Global TIES for Children Will Lead Research on Refugee Child Development Through $100 Million Grant

Global TIES for Children, Steinhardt’s international research center dedicated to improving the lives of youth in the most vulnerable regions across the globe, will lead research on young children’s development in humanitarian settings through a unique partnership with Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Sesame Workshop and IRC received a $100 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to educate young children displaced by conflict and persecution in the Middle East.

Grover with children
Image Courtesy: Sesame Workshop

Led by NYU Steinhardt professor and Global TIES Co-Director Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Global TIES will implement an evidence-based research and evaluation program to measure the success of Sesame and IRC’s educational work supporting children and families in the Middle East.

Sesame Workshop and IRC created its early childhood development intervention program with the goal of addressing the “toxic stress” experienced by children in the Syrian refugee response region – Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. The educational components of the program, designed in consultation with local child development and curriculum experts, will build both breadth and depth of services:

  • Breadth Through New Sesame Content: Delivered through television, mobile phones, digital platforms, and direct services in homes communities, culturally tailored Sesame programming will help provide an estimated 9.4 million young children the language, reading, math and socio-emotional skills they need to succeed in school and later in life. Embedded in the content, Sesame’s Muppets, will model inclusion, respect, and gender equity, and provide engaging educational messages to build children’s well-being and learning. All content will be publicly available at no cost.
  • Depth Through Home Visits and Learning Centers: Direct services in homes and centers will reach 1.5 million of the most vulnerable children. Home visits and caregiving support sessions will connect trained local outreach and community health workers to 800,000 caregivers. Home visits will promote caregiver’s capacities to provide nurturing care for early learning, well-being and resilience. The content will engage families through culturally anchored storybooks and picture books, parent brochures, caregiver guides, toys, developmentally appropriate games, digital content and parenting resources via mobile devices.
  • Sesame and IRC will transform community sites, formal and informal schools and other points of aid into Child Development Centers. Centers will be equipped with storybooks, video clips on pre-loaded projectors, activity sheets, and rich professional development for teachers to enable age-appropriate, play-based learning.

Founded in 2015, Global TIES for Children works with leading NGOs (including IRC, one of its strategic partners) and governments to develop and evaluate innovative approaches to enhance child and youth development in low-income and conflict-affected countries. The research center is embedded within NYU’s Institute of Human Development and Social Change and is supported by the University and the NYU Abu Dhabi Research Institute.