Evaluating Outcomes: Retrak’s use of the Child Status Index to measure well-being of street-connected children.

S. Corcoran, J. Wakia

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Abstract

EXECUTIVE SUMMARYRetrak’s vision is a world where no child is forced to live on the street. The child is always at the centre of our work and therefore measurements of organisational impact should consider the progress of the child as central to the assessment. In establishing a system of measurement to effectively and consistently monitor the changes in the lives of children as a result of Retrak’s work, the Child Status Index (CSI) has been adapted to apply to the context of children connected to the street. This paper is the initial review of the use of the CSI in the pilot period, 2011 and 2012, as a measurement of child wellbeing and a tool for tracking children’s progress along their Retrak journey to establish the impact of Retrak’s programmes in both Ethiopia and Uganda.The CSI, developed by Measure Evaluation , allows Retrak to trace the progress of the child along the Retrak journey, as they transition from the street to family homes, and comprises of a system of indicators to assess the wellbeing of the individual child.The CSI assessments were conducted with cohorts of children on streets who access the drop-in centres (baseline); at the point of reintegration with their families (placement); and again at intervals of approximately six months to follow-up with the child and their family and to assess the progress of the child (follow-up within six months of placement, between six months and one year of placement, and more than one year since placement). Each indicator of wellbeing on the CSI is given a score between one and four. Children scoring one or two, a deprivation score, for any indicator are considered to be at risk in that domain of well-being. Retrak’s aim is to ensure that children’s well-being improves after their placement at home, and continues to progress, and that they become deprivation free. Summary of findingsThis pilot study has demonstrated that Retrak’s reintegration programmes contribute to improvements in children’s wellbeing. Through analysing children’s wellbeing on their journey with Retrak in both Ethiopia and Uganda it is possible to show that:• The wellbeing of the children improved across all areas of wellbeing during their time in Retrak’s reintegration programmes. Family reintegration programmes with street children are successful. We have shown that such programmes are able to overcome children’s prevalent deprivations in shelter, care, abuse and exploitation and legal protection experienced when they are living alone on the street at an increased level of vulnerability.• Performance and access to education are areas of wellbeing which are slow to improve at the placement and follow up level. This could be partially a result of the national education systems and its ability to support the successful reintegration of children into the classroom. • In Ethiopia, wellbeing in the areas of emotional health and social behaviour are also slow to improve at placement and follow-up. Much of this is to do with the survival traits developed by the children to help to combat stigmatisation while on the streets.• In Uganda it was shown that wellbeing in the areas of food security, shelter and legal protection were of concern at all stages of a child’s journey with Retrak. Analysing the data collected for each child that reflects their life on the street, highlights the following trends: • Street-connected children and youth in Ethiopia, over 14 years old, have more deprivations than those under 14; and all new arrivals to the street in Ethiopia have fewer deprivations than those who have spent a number of months there. The longer a child spends in the street the more deprivations they experience.• In Uganda children aged 14 or 15 years have fewer deprivations than those aged 13 years and younger. Unlike the Ethiopia data, those aged 14 years and younger when they migrated to the street have fewer deprivations than those children aged over 14 years.• There is a relationship between the level of schooling achieved by the children in Ethiopia and the number of deprivations they experience: the longer the child spends in school before migrating to the street the lower the number of deprivations on average. • There appears to be little distinction between region of origin and level of deprivation for both countries. In Uganda the data showed that children on the streets of Kampala but originating from Kampala city and the surrounding district and are just as disadvantaged as their peers from further afield, showing that their proximity to their family is of little benefit.RecommendationsThis pilot study has demonstrated that reintegration programmes contribute to improvements in children’s wellbeing and that the Child Status Index is an extremely useful tool to monitor reintegration programmes through tracking children’s wellbeing. In addition, this study has explored the risks children face on the streets and how different age, education and other variables affect the level of these risks.Therefore, the following recommendations are made regarding reintegration programming and the use of the CSI in monitoring these programmes.Reintegration is successful and needs investmentThis study has shown that reintegration of street-connected children can be a successful intervention. When considering this alongside the evidence of the risks and costs of institutional care, deinstitutionalisation must be encouraged and family reintegration promoted as the first priority. This work needs significant investment and emphasis in national and international policies.Outreach is a critical part of the processOutreach work on the streets must target younger children and those who have recently arrived. These are the children who are more vulnerable on the streets and who are more likely to progress successfully into reintegration. In addition, outreach work should target all children on the streets, despite their regional background, as once they arrive on the streets their place of origin does not appear to give them any advantage or ability to avoid risk.Support must focus on education and psychosocial reintegrationReintegration programmes must assist children to re-enter formal education, both through education and skills programmes prior to reintegration and through addressing inadequacies in access and quality of Universal Primary Education. In order to reduce the number of children on the streets, national governments and education authorities must ensure that their education systems are able to meet the needs of vulnerable children who are at risk of turning to the streets and of street-connected children who are returning to formal education.In order to meet children’s psychosocial needs it is also vital to provide counselling and psychosocial support, to ensure every child has a solid foundation on which to build a strong attachment with a capable care-giver, and to foster support amongst the wider community.Reintegration monitoring and impact assessment Retrak will continue to develop its use of the CSI and encourages other practitioners working with street-connected children to use it both for case management purposes and for monitoring changes in children’s wellbeing on the streets and during the reintegration process. When using the CSI in this way it is important to collect multiple assessments for each child; carry out baseline assessments as early as possible; provide opportunities for staff to discuss the tool and compare their results in order to reduce subjectivity; disaggregate data by variables which may impact wellbeing at baseline and during the reintegration process; and explore ways of using CSI data in evaluations and longitudinal studies and impact assessments.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationRetrak, UK
PublisherRetrak
Number of pages43
Publication statusPublished - May 2013

Publication series

NameRetrak Research
PublisherRetrak

Keywords

  • street-connected children, well-being, Reintegration, Ethiopia, Uganda

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