Over the last two years, SOS Children’s Villages has carried out social impact assessments in seven programme locations to gain additional insights into how our work with children and families is having a long-term effect on their lives – and the lives of their communities.
The first seven assessments – two pilots in 2015, and five further assessments in 2016 – have provided evidence that SOS Children’s Villages is indeed making a lasting difference in children’s lives and helping to make the communities in which they live sustainable.
The assessments focused on the two main areas of SOS Children’s Villages direct work with children who have lost parental care or who risk losing it: family strengthening to prevent family breakdown and family-like alternative care.
The findings from Côte d’Ivoire (Abobo-Gare), Ethiopia (Hawassa), Kara (Togo), Nepal (Surkhet), Senegal (Dakar), Swaziland (Mbabane), and Tanzania (Zanzibar) show that approximately 80% of former participants in SOS programmes are doing either well or very well in at least six out of the eight dimensions of well-being.
The eight dimensions of well-being evaluated are care, food security, accommodation, physical health, education and skills, livelihood, protection and social inclusion as well as social and emotional well-being.
- Our family strengthening work is shown to be successful in preventing the separation of children from their families, improving the care children receive from parents, and fostering social and emotional well-being.
- The majority of participants in SOS Children’s Villages alternative care who later become parents themselves fulfil their parental obligations to their own children, creating a positive impact on future generations.
- Communities with active SOS programmes show improvements in awareness of children’s rights, and stronger community networks to safeguard children.
- The impact of SOS Children’s Villages programmes can also be measured financially as a Social Return on Investment (SROI). By conservative measures, early assessments show that SOS programmes provide a social return on investment of at least €14 for every €1 invested.
The impact assessments also reveal ways in which SOS Children’s Villages can improve. Based on the findings, we have committed to work harder to help families become and stay self-reliant, hasten integration of SOS families in their communities, and better support young people in achieving decent jobs and independence.
How we measure impact
Our social impact assessment methodology, developed with the support of Boston Consulting Group, analyses the long-term impact on individuals who participated in an SOS programme as well as the impact on the community and the social return on investment.
For the assessments, external consultants and a team of local researchers worked together to conduct the assessments in the programme locations.
The impact on the individual evaluates the long-term effects of our work on children and their families, analysing how the individual’s situation changed in terms of the dimensions of well-being.
Assessments of the impact on the community take into account the effects that individual children and their families who participated in SOS programmes have on the community in which they live, as well as the effects on the community made directly by the programme itself.
The social return on investment explores the long-term financial impact of our programmes on society. It is calculated by comparing the programme’s total cost and benefits for families and the community.
SOS Children’s Villages will continue to conduct assessments in additional countries to further build on our evidence base.
More about how we developed the impact assessment methodology