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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2015 CEE/CIS: Independent Evaluation of Results Area 1 -- A Child's Right to a Supportive and Caring Family Environment

Executive summary

With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. Please ensure that you check the quality of this evaluation report, whether it is “Outstanding, Best Practice”, “Highly Satisfactory”, “Mostly Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory” before using it. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 2’ of the report.


The countries subject to this evaluation inherited an institutional framework that placed the responsibility of child care at the state level, largely lacking alternative ways of protecting children at risk. Institutionalization was used as a protection measure for a wide range of reasons: poverty, domestic violence, disabilities, chronic diseases, behavioural problems, discrimination, and so on. A dominant paradigm of ‘defectology’ combined with a lack of professional social work services left no other option than a childhood in institutional care for large numbers of children, including orphans, abandoned children, children with behavioural difficulties, and children with disabilities. In some countries, state neglect of institutionalized children was a matter of policy; in most others, the idea that the state could be a substitute for the family, combined with a lack of investment in child welfare, created de facto neglect.
UNICEF data showed that in 2012 the Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS) region still had a high rate of children growing up in formal care. Some 1.2 million children were in formal care in the region, including 501,000 children in residential care - the type of care that international UN standards urge only to be used as a last resort and when considered in the interest of the concerned child.
Of the total in residential care, some 200,000 have disabilities, and 26,000 are under the age of three years.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was a key instrument, obliging states parties to create adequate child care systems. UNICEF began to prioritize child care system reform in the CEE/CIS from around 2000 onwards. From 2005 onwards there has been an intensification and refinement of UNICEF’s engagement in child care reform. The period is marked by a growing awareness of continuing, and in some cases growing, numbers of children in both residential care and formal care in much of the region, contradicting all stated policy intentions.


The evaluation had a two-fold purpose: accountability and learning.
The evaluation had the following specific objectives:

  1. Evaluate the extent to which change (impact) has happened in children’s lives as a result of child care reform and changes in social norms.
  2. Assess how results were made possible through systems changes as well as changes in social norms and identify which strategies and approaches were the most effective for achieving the change in children’s lives.
  3. While recognizing that Governments are leading reform processes and other actors also contribute to these reforms and changes, to assess specific UNICEF’s contribution to these system changes / changes in social norms that are thought to have produced a change in the lives of children.


This multi-country formative evaluation covered the following countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. These countries were selected based on the following criteria:

  1. UNICEF had supported the governments of these countries in several of the reform areas;
  2. Data on impact using some core global child care indicators was available, and

The evaluation reference period was from 2005 to 2012 and was conducted by an independent evaluation team managed by Pluriconsult Ltd. (Romania). The evaluation framework was designed based on the OECD-DAC evaluation criteria: relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and impact. The methodological approach combined desk review with quantitative and qualitative data collection. It included field data collection from all countries and field visits of key experts to six countries . The field data collected were based on interviews and focus groups with government representatives, staff working in child care systems, children and parents, as well as from NGOs (international and national) and the staff of international organisations. A survey covering most countries  was carried out among Government and NGOs’ staff working in child care systems. The evaluation was carried out between 2013 and 2014.


The main recommendations are presented here.  For fully developed recommendations, readers are encouraged to revert to section 7 of the main evaluation report.

  1. UNICEF’s core strategy should shift with a stronger focus on preventing family separation
  2. Advocating for appropriate budget allocations
  3. Stronger and systematic attention on specific groups of vulnerable children
  4. Strengthen Support for Social Work Development
  5. Support stronger mechanisms for coordinating multi-sectoral responses
  6. Address social norms/behaviour change
  7. Measurement means and proper indicators should be developed in order to better capture the impact of reforms on the quality of life for children reintegrated after they leave care system and their families
  8. In the context of decentralisation reforms, UNICEF should contribute to the clarification of core accountabilities at central and local levels, including proper budget allocations and mechanisms for supporting poorer districts or regions
  9. A more sustained and effective commitment needs to be made to strengthening the voice of children and adolescents

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