‘I’m coming home’- taking a geographic look at where children are reintegrating

Retrak strives to enable children on the streets to return to safe homes in families and communities. Homes where children can feel a sense of belonging and where they can form positive attachments with caring and committed adults. Over the past five years Retrak and its partners have enabled nearly 3,000 children to return to their biological families, providing support not only to the children but also to their caregivers and siblings.

Each year we map the locations of these placements and track trends in locations over time. We have used this information to help us understand the geographic spread of children coming to the streets and to target prevention programmes on ‘’hotspots’’- locations from which many children migrate to the streets.

Based on this information, in 2016, we are celebrating the successful conclusion of first pilot project aiming to prevent separation in a major hotspot in Hadiya, Ethiopia (you can read our final evaluation here), and the launch of two new projects which include prevention work in Mbale and Wakiso, Uganda.

At Retrak, the stories we have heard from children we meet on the streets is that poverty is not the only push factor. Our maps also make this very clear. It appears that proximity to urban areas is also a big push factor, and that children further away are likely to be vulnerable to other forms of separation such as cross-border trafficking.

Our prevention work is designed to address issues of poverty, but also to work to strengthen parenting skills and local child protection knowledge and systems. We have found that addressing these issues together can have an impact on children’s migration to the streets. For the first time our maps showing a decrease in children on the streets from locations where we have targeted prevention work.

Retrak will continue to use this kind of information from our reintegration programmes and beyond to ensure that our services, research and advocacy are well informed and continuously responding to the need of vulnerable children.

Click here to view Retrak reintegration locations from 2015.