USAID: Supporting Highly Vulnerable Children (Dec. 2008)

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.

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