The United States welcomes this opportunity to discuss the pressing issues facing children around the world today. Although many gains have been achieved, it is unacceptable that children still live in fear of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. The United States is proud of its record in promoting the welfare of children domestically and internationally, and will to continue to work closely with the international community to further strengthen the protection of children.
The United States has an extensive network of federal, state, and local programs that protect children’s rights on a variety of issues such as child pornography, commercial sexual exploitation of children, forced child labor, access to health care, foster care, and education. For example, President Obama signed into law the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, which provides substantial new resources to states and territories to strengthen their existing programs and extend coverage to an estimated 11 million children, 4 million who were previously uninsured.
We appreciate the focus of this year’s resolution on early childhood development. President Obama is committed to providing the support that our youngest children need to prepare to succeed later in school and beyond. To that end, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included $5 billion for early learning programs, including Head Start, Early Head Start, child care, and programs for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with disabilities.
We are also committed to ensuring that the protection of the rights of children is fully integrated into American foreign policy. The United States views UNICEF as our key partner in our global efforts to protect children and fully supports its initiatives to improve children’s health care, education, protection from violence and exploitation, and advocacy on behalf of their rights. We particularly appreciate UNICEF’s actions on behalf of children in emergency situations, its efforts to eradicate polio, and its work toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals related to basic universal primary education and the elimination of gender disparity in education. As an expression of our support, the United States is proud to be the largest donor to UNICEF.
Last year, the U.S. government contributed $130 million to UNICEF’s core funding and an additional $170 million in non-core funding, including large contributions to emergency appeals and to support worldwide immunization efforts.
The United States is committed to providing equal educational opportunities to all children, regardless of their individual circumstances, race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, or disability. Consistent with this commitment, the federal government uses educational programs to ensure that federal dollars assist underserved students and develop strategies that will help such students succeed. The federal government has also taken steps to ensure that students with disabilities have access to technology, and to provide low-income students and students of color with increased access to early learning and college. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their individual needs.
We look forward to working with the international community to further strengthen our collective efforts to improve the welfare and well-being of children around the world.
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