Session Submission Summary

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Beliefs & Practices on Play in Serbia & Zambia

Thu, March 7, 9:00 to 10:30am, Zoom Rooms, Zoom Room 101

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session


Play and communication are crucial elements of early childhood development (ECD), starting at birth and throughout the first three years of a child’s life. The World Health Organization recognizes play as part of its Nurturing Care Framework, which shapes policy and priorities for ECD programming around the world, alongside health and nutrition. Parenting programs can help ensure that play is integrated into the nurturing environment for the child, providing caregivers with the support, guidance, and resources needed to foster responsiveness to the needs of the child, and equipping them with the tools they need to help their children’s brain development, healthy growth and socialization. While parenting programs have been around for decades, much remains to be understood about how they can best integrate play and communication into routine service provision for parents, and how they effectively sustain such practices at scale. Providers who deliver parenting programs to promote playing and talking with young children are central to its success. In many cases, they initially have the same view of play and its role in mental development as parent beneficiaries. Training and continuous capacity building and support of providers of parenting programs are necessary to ensure that play is fully embedded in the environment surrounding every child. Further, to see the full benefit of parenting programs on child development, it is important to ensure that parents fully absorb the importance of play and communication, and internalize evidence-based practices to child rearing and responsive stimulation.
These two linked panels will bring out the latest implementation research on parenting programs in four different country contexts, seeking to build out the knowledge base on how play and responsive stimulation and communication for children ages 0-3 can be infused into support for caregivers in Bhutan, Rwanda, Serbia and Zambia. The programs offer broad opportunities for learning, as they engage a diversity of the types frontline providers engaging with families, ranging from health professionals to paraprofessionals to community-based volunteers; as well as a diversity of modalities for delivering the support to caregivers, such as a series of home visits or a series of group sessions with groups of parents learning together. They also vary in their approach to training and supervision of the frontline providers, and the intensity of the parenting interventions that the providers are expected to deliver. This diversity of models and approaches offers an opportunity to examine the differences in the beliefs and practices around parenting that are held by both the providers (health professionals and volunteers), and the caregivers who have been the beneficiaries of the parenting programs.
The panels will be structured as follows. Each panel will focus on two parenting programs which are part of a playful parenting portfolio of work: 1) Bhutan and Rwanda; and 2) Serbia and Zambia. It is our intention that both panels be linked and scheduled back to back, for the full benefit of conference attendees interested in ECD and parenting solutions. Each panel will be structured similarly, but focus on the country contexts and parenting programs in the two countries featured.
The first presentation will present the latest data on knowledge, beliefs and behaviors around parenting and play from providers and caregivers. The data on providers’ knowledge and beliefs will come from several rounds of provider surveys, administered in all four countries, to samples of 150 providers per round, per country, to successive cohorts of trained providers (total of ~450 providers per country). Data on providers’ practices in supporting caregivers, and the quality of their support, will be sourced from direct observations of their home visiting sessions with parents, or from their group counseling sessions with parents, whichever modality is used by the parenting program in question. Direct observations were administered ~50-60 providers in each country, over 2-3 rounds, amounting to 120-180 observation per country. The caregiver knowledge and beliefs will be drawn from caregiver surveys and assessments of caregiver-child interaction in each country, using the HOME questionnaire and the observation of the home environment.
The two subsequent presentations in each panel will describe the programs in the two countries featured in the panel: Prescription to Play in Bhutan and Sugira Muryango in Rwanda, and Care for Child Development in Serbia & Zambia. The program presentations, in combination with data on what changes in beliefs and practices they spur, will provide the audience with a rounded out understanding of the realities of implementing parenting programs at scale in different contexts.

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