This paper explores efforts to bridge multi‑disciplinary research, policy engagement and practice to improve poor children's life quality in four diverse transforming societies. It draws on Young Lives (2000‑2015), an international longitudinal policy‑research project on childhood poverty, tracing 12,000 children (8,000 from birth and 4,000 from age eight) in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam. Beginning with a discussion about the importance of mapping the policy context, it supports reconceptualising policy‑making as a non‑linear dynamic process involving multiple actor networks with varying interests and informed by competing policy narratives (local and global). It suggests that opportunities for influencing policy are more varied, but perhaps also narrower and more incremental than conventionally perceived. This is particularly important in under‑researched polities at different stages in democratisation, decentralisation, and economic development processes, and that Northern‑derived models of advocacy are likely to be context‑inappropriate.
The paper then draws on Young Lives (YL) experiences to identify common factors that either contributed to or thwarted evidence‑based pro‑poor child‑focused change. It focuses in particular on three key aspects: partnership and networking, framing of messages and dissemination/communication methodologies. The concluding section reflects on the particular challenges involved when promoting children's (rather than other vulnerable groups') rights, including children's limited voice in the social and political arena, the dearth of state and civil society champions of children's rights, a limited evidence base to establish macro‑micro policy linkages, and the tendency for children's issues to be limited to health and education policies.
Jones, N., Working Paper 17. Reflections on Young Lives 2000 - 2005: Bridging research, policy analysis and advocacy to tackle childhood poverty, 2005, London, UK; Save the Children UK, 25 pp.