Media CenterCRS Applauds House Passage of Global Child Thrive Act

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Nikki Gamer
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(443) 955- 7125


BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, Sept. 22, 2020 – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) commends the passage of The Global Child Thrive Act (H.R. 4864) by the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Today’s bipartisan House vote is a triumph for the tens of millions of children overseas whose potential is yet to be realized,” said Bill O’Keefe, CRS’ executive vice president for Mission, Mobilization and Advocacy. “We’re grateful for the leadership of those in the House who acted on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable families.”

If enacted, The Global Child Thrive Act would mandate that early childhood development activities, such as singing and reading, be integrated into current U.S. foreign aid programs.

According to a report published in The Lancet, an estimated 250 million children overseas are at risk of suboptimal development caused by poverty, nutritional deficiencies and inadequate learning opportunities. However early childhood development activities support children’s well-being in these early years when critical brain architecture is built. Integrated early childhood development programming includes age-appropriate mental stimulation; and nurturing care such as singing and reading, playing with colorful objects and shapes, and interactive caregiving.

“This bill does not call for additional spending. Instead it would modify current foreign aid programs in a way that better serves vulnerable children and their families,” O’Keefe said.

CRS implements early childhood development programs in 20 countries worldwide, serving more than a million children and their families.

CRS acknowledges Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Mike McCaul (R-TX) and House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), for their bipartisan leadership in the bill’s passage.

For more than a year via its “Lead the Way” campaigns, CRS has been mobilizing American Catholics and others of goodwill to support The Global Child Thrive Act, as well as other important pieces of legislation, via various advocacy efforts.

“The passage of this bill shows the power of collective action. By standing together on these issues, we’re leading a way forward to a more equitable world,” O’Keefe said. “Early childhood development enables children to reach their God-given potential. If the United States, as the world’s biggest donor, included these types of activities in its foreign aid programing, it would vastly improve the impact of taxpayer dollars by multiplying positive outcomes for children.”


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Nikki Gamer

Senior Public Affairs Manager

Nikki Gamer
September 22, 2020

Based in Baltimore, MD

Nikki is the Senior Public Affairs Manager for CRS and connects journalists to regional stories and sources related to the agency’s life-saving development work. Previously, Nikki worked as the Communications Officer for the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia. She has covered CRS’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the mass displacement...More