Child Friendly Spaces: A Structured Review of the Current Evidence-Base

Child Friendly Spaces (CFSs) are a widely used tool to help support and protect children in the context of emergencies. Sometimes called Safe Spaces, Child Centered Spaces and Emergency Spaces for Children, CFSs are used by a growing number of agencies as a mechanism of protecting children from risk, as a means of promoting children’s psychosocial well-being, and as a foundation for strengthening capacities for community child protection capacity. A structured review of published and ‘grey’ literature identified ten studies that met specified inclusion criteria. Each study was reviewed with respect to the potential protective, promotive, and mobilizing impacts of the intervention. All ten studies documented reports of positive outcomes of CFS, particularly with respect to psychosocial well-being. However, major weaknesses in design constrain the ability to robustly confirm change over time (only three studies reported pre-intervention baselines) or attribute any such change to CFS intervention (only two studies utilized a comparison with communities not receiving CFS). Analysis suggests that: greater commitment to documentation and measurement of outcomes and impacts is required; more standardized and rigorous measurement of processes, outputs, outcomes and impacts is necessary; evaluation designs need to more robustly address assessment of outcomes without intervention; there is a need to sustain engagement of children within the context of evaluations; and long-term follow-up is critical to establishing evidence-driven interventions

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