End of Project Evaluation of the Family Reintegration and Prevention of Separation (FRAPS) project. Download the full evaluation by clicking here.
Family Reintegration and Prevention of Separation (FRAPS) is a four-year (2016-2019) Comic Relief supported project, implemented in partnership with Tigers Club (TC, now part of Hope for Justice) and Child Restoration Outreach (CRO) in selected sub-counties of Wakiso and Mbale districts of Uganda. The project’s aim is to provide care and protection of highly vulnerable children, young people and families in communities who are at risk of coming to the streets, via four main objectives:
1. Children and young people on the streets have improved access to services to protect them from violence, exploitation and abuse and to help them move towards family reintegration.
2. Children and young people (re)integrate into safer and more socially and economically stronger families or family-based care.
3. Children, adults and community leaders (child protection committee members, local council members, religious and traditional leaders) gain child protection knowledge and act to make their communities safer.
4. Stakeholders (government officials and local organisation staff) in Wakiso & Mbale District are better connected, generate learning and agree on an approach to increase family safety to reduce family separation.
Overall, the FRAPS project aimed to benefit:
-2,230 street-connected children via outreach, 700 children via centres, and supporting approximately 612 to move into family-based care with adequate follow up and support.
-2,400 caregivers via self-help groups (SHGs), benefitting 10,200 children in their care.
-2,600 community members and 2,200 children in the same communities, via participation in child protection awareness raising activities in schools and community forums.
-District officials and other key stakeholders to promote learning and to strengthen approaches to child protection and preventing family separation.
The end of project evaluation aimed to synthesise the wealth of data and learnings captured over the life of the project to determine if project objectives were met, to complement existing data with primary data collection related to final project outcomes, and to provide a final product that can be used to appreciate the project achievements, challenges and learnings and to guide future programming.
Thirty-eight project documents were reviewed, and primary data was collected (via key informant interviews, group interviews, and focus group discussions) from 233 project stakeholders, including 91 adult beneficiaries, 103 child beneficiaries, 8 government stakeholders and 31 FRAPS project staff. Information from all sources was triangulated for analysis of the relevance, effectiveness, sustainability, economy and efficiency of the project.
Findings from the evaluation should be interpreted in light of the following evaluation limitations: some missing project documentation including datasets, potential selection bias of respondents during primary data collection, geographically distant reintegration families excluded from primary data collection, data collectors did not verify beneficiary registers against hard copy case files.
Findings revealed that the project was relevant at all levels, that progress was made across the project’s four objectives and that several positive unintended outcomes were also achieved. Findings included:
-The provision of street and centre-based services effectively improved children’s access to services to protect them from violence, exploitation and abuse, and prepared them to move toward family reintegration. A higher percentage of girls met on the street progressed to reunification, compared to boys.
-There were improved vulnerability scores for most reintegrating households over time, with household economic strengthening a critical service for families receiving children.
-Caseloads for reintegration social workers were high, which may have contributed to low pre-visit and follow-up visits, child-, rather than family-level follow-up and very few reintegration cases recorded as closed by the end of the project.
-80% of households involved in Self-Help Groups (SHGs) improved their overall level of vulnerability after 2-years of enrolment in the group, and 100% of children in households retained within their families demonstrating the SHGs were an effective model for social and economic empowerment of caregivers and created safer home environments for children. SHGs were effective between urban and rural settings, and between male and female groups and appeared to have a strong likelihood of sustainability.
-Community child protection groups were effective in increasing community knowledge of child rights, risks to children, mitigation measures and reporting mechanisms. The cost of group mobilization and support compared to level of activity, numbers of community members reached, and outcomes achieved makes the groups a cost effective prevention intervention, however, sustainability may be a challenge. Additionally, only 22% of community members reached through community awareness raising activities over the life of project (LOP) were male.
-A range of approaches to reduce child-family separation were agreed to by stakeholders. The appropriateness and relevance of these approaches indicated that stakeholders improved their understanding of effective strategies to prevent child-family separation over the duration of the project.
-Efforts should be made to develop strategies to improve boys’ active participation in outreach and centre-based services.
– A digitalised case management system could help inform and streamline social workers’ day-to-day practice, automate data capture for more efficient MEL processes and more accurate reporting, increase accountability, enhance social workers’ caseload management efficiency, and improve staff wellbeing.
-Increased pre-visits could be valuable in building children’s connection to their communities earlier, as well as transitioning their relationships with staff, to facilitate more effective social community integration.
-An audit of reintegration cases should be conducted to ascertain the number of cases open, and to assess their readiness for closure. Partners should mobilise resources for follow-up for those households who are not yet prepared for closure, to ensure children continue to be monitored, and that cases are eventually able to be closed safely.
-To help mitigate the risks associated with reintegration cases remaining open at the end of the project, implementing partners should consider frontloading placement targets for future projects, to minimize placements in the final year, allowing adequate follow-up time and resources.
-Implementing partners should consider developing a business case for more manageable caseloads for reintegration work, ensuring that sufficient human and financial resources are allocated to allow adequate time to be allocated to each household and for household-level interventions of all kinds.
-Where male SHGs continue to be established, application of a gender lens will be critical in monitoring these groups, and efforts must be made to balance strategies for female empowerment.
-Partners should explore further targeted mobilisation of SHGs in hotspot areas for child/family separation, and/or to target areas with clusters of reintegrating families (likely more feasible for CRO than TC).
-Community child protection groups should be monitored and supported (preferably by local district government stakeholders) to ensure sustainability. Committees should regularly inform their respective Community Development Officers and Probation and Social Welfare Officers of the cases they have received and actioned.
-For future community prevention work, strategies should be developed to engage males more actively in awareness raising. Engaging males is critical to shift the perception of child protection as “women’s issues” toward understanding that everyone has a role.
-Recognising that district-level agreed upon approaches to reduce child-family separation are ultimately only as useful as the outcomes they generate for children, follow-up on the implementation of agreed upon approaches will be critical.
Learning among project stakeholders could be further strengthened, and national advocacy for targeted prevention of child-family separation strategies and safe reintegration practices conducted via future exchange visits among the Wakiso and Mbale local district governments, and officers from Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development / Kampala Capital City Authority.
You can read the full report by clicking below: