Role: Houston U-Report Consultant
Location: Houston, TX
Employment Type: Consultancy
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. UNICEF USA supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org. Background of Assignment
Hurricane Harvey had a devastating impact on Houston and surrounding areas. Poor, marginalized and socio-economically disadvantaged communities are particularly vulnerable to the after effects of a natural disaster such as Harvey. Children are the most vulnerable in any disaster.
Though Houston-area children started the fall 2017 school year after several weeks of delay, many are still in unfamiliar home and learning environments, and have gone without the comforts and routines they are accustomed to. Numerous children who were displaced from their homes may have been exposed to distressing or traumatic events during and after the storm. Research shows that the need for mental health-related training and services in the aftermath of a natural disaster is most acute in the three year period following the event ― the “storm after the storm.”
HISD provides some mental health care, primarily in the form of risk screening and triage throughout its schools. Yet, there are an estimated 14,000 children in Houston who cannot access mental health services because of insufficient capacity, unavailability of services, expense of services, lack of knowledge about available programs, and fears of deportation.
Given the magnitude of the storm’s effects on children, coupled with existing gaps in children’s access to mental health care, distressed and traumatized children and families affected by Hurricane Harvey need a system of care and support that includes evidence-based assessment, treatment, and training — along with the dissemination of trauma- and bereavement-informed, developmentally attuned, and culturally appropriate information. This intervention must address the traumatic elements of the hurricane/floods, as well as potential trauma- and grief-related issues stemming from traumatic bereavement that may have thus far been overlooked.
The Office of the Mayor of Houston, Mental Health America (MHA) of Greater Houston’s Center for School Behavioral Health, the Trauma and Grief Center for Youth at Texas Children’s Hospital, UNICEF USA and other local partners in the Hurricane Harvey Relief and Recovery Consortium will use U-Report in Houston to serve as a digital, real-time communication platform to send and receive information to and from children affected by Hurricane Harvey to raise awareness on the signs and symptoms of distress/trauma, publicize where and how children can gain access to mental health services, address stigma around the provision of mental health care, and hold elected leaders in Texas accountable to children’s mental health needs.
U-Report is a social monitoring tool designed for youth and other community members to strengthen community-led development, citizen engagement and access to and use of real-time monitoring and participation platforms. It allows youth to speak out via Facebook, SMS and other channels – through polls and unsolicited messages – on what is happening in their communities. It provides a forum to amplify their voices through local and national media and acts as a citizen-sourced, real-time data point for key stakeholders, service providers and decision-makers about the issues being faced in communities.
The platform also feeds back useful information to the U-Report participants so they are empowered to work for change and improvements in their localities themselves.
U-Report is based on a global model that has been successfully deployed in over 40 countries reaching over 4.8 million young people globally. The technology for this platform has already been developed (www.rapidpro.io) and structures are in place to support the development of a Houston U-Report system.
Consultancy to carry out U-Report in Houston
The consultant is expected to develop a U-Report strategy for Houston and scale up the initiative among local partners with a concrete plan to reach communities, gather relevant information, and use it to empower local Houston partners to mental health issues for children as well as use this information to exert influence on local, state and national stakeholders as part of a larger governance and accountability strategy.
He/she is also expected to ensure that information collected feeds into implementing partners’ larger program and advocacy initiatives, to support an evidence-based approach to their programs and Texas elected leaders’ policies and initiatives.
Scope of Work (Assignment)
- Develop a Houston U-Report strategy
- Adapt U-report to local needs, implement, test, and launch it as soon as possible; including setting up and coordinating a technical steering committee.
- Assist in setting up the U-report website including setting up of sub-thematic technical groups of respondents
- Create Standard Operating Procedures to be followed by all users of the U-Report platform
- Create a Roadmap of integrating U-report into common/shared initial set of priorities that are in line with key partner priorities
- Assist in setting up media launch of U-Report – working with the UNICEF Global Innovations Center and UNICEF USA, design awareness raising and advocacy plan to run communication campaigns across all media outlets as appropriate and locally relevant (such as social, print, radio and TV, as well as strategies for reaching venues of community activism and dialogue)
- Monitoring, analysis and evaluation aspects of the U-Report roll-out process
- Conduct the training for the trainers (ToTs) of partner’s focal points on the utilization of U-report at partner premises
- Evaluate partner usage of U-report and understanding incentives and constraints involved between high level users and low level users.
- Set up a system to ensure that the information collected via U-report is available to steering committee and other stakeholders to guide their activities;
- Train and Mentor partners;
- Ensure that project deliverables are provided on time and on budget;
- Work directly with mobile operators/third party to procure short code and negotiate SMS across all network providers
Expected Deliverables & Work Schedule:
1 U-report strategy and documentation (guidelines, SOPs, road map) April 2018
2 Partners are trained and in place to drive content on U-Report; steering committee established and operational May 2018
3 U-report website up and running June 2018
4 U-report media campaign launched June 2018
5 Awareness raising and advocacy plan in place June 2018
6 Follow-up training of partners and recruitment of U-Reporters July 2018
7 Continued management and administration of the program and coordination with partners Through March 2019
U-Report fully adapted and being used by various partners in the Houston area.
Background and experience
Qualifications or specialized knowledge/experience required.
It is required that the program coordinator has:
- At least four-five years of experience in supporting and coordinating project activities across a large organization and with other international partner organizations
- Progressively responsible professional work experience in communication, education, and technology fields, some of which should be in an international setting
- A Master’s degree (or equivalent experience) in International Development, Business Administration, or another related field
- A strong understanding of UNICEF programs, policy, and human rights and development principles, including knowledge of communication, technology, user-centered design, youth participation and partnership goals, as well as sound interpretation and judgment to present these programs and policies in a way that enhances UNICEF’s image
- Knowledge of current trends in youth participation and new media, as well as a good understanding of development issues, world affairs and current events
- Proven ability to manage relationships with UNICEF partners, including youth coalitions, universities, intellectual leaders, UN organizations, NGOs and the private sector
- Proven skills in communication, networking, strategic thinking, advocacy, negotiation, and ability to relate this to new media and young people
- Proven ability to conceptualize, plan and execute ideas as well as to transfer knowledge and skills
- Proven capacity to work with and lead collaborative teams across different locations and with different technical skills
- Experience managing projects with strong technology components
- Strong writing and communication skills and the aptitude to handle competing messages and priorities with multiple audiences
- Experience working in complex, resource poor contexts is a plus
- Very good interpersonal skills, skilled at persuading, influencing, relating and networking
- Creative, innovative thinker who can also translate ideas into practical applications
Official travel involved. The consultant may be required to travel periodically between Houston and New York.
Line of reporting
The consultant will report to the UNICEF USA Vice President of Humanitarian Emergencies and is required to provide weekly status updates and monthly progress reports.
Consultant will be primarily working from home with periodic access to the Houston office of UNICEF USA and will use their own laptop and telephone.
Nature of penalty clause to be stipulated in contract
Failure to produce quality work within the agreed time frame will result in non-payment.
How to Apply
Visit here to view this consultancy post, detailed deliverables/payment plan and to apply.
Please include a cover letter and resume or CV.
Must possess current and valid US Work Authorization and be eligible to work for any US employer without sponsorship.
Due to the high volume of applications received, only those selected for an interview will be contacted.
UNICEF USA is committed to creating a diverse environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply.