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Cash for Protection: Cash Transfer Programs Can Promote Child Protection Outcomes

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 38 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2014 Pages: 360-371
Hannah Thompson
Date Published
March 2014
12 pages
This study examined outcomes for programs that provide cash to households intended to achieve child-protection goals in situations that involve child exploitation, family separation and alternative care, and mental health and psychosocial support.
The distinguishing feature of a "conditional cash transfer" (CCT) program is the imposition of a behavioral condition on transfer recipients. In the area of child exploitation, the World Bank funded the Zomba Cash Transfer program in southern Malawi. This program gave girls and young women ages 13 to 22 and their parents up to $15 a month if the girls attended school regularly; a second group received payments without conditions; and a control group received no cash payments. After 18 months, the program showed increases in school attendance for both dropouts and in-school girls without a significant difference between conditional and unconditional cash transfer recipients. Girls were also less sexual active and tended to choose safer and younger partners. Promising results are also reported for CCTs in other countries that targeted child associated with armed groups or force and child labor. In the area of family separation and alternative care in emergencies, child protection agencies in Liberia established CCTs for foster families when Ivorian refugees fled to Liberia. Staff reported that children received better care and foster parents were better able to meet children's basic needs once cash transfer programming had begun. In the area of mental health and psychosocial support, CCTs can promote psychosocial well-being indirectly by supporting the implementation of psychosocial programming for children. Examples of such programs are provided. Recommendations for designing and implementing CCTs that focus on child protection address targeting; choosing the appropriate delivery mechanism; designing and implementing a program; and addressing the specific concerns of child exploitation, family separation and alternative care, and mental health and psychosocial distress are presented. 10 listings for further reading