May 3, 2016
[This letter in support of ILAB funding was recently sent to appropriators Senator Roy Blunt and Senator Patty Murray, and Representatives Tom Cole and Rosa DeLauro on behalf of 46 organizations, representing tens of millions of Americans].
Dear Chairs and Ranking Members:
As the undersigned members of the NGO community and anti-child labor advocates, we write to urge you to ensure critical funding to end child labor and forced labor around the world.
The Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) at the U.S. Department of Labor has worked for 20 years to reduce exploitative child labor, combat forced labor, and provide technical assistance to address worker rights in countries with which the United States has trade agreements or preference programs.
As you determine funding levels for Fiscal Year 2017, we ask that you restore ILAB’s child labor grant funding to $58.8 million (fiscal year 2015 levels) to ensure that ILAB’s critical work towards ending exploitative child labor continues. In addition, we ask that you approve $10 million for programs that address worker rights issues through technical assistance in countries with which the United States has free trade agreements or trade preference programs, and $9.5 million for program evaluation to continue the ensuring that ILAB’s work is grounded in the needs of vulnerable children and their families and that it continues to show results in prevention of child labor and labor rights violations.
Approximately 168 million children around the world are engaged in child labor and 85 million children perform hazardous work that threatens their health and development. Since 1995, ILAB has worked to build the capacity of governments and civil society to better address the various social and economic causes of child labor, and has provided direct services to almost 2 million vulnerable children and their families in over 90 countries. ILAB works with the public and private sectors to address child labor and forced labor, and promote fair and safe employment.
Through its holistic programming, ILAB works with international, government, and local actors to increase awareness, improve access to education, and develop economic opportunities for adults, allowing families to improve their livelihoods without relying on children for income to meet basic needs. Preventing and responding to child labor through such community-based approaches protects children from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and violence. Additionally, by identifying products made by forced labor and child labor and tracking the progress (or lack thereof) made by 125 countries to eliminate these practices, ILAB plays a critical role in driving advocacy to reduce these scourges.
Eliminating child labor is not only good for vulnerable children and families but it also supports U.S. businesses who are currently disadvantaged when they have to compete with businesses that cut costs by illegally employing children.