Development of an index to measure the strength of child protection Systems in Refugee Settings: Conceptual and practical considerations

Elsevier, Child Abuse & Neglect, Volume 134, 2022
Sarah R. Meyer, Lindsay Stark

The United Nations Refugee Agency [UNHCR] implements a Framework for Child Protection for refugee children, based on a child protection systems-strengthening approach. Measurement of child protection system strength in humanitarian contexts is nascent, and existing methodologies do not capture the multiple components of the Framework.

To develop, pilot and refine a measure of child protection system strength in humanitarian contexts.

Participants and setting
The Child Protection Index [CPI] was implemented in two humanitarian contexts – Kiziba Camp, Rwanda and Kiryandongo and Adjumani refugee camps, Uganda, at two time points [Time 1 = T1; Time 2 = T2]. Data collection in Kiziba camp was conducted in December 2013 and October/November 2015, and in Kiryandongo and Adjumani in December 2014/February 2015 and June–August 2016. Participants were staff members of international non-governmental organizations (T1: n = 17, T2: n = 29), local non-governmental organizations (T1: n = 3, T2: n = 2), Government bodies (T1: n = 3, T2: n = 3) and United Nations agencies (T1: n = 14, T2: n = 9) who were purposively selected to respond to the items included in the CPI. Selection was made on the basis of identifying individuals with the most knowledge and expertise to address the questions in the CPI.

We conducted a qualitative study, conducting key informant interviews based on an interview guide developed to address the items in the CPI, and tailored to the expertise of each key informant. The CPI included scoring, to translate key informants' responses to numerical scores of child protection system strength.

The pilot test conducted in Kiziba Camp indicated moderate child protection system strength, with a score of 61/100. At T2, results indicated a change in CPI score of +18.5 to 79.5. At T1, Kiryandongo refugee settlement received a total of 46/100 on the CPI, and at T2, the score improved by 13.5 points. At T1, Adjumani refugee settlement scored a total of 60/100, and at T2, received a total score change of +4.5.

Findings from implementation, adaptation, and evaluation of the CPI offer valuable insights about practicality, validity and potential breadth of measurement of child protection system strengthening in humanitarian settings.