Children are happy they received new notebooks from UNICEF, in Ndjamena, the capital of Chad.

UNICEF Advocates: You Made a Difference for Children in 2022

Celebrating UNICEF USA's advocacy accomplishments in 2022.

UNICEF USA supporters stepped up for children in 2022

2022 was a year unlike any other, with a record number of humanitarian emergencies endangering children in the most vulnerable places. More than 400 million children lived in areas under conflict, an estimated billion children  — nearly half the world's children — lived in countries at extreme vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, and at least 36.5 million children were displaced from their homes.

Children continued to bear the brunt of these crises, but it was you who fought alongside UNICEF to advocate for their right to be seen, heard and protected. Over 35,000 UNICEF USA supporters relentlessly pursued policy change for children through participation in Congressional meetings, sending letters to their legislators and hosting event to mobilize their communities to advocate for children.

Securing $137 million in core resources as the U.S. Government's annual contribution to UNICEF

Concordia Summit 2022
From left: Ashley Lashley, Kyle King, Ayaan Siddiqui and Sofia Carson speak onstage during The Power and Potential of Youth Activism session at the 2022 Concordia Annual Summit. © Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

UNICEF relies on support from National Committees like UNICEF USA to rally supporters and secure critical funding for its core resources (most flexible spending) each year. Thanks to you, we hosted over 150 meetings to urge Congress to consider the needs of every child and support the request for $175 million to UNICEF in the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) appropriations omnibus bill. While less than our goal, we celebrate securing $137 million, which will allow UNICEF to do what it does best: immediately respond to emergencies and reach the most vulnerable children around the globe. This equals a $3 million increase over last year and the biggest increase since FY05.

Wins for mental health

UNICEF USA National Youth Council members
 UNICEF USA youth advocates traveled to Washington, D.C., to urge members of Congress to pass the Mental Health in International Development and Humanitarian Settings (MINDS) Act supporting the integration of mental health services in U.S. foreign assistance programming. © UNICEF USA

Mental health continues to be a top priority for UNICEF to ensure children everywhere have equitable access to the resources they need to reach their fullest potential. UNICEF USA's community of youth advocates participated in events like the 2022 Concordia Summit in New York to address the impacts of mental health on students in the U.S. 

Additionally, supporters advocated for the MINDS Act (H.R.3988/S.2105) to advance integration of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in U.S. foreign assistance, with emphasis on children and their families. While the bill didn't pass this Congress, we will continue to advocate for it, and fortunately, the FY23 omnibus included significant commitments to MHPSS for children domestically and around the world. For instance, Congress provided $111 million for Department of Education programs designed to increase the availability of mental health services in schools, including by expanding training programs for new school counselors, social workers and psychologists. The bill also mandates a report on the amount of funding currently being spent on MHPSS in development and humanitarian assistance.

Policy change for immigrant youth and families

Thousands of UNICEF USA advocates spoke out on behalf of migrant children and families affected by the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). commonly referred to as "Remain in Mexico." They urged the Administration to redouble efforts to end the program, which placed asylum-seeking children and families in difficult situations in Mexico. Earlier in 2022, the Supreme Court sided with the Administration's decision to terminate "Remain in Mexico" and the program officially ended in August 2022. Its termination brings the U.S. one step closer to ensuring that everyone — including every child — has the right to be safe when seeking asylum.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, supporters spoke out on behalf of undocumented youth and their families who have lived in the U.S. for decades. Advocates called on Congress to permanently protect DACA recipients and their families, as the future of the program remains uncertain and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth, their children and families are at risk. UNICEF USA believes in keeping families together and strongly supports permanent protection measures and a pathway to citizenship for immigrant youth and families, who have invested their futures in the U.S.

Advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint. From the bottom of our hearts and on behalf of children everywhere, thank you for your commitment to UNICEF.

What's next?

Let's keep the momentum going! 2023 brings new opportunities as we welcome a new Congress and other elected officials around the country.

TOP PHOTO: Children are happy to receive new notebooks from UNICEF in Ndjamena, the capital of Chad. © UNICEF/UN0469198/Dejongh

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