Vulnerable Children & Families

School Children in Nigeria

Due to the long-term effects of HIV, AIDS and poverty, many countries are home to increasing numbers of vulnerable children requiring care and support beyond what can be provided by their families. Government, civil society, and the international donor community have attempted to fill those gaps in care and support through the provision of services to millions of at-risk children. Standardizing the delivery of child and family welfare services is a first step toward achieving a systemic and sustained response to the needs of vulnerable children and families. Improvement methods can help national coordinating bodies and implementing partners to develop and put in practice outcomes-oriented standards for vulnerable children and family services. Improvement methods can also test models to support and strengthen government capacity to protect most vulnerable children--those at risk of or living outside of family care.

Our “Best 9” stories in 2017

Vicky Ramirez

Consultant, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

Looking back, 2017 was a great year for us at ASSIST. In 2017, we were featured in USAID’s Exposure; we collaborated with a number of partners to publish ICHC Blog Series, which was cross-posted on The Huffington Post; and we ran a blog series in honor of Health Worker Week. After our resources page, our blog was the most visited page on our website. In case you missed some of these highlights, we’ve put together our “Best 9” stories. These posts illustrate the stories behind the great work employed by our country teams, partners, and individuals. Let us know which story you loved the most!

Engaging children to develop policy guidelines

Bill Okaka

Knowledge Management & Communications Officer, ASSIST Kenya

Contributing writers: Jemimah Owande and Irene Mutea (Quality Improvement Officer - OVC).

A brighter future for orphans and vulnerable children

Bill Okaka

Knowledge Management & Communications Officer, ASSIST Kenya

Watano Initiative meeting to discuss health and education matters of OVC. Photo credit: Bill Okaka.

Children's perspectives on ending violence against children in Tanzania

Delphina Ntangeki

Improvement Advisor, KM and Communications, Tanzania, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

Flora Nyagawa

Quality Improvement Advisor, Tanzania, USAID ASSIST/URC

“Tanzania has 897,913 children living under difficult conditions and exposed to various forms of violence… some of the children don’t have access to quality education, balanced diet and good parental care. The presence of HIV/AIDS, poverty, social conflicts and various forms of violence contributes to the increased number of children living under difficult condition in the country,” said the Vice President of United Republic of Tanzania H.E. Dr. Mohammed Gharib Bilal at the officiating of the first National Most Vulnerable Children (MVC) Conference, held February 18-19, 2015.

A story of how community teams improved school attendance in Kapsoya, Kenya

Jemimah Owande

Quality Improvement Advisor, OVC, Kenya, USAID ASSIST/URC

One major challenge facing children around the world is access to basic education. The second Millennium Development Goal sets universal primary education as a key target for all nations by 2015. And free primary education was identified as crucial to attaining that goal.

Despite the free primary education policy introduced by the Kenyan government in 2003, many children who should benefit from it are still out of school. One community in Uasin Gishu County—Kapsoya—realizing that their children were not attending school or performing as well as they could, through the quality improvement team, decided to intervene.

Supporting communities to develop sustainable solutions to improve the welfare of girls and boys in Kenya

Stanley Masamo

Quality Improvement Advisor, OVC, Kenya, USAID ASSIST/URC

In Kenya, our OVC team is working to strengthen systems at national and local levels to support the institutionalization of quality improvement in the OVC program to improve the welfare of girls and boys. This includes providing TA to our service delivery partners -including APHIA plus, AMPATH plus, and the Ministry of Labour Social Security and Services - to apply improvement techniques to strengthen care for vulnerable girls, vulnerable boys, and their households. 

International Day of the Girl Child: Addressing challenges limiting girls' access to education in Bagamoyo District, Tanzania

Delphina Ntangeki

Improvement Advisor, KM and Communications, Tanzania, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

As a girl, Mariam [not her real name] believed that education was her only hope if she wanted to live a better life. The fact that her father abandoned her and her mother added to her resolve to study hard. She put more efforts into her studies and made sure she was always among the best four students in her class. Unfortunately, her plans did not come out the way she expected. Mariam did not pass her final secondary school exams in 2012; all the effort she put into her studies ended with the exam results.

Addressing the needs of vulnerable girls in Malawi to improve educational outcomes

Tiwonge Tracy Moyo

Chief of Party, Malawi, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

In Malawi, we are currently working in five communities in two districts of Balaka and Mangochi to improve the educational performance of vulnerable girls and boys in primary schools. The Child Status Index (CSI) assessment we conducted last December in five communities found that the majority of the vulnerable girls and boys were performing poorly in continuous academic assessments.

International Day of the Girl Child: Using improvement to respond to the needs of vulnerable girls

Elizabeth Romanoff Silva


October 11th marks the International Day of the Girl Child, an internationally recognized day designated by the United Nations to promote the rights of girls and to bring awareness to the unique challenges they face around the world. Globally, girls encounter many constraints that limit their ability to access education, to live a life free from violence, to delay marriage and pregnancy until adulthood, and to be involved in making important decisions that affect their lives.

Amélioration du taux de dépistage des adolescents de parents séropositifs en Haïti

Daniel Joseph

Resident Advisor, Haiti, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

La  Clinique Dugué, située à Morne Rouge dans le département du Nord, est l’une des sites de mise en œuvre des lignes directrices nationales des services de qualité destines aux enfants vulnérables. Le projet USAID ASSIST fournit un appui technique à  l’Institut du Bien-Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR)  pour développer, tester et mettre en œuvre les lignes directrices nationales. Au cours d’une visite de coaching, l’équipe locale de l’amélioration de la qualité  et moi  avions entamé des discussions sur les indicateurs utilisés pour suivre l’amélioration dans le service de santé et du support psychosocial. L’équipe était composée de deux infirmières (coordonnatrice de programme et case manager) d’un travailleur social et un data clerc. Au cours de la discussion, j’avais réalisé que le taux de dépistage des  enfants de 12 à 18 ans était vraiment bas.

Les enfants de 0 à cinq ans sont souvent dépistés et identifiés grâce au programme Pédiatrique-AIDS mis en œuvre par Caris Fondation en Haïti qui supporte techniquement et logistiquement les Hôpitaux et Centres de Santé qui fournissant les ARVs. Pourtant, le dépistage des adolescents et de jeunes en dessous de 18 ans qui sont de parents séropositifs et enrôlés dans les programmes de VIH/SIDA reste une préoccupation  à travers les points de services qui s’impliquent dans la  mise en place des lignes directrices nationales.