Evaluation of Child Friendly Spaces
Findings from an inter-agency series of impact evaluations in humanitarian settings (Research Report)
Child friendly spaces (CFS) have become a widely used approach to protect and provide psychosocial support to children in emergencies. However, little evidence documents their outcomes and impacts. There is widespread commitment among humanitarian agencies to strengthen the evidence base of programming. Recognizing this, the Child Protection Working Group (CPWG) of the Global Protection Cluster and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings have identified research in this area as a high priority.
This report summarizes the key learning from these studies and further documents lessons from the research process. An accompanying document provides tools and guidance developed through the course of the collaboration that are relevant to both impact evaluations and strong monitoring systems. A systematic review of published and grey literature was first conducted to identify studies that document the outcomes or impacts of CFS or equivalent interventions in emergency contexts within the last 15 years. Ten studies were identified that met specified inclusion criteria. Each study was reviewed with respect to the potential intervention impacts on child protection and psychosocial well-being and community mobilization. In most studies quantitative survey data was complemented by structured participatory discussions with children and caregivers that yielded valuable qualitative information.
Conclusions and Implications:
- CFS can benefit children – but the extent that they do varies widely.
- Strengthening programme quality and fit to local circumstances should be the key programming priorities.
- Programme innovation is required to present more engaging and effective interventions for older children.
- Longer-term follow-up is required to document the impact of interventions on the trajectories of children's development.