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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 133-147

Child friendly spaces: a systematic review of the current evidence base on outcomes and impact

1 Professor of Clinical Population & Family Health with the Program on Forced Migration & Health at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
2 graduate of the Program on Forced Migration & Health working as a research coordinator for the Evaluating Child Friendly Spaces in Emergencies program
3 Programme Officer for Child Rights and Well-Being with World Vision International in Geneva
4 Research Co-ordinator, Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs, World Vision International, also based in Geneva

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Child friendly spaces are widely used in emergencies as a mechanism for protecting children from risk, as a means of promoting children's psychosocial wellbeing, and as a foundation for strengthening capacities within communities for child protection. A systematic review of published and ‘grey’ literature identified 10 studies that met specified inclusion criteria. Each study was reviewed with respect to the potential protective, promotive, and mobilising impacts of the intervention. All 10 studies documented reports of positive outcomes of child friendly spaces, particularly with respect to psychosocial wellbeing. 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 this intervention (only two studies utilised a comparison with communities without child friendly spaces). Analysis suggests that: greater commitment to documentation and measurement of outcomes and impacts is required; more standardised 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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