Children in Adversity E-Newsletter
Issue 6 – December 2013

The ONE Year Anniversary of the U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity

It has been a year since the U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity was launched at the White House.

APCA Priority Country Update

U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, William E. Todd: Providing a Safe Environment for Children in Cambodia

As a father of four children, I feel very strongly about promoting the welfare of youth and children. This topic is especially relevant to us at the U.S. embassy because of Cambodia’s large youth population. Last week, I had the pleasure to host a roundtable discussion with development partners on U.S.-Cambodia cooperation to protect children in adversity. Of particular focus was the U.S. Government’s Action Plan on Children in Adversity (APCA), which provides guiding principles for this cooperation. I am very pleased that Cambodia has been selected as a focus country for implementing the APCA.


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

  • Objective 1: Building Strong Beginnings
  • Objective 2: Put Family Care First
  • Objective 3: Protect Children from Violence, Exploitation, Abuse and Neglect
  • 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

Upcoming: Global Classroom on Childhood Adversity

Guided by the Action Plan’s objectives, USAID’s Center of Excellence on Children in Adversity is developing a course called the Global Classroom on Childhood Adversity: Promoting Better Outcomes for Children in Low and Middle Income Countries. The virtual course will serve as a globally-accessible, evidence-based framework for informing an integrated approach to child health and development. To date, eight expert speakers have generously given their time to record lectures. Dr. Charles Nelson of Harvard was in Washington, D.C., last week to present the “Effects of Early Adversity on the Developing Brain.” Visit the Center on the Developing Child for access to the videos shared by Dr. Nelson. Once finalized, the Global Classroom will be freely available on The package should be available, through several mediums, in early 2014.

Objective 1: Build Strong Beginnings

The Post-2015 Agenda

A number of efforts are underway to promote inclusion of early childhood development as a key piece of the post-2015 agenda.

  • The Sustainable Development Solutions Network: A Global Initiative of the United Nations has formed a Thematic Group on Early Childhood Development, Education and Transition to Work. The group’s report is available here [PDF, 1.58MB].
  • A group of experts convened by the National Academy of Sciences/Institute of Medicine released a commentary, proposing a new goal for the post-2015 agenda: Reduce by half the number of children under 5 who fail to reach their developmental potential.
  • The Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development has prepared a formal response [PDF, 791 KB] to the High-Level Panel report, also proposing a global goal on early childhood development: Reduce by 50 percent by 2030 the 200 million children not reaching their full potential.
  • Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, released a commentary [PDF, 388KB] in support of a new Millennium Development Goal on early childhood development, stating: “The High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda did not mention early child development at all… Some paediatricians say that early child development is ‘the basic science of pediatrics.’ If true, the global health community has omitted a vital element for the future of children, adolescents, and adults.”

World Food Programme Welcomes Continued Support from United States For School Feeding In Cambodia

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Cambodia has welcomed a commitment of US$20 million over the next 3 years for its school feeding programs from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Photo of Madame Liu Yandong, Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton supports a new Millennium Development Goal on early childhood development

On November 20, International Children’s Day, the Brookings Institution and the China Development Research Foundation hosted a discussion on the preparation of future generations through early childhood development (ECD) and the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in ECD. Madame Liu Yandong, Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State, provided keynote addresses on the importance of early childhood development programs and their potential for achieving long-term global impact.

“Investing in early childhood development,” Clinton said, “is one of the best returns on investments that a country can make to accelerate long-term economic growth and productivity.” Clinton also recommended that the post-2015 agenda should include a Millennium Development Goal on early child development. “We made great progress on the Millennium Development Goals, starting in 2000... Now we will have a new set of goals and early childhood should be, and I hope will be, up there with every other important goal to advance human development and alleviate poverty.”

Photo of a girl in a tunnel.

Childhood Maltreatment Can Leave Scars in The Brain

Maltreatment during childhood can lead to long-term changes in brain circuits that process fear, researchers say. This could help explain why children who suffer abuse are much more likely than others to develop problems like anxiety and depression later in life.

Economic Costs of Childhood Lead Exposure in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Children’s blood lead levels have declined worldwide, especially after the removal of lead in gasoline. However, significant exposure remains, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. To date, there have been no global estimates of the costs related to lead exposure in children in developing countries.

Participants of the Essential Package eLearning Launch

New e-Learning Courses on Early Childhood Development for Vulnerable Populations

Save the Children and CARE, in collaboration with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs’ Knowledge for Health Project (K4Health), launched a six-module, e-learning certificate program on early childhood development for vulnerable populations on USAID’s Global Health eLearning (GHeL) Center.

Poverty, Parenting Linked to Child Brain Development

Children who grow up in poor families may have smaller brains than their more well-off peers, says a new study, but good parenting may help overcome that disadvantage. Read the interview of Dr. Joan Luby, the study’s lead author, by journalist Andrew Seaman.

Early Childhood Matters – Learning Begins Early

When you hear the phrase “early learning,” do you think of preschool? The importance of preschool is increasingly and widely acknowledged all over the world, yet by the time most kids start preschool, at around age 3, the most important building blocks for learning have already been put in place. That’s why this edition of Early Childhood Matters (June 2013) focuses on learning from birth to 3 years old.

From the Bernard van Leer Foundation, this early childhood magazine offers a collection of articles on early childhood development, beginning with the introduction “Learning from Birth,” which describes the importance of the first 3 years of life and what case studies and policy-related articles are contained in the issue.


Objective 2: Put Family Care First

Transforming Institutional Care
Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children to the UN General Assembly 68th Session

In this report to the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly, Special Representative of the Secretary-General Marta Santos Pais highlights the progress achieved and lessons learned in the implementation of the strategic recommendations of the United Nations study on violence against children. She also highlights her priorities for the second term of her mandate.


Aida, 12, is a refugee from Syria, now living in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan.

Alternative Care in Emergencies Toolkit

The Alternative Care in Emergencies Toolkit is designed to facilitate interagency planning and implementation of alternative care and related services for children separated from or unable to live with their families during and after an emergency.

This toolkit was developed to provide practical interagency guidance based on previous learning that can be quickly adapted in an emergency.

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

Secretary of State John Kerry Announces a New Initiative to Address Gender-Based Violence in Global Humanitarian Emergencies

Secretary of State John Kerry recently announced the provision of $10 million in funding for a new U.S. initiative called Safe from the Start to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies worldwide. Secretary Kerry emphasized that in the face of conflict and disaster, we should strive to protect women and girls from sexual assault and other violence.

Photo of Iqbal Masih

Award for the Elimination of Child Labor

The Department of Labor is now accepting nominations for the 2014 Iqbal Masih Award for the Elimination of Child Labor. Nominations are due January 15, 2014. Next year’s winner will be honored on June 12, the World Day Against Child Labor.

Iqbal Masih was a Pakistani carpet weaver sold into slavery at age 4. He escaped at age 10 and became an outspoken advocate against child slavery, telling the world of his plight when he received the Reebok Human Rights Award in 1994. He was tragically murdered in his native Pakistan a year later at the age of 13. The Iqbal Masih Award is an annual, non-monetary award that the Secretary of Labor presents to an individual, a company, an organization, or a national government for extraordinary efforts to combat child labor. It is a chance to honor people who are doing great things for exploited children, often with little recognition.

Young girl servant washing dishes, Nepal.

The Department of Labor Releases New Report – Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Department of Labor’s annual Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor focuses on the efforts of certain U.S. trade beneficiary countries and territories to eliminate the worst forms of child labor through legislation, enforcement mechanisms, policies and social programs.

The report serves as a resource to foreign governments, non-governmental organizations, academics and policymakers working on labor and human rights issues. It helps inform Congress and Executive Branch agencies that formulate labor and trade policy. It also is an important resource for the Department of Labor in assessing future technical assistance and research priorities as it seeks to combat child labor around the world.

Solutions to End Child Marriage – Summary of the Evidence

This policy brief highlights five evidence-based strategies identified by ICRW to delay or prevent child marriage: 1) empower girls with information, skills and support networks; 2) provide economic support and incentives to girls and their families; 3) educate and rally parents and community members; 4) enhance girls’ access to a high-quality education; and 5) encourage supportive laws and policies. In order for the next generation of development programs to make ending child marriage a priority, policymakers must pay attention to these strategies while continuing to test innovative approaches and evaluation techniques.


Objective 4: Strengthen Child Welfare and Protection Systems

Cover of mothers and children from A PASSPORT

UNICEF Releases two Major Publications on Birth Registration

Birth registration is a critical first step toward safeguarding lifelong protection. Globally, nearly 230 million children under the age of 5 have not had their births registered. This means that they do not legally exist before the law. These children are at risk of exclusion and exploitation and may have difficulty accessing services.

The first report, Every Child’s Birth Right: Inequities and Trends in Birth Registration, presents a global assessment of birth registration levels. The publication spans 161 countries and presents the latest available data and estimates on birth registration. The report draws information from more than 300 data sources over a 20-year period. The publication also highlights global and regional trends and examines inequities in prevalence according to social, economic, demographic and other characteristics. The report also includes a section on programmatic and advocacy efforts undertaken by UNICEF and its partners.

The second document, A Passport to Protection: A Guide to Birth Registration Programming, provides practical guidance to UNICEF staff and staff of other agencies on how the inequities found in the assessment may be addressed. It outlines eight steps for understanding the program task and ways to implement organizational and legal changes, stimulating demand and strengthening collaboration. These actions aim to support the characteristics of a well-functioning birth registration process within the civil registry: free, universal, permanent and continuous, confidential, timely and accurate.

These documents raise awareness of the magnitude of the problem and suggest strategies to address it.


Objective 5: Promote Evidence-Based Policies and Programs

Photo of two children walking

Why Measuring Child-Level Impacts Can Help Achieve Lasting Economic Change

This paper published by FHI 360 and Women’s Refugee Commission presents an argument for the systematic monitoring and evaluation of child well-being related to economic strengthening efforts. Economic strengthening aims both to address the short-term needs of poor people and to enable entire communities to overcome poverty and live healthy, productive lives. Growing evidence links children’s physical and psychological health with their future economic opportunities and potential.