Universal Child Grants

for every child, social protection

A child plays at an early childhood development center
UNICEF/UN0243366/Pasquall

Some 385 million children around the world live in extreme poverty, struggling to survive on $1.90 a day or less. Falling into poverty during childhood can have lasting effects. Rarely does a child get a second chance at an education or a healthy start in life.

With children more than twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty, the time for a renewed focus on Universal Child Grants (UCGs) – cash benefits paid to all families with children – is now.

Every child’s right

Every child has a right to social protection as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

An estimated 1.3 billion children are not covered by any form of social protection.

Yet, an estimated 1.3 billion children are not covered by any form of social protection, and only a quarter of households worldwide have access to cash support. This prevents countless children from fulfilling their potential.

UNICEF’s work

UNICEF supports more than 100 countries to develop or strengthen their social protection systems and to expand their coverage to reach the most disadvantaged children and adolescents. Cash transfers are a proven, practical intervention to address poverty. They improve children's well-being across a range of outcomes, including health, nutrition and education.

Cash transfers are a proven, practical intervention to address poverty and improve children’s well-being across a range of outcomes, including health, nutrition and education.

Because Universal Child Grants provide cash benefits to families with children regardless of a family’s income, they help to narrow existing coverage gaps and fulfil a child’s right to social protection. Families are not typically required to meet specified conditions before receiving a UCG, nor must they contribute to the grant.

A mother and daughter
UNICEF/UN0256157/Marques

UNICEF and partners have launched the Universal Child Grants Initiative to gather evidence on when, where and how UCGs can be used effectively to reduce child poverty and its long-term consequences. The initiative, a partnership with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), promotes informed policy debate and decision-making on cash transfers and social protection to improve outcomes for children. Investigating the theoretical and practical implications of UCGs, the initiative will culminate in a comprehensive research report and the International Conference on Universal Child Grants to bring together governments, policy practitioners, researchers and other members of the international community.