Catholic Relief Services

OVC Wellbeing Tool



A goal of programs to help orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) is to improve wellbeing. Yet measuring wellbeing has proven to be an elusive concept for many engaged in OVC programming. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) places an agency priority on OVC programming and has aimed to find a way to measure the wellbeing of OVC in a holistic manner. Using a scientific process, CRS developed an OVC Wellbeing Tool (OWT) for use as a self-report measure for OVC aged 13-18. The tool was created by Shannon Senefeld, Susan Strasser and James Campbell, with significant input from Dorothy Brewster-Lee, Kristin Weinhauer, Ruth Kornfield, Linda Lovick, Ana Maria Ferraz, and Rolando Figueroa. For a more complete list, see the Acknowledgments page. The tool was piloted in Haiti, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia. Data has now been collected on thousands of OVC using the CRS OWT. Advanced statistical analyses suggest that this is a valid and reliable tool for measuring wellbeing among OVC. This resource contains everything you need to use the OWT.


See more at: Catholic Relief Services OVC Wellbeing Tool

CRS Documents

OVC Wellbeing Tool (User’s Guide 2009): Based on the data collected within this pilot, advanced statistical analyses, along with feedback from the pilot countries further served to refine the OWT. Presently, the tool is 36 questions long and takes approximately 20 minutes to administer. Scoring can be done immediately or via a computer program. Results are used to monitor OVC programs over time.

OVC Wellbeing Tool Scoring Guide: The OWT is a relatively easy tool to score. Each of the ten domain responses are averaged according to the responses on the statements within that domain. Note that there are seven statements in the tool that need to be reverse coded for scoring before averaging the domain scores. Each domain therefore receives an average score within the range of 1 to 3. The ten domain scores are then added together to create the total wellbeing score. The final score can thus range from a low of 10 to a high of 30.

It is important to examine the overall OWT scores according to the local context. In some cases, certain settings will have an overall lower mean score on the OWT than others. This may be due to a number of different factors (recent natural disaster, larger number of double orphans, etc.). In order to fully examine whether the children in that area are improving or not, it is better to calculate the overall mean for that area and then compare the children to that mean. For example, if children in Village A had a mean OWT score of 24 with a standard deviation of 3, the program would want to look carefully at those children that fell more than one standard deviation from the calculated mean. This contextual examination of OWT scores provides the best systematic method of understanding what the data means from one setting to the next.

Scoring and Interpretation

Despite possible contextual variations, it is possible to make some general statements regarding wellbeing overall and the OWT scores. Based on the pilot data from OVC in five countries, highly desirable scores are 25 or above. However, it is relatively rare to find baseline scores at this level. Instead, scores often center around 23, which are interpreted to mean that overall wellbeing is average, with room to improve wellbeing in certain domains. Based on research within the pilot, the authors recommend that special attention be paid to programs when the wellbeing nears 22 or below, as this may signify deficits within certain domains. Scores below 15 require immediate action to determine if there was an error in response or if there is a problem affecting the children that needs to be addressed. 


Scoring Syntax