Worldwide, the field of child protection in humanitarian settings is undergoing an historic shift toward strengthening child protection systems on a national scale (African Child Policy Forum et al., 2013; Davis, McCaffrey, & Conticini, 2012; UNICEF, UNHCR, & World Vision, 2013; Wulczyn et al., 2010). This approach aims to provide comprehensive child protection supports and promises to invigorate efforts to prevent problems of abuse, violence, exploitation, and neglect regarding children. This systemic approach is important and encouraging, but many challenges have arisen in implementing it. Many efforts at mapping and strengthening child protection systems have been top-down and failed to listen deeply to families and communities or to recognize adequately their contributions to children’s protection and well-being.
A more comprehensive approach to child protection system strengthening is to intermix and balance top-down, bottomup, and middle-out approaches. Top-down approaches help to ensure that governments have the laws, policies, and capacities that are essential in protecting vulnerable children. Bottom-up approaches work from grassroots level upward, feature community action, build on existing community strengths, and stimulate community-government collaboration. Middle-out approaches, which emanate from actors such as city councils that are situated between the national and grassroots levels, embed the child protection agenda in regional centers of power. These three approaches are complementary

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