Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, along Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pennsylvania, and Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, introduced on Oct. 28 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 8 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 Sen. 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.”

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.