Current Project

From research to practice: Enabling caregivers in low-income communities to make a difference in the first three years

Program: Education and Youth Empowerment

The first 1000 days of life are a critical period to supporting optimal growth and development as children are particularly sensitive to early experiences. One of these early experiences, parenting behaviour, should ideally be typified by the universal components of sensitivity and responsivity. However, in many urban informal settlements, the most salient poverty-related challenge that parents face is the provision of appropriate stimulation of their children. And yet inadequate stimulation is one of the most modifiable risk factors.

Past interventions in informal settlements in Kenya have mainly been targeted at improving nutritional status and provision of primary and other health care services among under-fives. This study will therefore address the gap illustrating the extent to which current caregiver-child interaction activities can provide the basis of a child stimulation package.

Secondly, we will test the stimulation package for its ability to enhance caregivers’ interactions with their young children in ways that will improve developmental outcomes. A sequential mixed-methods research strategy will be used where qualitative data will inform the design of a stimulation package that will be quantitatively tested. Using a randomized controlled design, we will assign each of two groups of caregiver-child dyads into either the intervention or a waitlist control group during the implementation phase. Documenting family-specific interactions to inform the content and process of a child stimulation package is an important innovation that enhances the significance of the current study for the field of early childhood development.

The study duration of the entire project is nine months, including a one-month development phase and a twelve-week randomized implementation phase.

Project Period: 

June 2016 to August 2017

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