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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports
Life in Lockdown: Child and adolescent mental health and well-being in the time of COVID-19
SPOTLIGHT

Life in Lockdown: Child and adolescent mental health and well-being in the time of COVID-19

COVID-19 lockdowns have significantly disrupted the daily lives of children and adolescents, with increased time at home, online learning and limited physical social interaction. This report seeks to understand the immediate effects on their mental health. Covering more than 130,000 children and adolescents across 22 countries, the evidence shows increased stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as increased alcohol and substance use, and  externalizing behavioural problems. Children and adolescents also reported positive coping strategies, resilience, social connectedness through digital media, more family time, and relief from academic stress. Factors such as demographics, relationships and pre-existing conditions are critical. To ensure children and adolescents are supported, the report recommends building the evidence on the longer-term impact of the pandemic on child and adolescent mental health in low- and middle-income countries, including vulnerable populations. To ensure children and adolescents are supported, the report recommends building the evidence on the longer-term impact of the pandemic on child and adolescent mental health in low- and middle-income countries, including vulnerable populations.
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COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition
Blog Blog

COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition

In 2019, 135 million people in 55 countries were in food crises or worse, and 2 billion people did not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. COVID-19 has exacerbated these hardships and may result in an additional 121 million people facing acute food insecurity by the end of 2020. Further, since the beginning of the pandemic, an estimated 1.6 billion learners in 199 countries worldwide were affected by school closures, with nearly 370 million children not receiving a school meal in 150 countries. The paper presents the evidence on the potential negative short-term and long-term effects of school meal scheme disruption during Covid-19 globally. It shows how vulnerable the children participating in these schemes are, how coping and mitigation measures are often only short-term solutions, and how prioritizing school re-opening is critical. For instance, it highlights how girls are at greater risk of not being in school or of being taken out of school early, which may lead to poor nutrition and health for themselves and their children. However, well-designed school feeding programmes have been shown to enable catch-up from early growth failure and other negative shocks. As such, once schools re-open, school meal schemes can help address the deprivation that children have experienced during the closures and provide an incentive for parents to send and keep their children, especially girls, in school.
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Families, Family Policy and the Sustainable Development Goals
Families, Family Policy and the Sustainable Development Goals
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Report
This report explores how the role of families, and family policies from around the world, can contribute to meeting the ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Given the key role that both families and family policies have in determining social progress, and the national and international focus on meeting the SDGs by 2030, the timing of the publication is opportune. The report summarizes reviews of evidence across six SDGs that cover poverty, health, education, gender equality, youth unemployment, and ending violence to highlight some important issues that policymakers might consider when making future policies work for families, and family policies work for the future. A key contribution of the work, given the broad scope of the SDG ambitions, has been to map how the successes of family-focused policies and programmes in one SDG have also been successful in contributing to positive outcomes in other goal areas.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 276 | Tags: family, family policy, SDGs
Multidimensional child poverty measurement in Sierra Leone and Lao PDR: Contrasting individual- and household-based approaches
Multidimensional child poverty measurement in Sierra Leone and Lao PDR: Contrasting individual- and household-based approaches
Published: 2019 Innocenti Working Papers
This research brief compares the properties of individual- and household-based multidimensional child poverty approaches. Specifically, it contrasts UNICEF’s Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA) with the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. MODA focuses on children and is rooted in the child rights approach, while MPI has been developed for households and follows Sen’s (1985) capabilities approach. We demonstrate their similarities and differences using two recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys: Sierra Leone and Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR). The analysis suggests that MODA tends to produce higher multidimensional child poverty headcount rates than MPI, both because of the differences in the survey items used to construct the indicators of deprivation and because of how the indicators are aggregated and weighted.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 21 | Thematic area: Child Poverty | Tags: child poverty, households, measurement, SDGs
Social Protection, Cash Transfers and Long-Term Poverty Reduction: Transfer Project Workshop Brief 2019
Social Protection, Cash Transfers and Long-Term Poverty Reduction: Transfer Project Workshop Brief 2019

AUTHOR(S)
Michelle Mills

Published: 2019 Innocenti Research Briefs
Celebrating ten years of building evidence for action on cash transfers in Africa, UNICEF, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) organized the seventh regional Transfer Project workshop on “Social Protection, Cash Transfers and Long-Term Poverty Reduction”* in Arusha, Tanzania from 2 to 4 April 2019. Over 130 social  protection experts and stakeholders from 20 African countries attended, including government officials, UNICEF and FAO staff, academics, NGOs and other development partners.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 5 | Thematic area: Social Policies | Tags: cash transfers, SDGs, social protection
Transformative Change for Children and Youth in the Context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Transformative Change for Children and Youth in the Context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Published: 2019 Innocenti Working Papers
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a new opportunity to address the key development challenges of our time with the aim to improve the well-being and rights of all people while protecting the natural environment. Children are important agents and beneficiaries in this process: many children are not only among the most vulnerable groups affected by poverty, inequality, conflict and climate change, they are also the generation that will reach adulthood during the realization of the 2030 Agenda. To create the sustainable, long-term transformation ambitiously laid out in Agenda
2030, new transformative approaches to policy must be implemented and applied to children and youth—approaches that target the underlying generative framework of social injustice as opposed to implementing affirmative remedies that simply seek to alleviate the symptoms. The objective of this paper is to develop a conceptual framework to help assess the transformative potential of policies – particularly with regard to their impact on children and youth – and how these are meaningfully integrated and represented in decision-making processes. It will shed light on the policy space for transformative change by analysing a range of relevant factors which present both challenges and opportunities for fostering child rights and well-being through the implementation of Agenda 2030. The paper then applies the framework to a selection of policy areas that are of high relevance for child development, such as social policy and care policy assessing necessary means of implementation such as resource mobilization and governance systems and looking at economic and environmental impacts in a cross-cutting way. The aim is to stretch boundaries and invite new thinking on how to grasp the numerous opportunities offered by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to approach development challenges holistically and from a child-centred perspective. This involves integrating economic, social and environmental dimensions of development and fostering cross-sectoral approaches.
Growing Inequality and Unequal Opportunities in Rich Countries
Growing Inequality and Unequal Opportunities in Rich Countries
Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs
Inequality can have wide-ranging effects on communities, families and children. Income inequality (measured through the Gini index) was found to have an association with higher levels of peer violence in 35 countries (Elgar et al. 2009) and to influence the use of alcohol and drunkenness among 11- and 13-year olds (Elgar et al. 2005). On a macro level, countries with greater income inequality among children have lower levels of child well-being and higher levels of child poverty (Toczydlowska et al. 2016). More worrying still is that growing inequality reinforces the impact of socio-economic status (SES) on children’s outcomes, limiting social mobility. Concern about growing inequality features prominently on the current international development agenda. Goal 10 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls specifically to reduce inequality within and among countries, while the concept of ‘leaving no one behind’ reflects the spirit of greater fairness in society. But with a myriad of measures and definitions of inequality used in literature, the focus on children is often diluted. This brief contributes to this debate by presenting child-relevant distributional measures that reflect inequality of outcomes as well as opportunity for children in society, over time.
Child-centred Approach to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in High-income Countries: Conceptual issues and monitoring approaches
Child-centred Approach to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in High-income Countries: Conceptual issues and monitoring approaches
Published: 2017 Innocenti Working Papers

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was agreed upon globally through a long political process. By ratifying its Declaration, high-income countries became accountable participants in the development process while retaining their obligations as donors. Although few of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are explicitly child-focused, children are mentioned in many of the 167 targets. Drawing on a well recognized socio-ecological model (SEM) of child development and a life course perspective, this paper proposes an analytical framework to help navigate through the SDG targets based on their relevance to child well-being. The application of this framework in thinking through policy options illustrates the interdependence of SDGs and their targets within a sector (vertically) and across the 17 Goals (horizontally). A five-step process for choosing measurable SDG indicators links the proposed analytical framework with the challenges of SDG monitoring. The paper contributes to debates on the implications of the SDGs for children by facilitating their adaptation to the national context through a ‘child lens’. The proposed analytical approach helps to articulate a context-specific theory of change with a focus on human development outcomes, so that public investments inspired by the SDGs bring tangible results for children.

Comparing Child-focused SDGs in High-income Countries: Indicator development and overview
Comparing Child-focused SDGs in High-income Countries: Indicator development and overview
Published: 2017 Innocenti Working Papers
The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aim to build on the achievements made under the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by broadening their scope and building upon a consultative process. The MDGs contributed to substantial social progress in eight key areas: poverty; education; gender equality; child mortality; maternal health; disease; the environment; and global partnership. The SDGs not only include a greater number of development goals than the MDGs, but are also global in focus, including advanced economies for the first time. This paper draws attention to the main challenges the 2030 Agenda presents for rich countries, by highlighting a set of critical child specific indicators, evaluating countries’ progress towards meeting the Goals, and highlighting gaps in existing data. The paper will inform UNICEFs Report Card 14, Building the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries.
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Learning at a Distance: Children’s remote learning experiences in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic
Publication Publication

Learning at a Distance: Children’s remote learning experiences in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Italy was the first country in Europe to implement a nationwide lockdown. Children and their families lived in nearly complete isolation for almost two months. Students missed 65 days of school compared to an average of 27 missed days among high-income countries worldwide. This prolonged break is of concern, as even short breaks in schooling can cause significant loss of learning for children and lead to educational inequalities over time. At least 3 million Italian students may not have been reached by remote learning due to a lack of internet connectivity or devices at home. This report explores children’s and parents’ experiences of remote learning during the lockdown in Italy, drawing on data collected from 11 European countries (and coordinated by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center). It explores how children's access and use of digital technologies changed during the pandemic; highlights how existing inequalities might undermine remote learning opportunities, even among those with internet access; and provides insights on how to support children’s remote learning in the future. *** L'Italia e’ stata il primo paese in Europa ad aver applicato la misura del lockdown su tutto il territorio. I bambini e le loro famiglie hanno vissuto in quasi completo isolamento per circa due mesi. Gli studenti hanno perduto 65 giorni di scuola rispetto ad una media di 27 negli altri paesi ad alto reddito del mondo. Questa interruzione prolungata rappresenta motivo di preoccupazione, in quanto persino interruzioni piu’ brevi nella didattica possono causare significative perdite nel livello di istruzione dei ragazzi e portare col tempo a diseguaglianze educative. Almeno 3 milioni di studenti in Italia non sono stati coinvolti nella didattica a distanza a causa d una mancanza di connessione ad internet o di dispositivi adeguati a casa. Questo rapporto analizza l’esperienza della didattica a distanza di ragazzi e genitori in Italia durante il lockdown, sulla base dei dati raccolti in 11 paesi europei (e coordinati dal Centro comune di ricerca della Commissione Europea). Studia il cambiamento nell’accesso e nell’uso delle tecnologie digitali dei bambini e ragazzi durante la pandemia; mette in evidenza come le diseguaglianze esistenti possano diminuire le opportunità offerte dalla didattica a distanza, anche tra coloro che hanno accesso ad internet; e fornisce approfondimenti su come sostenere la didattica a distanza di bambini e ragazzi in futuro.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Eastern and Southern Africa
Publication Publication

Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Eastern and Southern Africa

There is a learning crisis. Fifty-three per cent of children in low- and middle-income countries are in ‘learning poverty’, i.e. they cannot read and understand a simple text by the end of primary school age. In sub- Saharan Africa, the learning poverty rate is 87 per cent overall, and ranges from 40 per cent to as high as 99 per cent in the 21 countries with available data. Teachers attending lessons and spending quality time on task is a critical prerequisite to learning. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, teacher absenteeism ranges from 15 to 45 per cent. Teacher absenteeism and reduced time on task wastes valuable financial resources, short-changes students and is one of the most cumbersome obstacles on the path toward the education Sustainable Development Goal and to the related vision of the new UNICEF education strategy: Every Child Learns. Whilst the stark numbers are available to study, and despite teacher absenteeism being a foremost challenge for education systems in Africa, the evidence base on how policies and practices can influence teacher attendance remains scant. Time to Teach (TTT) is a research initiative that looks at primary school teacher attendance in eight countries and territories in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region: the Comoros; Kenya; Rwanda, Puntland, State of Somalia; South Sudan; the United Republic of Tanzania, mainland; the United Republic of Tanzania, Zanzibar; and Uganda. Its primary objective is to identify factors affecting the various forms of teacher attendance, which include being at school, being punctual, being in the classroom, and teaching when in the classroom, and use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies.

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