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Our approach



We believe children have the right to make their own decisions about their lives.

We aim to empower children with the knowledge and skills to make these choices themselves.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) provides the foundation to our rights-based approach to working with vulnerable children.

Helping children

leave the street and situations of exploitation

Through our family strengthening and reintegration work.

Helping children

build their capacity to protect themselves

Through skills training, building their knowledge on child rights, legal support and counselling.

Helping children

expand the opportunities available to them

Through education, vocational training and tools to start up small businesses.

Our model


We believe the ecology of the child model is the most holistic approach to tackling the issue of street children. We identify aspects of the system which need strengthening at a child level, family level, community level and a society level.

Street children are at risk of potential issues and failures at all of these levels.

Ecology of the child

Child level

Every child needs to know their rights and be supported to be able to demand for these to be upheld. The children and young people we work with know their situation better than anyone, so with further support, they are the best advocates to improve their own and their peers’ lives. Nothing about them without them.

  • Child labour
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Sexual violence and exploitation
  • Gang violence
  • Domestic violence
  • Physical abuse
  • Health risks
  • Illiteracy

Family level

We recognise the best place for a child to flourish is within the care and protection of a safe family environment, so we focus on strengthening families through counselling and economic opportunities, and build their capacity to know their children’s rights, to protect them whilst also providing for their needs.

  • Family conflict
  • Loss of family income
  • Single-parent households
  • Child-headed households
  • Migration
  • Displacement
  • Dysfunctional families

Community level

Supporting local communities that have their own structures to protect children (for example through schools, elders, chiefs etc.). Our partners work to try and remove stigmas and discriminations of street-connected children, which is also key to giving the children a chance for better opportunities in the communities that they live in.

  • Poverty
  • Gang violence
  • Unemployment
  • Gender inequality
  • Social inequality
  • Lack of awareness of child protection
  • Harmful cultural practices

Society level

Working with duty-bearers to improve national and local laws to promote the protection of street-connected children, and build a better understanding for institutions, such as the police and judiciary, to uphold street-connected children’s rights in practice.

  • Lack of birth registration
  • Weak child protection mechanisms, policies and laws
  • Ineffective justice systems
  • Stigmatisation

To have the greatest impact on every level, we work with street children in three separate stages of their journey: prevention; intervention; and reintegration.


Helping children before they end up on the streets.

Vulnerable children and families sometimes need help. Toybox supports projects where the child or family are in danger of becoming reliant on the street. It is easier to help a child before they become deeply dependent to the street meaning our chances of keeping children off the streets are much higher.


Working to support children who are living on the streets.

In a crisis, children and young people on the streets need direct help and they need it quickly. We support children who are living and/or working on the streets with practical and urgent support as well as helping to build their confidence to leave the streets.


Supporting children into a safe home away from the streets.

Children on the streets often need protection from abuse and neglect. Toybox works to trace family members to help children return home and reintegrate with their families and communities. This can also include helping children to access school or learn vocational skills.

Our agile and adaptive approach also allows us to provide additional or reactive support in unique or changing circumstances alongside our programmes.

Emergency response

Adapting to an emergency to provide the support most needed

Emergency situations are terrifying and traumatic for children. Without parents, other family members and a safe home street children are often the most vulnerable in these situations. We take an adaptive and agile approach to our work. This allows us to respond quickly and effectively in an emergency situation ensuring we’re able to provide the support most needed.


Providing support to vulnerable street children living with disability

Many children with disabilites end up on the street due to stigma and rejection from their family or community or because their parents are unable to provide the care they need. For others, it’s their caregiver who has a disability, leaving them on the streets and responsible for the family income. Our global plan sets out our intention to include these children in our programmes. Working with our partners we can help protect and empower them.

Our partners

We believe local organisations are best placed to understand the context, processes and needs of each country. By partnering with these organisations, many of whom are already working with street children, we ensure our project activities can be as successful as possible.

We encourage and faciliate our partners to share the unique aspects of their projects and learn from one another to explore and adapt activites for their location.

Our framework


Children living on the streets regularly face extreme hardships which are unpredictable and constantly changing. Our innovative approach to programme management ensures we’re able to adapt to meet these changes and continue to provide the support most needed.

At the start of a programme, our partners collect baseline data for quarterly reports to be measured against. These reports collate narrative and empirical updates from our partners and the children and families we’re working with.

This allows us to track the number of participants in activities, hold regular reviews and gather case studies. Programmes are evaluated on impact and sustainability in addition to progress and effectiveness. We aim not only capture information on the intended benefits and successes of activities but also the unintended benefits to our work.

Theory of Change for Adaptive Programming

This evidence is used to improve current and future programme planning and implementation using a Theory of Change for Adaptive Programming model (TOCAP).

While a more traditional approach to development would limit our ability to adapt to meet changes in context, incorporating adaptive programming ensures we continue to meet the needs of street children whatever the circumstances.

This agile and iterative methodology ensures we’re constantly testing the assumptions made in our Project Theory of Change, then implementing changes based on what we’ve learned. We then incorporate these learning and successes into our Wider Theory of Change model.

Every street child faces Unique

  • Unpredictable dangers from urban cities
  • Unique family history and social status
  • Unique needs such as healthcare issues

Adaptive Management

At Toybox, we understand ‘Adaptive Management’ as a broad innovative and learning approach that involves the whole organisation, our partners and funders and the communities and children we work with. ‘Adaptive Programming’ of projects is part of this approach which is greatly enhanced by the Adaptive Management of all actors, including communities and children in the projects.

Read about Adaptive Management in practice


At Toybox we are committed to ensuring children and young people in street situations not only have their basic immediate needs met, but that our partner led interventions support them, their peers and families to experience improvements in their lives in the medium and long term. This can take a variety of forms such as focusing on sustainable change, supporting bespoke capacity building of our local partners and also supporting local partners in their advocacy and networking.

See more of the impact we make


Child Participation

At Toybox, we believe it is of fundamental importance to raise the voices of children and young people in street situations. Children have a right to be listened to and taken seriously and should be given the tools to express their opinion about decisions affecting their lives (Article 12, UNCRC).

Find out more


Research and learning are a key part of our programming at Toybox. They allow us to scope out areas of need within the contexts where we work as well as help us to improve our systems and programming with our partners in order to have the greatest impact possible on the lives of children and young people in street situations.

We regularly review areas of research that could give us greater insight into the challenges faced by street children and where we feel more information is needed, we do our own. For some of Toybox’s most recent research, read the follow reports.