Responding to the critical needs of vulnerable Haitian children, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF have announced their first major partnership aimed at providing secure spaces and activities for the devastated island’s youngsters. JDC will support UNICEF’s Child Friendly Spaces program which builds safe and protective environments throughout Haiti for children who have lost homes, families, and communities in the earthquake.

“Our work in Haiti—and in other disaster-plagued areas of the world—has taught us about the absolute importance of protecting children in need. Together with UNICEF, we will continue our long tradition of building schools, community centers and innovative spaces that give children facing despair the promise and drive to rebuild and thrive,” said JDC CEO Steven Schwager.

TheJDCU.S. Fund for UNICEF partnership helps ensure the construction and maintenance of new Child Friendly Spaces in urban and rural areas throughout Haiti. These spaces provide between 250-400 children (per space) with recreational and educational activities, as well as structured psycho-social support and protection from trafficking, abuse, and exploitation.

“We are very proud that this groundbreaking partnership harnesses the vast expertise of the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian organization together with UNICEF, which has been saving children’s lives since 1946. With a shared history of helping children, it is heartening that we could work together to improve the lives of Haitian children,” said U.S. Fund for UNICEF President and CEO Caryl Stern.

In addition to their global work for children, both organizations also operate offices and programming for children at risk in Israel. Most recently, UNICEF helped provide counseling and trauma services for children under rocket attack in Kiryat Shmona and in S’derot.

JDC’s non-sectarian disaster relief programs are funded by special appeals of the Jewish Federations of North America and tens of thousands of individual donors to JDC. JDC coordinates its activities in Haiti with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Israeli relief agencies, and the United Nations, and local Haitian NGO’s. JDC relief efforts are part of its International Development Program (IDP), which provides immediate relief and long-term assistance to victims of natural and manmade disasters.