A Little Friendly Space mobilises communities to provide safe spaces for younger children (age 3-6), with programming including play, education, health and psychosocial support.
To read about Little Friendly Spaces in action, click on the picture below:
When should we use a Little Friendly Space (LFS)?
An LFS is most appropriate when there is little specific provision for younger children, or where existing provision for children does not include them. LFS can also be useful in situations where parents are struggling and under pressure since an LFS gives parents and caregivers some free time whilst knowing that their children are safe.
LFS are most effective as a short-medium term response, often started in the early stages of an emergency.
Resources needed to implement an LFS
- Volunteers willing to work with young children on a regular basis
- Safe space (an existing building or a tent) which can be used regularly for the LFS
- Programme materials – e.g. toys, games, art and craft materials
- Funding for refreshments/snacks
How to set up an LFS
- The LFS should be set up based on information found in your needs assessment and developed in partnership with the community
- Decide on the location and prepare a budget – use locally available toys and materials if possible
- Ensure that you have enough staff and volunteers for the number of children who will attend: children aged 2-4 should have a ratio of at least 2 adult caregivers for 15 children
- Develop the LFS schedule and activity plan – LFS should primarily be focused on play, but may also include basic education (e.g. simple literacy and numeracy). The selection of activities should be based on the needs and capacities of the community and developed in collaboration with community members and children.
- Activities should include different types of play and a variety of free-choice play activities and organised group sessions. Activities may include:
- Telling traditional stories to the children
- Singing traditional songs
- Clapping games
- Rhythm games with simple musical instruments such as sticks and bells
- Group circle games
- Traditional games
- Free drawing
- Learning numbers, letters and colours
- Simple puzzles
- Free play activities
It is important for CFS to ensure that they identify and include the most vulnerable children, taking stock of which children are not accessing the CFS and taking steps to include them. Activities should be adapted for children with disabilities where possible.
Everyone who works in an LFS should receive initial training, as part of an ongoing process to build capacity that includes training as well as coaching. Training should include child protection and facilitating play for all.
The psychosocial wellbeing of parents is important for children’s care and protection. Parent support group sessions can also be scheduled in LFSs.
Monitoring and evaluation
- number of LFS established/operating
- number of children attending
- number of facilitators trained
Outputs can be measured by e.g. attendance and registration sheets, activity schedules, training evaluations
- Quality of activities and programme
- Changes or effects on skills, knowledge, emotional, social or protective wellbeing
Outcomes can be measured by comparing baseline surveys of e.g. protection and psychosocial wellbeing, or community attitudes with later repeated surveys, and through ongoing community participation in monitoring and evaluation.
Additional tools and guidelines
The material on this page draws from these key documents:
- Unicef, A Practical Guide for Developing Child Friendly Spaces (2009)
- Save the Children, Child Friendly Spaces Handbook (2008)
- Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (2019)
A list of further tools and resources on setting up and running a little friendly space can be found here.