OPM was commissioned by UNICEF to carry out a thematic study focusing on assessing the capacity of child care and social protection systems in the CEE/CIS region to provide adequate support to the most vulnerable children and their families, prevention of child and family separation being one of the key indicators. The study focused on three country case studies: Albania, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, each representing a sub-region. The study was largely qualitative in nature, focusing primarily on the actual experiences of children and families with regard to access to and effectiveness of social protection benefits and services. In addition to looking into the appropriateness and effectiveness of particular interventions, a special area of interest is to assess the effectiveness of the combination of cash assistance and services and to what extent they were planned and work well together to meet needs. The study involved a desk review and fieldwork in each of the three countries, which included interviews with a range of stakeholders at national level and in selected regions, and focus groups with a range of children and families identified as either currently receiving cash assistance and services, or identified as being at risk and potentially in need of them. Recommendations based on findings from the research aimed at improving access to and impact of cash assistance and services and identifying entry points where UNICEF could influence these improvements.