Systems Maps

Through our research, we have begun to understand the almost endless number of factors that influence children’s outcomes - from the individual child’s genes to a nation’s policy - and the complex ways in which they interact. Drawing a comprehensive picture of how these factors interact is an almost impossible task as the complexity of their interactions forms an intractable web of changing and contextually-specific conditions.

At the same time, our research has shown us how reinforcing risks form negative cascades, highlighting the urgent need to tackle risks in order to mitigate not only against adverse outcomes for the child, but for the system as a whole.

The diagrams below are a first attempt at mapping the most relevant factors to co-discover the leverage points with which we can begin to change the system together.


Mapping Hidden Drivers

This map highlights the risk factors that impact on childhood development and outcomes and links to the literature reviews and research.

Mapping Systems around Childhood environment


The map highlights two core sets of elements which impact on children’s outcomes, and within each of these sets there are stacks of domains. 


Contextual Elements that control the system, Regulation & Policy, Economy, Culture, Norms and Technology, Direct influences, Children, Home, Services, Urban Environment and History


The nature of complex systems means a lot of these areas are connected and create feedback loops on each other. Some of the key links identified during the workshop have been highlighted and used to create areas for change that are needed which correspond with potential investment areas. There will be more loops, connections and factors which we would invite you to add and debate with us to make this as rich as possible, so please get in touch with additions or suggestions via our contact page.

Mapping Opportunities for 21st Century Children

This map highlights domains and  opportunities for the interventions based on analysis of future trends and drivers.



Large format printable versions of these maps are available to download from our resource bank. It is recommended that they are printed in A0 format for readability.