Guidelines for Child Friendly Spaces in Emergencies
Child Friendly Spaces (CFSs) are widely used in emergencies as a first response to children’s needs and an entry point for working with affected communities. Because CFSs can be established quickly and respond to children’s rights to protection, psychosocial well‐being, and non‐formal education, CFSs are typically used as temporary supports that contribute to the care and protection of children in emergencies. However, they are used also as transitional structures that serve as a bridge to early recovery and long‐term supports for vulnerable children. Although different agencies call CFSs different things—safe spaces, child centered spaces, child protection centers or emergency spaces for children— the interventions are all part of a common family of supports for children and young people.
For purposes of convenience, this paper refers to these related interventions as Child Friendly Spaces. Broadly, the purpose of CFSs is to support the resilience and well‐being of children and young people through community organized, structured activities conducted in a safe, child friendly, and stimulating environment. The primary participants in and beneficiaries of CFSs are children (people under 18 years of age), although in some contexts, CFSs may also engage and benefit young people who are beyond 18 years of age.
The specific objectives are to: (1) mobilize communities around the protection and wellbeing of all children, including highly vulnerable children; (2) provide opportunities for children to play, acquire contextually relevant skills, and receive social support; and (3) offer inter‐sectoral support for all children in the realization of their rights. Depending on the context, CFSs are also used for a variety of other purposes such as laying a foundation for restarting formal education and supporting national education systems, enabling wider work on issues such as child protection and early child development, stimulating efforts on disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction. Some of these activities extend beyond the emergency context into the early recovery period or even into longer‐term development.
The purpose of these principles is to give practical guidance to the field teams that establish CFSs in different types of emergencies and contexts. They are also intended to guide advocacy efforts and donor practices in emergency settings where protection and well‐being ought to be high priorities.