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International Technical Cooperation

Child Labor Programs

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Since 1995, DOL's Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT) has funded 269 technical cooperation projects to combat exploitative child labor in over 90 countries around the world. As a result of these efforts, approximately 1.7 million children have been rescued from child labor through the provision of education and training services and livelihood support for their families. In addition, OCFT projects have increased the capacity to address child labor issues at the country and global level by facilitating the collection of statistics on child labor; identification of gaps in legislation; development of national strategies and action plans; training of labor inspectors; and inclusion of child labor issues in poverty alleviation and social protection programs.

Technical cooperation projects funded by DOL range from targeted action programs in specific sectors of work to more comprehensive programs that support national efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor as defined by ILO Convention 182. DOL-funded projects seek to achieve five major goals:

  1. Withdrawing or preventing children from involvement in exploitive child labor through the provision of direct educational services, including training services;
  2. Strengthening policies on child labor and education, the capacity of national institutions to combat child labor, and formal and transitional education systems that encourage children engaged in or at-risk of engaging in exploitive labor to attend school;
  3. Raising awareness of the importance of education for all children and mobilize a wide array of actors to improve and expand education infrastructures;
  4. Supporting research and the collection of reliable data on child labor; and
  5. Ensuring the long-term sustainability of these efforts.
Child Labor Education Initiative photo Child Labor Education Initiative photo

By increasing access to education, DOL-funded projects help nurture the development, health, safety, and enhanced future employability of children engaged in or at-risk of entering exploitive labor in geographic areas or economic sectors with a high incidence of exploitive child labor.

OCFT funds technical assistance projects in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. In addition, OCFT has funded several domestic and global projects. For additional information regarding OCFT technical assistance projects, please refer to ILAB's map page where users may navigate to regions and countries of interest.

OCFT grantees include international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and for-profit corporations.


Support for the International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC)

Since fiscal year 1995, the Congress has appropriated $410 million to ILAB to support the International Labor Organization's International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (ILO-IPEC) for technical cooperation projects to eliminate exploitive child labor around the world. These funds are used to support a wide range of child labor projects and activities in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as global research projects.


Support for Other Child Labor Elimination Programs

Child Labor Education Initiative drawing

In 2001, OCFT launched the Child Labor Education Initiative (EI) to support international efforts to eliminate exploitive child labor through the provision of educational services. Since fiscal year 2001, Congress has appropriated a total of $249 million to ILAB for this program. In fiscal year 2007, the Congress appropriated an additional $60 million to ILAB for new programs to combat exploitive child labor around the world. DOL has awarded a majority of its EI and fiscal year 2007 funding through a competitive process, funding some 60 international and non-governmental organizations and for-profit corporations. This funding has been used to strengthen DOL's existing child labor elimination strategies and complement ongoing international and national efforts to reduce child labor by providing resources to get child laborers into schools or education programs and keep them there.


Forced Labor and Human Trafficking Programs

OCFT also oversees a number of technical cooperation projects addressing the issues of forced labor and human trafficking. These technical cooperation projects focus on the general population and not specifically on children.