WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), along with U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), introduced the Global Child Thrive Act. The bipartisan legislation strengthens the implementation of policies that advance early childhood development internationally, which includes learning and physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development for children younger than eight years old.
“With nearly 250 million children in low- and middle-income countries suffering from poor development due to poverty and stunting alone, it’s critical that we do everything possible to support children in meeting their developmental milestones,” said Coons. “I’m proud to introduce the Global Child Thrive Act with Senator Blunt, a leader on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Together, we understand the value of investing in the reduction of preventable child deaths worldwide and ensuring the healthy development of future generations.”
“Many children around the world aren’t growing up in an environment that supports their developmental needs,” said Blunt. “This bill will improve efforts by the U.S. to advance early childhood development policies across the world. I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan, bicameral bill that will make a huge difference in the lives of countless children.”
“As public servants, we have no higher responsibility than to protect our children and to ensure that children have a strong foundation for success,” said Fitzpatrick. “This bipartisan and bicameral legislation is a step in the right direction helping children across the globe. Every child deserves the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive in a safe and healthy environment. As federal legislators, we owe a duty to support federal policies that keep this goal in mind."
“We’ve seen the impact that investment in early childhood development has back home,” said Castro. “To help all kids succeed, it’s never been more important that we show that same commitment on a global scale. The bipartisan, bicameral Global Child Thrive Act responds to difficult conditions abroad, advances effective initiatives, and empowers the world’s children.”
“We have seen how early childhood development interventions allow children to reach their God-given potential and are heartened to see the U.S. Congress take this important step on their behalf,” said Bill O’Keefe, Vice President of Mission and Mobilization at Catholic Relief Services.
The Assistance for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Act of 2005 created the U.S. Government Special Advisor on Children in Adversity, who is tasked with coordinating all U.S. assistance to orphans and other vulnerable children among U.S. departments and agencies, among other responsibilities. The Global Child Thrive Act builds upon that foundation by strengthening the implementation of policies that advance early childhood development internationally.
The bill expands the number of agencies over which the Special Advisor has explicit authority to coordinate early childhood development policies. It also directs the U.S. Agency for International Development to engage relevant executive agencies to incorporate early childhood development into current programming over the next five years.
To incorporate early childhood development into current programming, the agencies would:
• build on the evidence and priorities outlined in ‘Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity: A U.S. Government Strategy for International Assistance 2019-2023’;
• identify evidence-based strategic priorities, indicators, outcomes, and targets to support inclusive early childhood development;
• support the design, implementation, and evaluation of pilot projects in partner countries, with the goal of taking them to scale;
• support bureaus, working groups, and task forces implementing relevant sector strategies and public laws; and
• focus on improving coordination with foreign governments and international and regional organizations with respect to official country policies and plans for early childhood development.
The Global Child Thrive Act is endorsed by Catholic Relief Services and the LEGO Foundation.