Congress Narrowly Avoids Shutdown of Programs Targeting Child Labor

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A child works in a garment factory in Bangladesh. PHOTO: World Vision
Bithi is one of the thousands of Bangleshi children piecing together designer jeans that she’ll never be able to afford. Abject poverty and a sick father has forced Bithi’s family to send the two oldest daughters to the garment factories to sew designer clothes that will be sold in shops in Canada, the U.S. and other high-income countries. “The first day I felt bad, I thought it wasn’t good. I was too small. I was surrounded by other older people. That first day, I cried,” she remembers. But that was three years ago, when Bithi was 12. Now, it’s routine – no more tears are spilled. Everyday, Bithi helps create a minimum of 480 pair of pants, for 83.3 taka ($1.07). PHOTO: World Vision

WASHINGTON, DC (December 16, 2015) — The Congressional budget package released today continues funding for programs to end child labor after the House and Senate voted to cut funding to the Department of Labor’s impactful and critical program in June 2015. The International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) directs the U.S. Government’s efforts to end forced labor and child labor around the world. Advocates for protecting children from child labor are thankful for Congressional leadership.

“We are glad to see Congress putting actual funds to support their stated commitment to end the exploitation and abuse of children in the worst forms of child labor. The ILAB funding supports programs to help end and prevent the exploitation of children, said Melysa Sperber, Director the Alliance to Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), “This bipartisan support is critical to keeping the U.S. as a global leader in ending the exploitation of men, women, and children in forced labor and exploitation.”

Currently 85 million children are in dangerous, dirty, and degrading jobs that prevent them from attending school, and are harmful to their physical, mental, and social development, known as hazardous child labor. Boys and girls work in many places including agriculture, mining, quarrying, fishing, factories, domestic work, and commercial sexual exploitation exposing them to harm. Five-and-one-half million of these children are in forced labor.

“We are pleased that Congressional appropriators decided not to eliminate these highly effective child labor programs,” said Reid Maki, Director of Child Labor Advocacy for the National Consumers League and the coordinator of the Child Labor Coalition, representing 35 organizations. “Since 2000, nearly 80 million children have been removed from child labor. Child labor numbers have been reduced by one-third. The Department of Labor’s programs helped bring about these dramatic results and eliminating these programs would have meant turning back the clock to a time when the US government did little to help children escape the shackles of child slavery and the worst forms of child labor. Instead, we look forward to continuing progress in reducing these scourges.”

Since its inception in 1995, the programs have worked to prevent and remove 1.94 million children from hazardous child labor. According to a 2011 independent report by ICF International, an ILAB supported program in the Philippines lead to a 74 percent reduction in child labor in areas where the program was implemented. Over a three year period, over 30,000 children received formal and informal education through the program.

“We are thankful for Congress’ leadership to protect programs that serve the most vulnerable,” said Jessica Bousquette, Child Protection Policy Advisor for World Vision, “Over the last 6 months advocates from 50 states have raised their voice in support of these vital programs end exploitation and violence against children and Congress has responded.”

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About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.


  • 85 million children are currently in dangerous, dirty, and degrading jobs.
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