Empowering communities to care for their most vulnerable
Healthy individuals and families are the foundation of thriving communities. And a healthy childhood is the foundation of a healthy life. That’s why CRS is working to improve maternal health, child survival, childhood development, HIV and AIDS in the most marginalized communities. In addition to bringing lifesaving treatment to these areas, we’re enabling them to address their own basic health needs. It’s an approach everyone can feel good about.
Amplifying our impact through a national network
With support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, CRS is expanding quality early childhood development (ECD) services in Kenya, Malawi and Zambia. The Strengthening the Capacity of Women Religious in ECD (SCORE-ECD) project works through national associations of sister congregations to improve ECD in 48 congregations. The sisters help families understand the importance of nutrition and feeding, and communicating early and effectively with their children.
Using a CRS ECD curriculum customized for the sisters, the program has trained 85 sisters as Master Trainers, and educated 2,700 sisters and 10,000 caregivers on important ECD topics. Small grants have also been awarded for income-generating activities that have funded nutrition programs in ECD centers and additional training.
Initially, many sisters’ efforts were channeled in preschool programs with a focus on reading and writing skills. They have now begun to integrate health and holistic care into their programs. They’re also reaching out to mothers and caregivers about the importance of good nutrition and positive parenting.
“As a result of boosting services at the nutrition center, children’s diets have improved and the number of critically ill and undernourished children has been significantly reduced. Many of those children likely would have died without this support.”
Transforming care for vulnerable children
Tens of millions of children have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related illnesses and other adversities. Most of these children live in lower- and middle-income countries with fragile social service systems that cannot meet their needs.
Funded by USAID and implemented through a consortium led by CRS, Coordinating Comprehensive Care for Children (4Children) is improving health and wellbeing outcomes for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). Based on the premise that governments must care for their most vulnerable populations, the project provides customized support, and in some cases, very hands-on backing to enable governments and civil society organizations to better provide for and protect children.
4children also researches and evaluates child welfare, care and protection interventions to determine the most effective approaches. On an even larger scale, the program is helping develop global guidance and policies for organizations and government working with children. We manage a number of platforms for sharing what works and connecting a network of stakeholders around the world.
In FY16, 4Children supported global OVC programming with 18 initiative/core activities and helped implement or strengthen social service systems in 12 countries. By combining the most successful technical approaches and research to transform future OVC programming, we’re positively impacting the lives of children today and tomorrow.