‘Never only one zebra’ – A Review of Measurement Frameworks in Children’s Care

In 2020 ICDI was contracted by UBS Optimus Foundation and GHR Foundation to do a review of monitoring & evaluation frameworks used in the field of Children’s Care. By Children’s Care we mean the range of systems and services that support children who are without adequate care by their biological parents, or who are at risk of becoming so. This turned out to be quite an endeavour, but also very much a labour of love. Now, almost at the end of this strange and cumbersome year, we are proud to be able to present the final report.

The review consisted of a literature review and interviews with 22 professionals from the Children’s Care sector and 11 professionals from the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECD/ECEC) sector (the ECD/ECEC sector was chosen as a comparison sector). One of the goals of the review was to investigate the feasibility and/or desirability for a common measurement framework for Children’s Care that could be used across countries.

Based on the review we formulated four key messages:

1: It is important to distinguish between a measurement framework that would apply to one Children’s Care system in a certain country and one that would be more global, to be used across countries and regions, as both are being developed/sought after by different actors. They entail very different processes, have different goals and serve different interests.

2: On the basis of the interviews conducted for this review, it can be concluded that there is considerable support for a common, global set of principles and values for Children’s Care, but much less support for an (elaborate, complicated) common, global measurement framework that is monitoring its actual implementation.

3: Investing in the development and implementation of a country specific measurement framework has little or no added value, nor real chance of succeeding, without the necessary (pre-)conditions in place.

4: Donors should invest in the most pressing needs for Children’s Care reform in a country first, before investing in (development of) country specific common measurement frameworks (and try not to burden grantees with too much M & E).

The Full Report can be found here. An Executive Summary can be found here.