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Leading Minds Online, like many good things, was born out of necessity. After a successful inaugural Leading Minds Conference at UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in Florence, Italy in November 2019, the office’s convening team began 2020 gearing up for the second annual conference. The COVID pandemic that began in late 2019 put a stop to that. So we took our convening online, convinced that the philosophy that underpinned the Leading Minds convening in 2019 - to bring experts from all walks of life – young people, academics, practitioners, policymakers, businesses, the media, civil society and UNICEF’s own expert staff – around the current and next-generation challenges and opportunities for children could be just as relevant online as it is in person. Hence Leading Minds Online was born on 6 May 2020, with our first webcast series focused on experts' opinions on the implications of COVID-19 on children’s lives and futures. This yearbook summarizes their contributions to each of the webcasts and highlights the recommendations of each virtual event.
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This paper examines how social benefits contributed to reducing the scarring effects of monetary poverty among children in European countries in the years following the Great Recession. Based on the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions database, our findings highlight that social benefit functions differ in their ability to reduce the risk of monetary poverty for children with previous experience in poverty. While family/children’s benefits are crucial in reducing child poverty in general, they are not significant in terms of reducing the scarring effects of child poverty. Old age/ survivors’ benefits meanwhile appear to be a significant support for children with prior experience in poverty. Empirical evidence thus suggests the effectiveness of social transfers to combat occasional child poverty does not always coincide with their effectiveness in preventing children from remaining in poverty year after year.

AUTHOR(S)

Elena Bárcena-Martín; M. Carmen Blanco-Arana; Salvador Pérez-Moreno
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The number of international migrants under 18 is rising, accelerated by complex and fast-evolving economic, demographic, security and environmental drivers. Based on interviews carried out with 1,290 migrant children and young people in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, this report helps address the evidence gap on children and young people migrating in the Horn of Africa by providing a better understanding of their protective environments; their access to services and resources; and their perceptions of safety, well-being and trust in authorities and other providers. It concludes by offering policy and programme recommendations to rethink child protection approaches for migrants in the region.
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Compounding the COVID-19 pandemic is a looming debt crisis for low- and middle-income countries where a growing debt burden threatens to crowd out social spending for children. This policy brief explores whether the current support from the international community is enough to maintain spending on basic services during COVID-19. It highlights countries that are most at risk due to high levels of poverty, as well as those less likely to benefit from the G20 Debt Standstill (DSSI). It concludes that a new international debt restructuring architecture, which encompasses the needs of poorer countries, is crucial to protecting children’s rights in the wake of COVID-19.
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UNICEF supports the Government of Ethiopia to implement a pilot Integrated Safety Net Programme (ISNP) in the Amhara Region from 2019 to 2023. The objective of the programme is to harness the potential synergies that can be realized by integrating social protection policies and programmes. It seeks to test the efficacy of combining cash and services to improve nutrition and health outcomes for children and their households. This report describes the conceptual framework and methodology for an impact evaluation of the ISNP intervention and presents findings from a baseline study. The baseline study confirms the low socio-economic status of PSNP households in the domains of housing conditions, sanitation, schooling, health seeking, food security, women’s agency, subjective wellbeing, sexual and reproductive health, access to social services, child nutrition and child protection. The PSNP clients are found to be generally worse off than the entirety of rural Amhara – confirming the targeting effectiveness of the PSNP. The study highlights the gaps that the ISNP interventions are meant to address and provides concrete action points for successful implementation.
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By the end of 2019, 4.8 million refugees and migrants had left Venezuela – making it the largest external displacement crisis in the region’s recent history. Of these, 1 in 4 was a child. Across Latin America and the Caribbean, since November 2020, 137 million girls and boys are missing out on their education due to the prolonged closure of schools during COVID-19. The implications are troubling, especially for migrant and refugee children, for whom access to inclusive and equitable education remains a major challenge. This study collates evidence from Latin America, the Caribbean and across the world to gain a better understanding of the multifaceted linkages between education and migration. It estimates gaps in educational outcomes; identifies structural barriers to education; and highlights promising practices to inform policy.

AUTHOR(S)

Kim Caarls; Victor Cebotari; Despina Karamperidou; Maria Carolina Alban Conto; Juliana Zapata; Rachel Yang Zhou
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“Ujana Salama” (‘Safe Youth’ in Swahili) is a cash plus programme targeting adolescents in households receiving the United Republic of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN). Implemented by the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF), with technical assistance of the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) and UNICEF Tanzania, the ‘plus’ component includes in-person training, mentoring, grants and health services. The impact evaluation studies the differential impact of the integrated programme (cash plus intervention targeting adolescents) with respect to the PSSN only. It is a mixed methods study, including baseline (2017), Round 2 (2018), Round 3 (2019) and Round 4 (2021) surveys. This brief summarizes findings from the Round 3 survey, which was conducted one year after the training, three months after the mentorship period, and one to two months after grant disbursement.
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“Ujana Salama” (‘Safe Youth’ in Swahili) is a cash plus programme targeting adolescents in households receiving the United Republic of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN). Implemented by the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF), with technical assistance of the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) and UNICEF Tanzania, the ‘plus’ component includes in-person training, mentoring, grants and health services. The impact evaluation studies the differential impact of the integrated programme (cash plus intervention targeting adolescents) with respect to the PSSN only. It is a mixed methods study, including baseline (2017), Round 2 (2018), Round 3 (2019) and Round 4 (2021) surveys. This report provides findings from the Round 3 survey, which was conducted one year after the training, three months after the mentorship period, and one to two months after grant disbursement. The previous report (Round 2) is available here.
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This research brief is an addition to a series of five briefs, which provide an overview of available evidence shown in the Campbell-UNICEF Mega-Map of the effectiveness of interventions to improve child well-being in low- and middle-income countries. These briefs summarize evidence as mapped against the five goal areas of UNICEF’s 2018–2021 Strategic Plan, although it is anticipated that they will also be useful for others working in the child well-being space.
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Despite the challenges involved in fragile and humanitarian settings, effective interventions demand rigorous impact evaluation and research. Such work in these settings is increasing, both in quality and quantity, and being used for programme implementation and decision-making. This paper seeks to contribute to and catalyse efforts to implement rigorous impact evaluations and other rigorous empirical research in fragile and humanitarian settings. It describes what sets apart this type of research; identifies common challenges, opportunities, best practices, innovations and priorities; and shares some lessons that can improve practice, research implementation and uptake. Finally, it provides some reflections and recommendations on areas of agreement (and disagreement) between researchers and their commissioners and funding counterparts.

AUTHOR(S)

Shivit Bakrania; Nikola Balvin; Silvio Daidone; Jacobus de Hoop
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