Today at the White House, the U.S. Government released its first-ever 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. According to the Plan, “Child development is a cornerstone for all development, and it is central to U.S. development and diplomatic efforts.”
The goal of the Plan is to achieve a world where all children survive, grow up within protective family care, and are free from deprivation, exploitation and danger. The Plan provides overarching policy and guidance for U.S. international assistance. By expanding beyond single vulnerabilities to coordinated, multifaceted action, we will better address the needs of children living in adversity.
Research shows that children who experience violence or are exploited, abandoned, abused, or severely neglected (in or out of families) face significant threats to their survival and well-being, as well as profound risks that have an impact on human, social, and economic development. Children in the most dire straits include those without protective family care or living in abusive households, living on the streets or in institutions, trafficked, participating in armed groups, and/or exploited for their labor. Many more live within fragile families and face a multitude of risks posed by extreme poverty, disease, disability, conflict, and disaster.
“The science is clear – childhood experiences shape adult outcomes, including long-term health, cognitive development, academic achievement, and one’s ability to be gainfully and safely employed,” says Dr. Neil Boothsby, U.S. Government Special Advisor on Children in Adversity. “If we are serious about change, really breaking through cycles of poverty and inequality, we must start early.”
The Plan has three principle objectives: build strong beginnings, put family care first, and protect children from violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect. It identifies existing programs that work and that can be taken to scale. Within five years, the Plan calls for significant reductions in the number of children not meeting age-appropriate growth and developmental milestones; children living outside of family care; and children who experience violence or exploitation.
The United States’ sustained commitment through investments and partnerships has resulted in important initiatives that have increased the impact of foreign assistance in many key areas, including impressive gains in child survival. The National Action Plan on Children in Adversity builds upon these successes and creates an integrated framework to help children survive and thrive.
U.S. international assistance to children is substantial and channeled through more than 30 offices in seven U.S. Government departments and agencies – the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, and Labor, and State; the U.S. Agency for International Development, and Peace Corps – in more than 100 countries. This Plan, which has input from all the participating agencies, provides overarching guidance and coordination for U.S. international assistance to children.
The Action Plan has been endorsed by more than 100 civil society and faith-based organizations, represented by the Children in Adversity Policy Partnership. A public-private partnership is being formed to mobilize resources to meet the objectives of the Plan.
Cross posted from U.S. AID.