About PL 109-95
- What is PL109-95?
- Who are highly vulnerable children?
- How is PL 109-95 implemented?
- Core Documents
- PL 109-95 Secretariat
- The Team
- The PL 109-95 Interagency Working Group
What is PL 109-95?
Public Law 109-95 was signed into law in 2005 to respond to the global orphans and vulnerable children crisis. It calls for the U.S. Government response to the crisis to be comprehensive, coordinated and effective.
Who are highly vulnerable children?
“Highly Vulnerable Children,” as described in the PL 109-95 Implementation Strategy (May 2006) are “children and youth who are under 18 years whose safety, wellbeing, growth and development are at significant risk due to inadequate care, protection or access to essential services.”
There is no single, standard definition of set of inclusion criteria for “vulnerable children” that is globally accepted. In order to further elucidate what is meant by this term, the following framework is offered:
Causes/risk factors of high vulnerability:
- Loss of family/parental care and protection
- Extreme poverty
- Food insecurity
- Economic shocks
- Natural disasters
- Harmful cultural norms and traditional practices
- Lack of access to essential services, including education, health care, shelter, food and nutrition, protection, livelihood opportunities, and psychosocial support.
Consequences for children:
- Living and/or working on the street
- Living in institutions
- (Gender-based) violence
- HIV-positive serostatus
- Involvement in exploitive labor, including sexual exploitation, and association with armed forces/groups
- Being trafficked
- Child marriage
The effects these consequences have on children can include physical and psychological pain and suffering as well as death.
USG programs intervene to:
- Eliminate the causes of vulnerability
- Strengthen families, communities and national systems to minimize exposure to cumulative risk factors for high vulnerability; and
- Strengthen protective factors and build capacity to help children recover and prevent a recurrence.
illustration by Paulo R. Alvarado
How is PL 109-95 Implemented?
Within USAID, the Bureau for Global Health (GH) is the locus of PL 109-95 leadership and management and the home of the USG Special Advisor and Senior Coordinator for Children in Adversity, a position mandated by the Act. During 2009, a four-person secretariat was established to implement the legislative requirements specified under PL 109-95, including 1) a unified USG coordination strategy; 2) a USG-wide monitoring and evaluation system; and 3) annual reports to Congress.
The PL 109-95 secretariat convenes bi-monthly meetings of the Interagency Working Group , which includes representatives from seven USG departments and agencies: the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Labor, and State, Peace Corps and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
In FY 2010, more than 30 offices within five departments and two agencies provided approximately $2.8 billion to implementing partners for 1,710 projects in 107 countries to:
- directly help children in crisis;
- protect children from crises by addressing the causes of their vulnerability;
- strengthen family, community and government capacity to identify and respond to their most vulnerable children; and
- conduct research and evaluations to identify the most effective interventions to care for and protect children.
The PL109-95 secretariat's goal is to support USG agencies to improve the USG's collective performance with respect to program strategy and coordination, monitoring, evaluation, reporting and application of best practices and, as a result, do more and better for highly vulnerable children.
illustration by Paulo R. Alvarado
For more information about PL 109-95, please contact:
- Gary Newton, USG Special Advisor for Orphans and Vulnerable Children email@example.com
- Linda Sussman, Deputy Special Advisor for Orphans and Vulnerable Children firstname.lastname@example.org
- James Orlando, Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Advisor email@example.com
- Gillian Huebner, Child Protection Technical Advisor firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Act
- The 2006 Implementation Strategy
- The first five annual reports to Congress
PL 109-95 Secretariat
PL 109-95 is an unfunded legislative mandate. Financial support for the Special Advisor and the secretariat for implementation of the statutory requirements currently comes from the USAID Operating Expense budget (26 percent), and two USG programs that are strategically linked to PL 109-95, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), through the USAID Office of HIV/AIDS (55 percent), and USAID's Displaced Children and Orphans Fund (19 percent).
Dr. Neil Boothby was appointed by USAID as the U.S. Government Special Advisor and Senior Coordinator on Children in Adversity in March of 2012. In this role, Dr. Boothby will fulfill the legislative mandate set forth in Public Law 109-95: the Assistance for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Act of 2005, which calls for a coordinated, comprehensive and effective response on the part of the U.S. Government to the world’s most vulnerable children. In addition to his interagency coordination efforts, Dr. Boothby will serve as USAID’s senior expert on children and adversity.
Dr. Boothby is taking a leave of absence from Columbia University, where he is the Allan Rosenfield Professor of Clinical Forced Migration and Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. As Director of the Program on Forced Migration and Health, he has lead several research initiatives, including the Child Protection in Crisis (CPC) Learning Network—a constellation of over 150 agencies working in 32 countries on the development of an evidence base for efficacious child health and protection programming. Through the CPC Network, Dr. Boothby established university based research centers and graduate training programs in Africa, Asian and the Middle East. Dr. Boothby’s research has focused on the developmental outcomes of children growing up in abject poverty, war and other adverse environments. His longitudinal study of adult outcomes for child soldiers in Mozambique enabled him to identify interventions and community supports linked to positive life outcomes. Lessons learned from the Mozambique research have been applied through operational agencies to current war-affected countries with large numbers of child soldiers, and found their way into the Paris Peace Principles. A second focus of his work has been on children separated from their families due to poverty, disasters, and armed conflict. His cornerstone study showed that many child-family separations are not accidental, but instead result from misguided policies and agency practices. This observation has been translated into international standards, including in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and UNHCR Refugee Policy. Dr. Boothby has published extensively on the subject of children and adversity, and received a number of academic awards for his scholarship.
Prior to joining Columbia University, Dr. Boothby worked with UN and NGO agencies in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, including as the senior coordinator for refugee children with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the director of Save the Children’s children in crisis division. Dr. Boothby has also received a number of awards for his field work, including the Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year Award, the Mickey Leland Award, and the UN’s Global Achievement Award for Excellence in the Social Sector.
Gillian Huebner began in April 2009 as the Child Protection Advisor under PL 109-95. Ms. Huebner has spent 16 years working in the fields of child protection, emergency humanitarian assistance, conflict resolution and public affairs. Her experience includes work with the United Nations as well as with NGOs and academic institutions in six countries in Africa, the former Soviet Union, Western Europe and the United States. She served as a UN humanitarian affairs officer in Angola during the last three years of the civil war and has designed conflict resolution and child rights programs with Search for Common Ground and Save the Children. Ms. Huebner has taught courses in field research and cross-cultural communication with World Learning's School for International Training in Russia and has been involved in a working group on psychosocial support in crisis settings. Gillian is the mother of two children whom she has raised in Angola, Belgium, Sudan and the United States. She received her BA from Bard College and a Master's Degree in Social Sciences from the University of Amsterdam.
Richard Rinehart, Sc.D. is the Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor for the PL 109-95 Secretariat. Mr. Rinehart has a doctorate in occupational health from the Harvard School of Public Health and is a Certified Industrial Hygienist. He’s been an epidemiologist with the U.S. Department of Labor, a Senior Service Fellow with the Centers for Disease Control, worked for several government contractors, and done considerable freelance work, mostly on child labor and youth employment issues related to reducing and preventing hazardous work. Some of the publications he has authored or co-authored on the topic include: Design and Administration of OSH Information Systems in Nine Countries (World Bank-2005); Hazardous child domestic work: A briefing sheet (ILO-IPEC-2006); Rooting out child labour from cocoa farms - Paper No. 1 - A synthesis report of five rapid assessments and Paper No. 2 - Safety and health hazards (ILO-IPEC-2007); and Children in Hazardous Work - What we know, what we need to do (2011). He has lived in the Philippines, India and most recently, Egypt.
James Orlando, MSW, is the Field Liaison for the PL 109-95 Secretariat. Mr. Orlando serves as a link between the PL 109-95 secretariat, its interagency partners in Washington, and USG Missions. As the Field Liaison, Mr. Orlando supports the USG Special Advisor for Children in Adversity in disseminating a collection of best practices to field missions to guide the development and implementation of programs to assist children in adversity as well as advising the various offices, bureaus, and field missions within the United States Agency for International Development to ensure that programs approved for assistance under this section are consistent with best practices. Mr. Orlando has over 7 years of international experience in both the non-profit and government arenas, focusing on development of small NGOs and community-based organizations. Several of his placements occurred in countries during times of humanitarian crises. He worked in 3 Southeast Asian countries during 2004 tsunami relief effort as well as in 2007 amidst Sri Lanka’s civil war. With a background in non-profit management, Mr. Orlando has instructed a course at Berkeley on community organizing in addition to co-founding a non-profit which provides education resources to marginalized populations in Myanmar and Laos. Mr. Orlando received his Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from University of California at Berkeley.
Kelly Canter, MSW, began in February of 2012 as the Program Assistant for the PL 109-95 Secretariat. Ms. Canter has over seven years of professional experience in the field of child welfare working with vulnerable children domestically and internationally, both for government and non-governmental organizations. Most recently, Kelly was employed for the state of Wisconsin where she conducted strength and needs assessments in response to allegations of child abuse or neglect, drafted court reports and recommendations, and advocated for legal decisions made in the best interest of the child. Kelly has volunteered with child focused initiatives in Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the United States, including disaster relief efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She also helped to establish an innovative NGO called Each Inc. that is focused on developing data and technology solutions to help child care workers and governments track orphans and vulnerable children globally. She has received training in system strengthening, community needs assessment, research methods, and policy planning and is an advocate of holistic and comprehensive services that utilize community collaboration in support of permanence and safety for all children. Graduating with her MSW from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010, with an emphasis in child welfare policy, Kelly was an intern with International Social Services’ General Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland where she was involved in drafting their 2009 Global Report and worked to research, identify, and build their global network and scope.
The PL 109-95 Interagency Working Group
The Interagency Working Group is the main mechanism for implementing interagency coordination under PL 109-95. The group meets on a bi-monthly basis and includes approximately 40 people representing five USG departments (State, Labor, Agriculture, Defense and Health and Human Services), two USG agencies (USAID and Peace Corps), the U.S. NGO community, and the UN (represented by UNICEF).
Interagency meetings provide a forum for members to disseminate information of general interest, keep abreast of developments in the legislative environment, learn best practices from invited outside experts, and generally network with colleagues working on similar programs and challenges. Interagency Working Group activities are also a mechanism for the Special Advisor to comply with reporting requirements and the mandate to develop and maintain a coordination strategy for highly vulnerable children under PL 109-95.
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