Counting street children: headcounting methodology
Street children exist in every country in the world, yet the lack of systematically collected and disaggregated data means we do not know how many there are. Estimates fluctuate according to the methodologies and definitions used that reflect socioeconomic, political, or other conditions. This means that current methods of counting street children are often unreliable and incomplete.
The lack of standard methodology for counting them results in data which is contested and which lacks credibility. The absence of this data makes these children invisible, which leads to policies not being developed or measures that are ad hoc, temporary or short-term.
Action is urgently needed, and StreetInvest’s observational Headcount methodology was recognised as a sector standard by the Consortium for Street Children in 2015.
This methodology seeks to provide a standardised, scalable, rights-respecting approach to collecting quantitative data on the number of street-connected children in a specified geographical location. This data can be disaggregated by age, gender, disability and activities. The analysis and dissemination of this data is to inform the design of policies and programmes for street-connected children.
Since it was developed, StreetInvest has been directly involved in headcounts in India, Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia (commissioned by UNICEF), Tanzania and two nationwide headcounts in Sierra Leone. The first of these in 2011 was the first-ever national headcount of street-connected children.
Detailed statistics have been collected on over 100,000 street-connected children and young people, and over 250 practitioners have received StreetInvest’s headcount training.