Research Assistants Sri Lanka

Proactive case detection for children in need of psychosocial care


War Child Holland (WCH) is an independent and impartial international non-governmental organization investing in a peaceful future for children and young people affected by armed conflict. We strive to empower children and young people while enabling adults to bring about positive and lasting change in the lives of conflict affected children and young people. In the next five years (2016 – 2020), based on innovation of our approaches, and solid research of our outcomes and impact, War Child aims to evolve towards a globally renowned and recognised expert organisation in the field of psychosocial well-being of children and youth affected by conflict.

The Project

One of our research projects is focusing on the development of a tool to better understand which children and families might be in need for additional psychosocial care to improve access to these services.

A group of selected and trusted members of the community “Community Supporters”, who are closely connected to children/families in the selected communities will be trained in the use of this tool. The tool gives a series of vignettes (fictional case stories) and illustrations, which describe children and families experiencing clusters of emotional, behavioural and relationship issues. The selected and trained Community Supporters will be asked whether any of the children and families they see in their daily routine match the vignettes and illustrations. After positive identification (a “match” with the tool), the community member will approach the family of the child and support help seeking in a professional way. They will invite the family for an assessment done by trained War Child/partner staff counsellor to assess the needs of the child or family, and to refer the children/families to relevant available services.

The Research

Before implementing the tool, War Child Holland would like to test out whether such a tool is effective in increasing access to relevant and available care for children and/or families. The first phase of the research project will be implemented in the Northern Province and is focusing on the accuracy of the tool; hence, we are trying to answer the question: “How accurate is the tool used by community members in recommending the right children/families in the community for extra help?” This will be done by a comparison of the detection tool outcomes done by the Community Supporters, with the outcomes of an already validated clinical interview (done by a small group of local senior counsellors) and a short questionnaire done by a research assistant. For this last part: support in general data collection and conducting the short questionnaire – we are looking for a five research assistants.

The purpose of this part-time job is to assist in the successful completion of phase 1 of the research project in the Northern Province. Your main task is approaching the families of the identified children after being introduced by the community member, conducting informed consent with the parents/caregivers, do a quick screener, set an appointment with the senior counsellor and conduct the short questionnaire with the parent/caregiver or with the child. Therefore, you will be the main focal point for both the community members using the tool and the families.

Prior to this project, you will be offered a 5-day mandatory training in basic research concepts, interviewing skills, ethics related to research, data collection instruments used in this research, data collection and data management. During the research project, you will be offered on the job mentoring by a Research Coordinator.

Your profile

  • You have completed or nearly completed a bachelor-level degree in the Health Sciences (Medicine, Nursing, Public Health) or Behavioural and Social Sciences (Psychology, Anthropology, Social Work, Counselling) or a related field
  • You are fluent in Tamil, both spoken and written
  • You have strong English language skills (desirable)
  • You are able and willing to travel with other research assistants to other (remote) villages in the Northern Province, Sri Lanka
  • You have some previous experience in assisting in field research or monitoring and evaluation, preferably with human participants in a relevant field (i.e. psychosocial support, education, and/or child protection).
  • You are open-minded; you have a non-judgmental attitude and demonstrated interpersonal skills, including ability to discuss difficult topics with sensitivity and respect.
  • Flexibility is required, especially after school hours.

Key duties and responsibilities

(1) Focal point for community members and identified families/children

  • You will be available for an introduction session in the participating communities.
  • Once a community member has identified a child/family – they will contact you
  • You will visit the village and the community member will introduce you to the identified family
  • You will approach families in an open, polite, non-judgmental, and non-forceful manner for informed consent/assent procedures

(2) Consent process

  • After introduction you will conduct informed consent procedures with parent/caregiver and assent procedure with children, in which study information is provided and potential research participants are given a choice to participate or not.
  • In case of approval, you will do a quick screener for eligibility and coordinate with the Research Coordinator to set an appointment date with the senior counsellors.
  • You provide information about the location and the date/time and support the family, and where needed you remind the family and support them to access the appointment.
  • You will conduct a short questionnaire with the child or with the parent/caregiver (depended on the age).

(3) Data collection

  • You will maintain full adherence to ethical standards and child safeguarding policies while working with families and children.
  • You will collect detection administration forms weekly from the community members.
  • You administer and conduct the spoken short questionnaire (the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire) one-to-one with children (and/or parents).
  • You will record additional data from these conversations by taking notes.
  • Ensure the safety and confidentiality of data collected.

(4) Preparing data for analysis

You are responsible for safe transportation of collected data from the area where data was collected to the place where it will be stored. In this period, Research Assistants make sure no data is lost or damaged and coordinate with the Research Coordinator when he/she can collect the data from you.

(5) Training, supervision and reporting

  • You participate in a 5-day research training and refresher training as required.
  • You participate in regular supervision meetings as required.
  • You report any adverse events promptly.


The Research Assistants will report directly to the Research Coordinator based in Sri Lanka.


LKR 1.500 per working day.

Number of days/hours

  • Training: 5 day full time training from 09:00AM– 04:00PM
  • Community Introduction: 1 half day
  • Data collection: 3 to 4 months, 5 half days a week depended on availability of families and children (after school hours).

Commencement date

  • Availability required for 5 full time days between the end of January and beginning of February 2019
  • Data collection, half-days, is expected to take place from beginning of February until May 2019 (to be confirmed)

How to apply

Interested and qualified candidates are invited to apply before 04-01-2019. Make sure to send your motivation letter and resume to

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

The safety of children is essential to War Child. War Child does not tolerate or accept any form of abuse. This subject is addressed in our recruitment and selection procedures.