Publication Date
Publication Date: 
June 1, 2014

"This edition explores the approaches and evidence for the effectiveness of a range of programmes that have been developed to educate and support parents in becoming more responsive to their children."

This edition of the Bernard van Leer Foundation's biannual journal, Early Childhood Matters, addresses the theme of responsive parenting, and, in particular, the potential for responsive parenting programmes to reduce the incidence of violence against young children. Articles examine the state of research, experiences in adapting parenting programmes to new cultural contexts, and the experiences of particular projects, with contributions from Jordan, Jamaica, Canada, the Netherlands, Brazil, Peru, Israel, Turkey, and the United States (US).

Contents include the some of the following communication-related strategies, listed here with article titles and authors:

Value children, cherish parents - Katelyn Hepworth - This editorial explains and explores the role of parenting in the lives of children as it briefly outlines the contents of the issue. Many of the communication-related descriptions below are from the editorial: "The articles in the coming pages explore the approaches and evidence for the effectiveness of a range of programmes that have been developed to educate and support parents in becoming more responsive to their children."

A randomised evaluation of the Better Parenting Programme in Jordan - Suha M. Al-Hassan and Jennifer E. Lansford - This evaluation gives results on a programme “providing parents with essential information about best parenting practices and development.” Designed  on the basis of a national knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) survey, this parent education programme trains facilitators (using facilitators’ manuals including session guides, printed booklets, flip charts, audio-visual materials, posters, parent activity sheets, and recommended take-home reading materials for the participants) to implement a programme of 3-4 sessions.

A responsive parenting intervention in Istanbul - Gaye Ugurlu - This article discusses a Turkish programme involving various activities to develop responsive parenting, such as mother support groups, father support groups, therapeutic play groups with children, seminars about communication and childrearing, and psychological counselling through a public centre that provides other social services. Qualitative feedback suggests "that the project overall had a positive effect on participants - making them more confident and content, and improving family relationships and sharing of responsibilities."

Parent’s Place: how responsive parenting helps children exposed to violence in Israel - Ruth Pat-Horenczyk, Dafna Ba-Gad, Liz Yung, Sarit Schramm-Yavin, and Danny Brom - As stated here: "Parents play a major role in the development of play and playfulness. In the aftermath of a traumatic event, parents are powerful mediators of the events...." Through play and therapy sessions, the programme aims to mitigate the effects of political violence, based upon evidence showing the importance of the mother-child relationship and the mother’s adaptation and coping ability as they affect children’s adjustment. The Parent's Place programme, including one of parent-child dyads, includes the following elements:

  • "a parent-child playgroup aimed at enhancing joint play and playfulness [through music, craft, drama and movement, including a parents hand-out with a relational or developmental message - also given on a decorative magnet - and a summary of activities, song lyrics, and an ex[planation of content]
  • training for educational staff on coping with stress and enhancing resilience
  • a parental therapy group in collaboration with the local psychological services bi-weekly question-and-answer sessions with the local project coordinator for parents and staff, addressing personal issues and questions regarding parenting issues
  • monthly lectures provided by professionals and experts, discussing issues of parenting and child development, which are open to the general public."

Local Roots: social work in a violent community in Brazil - Claudia Cabral and Fernanda Collart Villa - The Raízes Locais programme, created by the Associação Brasileira Terra dos Homens, uses interviews (both with individual members of the family and combinations of members, such as couples, parents with children, etc.), home visits, parent groups, and networking with social services. The article presents case studies of how the programme works with a variety of individuals who access various services and supports.

YouthBuild in Brazil: how construction training can improve parenting - Katia Edmundo, Rogeria Nunes, Tamara Jurberg Salgado, and Laurie Bennett - "...YouthBuild International and CEDAPS [Centre for Health Promotion] are training young people for careers in construction. The Bernard van Leer Foundation supports the programme as it also prepares the young participants to be responsive and responsible parents. This article discusses how... including applied basic education classes; counselling; programmes on self-awareness, teamwork and drug abuse prevention; technical skills training including health and safety and workers’ rights; and placement and support services (into jobs, self-employment, or continuing education and training.) For young people going into the building trades, ‘community asset building’ (CAB) offers work-based education necessary for employment...."

Improving home environments in the Andes to prevent violence against children - Patricia Ames - "Allin Wiñanapaq programme in Peru...set out to improve young children’s health by improving their living conditions; an evaluation also found an impact on the prevalence of violence and child maltreatment, as it seems that better living space made parents less stressed and improved the responsiveness of their parenting." In part, the project worked on child development with parents, guiding families in improving play spaces for children. "[T]he Bernard van Leer Foundation commissioned the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (Institute for Peruvian Studies, IEP) to conduct research to gather further information...", finding possible shifting of opinion away from "finding more severe forms of violence acceptable", reducing child neglect, and fighting within families.

Reaching out to fathers: ‘what works’ in parenting interventions? - Adrienne Burgess - An article by the Fatherhood Institute "explains the importance and challenges of also reaching out to fathers, who have a significant role in reducing the risk of exposure to violence or child maltreatment." It describes ten programmes that engaged with fathers and either been found to reduce abusive parenting or to have clear potential for doing so. Many are men-only (single sex) interventions.

An interview with David Willis: ‘Be guided by the evidence’ - Dave Willis, director of the US-based Home Visiting and Early Childhood Systems, "outlines the challenges and explains the need for research and evaluation to better understand which components are most effective in which contexts."

The Madres a Madres Programme - Nancy G. Guerra - This article describes the adaption for a distinct population - Latino immigrants in the US - of a programme on parenting, beyond linguistic translation, taking into consideration cultural differences. The programme trained lay community health workers (promotoras) "as coaches rather than experts" for home visits.

Adaptation and evaluation of the Nurse-Family Partnership in Canada - Susan M. Jack and Harriet L. MacMillan - This article analyses the adaptation of the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), an evidence-based nurse home visiting programme implemented across the US, to a pilot programme in Canada, highlighting the need to pilot before taking programmes to scale.

An interview with Klaas Kooijman on the Nederlands Jeugdinstituut (Netherlands Youth Institute)'s efforts bringing the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) model to the Netherlands. Here, the project has been implemented and evaluated with randomised controlled trails (RCTs) and is now being taken to scale.

Parenting for Lifelong Health: from South Africa to other low-and middle-income countries - Catherine L. Ward, Christopher Mikton, Lucie Cluver, Peter Cooper, Frances Gardner, Judy Hutchings, Jamie McLaren Lachman, Lynne Murray, Mark Tomlinson, and Inge M. Wessels - Looking at areas such as cultural differences and cost, this South African group "has undertaken to test a number of parenting programmes that will be appropriate for low- and middle-income countries. South Africa is serving as the cradle in which these are initially developed." The objective of the work is to create a toolkit of effective parenting programmes piloted in multiple low- and middle-income countries.

Building the evidence on violence prevention against children in low- and middle-income countries - Sara Bensaude De Castro Freire and Sarah Sommer - The Children and Violence Evaluation Challenge Fund connects non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with "research institutions to better understand the impact of violence prevention programmes, and will disseminate the results of the evaluations to inform policies and practices in the field... [The f]und will implement a systematic dissemination and communication strategy. It is a critical element of the programme to ensure that the results of the evaluations are made available to relevant practitioners and policymakers, and eventually translated into improved programmes and policies."

MAMA: use of mobile messaging to promote responsive parenting - Tara Morazzini - This text message-based programme "has capitalised on existing networks and infrastructure, in this case telecommunications. The organisation has created text messages that provide pregnant and new mothers with important information on health and nutrition, eliminating some of the issues of access in rural areas." [See Related Summaries below.]

Jamaica’s National Parenting Support Policy: origins and early implementation - Maureen Samms-Vaughan and Rebecca Tortello - The evolution of Jamaican public policy supporting parents and providing parenting programmes, including the importance of evidence to inform decision makers about what types of policies are needed, is the topic of this article,  presenting the current policy and examining  specific challenges for implementation.

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