Vulnerable Children funding supports the protection and care of children around the world who are facing extreme adversity. Funding focuses on children who are separated from their families or at risk of separation from their families. It supports children living and working on the street, children living outside family care, children affected by war and violence, children with disabilities, children on the move, and children from other marginalized groups. These children are at high risk of extreme poverty, poor health, and exposure to violence or exploitation.
What does it buy?
Vulnerable Children funding primarily funds the Displaced Children and Orphans Fund (DCOF) at USAID. Funds also support programs that reduce the risks to vulnerable children and help communities, NGOs, and governments to provide services and protections. Funds from the DCOF aid in the implementation of the new Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity strategy (2019-2023) across multiple U.S. Government agencies.
Why is it important?
One billion children under age 18 experience physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. An estimated 357 million children, or one in six, live in conflict zones.
Tens of millions of children live outside of family care. Those living on the streets, working away from home, or living in residential care are particularly vulnerable to violence and abuse.
Estimates place the global economic impact of physical, psychological, and sexual violence against children as high as $7 trillion annually.
Investments in early health and development for children in adversity have a high return. Early child development and nutrition build the architecture of children’s brains. Investing in children who experience adversity during this period ensures that they do not lose out on critical developmental milestones.
50% of the world’s children experience violence every year.
Why should Americans care?
At least 250 million children are not reaching their full potential because of extreme poverty and undernutrition. Providing strong support for early child development can mitigate the impact of adversity on children’s future health and productivity, and providing support for caregivers can prevent family separation.
Providing safety and security for vulnerable children supports U.S. efforts to address violence and mitigate its impacts. Investments to improve the development, care and safety of children in adversity are essential to advancing sustainable national growth and self-reliance.
What more could be done?
Increased funds could expand efforts to prevent and mitigate violence against children and amplify gains made by interventions in the health, education, and other sectors.
Additional investments would allow USAID to work with host governments that are eager to improve outcomes for vulnerable children by supporting the implementation of national strategies, such as those developed as part of the Violence Against Children Surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other partners.
Supportive family care is more cost-efficient than institutional care and leads to better cognitive, physical, and social development outcomes in children. Additional funds could support efforts to strengthen health and social welfare systems to promote health, safety, and family care for all children.
A higher level of investment would allow USAID to fully fund monitoring and evaluation efforts to identify effective and efficient interventions, including efforts to integrate key components of the APCCA strategy into existing and well-functioning programming.