Category: Legislation

Progress in Fourth Report

Click image above to read entire text of the Fourth Report to Congress

U.S. Government Response to Haiti Earthquake in Review

Coordination Challenges:

  • Weakened capacity to respond: Key organizations lost their capacity to work with the U.S. Government and other donors on the coordination, planning, and delivery of emergency assistance to children.
  • Human resources constraint: Number of people available to focus exclusively on orphans and vulnerable children and child protection was minimal at first. Available personnel faced competing demands for responding to the situation and addressing urgent requests for information.
  • Involvement of multiple actors: the large number of actors, offices, and organizations created coordination challenges.
  • No child protection lead in Haiti or in USG
  • Lack of official policy guidance

Protecting Vulnerable Children

  • According to the report, “ highly vulnerable children” refers to a target group and includes children who lack child protection and require child welfare and protection assistance.
  • “Child protection” concerns the interventions that many highly vulnerable children require. Protection involves efforts to prevent children from experiencing violence, exploitation, and abuse and neglect, or to assist children already experiencing such hardships.
  • The report states that “there is universal acknowledgment that the optimal support for a child comes from a caring and protective family.” The U.S. Government therefore has the goal of preserving and enhancing the capacity of families to care for and protect their children in preventing children from becoming vulnerable and responding to children who face multiple risks.


Progress in Third Report

Click image above to read entire text of the third report to Congress

Brief Sketch of USAID Understanding of Orphans and Orphanhood

  • The UN and USG definition of “orphan” is a child whose mother or father, or both, has died. According to this definition, it is estimated that there are 163 million orphans worldwide.
  • Approximately 10.7 percent (17.5 million) of the world’s 163 million orphans have lost one or both parents due to AIDS.
  • Studies show that children who have lost their mother are more likely to have worse educational outcomes than children who have lost their father.
  • Some studies have found that girl orphans are at a greater risk for HIV infection and other threats to their reproductive health than boys.
  • Most orphaned children continue to live in families, typically with a surviving parent or sibling, or members of their extended family.
  • The relation of the adult caregiver to the orphan can affect the well-being of the child. Studies have shown that children living in households headed by non-relatives were worse off that those living with a parent, and children living in households headed by non-relatives were less likely to be enrolled in school.
  • An estimated 2 million children live in institutions, though the percentage of institutionalized children who are orphans is not known.
  • Some studies have found that, in comparison to children who are not orphans, orphans are at a disadvantage in terms of schooling, including enrollment, grade level, and dropping out.
  • Singling out specific children for special benefits based on their orphan status can lead to stigma, resentment, and harsh treatment from those in their households, schools, and communities.

Reliance on weak child welfare sector

Field experience and limited data show that the child welfare sector is often neglected, understaffed and under-resourced.

  • Fewer than one-third of the countries where laws have been passed to protect children from violence and exploitation have the resources to enforce those laws.
  • Child welfare departments and ministries are often week.

Goals for 2009-2010 and Beyond

  • Identify countries with complex U.S. Government assistance programs, determine the status of interagency coordination, identify and disseminate best coordination practices and assist countries to improve coordination.
  • Reach agreement on an improved monitoring and evaluation system and begin implementation.
  • Determine the feasibility and cost of filling key data gaps on children living outside of permanent family care

Click image above to read entire text of 2008 report.

Changes in Funding Levels from 2007-2008

  • U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief increased funding for orphans and vulnerable children in 15 focus countries, serving an estimated 2.7 million children. In total, PEPFAR committed $278.3 million in FY 2007 toward OVC programs.
  • Department of Labor’s programs prevented or withdrew 229,000 children from exploitive child labor by providing them with education and/or training opportunities.
  • Department of State’s programs to prevent trafficking in persons provided guidance to help countries focus resources on prosecution, protection, and prevention programs and policies.
  • Department of States’ Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration developed programs to address gender-based violence against women and girls, including sexual exploitation and anti-trafficking initiatives.
  • Office of Food for Peace increased funding for food aid aimed at the most vulnerable populations, although increases in food and shipping costs erased the impact of these increases.
  • Displaced Children and Orphans Fund programmed $16 million in 16 countries to fund technical assistance for initiatives to benefit vulnerable children, especially children trapped by armed conflict, children on the streets, and children without family care.
  • Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement provided resettlement services to adults, families and children unable to safely repatriate to their country of origin.

Challenges Affecting All Programming for Highly Vulnerable Children

  • Stigma: targeting vulnerable children can draw attention to their status and stigmatize them as “unclean,” “damaged,” or “violent”
    • To combat this, interventions should be available to all vulnerable children and not just a select subgroup
  • Global food crisis: rising food prices mean donors can afford less food and more families go hungry
    • Especially an issue in HIV-affected populations, who often cite food as one of their greatest needs
  • Finding and serving hard-to-reach children
  • Incorporating child protection into broader program

Improving Interagency Coordination of Programs for Highly Vulnerable Children

USAID accomplished three tasks in the reporting period:

  • Initiated data gathering and analysis for development of a strategic information system
  • Began developing country profiles for use by country-level interagency coordinating committees for highly vulnerable children
  • Continued analyzing the challenges and lessons learned to improve USG programming for highly vulnerable children.

Challenges to Improved Interagency Cooperation

  • Reaching vulnerable children who are not within the mandates of particular USG programs
    • Many funding programs are earmarked for a specific vulnerability (such as children affected by HIV/AIDS), making it challenging to ensure coverage of larger numbers of vulnerable children.
  • Restrictive funding streams and differing program mandates: different funding accounts can have different mandates. This effectively limits the scope of programs some USG personnel and partners can engage with for highly vulnerable children, and limits the type of communities within which they work.
  • The human resources cost of collaboration
  • Differing reporting and monitoring and evaluation requirements
  • Difficulties in making information easily accessible to agencies working with highly vulnerable children

Innovations for OVC Research

The following list includes several innovative activities, which are under way from individual USG agencies:

  • Mapping of services for vulnerable children: PEPFAR initiated a pilot program to map the services available from each PEPFAR-supported service provider. These maps match services to identified needs.
  • Identifying research priorities for HIV/AIDS-affected children: A 2008 research conference on children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS identified several research needs, and discovered that:
    • Evaluation information is lacking on key topics for OVC programs in sub-Saharan Africa
    • Neglected research areas include:
      • Interventions focusing on the needs of adolescents and children under 5 years
      • Interventions for hard-to-reach youth
      • Interventions focusing on strengthening father-child relations as a protective factor
  • The Child Status Index: assists in the monitoring of the well-being of children and evaluating OVC programs that serve them.
  • Supporting Transformation by Reducing Insecurity and Vulnerability with Economic Strengthening (STRIVE): identifies and demonstrates effective means of improving the economic circumstances of vulnerable children and youth through economic development programs for their caregivers and/or youth themselves.

Click image above to read entire text of the 2007 report
  1. U.S. Government officials consulted with Field Missions to inform them of PL 109-95 legislation, proposed implementation steps, and the importance that the U.S. Government places on highly vulnerable children.
  2. Ethiopia, Uganda, and Indonesia were identified as “fast-track” countries that will serve as models for other countries.
  3. The Special Advisor for Assistance to Orphans and Vulnerable Children began coordinating activities with representatives of other government agencies. Representatives shared information about activities, budgets, target groups, results and potential challenges.
  4. Increased coordination with multilateral bodies, other donors, non-profits, and the private sector
  5. Initiated development of a strategic information system to compile pertinent U.S. Government programs focusing on orphan and vulnerable children.
  6. Appointment of Dr. Connie Carrino, the first Special Advisor for Assistance to Orphans and Vulnerable Children

USAID: PL 109-95’s Context

U.S. Agency for International Development 

This law, which was intended to respond to the global orphans and vulnerable children crisis, calls for the U.S. Government’s response to the crisis to be “comprehensive, coordinated, and effective.” Specifically, the legislation aims to improve the coordination, comprehensiveness, and effectiveness of U.S. Government assistance for highly vulnerable children.

The legislation calls for the submission of an annual report to Congress that provides legislators with updated information about orphan and vulnerable children research and action. Copies of the reports can be found below.

PL 109-95’s Context:

Click image to read entire PL 109-95 legislation

The 2006 Strategy for Implementation of PL 109-95 outlined seven parameters for programming assistance for highly vulnerable children:

  1. Focus on stressed communities
  2. Reliance on local institutions or communities to determine the most vulnerable children and to determine the most-needed services
  3. Preference for family/household care rather than institutional care
  4. Preference for a development approach that creates ownership and limits dependency
  5. Adherence to the five key strategies of the Framework for Protection, Care and Support of Orphans and Vulnerable Children Living in a World of HIV and AIDS (see below)
  6. Strengthening of partnerships and knowledge exchange between implementing organizations that are primarily child centered and those that focus on economic empowerment.
  7. Taking gender into consideration

 U.S. Government definition of highly vulnerable children: children under 18 whose safety, well-being, or development is at significant risk due to inadequate care, protection, or access to essential services, which are defined as globally agreed-upon inputs that children need to grow into contributing members of society. These include

  • Education
  • Food
  • Nutrition
  • Shelter
  • Protection
  • Health Care
  • Livelihood Opportunities
  • Psychosocial Support

Five Strategies from the Global Framework to Address Orphans, Children and HIV/AIDS:

  • Strengthen capacity of families to protect and care for highly vulnerable children by prolonging the lives of parents and providing economic, psychosocial and other support
  • Mobilize and support community-based responses
  • Ensure access for highly-vulnerable children to essential services
  • Ensure that governments protect the most vulnerable children through improved policy and legislation and by channeling resources to families and communities.
  • Raise awareness at all levels through advocacy and social mobilization to create a supportive environment for highly vulnerable children and families

U.S. Government agencies’ approach to reduce vulnerabilities:

  1. Direct delivery of essential services to large numbers of highly vulnerable children or highly vulnerable populations. This includes:
    1. Support for victims of natural disasters and emergencies
    2. Support for refugee resettlement
    3. HIV/AIDS-related care
    4. Reduction of exploitive child labor
  2. Capacity-building to foster sustainability
  3. Policy, Diplomacy, and Advocacy
  4. Demonstration Projects and Research to improve knowledge of the causes of vulnerability among children, understand how to develop strategies for preventing vulnerability, and testing interventions for those who are already vulnerable
  5. Documentation and Dissemination of Information
    1. PL 109-95 aims to expand information among USG agencies and partners about current work efforts and to encourage widespread dissemination of research results, policy analysis, and sound practices
  6. Integration with Broader Development Efforts
    1. Strive to integrate orphan and vulnerable children programs with broad-based programs (including education, child survival and health, enterprise and agriculture development, etc.)