Child Status Index Assessment Finds Widespread Use
Since its introduction in 2008, the Child Status Index (CSI) has been translated into 15 languages and implemented in many countries. The tool is used to collect information concerning the well-being of vulnerable children.
To assess the CSI’s use, successes, and areas for improvement, MEASURE Evaluation conducted in-depth telephone interviews with key program staff members who use the CSI in 25 organizations across 13 countries. Findings from the qualitative study are now available in The Child Status Index Usage Assessment.
The CSI is widely used in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in some Asian and Latin American countries. The study found that programs use the CSI in multiple ways to suit a variety of information needs. All study participants found the CSI to be a useful and helpful tool. Four countries have even included the CSI as a national tool and two countries are linking it to their service delivery standards and quality improvement guidelines.
The CSI was developed by MEASURE Evaluation in collaboration with the Center for Child and Family Health at Duke University. It is designed as a tool for community caregivers to capture children’s status and provide support across the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program’s six domains that work with these children: food and nutrition, shelter and care, education and skills training, psychosocial, protection, and health.
Despite the CSI’s successes, the assessment points to some areas for improvement, particularly around training and supportive supervision. While programs use the CSI for a variety of purposes—including needs assessment, case management, program monitoring, and outcome evaluation—MEASURE Evaluation’s Molly Cannon, who led the study, emphasized that the CSI needs to be used with other M&E and service delivery tools available to programs that work with orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS. “It’s a widely popular tool, it’s being adapted in different ways, but it’s not the only tool that should be used,” says Cannon.
Study findings have led to new guidance on the CSI’s best uses and some adaptations to CSI materials. MEASURE Evaluation also is currently developing outcome evaluation tools that will be added to the package of M&E tools available for programs.
Lucy Steinitz, senior technical advisor with Pact in Ethiopia, is among those interviewed for the assessment. “The CSI pushes everyone in the field to individualize their work with children and focus on outcomes and quality care,” says Steinitz. As a village volunteer reported to her, the CSI is “a lot of work, but it has completely changed our approach.” She says volunteers told her that “previously, we thought that all poor children had the same needs, but now we find that each one is different.”
The CSI assessment can be accessed at http://www.cpc.unc.edu/measure/publications/SR-12-68.