Livelihoods programmes: Integrating child protection

Livelihoods programmes often have protective effects on children, particularly when mothers benefit directly, when they are used to provide livelihood opportunities for older adolescents, and when action builds on existing strategies to protect people’s livelihoods.

Standard: Caregivers and working-age children have access to adequate support to strengthen their livelihoods. (CPMS, 2019)

Download a printable risk assessment summarising the guidelines below


  • Build partnerships with child protection actors to share expertise and strengthen referral systems
  • Work with child protection actors to set up an appropriate monitoring and response system for incidences of child labour
  • Where appropriate, collaborate with child protection and education actors to incorporate life skills, literacy, numeracy and other skills training

Keep children safe and avoid causing harm

Understand the context

  • Which child protection issues are affecting children in the community?
  • Understand the labour market (including household roles, caring responsibilities and attitudes and norms)
  • Who is currently unable to access existing livelihoods opportunities?
  • What coping strategies are families currently using to meet their needs?
    • How will our project interact with these?

Reduce risks of harm within projects

  • Ensure that children are not left unattended, or forced to drop out of school to care for siblings, while parents/caregivers participate in livelihoods programmes
  • Ensure safety in the workplace by providing training, briefings, fire alarms, protective clothing and first-aid kits where necessary
  • Ensure that those working in livelihoods programmes have signed up to and been trained in a code of conduct or child safeguarding policy

Reduce risk of exacerbating existing protection risks 

  • Ensure that there are safe and well-lit access routes to work sites
  • Avoid increasing child labour or trafficking; ensure that participation in income generation respects national laws on the minimum employment age
  • Be aware of the potential for access to livelihoods programmes to increase household tensions where one member’s involvement in the programme changes the balance of economic power
  • Where possible, include local host populations in livelihoods programmes to mitigate possible tensions

Ensure children’s access to assistance 

Make sure the most at-risk children are accessing services

  • Work with child protection actors to ensure that livelihoods programmes include households where children are particularly at risk. This may include:
    • children in residential care
    • those who have lost one or more caregiver
    • child caregivers/child-headed households
    • children on the street
    • children with disabilities

Adapt programming to remove barriers to access

  • Consider including safety-net measures such as unconditional cash transfers or food distributions for households that cannot benefit from work programmes, such as people with disabilities or with caring responsibilities
  • Design strategies that are flexible and can accommodate new families as well as adjustments in methodology
  • Design specific interventions for older adolescents such as skills training, savings schemes and apprenticeships
  • Facilitate participation by those who are caring for young children by providing childcare facilities or supporting community childcare mechanisms
  • Be aware of traditional stereotypes around appropriate work for particular genders or groups, and seek to enable beneficiaries to have a choice of what kind of work to do and to have equal access to the most economically promising activities

Include feedback and participation

  • Engage communities in planning and promoting the intervention
  • Set up an accessible and confidential complaints and feedback mechanism

Respond effectively and appropriately to incidents of abuse

  • Make sure that staff know how and when to refer cases of abuse, linking survivors to appropriate support services
  • Refer cases of children performing work that may be hazardous or harmful to specialised organisations

Strengthen systems and help children to claim their rights

  • Staff should be able to signpost other services, including legal services to respond to incidents of abuse, if required
  • Where missing documentation is a barrier to accessing economic opportunities, assist people to secure or replace documentation directly or through referral to appropriate agencies

Monitor and evaluate

Consider the safety of the affected population and potential negative impacts on girls and boys specifically as a sub-objective of each intervention. Monitor the impact of interventions:

  • Is there any correlation between family unity and economic recovery interventions?
  • Is there any correlation between access to education, rates of child labour, and economic recovery interventions?

Sample objectives and indicators:

  • % of economic recovery projects where child safety and wellbeing, including family unity, are reflected in design, monitoring and evaluation
  • % Staff who have signed and been trained on a basic child safeguarding policy

Key references, standards and guidelines

These guidelines are based on:

And additional guidelines and resources listed here

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