Tracking Child Protection Impacts - Launch of CAPE
Tracking Child Protection Impacts: Launch of the Child-centred Accountability and Protection Evaluation (CAPE)
Programs and services around the world serve to protect children from the most serious threats to their wellbeing. Yet, very little is known about the impact of these efforts on the lives of children. How do we know whether child protection systems are actually succeeding to protect children? How can monitoring and evaluation enhance the protection of children?
This challenge brought researchers and practitioners to Victoria, Canada on September 15-16, 2010 to launch a new project: Child-centred Accountability and Protection Evaluation (CAPE).
The purpose of the 18-month project, funded by the Oak Foundation is to measure the impact of child protection services and programs addressing sexual abuse and exploitation. Participants were engaged in the meeting as project advisors and staff, as well as visitors interested in joining a new learning community.
CAPE: At a Glance
“Children are facing some of the biggest, most complex challenges of our time including armed conflict, natural disasters, trafficking, street-living and familial abuse, among others,” says Philip Cook, Executive Director of the International Institute for Child Rights and Development (IICRD).
“We cannot rely on governments alone to protect children. More help is needed in the effort to realize and monitor the rights of children, from family, community and children themselves.”
To support these efforts, the CAPE project seeks to:
• Better understand current “good practice” in monitoring and evaluating child protection services and other child protection related programs
• Develop and test new monitoring and evaluation approaches that place children and their families at the centre of programming and policy development
• Promote better ways of measuring the impact of child protection services and programs on the lives of children
Three countries – Brazil, Colombia, and Thailand will help IICRD and its partners to pilot existing and/or new monitoring and evaluation (M&E) tools. The countries were selected to draw on IICRD’s partnerships and projects in each country.
“Monitoring and evaluation is one of the biggest questions regarding protection,” says Manual Manrique, International Center for Education and Human Development and IICRD Advisor. “Not because it was forgotten, but because of all the complexity of protection. It is much more difficult to obtain the necessary and accurate information to determine if there are violations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
Project activities, as outlined in the briefing note prepared for the meeting, will include country-specific workshops, closer collaboration with other international child protection monitoring and evaluation groups (UNICEF, Save the Children, Plan International , closer collaboration with Columbia University’s Agency Learning Network on the Care and Protection of Children in Crisis-Affected Countries (CPC) and the Oxford University Based Young Lives project and hosting of an on-line learning community on monitoring and evaluation for child protection.
“If you want to be able to respond effectively, you need some evidence to get a sense of child protection interventions,” explains Maja Cubarrubia, PLAN International Thailand Partner and IICRD Advisor. “Monitoring and evaluation can give us a road map. It gives us the link between the big systems and the reality for children on the ground.”
Critical Conversations: Key Issues
Over the two days, participants sparked questions, identified gaps and initiated ideas for moving the project forward.
“What is monitoring and evaluation for? Who will it inform and what can we use it for? We need to move towards evidence-based child rights. This is where monitoring and evaluation can be used to inform public policy,” says Bill Myers, with Human and Community Development at the University of California, Davis and IICRD Associate.
Participants reiterated the importance of making a meaningful contribution to the field. Key informant interviews with leading experts in the field and an in-depth review of a recent study, Mapping of Child Protection M&E Tools flagged some key areas of focus for CAPE. One gap is to consolidate existing M&E approaches and practices on child-centred approaches to child protection M&E. There is also a significant opportunity for IICRD to develop, test and use child and community participatory M&E methodologies within the child protection field. Issues of violence against children, including sexual violence, have also been identified as a sub-theme of protection that needs further exploration.
“Ethical questions need to be at the heart – and start – of every such project,” notes Rebeccah Nelems, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist and IICRD Associate. “A ‘do no harm’ approach means that we need to be aware of a wide range of viewpoints. What assumptions do we make when we talk about children’s well-being and risks? How are these articulated with the understanding and experiences of children, their families and communities within a diverse range of cultures? It is critical that we support and sustain this level of reflection.”
Country Case Studies: Thailand, Brazil and Colombia
IICRD has selected three country case studies for CAPE, including Thailand, Brazil and Colombia. Each was chosen to leverage existing relationships and Institute collaborations with related initiatives in each country. In Brazil and Thailand, the key activity will be the development of multi-stakeholder M&E tools in the area of protecting children from sexual exploitation enabled by information and communication technology. This will build on the work of IICRD’s executing agency role in the Child Protection Partnership.
• Thailand: CAPE will focus on 2-3 pilot sites in Thailand, including Chiang Rai, Ranong, and Pattani in Thailand’s conflict affected Deep South. In addition to CPP Thailand, IICRD will also engage key stakeholders though its relationship with the Department of Local Administration. Plan Thailand will be a key partner for the CAPE project.
“In my mind, there are three areas that we need to address to strengthen the child rights base for M&E in Thailand,” says Philip Cook. “These include:
1) Scale – who is left out? What are the links between different stakeholders?
2) Quality – what is the best interests of the child?
3) Engagement – Where and how are governments working with local communities and children?”
• Brazil: The CAPE project will work in pilot sites to be selected from Maranhao, Brazilia and Sao Paulo through IICRD’s involvement in the Child Protection Partnership (CPP).
“There is a unique opportunity to look at the role of child rights/child protection councils through this project,” says Suzanne Williams, CPP Director and IICRD Deputy and Legal Director. Anecdotally we hear that the skill level of these councils is very low. Through this project, I hope that we can look at how they are working, what are the gaps and how we can help to strengthen them.”
To work with child rights/protection councils, however, Maja Cubarrubia reminds us that “engaging youth meaningfully requires a set of skills to really make it happen. It is a long process and it is important to build capacity in this area, especially the role of adults and organizations in working with children.”
• Colombia: For this third country case study, IICRD wants to better understand the role of participation in monitoring and evaluation on issues connected to protecting children from violence during early childhood. This is a related IICRD project, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency.
“We want to focus on ‘colombians helping colombians," says Kim Svevo-Ciancio, Child Rights and Protection Consultant and IICRD Associate and Program Director. “For example, we are engaging groups of mothers who are working on child protection. They want to learn more about how to be leaders in communities to stop violence against children.”
Leading with Children, Learning Forward
To support the project’s objective to build on ‘good practice’, CAPE will work closely with children and communities. Advisor Bill Myers recommends that the project needs to “lead with children.” This will involve active listening to learn about children’s perceptions of risk factors, protective mechanisms, building on local community and cultural assets and being aware of power dynamics. It also means engaging children and their communities in critical discourse on information gleaned through various monitoring processes to strengthen child protection systems building that better links government and community.
“IICRD is a leader in terms of the way it works with young people,” says Michael Wessells, Professor at Columbia University and IICRD Advisor. “The Institute can make a valuable contribution by developing child participation approaches to building community protection mechanisms and also national child protection systems.”
Over the 2-day meetings, participants highlighted the importance of creating a learning community where researchers and practitioners can follow CAPE project milestones in “real time”. This will involve creating an on-line platform for sharing resources, hosting regular teleconference calls to explore key questions and issues, and linking up with other organizations and events. IICRD and its partners hope to create and facilitate a global dialogue for mutual learning on child protection monitoring and evaluation, especially on the complex challenge of sexual abuse and exploitation. In particular, there will be a special role for exchanging experiences with partners working on child protection in North Eastern British Columbia Canada with the Nenan initiative.
Through learning together, we can “combine the expertise and good practice to do what we need to do to protect children and advocate for their rights,” says Maja Cubarrubio. “In the end, we all want every child, regardless of their circumstances, to reach his or her own potential.”
For more information on the Child-centred Accountability and Protection Evaluation (CAPE) project, contact Elaina Mack, Project Manager with the International Institute for Child Rights and Development.