In June 2019, U.S. Government (USG) partners launched Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity: A U.S. Government Strategy for International Assistance (2019-2023) or APCCA Strategy, which outlines the USG’s approach to investing in the development, care, dignity, and safety of the world’s most vulnerable children and their families. Subsequently, the APCCA Interagency put the Strategy into action with an Implementation Plan, detailing activities, impacts, and outcomes in a Report to Congress on an annual basis.

The recently passed Global Child Thrive Act of 2020 provided additional direction, stating that the United States Government should provide assistance to improve early childhood outcomes globally and continue efforts to reduce child mortality rates and increase attention on prevention efforts and early childhood development outcomes.

Strategic Objectives

The Strategy builds on three evidence-based objectives that inform the U.S. Government’s policies and programs to benefit the world’s most vulnerable children. These objectives are interrelated, interdependent, and mutually reinforcing. Success with each objective creates a multiplier effect by contributing to a solid foundation to protect children and adolescents from a wide array of risks and supporting their development, care, and safety

OBJECTIVE 1: Build Strong Beginnings
The U.S. Government will promote nurturing care for the most-vulnerable newborns and young children, starting before birth, by funding and supporting comprehensive and integrated programming in early-childhood development to provide for children’s health, nutrition, safety and security, responsive caregiving for social and emotional well-being, and opportunities for early learning.
OBJECTIVE 2: Put Family First
The U.S. Government will support those most vulnerable children who are, or are at risk of, living outside of family care by promoting, funding, and supporting nurturing, loving, protective, and permanent family care.
OBJECTIVE 3: Protect Children from Violence
The U.S. Government will promote, fund, and support the protection of children from violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect by investing in preventative and responsive programming.


Guiding Principles


Programming for children must adapt to a range of individual considerations and circumstances. The U.S. Government will fund and support age-appropriate interventions that ensure children have meaningful opportunities to participate in decisions regarding their care, in keeping with their current and developing capacities. Young people, themselves, are key actors regarding their own safety and well-being.

The U.S. Government will promote the principles and practices of equity, dignity, and equality between girls and boys, by addressing their different vulnerabilities, protection needs, and opportunities. Throughout its support for policy change and programming, the U.S. Government will give careful attention to disability-inclusive development and is committed to inclusive interventions, sensitive to the needs of girls and boys, that build on the strengths of individuals and communities.

Effective, resourced social-service and child-protection systems benefit vulnerable families, newborns, children, and adolescents by improving their access to a broad range of help. Such services, delivered by both public and private institutions, include health care, nutrition, education, legal support, economic strengthening, skills-building, and psychosocial support.

The U.S. Government will assist governments and civil society in partner countries to build and strengthen their capacities to support, manage, and finance their social-service and child-protection systems fully.


A strong evidence base is required to plan and implement effective policies and programming for children. The U.S. Government will use the best available data for decision-making and employ research, implementation science, and programmatic learning to design evidence-based and informed policies, programs, and practices, and adapt them according to the findings. Rigorous evaluations will measure the effectiveness of programs and highlight lessons learned, which will inform the design of new interventions and practices.

The U.S. Government will draw on both global evidence and the information gathered through its programming to measure the impact of its foreign assistance investments.


U.S. Government Departments and Agencies will promote the best possible outcomes for children and families by fostering synergies across sectors and breaking down silos where they exist. The U.S. Government will focus and coordinate its investments and delivery platforms to close gaps and maximize efficiencies, across intervention areas.

U.S. Government Departments and Agencies commit to making a concerted effort to coordinate the implementation of their programs, and the measurement of results at the global and national levels.

The U.S. Government is committed to working efficiently and transparently with new and existing partners, including national and local governments, the private sector, civil society, faith-based organizations, professional networks and associations, and public and private donors. U.S. Government Departments and Agencies will prioritize community-level partnerships to strengthen country- or local-level engagement and buy-in and will foster collaboration through co-creation approaches.

The U.S. Government’s commitment to the dignity and well-being of children and their families around the world promotes the development, care, and protection of children everywhere and provides a basis for intergovernmental and inter-organizational collaboration.


In FY 2019, the USG APCCA partners raised additional resources; increased attention on children in crisis and conflict settings; supported children with disabilities; addressed the specific needs of vulnerable youth; funded new, groundbreaking research and tools; and maximized effects through strategic partnerships.

The economic case for investing in children around the world is compelling; the cost of not doing so is devastating, not only to individuals and families, but also to communities and nations. Enabling children to reach their full potential will require common understanding, shared commit¬ment, united action, and love.

The U.S. Government’s commitment to the dignity and well-being of children and their families around the world promotes the development, care, and protection of children everywhere and provides a basis for intergovernmental and inter-organizational collaboration.

The Case for Investing

Ensuring that every child can survive, thrive, and reach his or her full potential with dignity is central to long-term national development. Strengthening the capacities of children, adolescents, and the families who love and care for them is one of the best investments a country can make to eliminate extreme poverty, boost economic growth, and promote a peaceful society.

The challenge of protecting children in adversity is enormous. Millions of children and adolescents around the world live without protective, nurturing, and loving family care as the result of poverty and other factors, including disability, disease, humanitarian crisis, exploitative labor, or human trafficking. Evidence shows that when children face chronic, unaddressed adversities, the resulting toxic stress can have life-long, debilitating mental, emotional, and physical effects.1 This constel¬lation of adversities has deleterious impacts, not only on the individuals and families concerned but also on the societies and countries where they live, across generations.

Early Death
Disease, Disability, and Social Problems
Adoption of Health-risk Behaviors
Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Impairment
Disrupted Neurodevelopment
Adverse Childhood Experiences
Life Span