In past, programs for orphans and vulnerable children have been evaluated by reporting the numbers of children and the services that they received. To more appropriately measure the needs of orphaned and vulnerable children and the effectiveness of the support these programs provide, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief requested a tool to assess vulnerabilities, needs, and outcomes of orphaned and vulnerable children. To fill this gap, the Child Status Index was developed to provide a framework for identifying a child’s need, creating service plans, and assessing intervention outcomes.

As it is currently designed, the Child Status Index aims to provide an assessment strategy that addresses the areas of a child’s life that are most indicative of the child’s relative well-being or vulnerability. The CSI was developed based off twelve factors, including food security, nutrition, abuse and exploitation, wellness, healthcare services, and emotional health. These factors can be measured on an inferential scale to compare situations and outcomes among orphaned and vulnerable children. 

The development of the CSI involved a community participatory process that included community workers and caregivers in Kenya and Tanzania. To derive the domains and the factors that comprise the CSI, researchers conducted a series of informal discussions with community workers, guardians, and other service providers in Kenya and Tanzania. The CSI was then successfully tested to ensure its reliability and validity, and it has been utilized in trials in other countries, such as Ethiopia, Rwanda, India and Cambodia to raise ongoing feedback about its applicability.  

Policy Implications:

  • When CSI scores for all children in a certain community are aggregated, the score can provide a baseline for services needed in that certain community and to inform the design of orphaned and vulnerable children programs.
  • Information gained from the use of the CSI can be used to inform local, district and national leadership for policy making and funding allocations.
  • Orphaned and vulnerable children stakeholders and relevant program administrators will be able to be trained to utilize the CSI to inform future decision-making.