Why Measuring Child-Level Impacts Can Help Achieve Lasting Economic Change
This paper presents an argument for the systematic monitoring and evaluation of child wellbeing related to economic strengthening efforts. Economic strengthening aims both to address the short-term needs of poor people and to enable entire communities to overcome poverty and live healthy, productive lives. Growing evidence links children’s physical and psychological health with their future economic opportunities and potential. Until recently, the economic strengthening community has presumed that greater household economic welfare also leads to improved wellbeing for children. While some evaluations do support this assumption, conclusive evidence across a range of interventions is lacking, with some studies even showing negative impacts on children. In order to maximize the long-term impacts of economic strengthening activities while staying true to the principle of doing no harm, we propose that economic strengthening programs seeking to improve the wellbeing of vulnerable households assess and monitor child-level outcomes and impacts, even when children or youth are not direct program participants. By relying on emerging best practices, programs and donors can cost-effectively measure child wellbeing.
Since 2008, Supporting Transformation by Reducing Insecurity and Vulnerability with Economic Strengthening (STRIVE) and the Child Protection in Crisis (CPC) Networkhave engaged in research, implementation, and evaluation of economic strengthening programs intended to positively affect the lives of children in adversity. STRIVE and the CPC Network seek to launch a wider evidence-based discussion in the development community about the role of children and youth in achieving the goal of sustainable poverty alleviation. This paper is intended as a starting point for discussion and advocacy around measuring the impacts of economic strengthening on children, in order to ensure their wellbeing and break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.