Putting Family Care First in Cambodia
The Family Care First (FCF) initiative, USAID’s effort to address the problem of children growing up in orphanages in Cambodia-- with a vision to transform the way Cambodia cares for its children-- utilized key elements of collaborating, learning and adapting to bring cohesion to a disparate child protection sector. In addition to improved, ongoing coordination and collaboration between government, NGOs, international agencies, and donors, FCF is implementing pilot activities to immediately improve outcomes for children in Cambodia. Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) mechanisms have ensured that evidence and data inform the activities of the initiative. Rapid Feedback MERL enabled rigorous data collection and feedback loops provided implementers with timely, actionable evidence to scale their activities. A development evaluation, through the DEPA-MERL mechanism, was an effective adaptive response to challenges in the initiative’s collaborative approach, helping strengthen leadership, roles and responsibilities within the initiative. Coming together to tackle the issue of children growing up outside of protective family care allowed actors to assess needs on a sector-wide scale and then work collaboratively to address those needs. FCF has fostered a successful pilot-learn-grow approach through a collaborative, reflective learning process. Notably, the FCF model of bringing together development and implementing partners who have worked in isolation or in competition with one another in an environment with little or no regulation is gaining notice from other USAID programming in Cambodia, for example in education and health.