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Universal Child Grants Conference Highlights Power of Evidence-Informed Policies for Children

Bringing together policy makers, practitioners, and researchers, the International Conference on Universal Child Grants, convened by UNICEF, the International Labour Organization, and the Overseas Development Institute, from February 6 to 8, 2019, explored the arguments and evidence emerging from cash transfer schemes and the implications for universal child grants.
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Compendium of UNICEF research across Eastern Europe and Central Asia now available

(8 February 2019) In an effort to strengthen its programmes for children, a new compendium of externally reviewed research and evaluation studies has been published by UNICEF’s Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia. The compendium of 20 recently completed, quality-assured evaluations aims to provide an overview of important new evidence from across the region.
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Child-Related Concerns a Major Driver of Migration, According to a Recent Poll

(30 January 2019)  Young, single males with secondary education or higher have the strongest intention to migrate and to take measures to plan for it, according to a poll on drivers of migration decisions among children and young people.The UNICEF Innocenti Working Paper titled: “Child Related Concerns and Migration Decisions: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll,” reveals new insights on the drivers of migration, with important implications for policymaking. The new evidence supports the hypothesis that child-related concerns are potential drivers of migration and could represent a major new starting point for further analysis on the role of youth, the condition of children’s wellbeing and other child-related factors in decisions to migrate.  On 8 January 2014 in Turkey, (far left) Susan Ahmedi, 13, stands with her mother (second from left), four sisters and two brothers outside the tent shelter they share in Islahiye refugee camp in Gaziantep ProvinceThe study analyses data from the Gallup World Poll, representing 98 per cent of the world’s adult population (over 15 years old). The data focuses on the condition of children in their home country and on the presence of youth within the households. Data was collected from more than 150 countries between the years 2006 and 2016.The study is the first attempt to quantify the extent to which child-related concerns influence migration intentions and plans. The Gallup World Poll data allow researchers to monitor migration trends, as well as to describe and identify common features characterizing potential migrants (age, gender, education, income level and marital status).  Gallup’s Youth Development Index gathered data on child-related concerns through three survey questions: How many children under 15 years of age are now living in your household?Do you believe that children in [country] are treated with respect and dignity?Do most children in [country] have the opportunity to learn and grow every day?Since the Gallup World Poll interviewed individuals aged 15 years and older, researchers were able to analyse migration phenomena of adults and youth directly. The Gallup Poll also identifies households with children under 15, allowing for important analysis on the perception of child living standards, leading to key insights on the extent to which child-related concerns were associated with decisions to migrate.Evidence reveals that child-related concerns, worldwide, can be considered likely drivers of migration, alongside factors related to economics, governance and lack of security. Perceived child well-being has been revealed to affect migration intent more than factors like satisfaction with public services or food deprivation. This means that child-related concerns are a primary consideration in migration plans, more important than factors such as satisfaction with public services, economic conditions and confidence in key institutions. As a result, the following striking findings can be inferred from the analysis:Migration is a child- and youth-related phenomenon, as both migration intent and migration plans peak at an early age (approximately at age 17 and 22 respectively, in global terms);Perceived child well-being significantly affects both migration intent and plans, even after having considered a full range of other influential factors affecting migration decisions;Individuals belonging to households with children aged 15 or below are more affected by child-related variables in their migration intent or plan, than those living in children-free household;The presence of children in the household positively affects migration intent, and negatively affects migration plans. In other words, the presence of children encourages people to search for a better life somewhere else. On the other hand, it represents an obstacle to the realization of migration intent, as children may represent additional costs in the migration process.Mohammad Abdullah-Shariff and his wife, Shirin Aziz-Amah, with their five children, at the Moria reception centre for refugees and migrants on the island of Lesbos, Greece.  Regional variances in income levels also play a critical role. Households in upper-middle-income countries devote greater importance to children’s well-being than households in other income ranges (in both migration intent and plans). In addition, child-related issues in high-income countries lose their importance, but remain statistically significant, in favor of other factors, traditionally considered as drivers of migration and affecting migration intent.  
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Sinovuyo Teen Parenting Programme Breaks Ground in Providing Evidence and Insights in Preventing Violence Against Children

(26 November 2018) In support of local and global efforts to prevent violence against children, UNICEF South Africa and the UNICEF Innocenti partnered with the Department of Social Policy and Intervention Centre of University of Oxford to incubate and test a programme for parents/main caregivers of adolescents.  This was done over a period of four years in the Eastern Cape province, which has the highest percentage of assaults in the country, 50 per cent of the children live in households with no employed adult and 33 per cent live with neither of their biological parents.READ THE REPORT: Relevance, Implementation and Impact of the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting Programme in South AfricaResearch timeline & methodology:  In 2012 an initial draft programme was discussed with 50 local and international experts who shared advice and programme input. In 2013, community workers   were trained and tasked to deliver the programme to 30 parent-teen dyads (n=60 participants).In 2014, a pre-post test of the revised 2013 programme was conducted with  115 parent-teen dyads (n = 230 participants). In 2015–2016, a pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trial was conducted in 40 townships and traditional semi-rural villages with 552 parent-teen dyads (270 intervention and 282 control; i.e. n = 1104 participants). The pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trial looked at the extent to which the intended intervention outcomes were achieved. A qualitative study complemented the trial by looking at the effects of service delivery, policy and socio-economic factors that affected programme effectiveness.The Sinovuyo Teen Parent programme is part of the ‘Parenting for Lifelong Health’ initiative, which aims to develop and test evidence-informed parenting programmes that are non-commercial and relevant to lower and middle income countries.   It is a 14-week parenting programme for at-risk families with 10–18 year-old adolescents, typically delivered to a group of dyads (main caregiver and an adolescent from each household) within a social learning approach. Content can be additionally provided via home visits for those families who miss group workshop sessions. The research undertaken by  UNICEF Innocenti and Oxford University examined the impact, relevance and scalability of Sinovuyo Teen Parenting Programme.  The aim of these studies was not only to increase the evidence base of what works in lower income contexts, but also to gain insight to the lived experiences of the programme facilitators and the beneficiaries, to learn from programme implementers and government partners on the relevance and applicability of the programme and to ultimately recommend a programme for policy implementation in the South African context. ‘Delivering a parent support programme in rural South Africa: The local child and youth care provider experience’ describes how the facilitators benefited from the training and experience of delivering the programme professionally and personally as well as their recommendations for improvements to Sinovuyo Teen.‘It empowers to attend” captures the voices of  progrmame beneficiaries and  provides a nuanced picture of what changed in the interaction between caregivers and their adolescents and  how these changes took place in addition to what they did not enjoy about Sinovuyo Teen. ‘Policy and service delivery implications for the implementation and scale up of a parent support programme’  provides insight to  the views expressed by programme implementers, government and non-government stakeholders on how the Sinovuyo Teen programme was delivered, to whom and by whom within the broader service delivery context. “Theme” picture used on Sinovuyo manuals  ‘Relevance, implementation and impact of Sinovuyo Teen Parenting programme in South Africa’ summarizes the findings of the impact of the study,  the perceptions  and experiences of participants and programme implementers and the discussion on key policy and service delivery implications that need to be considered in taking the programme to scale in  South Africa and beyond.The research toolkit  for the randomised controlled trial and the qualitative studies includes the   research protocols, ethics application and approval documents and research instruments that were used   by the UNICEF- Innocenti and Oxford University research team in testing  the effectiveness and implementation of the programme in  2014 and  in  2015–2016.  These tools are merely examples of what can be used for similar purposes. Consideration would need to be given to relevant adaptations in different contexts.The qualitative research on Sinovuyo Teen was informed by an in depth evidence focused literature review on parenting, family care and adolescence in east and southern Africa.   
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Five questions with Dr. Fidelia Dake on researching on impacts of cash transfers in Africa

by Amber Peterman
(2018-11-30) Fidelia Dake is a Lecturer at the Regional Institute for Population Studies at the University of Ghana, and recently completed a research fellowship in UNICEF Innocenti w ...

Reflecting on research at UNICEF Innocenti: 3 numbers that show the value of research on social protection

by Jose Cuesta
(2018-11-23) When I am asked why I do research, what difference it makes, and especially in an institution, like Unicef, that does rather than thinks, my answer is 1.68. This number h ...