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), celebrated the passage of the Global Child Thrive Act, which was included in the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization 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 that we do everything possible to support children in meeting their developmental milestones,” said Senator Coons. “I’m pleased that the Senate passed the bipartisan Global Child Thrive Act, which I have been proud to champion with Senator Blunt. Together, we understand the value of investing in the reduction of preventable child deaths worldwide and ensuring the healthy development of future generations.”

“Children who experience poverty and hunger in their earliest years face developmental challenges that could shape their entire lives,” said Senator Blunt.“This bill would strengthen our country’s childhood development policies across the world, especially those affecting the most vulnerable children. I’ve been proud to work with Senator Coons and Representatives Fitzpatrick and Castro on this bill, and I appreciate our colleagues’ support on this critical issue.”

“I am thrilled to see our bipartisan and bicameral Global Child Thrive Act in this year's NDAA. One of my greatest concerns has always been the welfare of children, not just children in the United States but children across the globe,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “I would like to thank Rep. Castro, Sen. Coons, and Sen. Blunt for their partnership on getting our legislation over the finish line. It is of the utmost importance that we help other countries help their children. As we all know, focusing on children is focusing on our future.”

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, children are more vulnerable than ever before. This bipartisan legislation is a robust measure to elevate, educate, and empower vulnerable children around the world,” said Congressman Castro. “I appreciate the leadership of Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, who co-wrote this important legislation, and thank Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Chris Coons of Delaware for partnering with the House on this bill.”

"It was an honor to work with Senators Blunt and Coons and their staff on the Global Child Thrive Act. Thank you Senator Blunt for your life-long dedication to the well-being of children and Senator Coons for your passion for Africa, especially for its children. We at CRS are grateful to you both for your bipartisan leadership, which will ensure hundreds of thousands of the world's most vulnerable children reach their God-given potential-- an outcome that benefits us all," said Bill O'Keefe, EVP of Mission Mobilization and Advocacy 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 for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, 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.