Combining coaching for parents with services that meet families’ basic needs.
Our work on Parents+ combines parent coaching in early child development with at least one service designed to meet families’ basic needs – whether aimed at adults (reproductive health, savings groups, literacy, mental health, job training) or children (healthcare, nutrition, childcare, preschool). This can be an efficient way to achieve scale and improve the effectiveness of both the coaching activities and the service in question.
We focus on parents and caregivers because the way they nurture and support children in their early years is among the most decisive factors in healthy child development. While context matters and adaptation is essential, we are trying to mainstream some short-term indicators:
First, on caregiver well-being: if caregivers are not healthy and supported, it is hard for them to remain responsive to children. Programmes should measure some aspect of caregiver mental health, together with some aspect of service utilisation (such as attendance at postnatal visits, use of parks).
Second, on responsive caregiving behaviours: we aim to track at least one key behaviour in each programme. For example, are mums, dads and other caregivers eating healthy food with children? Are they playing more with babies and toddlers? Are they reading to them and telling stories more frequently? Are they finding positive ways to teach toddlers how to express and share their feelings?