide enumeration.
  • Describe and recommend specific measurement methods for national surveillance.
  • Provide input on design requirements to develop a global surveillance tool, which can be contextualized across different settings and realities.
For more information, contact Rick Rinehart (rrinehart@usaid.gov).

When Emergencies Strike: Tools for Enumerating Children Living Outside of Family Care in Emergency and Disaster Settings

USAID's Center on Children in Adversity, in collaboration with USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), hosted another 2-day workshop in May 2013 to initiate dialogue among the international community in developing a methodologically sound, and feasible, tool for enumerating children outside of family care in disaster and emergency settings. The overall purpose of this workshop was to develop a common vision for an enumeration method and build consensus among key stakeholders to carry this strand of work forward. This is an important commitment of the U.S. Government, and OFDA in particular, reflected in the Action Plan on Children in Adversity.

Finally, the Action Plan on Children in Adversity provides a structure and starting point in the focus countries on which a whole-of-government monitoring and evaluation system can be built. Such a system is critical to test the proof of concept that comprehensive, coordinated and effective U.S. Government assistance can lead to national-level reductions on three core outcomes related to children in adversity. The previous PL 109-95 call-for-projects, administered from Washington, have been archived. A new system is currently under revision in order to reflect the objectives and outcomes specified in the Action Plan. It will be created from the ground up, starting in the focus countries, and also have a basic function at the global level.

For more information on measurement issues, please contact Rick Rinehart (rrinehart@usaid.gov) or Courtney Blake (cblake@usaid.gov).

Toolkit for OVC Program Evaluations

Data collected at more than one point in time (e.g., baselines and final evaluations) from populations in target geographic areas or that are specific to project beneficiaries are essential for evaluating the impact and outcomes of programs for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), as well as for showing results across the broader context of OVC and other programs that align with the Action Plan on Children in Adversity. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) recently released a toolkit to help OVC programs collect and use such data. It has been designed for the following purposes:
  • To enable and standardize the production of population-level data on child and caregiver well-being
  • To produce actionable data to inform programs
  • To enable mid-course corrections and comparative assessments of child and caregiver well-being and of household economic status
The toolkit contains three questionnaires for use in surveys of households with children ages 0 to17 and child caretakers. It also includes a set of indicators and a manual. The manual describes the purpose of the OVC program evaluation tools, including when and how to use them. Further, it presents information on how the tools have been used to date, and how data generated from them can be used to support program planning and management. A question-by-question breakdown of all three survey tools is provided in the manual’s appendices.

What’s New in Research?

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has partnered with The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), South Africa and OVCsupport.net to produce What's New in Research? – a monthly newsletter that will alert readers to new scientific publications. The newsletter focuses on relevant, evidence-based applied science about children affected by HIV and AIDS, policy research, tests of effectiveness, rigorous program evaluation and cost analysis. What’s New in Research? is an effort to make existing research more visible and accessible, and to encourage further research activities in the field of orphans and other vulnerable children.

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Objective 6: Integrate Action Plan within U.S. Government Departments and Agencies

U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Reviews U.S. Foreign Assistance for Children in Adversity

The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations held a review of U.S. foreign assistance for children in adversity on May 21. Testifying were Caroline Ryan, MD, MPH [PDF, 326KB] Deputy Coordinator for Technical Leadership, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Department of State; Charles A. Nelson III, PhD and Richard David Scott [PDF, 326KB], Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital; Donald Steinberg [PDF, 326KB] Deputy Administrator, USAID; Dr. Susan Bissell [PDF, 326KB] Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF; Jedd Medefind [PDF, 326KB] President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans; Dr. Neil Boothby [PDF, 326KB] U.S. Government Special Advisor and Senior Coordinator to the USAID Administrator on Children in Adversity, USAID; and Philip Goldman [PDF, 326KB] President of Maestral International. Their testimonies are accessible here [PDF, 326KB].

Congressional Briefing on Children in Adversity

On May 29, USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg and Dr. Neil Boothby briefed an audience of approximately 50 House Congressional staff on the Agency’s work to address children in adversity and the U.S. Government Action Plan. Questions focused on funding/budget, the selection of priority countries, interagency cooperation, integration of the principles of the Action Plan in USAID’s economic development programming and what Congress can do to help.

U.S. Government Agency and Department Implementation Plans

In accordance with the Action Plan and in line with the legislative requirements set forth in PL 109-95, agency- and department-specific implementation plans are due within 180 days of the plan’s launch. These are forward-looking plans, specifying how each U.S. Government entity that committed to the Action Plan will work to achieve its objectives. The consolidated interagency implementation plans reflect how interagency partners are using existing resources to meet the Action Plan’s objectives. These are “living documents” and may be amended to reflect developments and changes in U.S. Government programming over time. The implementation plans will be posted online in July.

Selecting Priority Countries for the Purpose of Collaboration 

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 focus countries over a span of 5 years. In these countries, through U.S. Government collaboration with other government, international, private, faith-based and academic partners, the Action Plan calls for significant reductions in the number of:
  • Children not meeting age-appropriate growth and developmental milestones
  • Children living outside of family care
  • Children who experience violence or exploitation

Advances toward these core outcomes necessarily require selection of countries in which collective assistance across vulnerability categories can be harnessed at scale. Designation is being based on consultations with Congress, U.S. departments and agencies, partner donor governments and other stakeholders. To promote country ownership and ensure meaningful engagement in the additional and intensive effort required for transformational positive change in children’s lives, host country governments will be full participants in discussions, planning and negotiations from the outset.

The vision for priority countries is proof of concept: ensuring that U.S. Government assistance is comprehensive, coordinated and effective at the country level by focusing on the Action Plan’s three core outcomes over a span of 5 years. In essence, focus countries are “laboratories” for achieving, scaling up and sustaining greater results for children through a defined and comprehensive approach. A focus on outcomes, measurement and results reporting are Action Plan and PL 109-95 requirements. For more information on focus country selection, please contact Anna Mary Coburn (acoburn@usaid.gov).

OVC Taskforce: Three Key U.S. Government Documents on Vulnerable Children

Ever wonder how the PEPFAR Guidance on Orphans and Vulnerable Children Programming [PDF, 1.94MB], PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-Free Generation [PDF, 1.9MB] and the U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity [PDF, 2.6MB] are related? The OVC Taskforce will be convening a meeting with U.S. Government representatives to talk about each document and how they relate to vulnerable children’s programming – and to each other.

Date: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Time: 2:00-3:30 p.m. EDT
Location: Peace Corps Office, 1111 20th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20526
Presenters: Nicole Behnam, OGAC and Gretchen Bachman, USAID; Beverly Nyberg, Peace Corps; Gillian Huebner, PL 109-95 Secretariat and USAID Center on Children in Adversity

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