Children outside of family care

Export Indicator

The proportion of all children aged 0–17 living outside of family care.
What it measures

To obtain estimates of children living on the streets and in institutions.
This indicator assesses the number of children living outside of traditional households, including homeless children and children living in institutions. There is little information available on children living outside of households because national surveys such as DHS and MICS normally exclude structures that are not considered households.


Number of children aged 0–17 living outside of family care.


All children aged 0–17.

Method of measurement

Survey of children living on the streets, and survey of children living in institutions.
Children living in institutions – A census of institutions that take care of children will need to be conducted. Once the institutions have been identified, all orphaned and vulnerable children living in them are enumerated. A sample of institutions could be used in countries where there are large numbers of children living in institutions. These should, however, be stratified by the type of institution (orphanage, home for the physically disabled, juvenile justice facility, etc.). Homeless children – The methodology for sampling and surveying homeless orphans is more complicated. The main issues are conducting interviews and locating homeless orphans. The method used to locate them involves developing a sampling frame. As children living on the streets are a mobile, ‘floating’ population group, they need to be sampled using the concept of time-location sites, a method of sampling mobile youth populations that minimizes bias and adheres to the tenets of probability sampling. On the grounds that children who sleep in households will be covered in a household survey, it is recommended that the sampling of street children be confined to children who actually slept on the streets the night before the survey. By contacting government officials, NGOs, religious leaders and others who work with them and are knowledgeable about places where they sleep, a sampling frame can be developed. After the selection of time-location sites, the second stage of sampling consists of posting interviewers at the sites for the time interval designated and interviewing all the youth who are present or arrive at the sites during that period. The estimated number of children living on the streets and in institutions is divided by the estimated number of children aged 0–17 from census data to estimate the proportion of children living outside of family care.
See Annex 1 of UNICEF Guide to the Monitoring and Evaluation of the National Response for Children Orphan and made Vulanerable  by HIV/AIDS

Measurement frequency

Age group:

Condom type: N/A

Education: N/A

Gender: N/A

Geographic location: N/A

HIV status: N/A

Pregnancy status: N/A

Sector: N/A

Service Type: N/A

Target: N/A

Time period: N/A

Type of orphan: N/A

Type/Timing of testing: N/A

Vulnerability status: N/A

Explanation of the numerator
Explanation of the denominator
Strengths and weaknesses

Children in formal care in household settings (i.e. orphans placed in community homes with appointed guardians) are at risk of being counted as children in family care. In some places with high epidemic levels, this is becoming an increasingly common phenomenon, in particular, for children who have been orphaned by AIDS. To locate children living on the streets for surveys requires going to the sites where they congregate, visit frequently or sleep. In some instances this might be difficult because the sampling points might be insecure for interviewers.
In a country where many orphans are placed in community homes (households) with appointed guardians, such living arrangements should be included in the count for children living outside of family care. It is important to include the time spent on the streets or in institutions, mobility, etc., among the background variables for children living in institutions or on the streets. These surveys should be done in close collaboration with programmes and seen as an opportunity to collect information for planning and programming purposes.

Further information