Children need a safe and caring home to grow up healthy and happy, but this is far from reality for many children in developing countries. Multiple risks include poverty, lack of nurturing and responsive care, poor nutrition and violence. A growing body of research from low-income and middle-income countries shows that parenting programs can be effective for reducing levels of violence against children and promoting optimal child development in low-resource settings. ICS-SP combines evidence-based parenting programs with agribusinesses in rural parts of Africa and has been chosen in recognition of its unique model, to serve as an example of best practice highly relevant for the broader area of child development in deprived rural contexts.
The uniqueness of the Skilful Parenting programme lies in its approach and delivery model. First, it acknowledges the importance of parenting at all stages of child development and is therefore targeted to mothers, fathers and other caregivers with children aged 0-18. Second, the programme starts from local perspectives on parenting and family and builds on community structures for delivery and adaptation. As a result, parents find the program easily accessible, can relate to its content, and recognise its added value. Third, ICS successfully combines Skilful Parenting with it’s agribusiness program. The results are therefore not only increased farmer productivity but also improved family relationships and more equal gender roles.
ICS is a co-founder of the Parenting in Africa Network and has pushed governments, civil society, the private sector and the donor community to prioritise and invest in parent support services. In the past few years, parenting has gained prominence and there is an increasing interest of governments in parenting programmes to prevent violence against children and/or promote early childhood development; in part because of the efforts of ICS and its partners.