Children in Adversity E-Newsletter
Issue 9 – November 2014

Annual Report to Congress: The U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity

Mural of a home and family.

This week, the seventh annual report to Congress on Public Law 109-95 was released. The report outlines some of the substantial efforts and impact of the U.S. Government’s work under the Action Plan on Children in Adversity in Fiscal Year 2013 and progress to-date in these key areas.

The Action Plan was launched in December 2012. It is the first-ever strategic guidance for U.S. Government international assistance for children 0-18 years of age who are affected by HIV and AIDS, trafficked, orphaned, exploited for child labor, in disasters, recruited as soldiers, neglected or in other vulnerable states.

Innovation Programming in Cambodia

Through its Global Development Lab, USAID is advancing innovation programming to address the various barriers and challenges that have limited developing nations’ ability to prevent the separation of vulnerable children from families and to make or sustain significant reductions in the number of children residing in institutions. Starting in Cambodia, USAID will be inviting diverse stakeholders to co-create and collaboratively implement local solutions with the aim of fostering inclusive, creative, evidence-based solutions and to leverage funding. Stand by for an announcement later this month.

News of Note

Subcommittee Hearing: The Growing Crisis of Africa’s Orphans

USAID Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg testified before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations chaired by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) on July 16, 2014. Due to war and civil unrest, poverty, and HIV and AIDS, Africa today has more than 50 million children orphaned within its borders. To address more effectively this crisis and in line with the U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity, Ms. Lindborg proposed supporting evidence-based programs that empower national governments and civil society to meet the health and protection needs of young children, to support families to provide better care for their children and to prevent and respond to abuse, exploitation and violence against children.

Children in Adversity Policy Partnership (CAPP) Meeting

On September 29, USAID and the Children in Adversity Policy Partnership (CAPP), a coalition of US-based implementing and advocacy organizations, co-hosted a meeting to discuss collaboration efforts for the implementation of the U. S. Government Action Plan for Children in Adversity. Highlights of the event include updates fromt he U.S. Government, including progress in Action Plan priority countries, highlights from CAPP and the Global Alliance for Children, and recommendations for better coordination.

Launch of the Africhild Center

On October 15, a center for excellence for the study of the African child was established at Makerere University in Uganda. Launched by Gender Minister Karooro Okurut and developed by the CPC Learning Network with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID's) Empowerment and Inclusion team, Wellspring and Oak Foundations, the center aims to establish strong partnerships to join evidence with action to promote child well-being across Africa. The center focuses on five key areas including research, capacity building, advocacy, partnership and technical backstopping.

Recent Events

Children, Not Soldiers Meeting

On October 24, the Washington Network on Children and Armed Conflict (WNCAC) hosted a meeting on the 2016 Children, Not Soldiers Campaign, at the Search for Common Ground office. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF jointly launched the Children, Not Soldiers campaign in March 2014 to mobilize political attention, provide technical assistance, and support governments who are taking measures to professionalize their security forces, ensuring that they become and remain “child free.” The speaker for the event was Eduardo Garcia Rolland. Mr. Rolland is a senior consultant with UNICEF and has extensive experience in child protection on a wide range of issues in a number of emergency and post-emergency settings.

Protecting Education from Attack during Armed Conflict with Search for Common Ground

On September 30, USAID/Displaced Children and Orphans Fund (DCOF) co-hosted with Search for Common Ground a meeting of the Washington Network on Children and Armed Conflict at the Search for Common Ground office. The meeting focused on “Protecting Education from Attack during Armed Conflict,” and the presenters were Brendan O‘ Malley, who described findings of the global studies on attacks against education that he has helped produce, and Wendy Wheaton of Creative Associates International, who presented on actions to protect students and educators from attack.

International Day of the Girl Child

The world recently celebrated International Day of the Girl Child. In December 2011, the UN General Assembly declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, established to recognize girls' rights and to empower girls during adolescence.

Updates on the Action Plan on Children in Adversity

  • 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: Build Strong Beginnings

The Jamaican Study: Early Childhood Education Can Compensate for Developmental Delays, Boost Earnings and Reduce Inequality

Research has shown that childhood interventions addressing stimulation in conjunction with nutrition and health services reap higher returns than either alone. A new follow-up study of a low-cost early childhood intervention conducted in Jamaica from 1986 through 1988 by researchers at the University of the West Indies demonstrates the effectiveness of home visiting programs, parent-child interactions and cognitive and social stimulation for infants and toddlers in closing the achievement gap and producing long-term economic gains. Extremely disadvantaged children treated in the Jamaican Study earned 25 percent more as adults than disadvantaged children who received no treatment—and they earned as much as their more advantaged peers.

Caregiver Behavior Change for Child Survival and Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: an Examination of the Evidence

To address the problem of ending preventable child deaths, USAID and UNICEF convened a 2013 Evidence Summit on Enhancing Child Survival and Development in Lower- and Middle-Income Countries by Achieving Population-Level Behavior Change. Six evidence review teams were established on different topics related to child survival and healthy development to identify the relevant evidence-based interventions and to prepare reports. On September 10, an article reviewing the research literature on caregiver behavior change for child survival and development was released. Organized by childhood developmental periods and the cross-cutting issues that affect child survival and healthy early development across all these periods, the authors presented evidence-based recommendations for programmatic responses focused on caregivers. The article also offers promising directions for future research.

Institute of Medicine – Forum on Investing in Young Children Globally

The Institute of Medicine (IOM)/National Research Council (NRC) Board on Children, Youth, and Families, in collaboration with the IOM's Board on Global Health, has established the Forum on Investing in Young Children Globally to engage in dialogue and discussion to connect the best science on how to support children's growth and development, including two-generation approaches, with practices and policies on the ground around the world. The most recent convening was held in August 2014 and focused on ‘Financing Investments in Young Children Globally.’

Objective 2: Put Family Care First

CP MERG Roundtable Meeting in New York

On September 9–10, 2014, the Better Care Network as co-chair of the Child Protection Monitoring & Evaluation Reference Group's (CP MERG’s) Technical Working Group, in collaboration with Save the Children organized a round table expert meeting in New York on the use of Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS)/Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) data relevant to children's care. The roundtable presentations and discussions are informing the development of an inter-agency technical brief on available household level data, through DHS and MICS in particular, critical to better understanding and monitoring of trends and patterns in children’s living and care arrangements.

The State of the Evidence on Children’s Care: A Better Care Network and CPC Learning Network Symposium

Co-convened by the Better Care Network and the CPC Learning Network, the September 23 symposium brought together a number of leading academics, policy makers and practitioners involved in the development or implementation of key initiatives to better measure issues of children’s care at country, regional or international levels. The symposium topics were clustered around three specific areas of issues related to children’s care, including: efforts to measure trends in families and children’s care and living arrangements; initiatives to measure the impact of policies and programs to strengthen families and to ensure children’s ability to be raised in a family environment; and measurement of situations and outcomes concerning children outside of family care and children in alternative care arrangements. The organizers will collate the symposium’s proceedings in a special issue of a relevant academic journal.

Human Rights Watch Says Disabled Children in Russia Face Violence, Isolation, and Neglect

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) report finds that nearly 30 percent of all Russian children with disabilities are removed from their parents and live in state orphanages, where they face neglect and sometimes violence. HRW’s 93-page report, titled ‘Abandoned by the State: Violence, Neglect, and Isolation for Children with Disabilities in Russian Orphanages,’ finds that the institutionalization of these children and their ill treatment inside the Russian system threatens their well-being and impedes their development. While recognizing some progress by the Russian government, including the development of the National Action Strategy on the Rights of Children for 2012–17, HRW says much more needs to be done.

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

Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor Report Released by U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez

Released annually by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, the Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor Report assesses efforts by more than 140 countries to reduce the worst forms of child labor. With 168 million children made to work across the world, the study suggests actions countries can take through legislation, enforcement, coordination, policies and social programs.

Release of New UNICEF Report on Violence against Children

On September 4 as part of its #ENDviolence against children initiative, UNICEF released a data-driven publication entitled, Hidden in Plain Sight: A Statistical Analysis of Violence against Children. This report represents the largest-ever compilation of data on the subject of violence against children. It sheds light on the prevalence of different forms of violence against children, with global figures and data from 190 countries. This groundbreaking report concludes that interpersonal violence – in all its forms – has a grave effect on children: violence undermines their future potential; damages their physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing; and in many cases ends their lives.

UNICEF simultaneously launched a companion piece called Ending Violence Against Children: Six Strategies for Action. It describes effective programs to address and prevent violence, demonstrating that although violence is widespread there are effective measures that can be taken to address and reduce violence.

Global Violence Against Children (VAC) Meeting

At the invitation of the Government of Swaziland, with support from UNICEF and Together for Girls partners including the U.S. government, 20 countries from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean gathered in May 2014 to share evidence and practice on the prevention and response to violence against children, with a focus on sexual violence and girls. There was a rich exchange between countries as they discussed their experiences using the violence against children (VAC) Surveys to mobilize a national multi-sector response and state of the art programming at national, district and community levels.

Girls Summit 2014 – A Future Free from FGM/C and Child and Forced Marriage

This July 2014, the Girl Summit in London rallied a global movement to end child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) for all girls within a generation. Doing this will help preserve girls' childhoods, promote their education, reduce their exposure to violence and abuse, and allow them to fulfill their potential in life. USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah gave remarks, stating, “USAID has put women and girls at the center of our efforts … to end extreme poverty … reflect(ing) a legacy of investment in girls – in their education, in their safety, in their health, and in their potential”.