Adapting a Systems Approach to Child Protection: Key Concepts and Considerations
Increasingly, international organizations such as UNICEF, Save the Children, and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are turning to what is referred to as a systems approach in order to establish and otherwise strengthen comprehensive child protection efforts. As guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the systems approach differs from earlier child protection efforts, which have traditionally focused on single issues such as child trafficking, street children, child labor, emergencies, institutionalization, or HIV/AIDS. Although such efforts have produced substantial benefits, this diffused approach often results in a fragmented child protection response, marked by numerous inefficiencies and pockets of unmet need.
In 2009, UNICEF contracted with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and the Child Protection Research Center (CPRC) of the American Humane Association to review these existing efforts and expand the application of system thinking to the task of child protection. Specifically, the project involved reviewing literature from various disciplines that illustrates the potential value of a systems approach to child protection and conducting interviews with key stakeholders engaged in creating or monitoring such systems at either the international or national level.