Implementing child-friendly governance

National, regional and local governments can apply child-friendly governance by following a regular quality improvement cycle and integrating child rights principles in all stages of the cycle. This is illustrated below:

Assessing a situation: The situational analysis is the first step of your planning cycle. You should start by collecting the necessary information (or evidence) about the situation of children in your country, region, city or community. This is usually called a baseline assessment, which is like a snapshot of, for example, the situation of children in your city. This is also the information against which you will measure progress and change, so baseline assessments are usually comprehensive and should gather different types of data, such as quantitative and qualitative data. This is a very important exercise and may take several months.

For the quantitative data, you may use general child population statistics or other statistical information that is already available. You may also complete this exercise by collecting other information that you think is important to collect, but that does not yet exist. Secondly, you should gather qualitative data through studies and research. Here, you can also use information from recent research, studies or projects or promote your own studies to gather qualitative information that you think is important. Finally, you should carry out consultations with different groups of interest, such as children and families, policy-makers, representatives of civil society organisations, professionals and other, as relevant. These groups are generally known as stakeholders. There are different tools to collect information about the situation of children, such as statistical surveys, qualitative questionnaires, focus group discussions and other. A specific approach has also been designed to ensure that child rights inform planning processes, namely the Child Rights Impact Assessment.

 Child Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) examines the potential impacts on children and young people of laws, policies, budget decisions, programmes and services as they are being developed and, if necessary, suggests ways to avoid or mitigate any negative impacts. This is done prior to the decision or action being set in place.

 ENOC Common framework of reference – November 2020

To access an example of a CRIA tool, visit the website of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children. The CRIA tool is available in EnglishSpanishNorwegian, and Portuguese.

Analysing information and preparing a plan for improvement: After you have collected your information, you should compare and analyse the data, paying particular attention to identifying urgent situations, new trends or situations that have aggravated over the years, as well as, groups of children that are particularly vulnerable due to poverty, because they belong to a minority ethnic group or for other reasons. The results of this analysis should be shared and discussed with the different groups of stakeholders. In the case of children, you may use different formats that are accessible to them, so that they can really understand the situation and be able to discuss it. The outcome of these discussions should be the identification of problems and possible solutions that can be integrated in a national, regional or local strategy, action plan or programme. The solutions will be written in the form of actions or measures and for each of these, monitoring and evaluation indicators should be identified. Your monitoring indicators will enable you to understand the extent to which your actions are being implemented throughout a given timeframe, whilst the evaluation indicators will enable you to understand the overall impact of your strategy, programme or action plan.

Who are the so-called vulnerable groups of children? 

Different groups of children may be at a greater risk to ill health, violence or other situations that have a negative impact on their health, well-being and development. There are different ways of identifying these groups of children, who often are referred to as being vulnerable. It is important to understand that usually children are vulnerable because of conditions that are external to them. For example, a child living in extreme poverty may be exposed to indoor pollution or they may drop out-of-school early in order to work and support their families. A child with a particular physical or mental health problem may be left out-of-school because the education system is not prepared to cater for him or her. Therefore, it is important to understand what conditions are causing risks or vulnerabilities for children in the different contexts where they live and which have an impact on the realisation of all of their rights, in order to address them.


Implementing change: In your strategy, programme or action plan, you will have identified one or more organisations or services that are responsible for taking a lead or implementing specific actions according to a timeframe. Each leading or partner organisation should implement the actions accordingly and monitor their performance.

Monitoring and evaluation: As said above, the strategy, action plan or programme adopted should be monitored throughout its implementation and evaluated at the end. The evaluation at the end of a given cycle or timeframe can also be used as a new situation analysis that informs a new strategy, a second phase of a programme or an action plan. If you have prepared a strategy for a five-year period, it will be important to do mid-term or annual evaluations to understand if the actions are being implemented or if some of them may need to be re-adjusted to achieve the final aims of your strategy.