U.S. Gov’t & Partners on Highly Vulnerable Children (Dec. 2009)

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

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