Despite significant policy commitments to external resources reaching vulnerable children through communities, little information is available on what happens to these resources particularly as they enter, and flow through, the community. This study explored the related experiences, concerns and suggestions of two critical groups of stakeholders, whose voices are rarely heard: leaders of community initiatives and caregivers. Data were collected in Uganda in one subcounty each in four representative districts, from all 108 initiatives active in the subcounties and from 546 sampled households with orphaned children. Fifty-two per cent of households had received external support, with female-headed households more successful than male-headed households. Only 36% of children said to need external help had accessed the help required. Children of primary school age (44%) were more likely to have received support than those of secondary age (34%) or too young for school (18%). There was no difference by gender. Assistance had been targeted primarily at children rather than families. Inequitable targeting meant that resources failed to reach many children, particularly those in greater need. Poor coordination contributed to this - external initiatives intervened wherever they chose, whereas local initiatives depended upon self-motivation. The processes to apply for resources were problematic for many, favouring established organizations over less formal initiatives. There was dissatisfaction with disbursement delays, unrealistically tight timeframes and some initiatives' dependability and trustworthiness. Community initiatives were shown to be effective in reaching some vulnerable children, but many children had not been reached. Local government structures responsible for vulnerable children should be strengthened through committing sustained resources and developing technical skills. There should also be a national charter for all actors that sets out a framework of good practice in responding to the specific needs of vulnerable children, and defines partnerships among actors, spelling out mutual rights, responsibilities and expectations.
Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, 5: 2
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