The Irie Homes Toolbox
Reducing levels of child abuse and inadequate care continues to be an ongoing challenge in the region. Transforming the interactions between caregivers and children into stimulating and positive experiences is an excellent step towards the creation of a secure and stimulating environment for the comprehensive development of younger children. However, parents and caregivers often do not have the timely information that is critical to ensuring that the spaces and interactions in the household are adequate. The Irie Homes Toolbox program is an innovation because it has adapted an existing program – the Irie Classroom Toolbox – that provides training for parents in building positive relationships with their children. In addition, the intervention is low-cost and can be integrated into the educational system and delivered by the staff at educational centers.
In the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, severe punishment of children starting at an early age continues to be widespread. Transforming the interactions in the household from punishment to stimulation and affectionate care is key to ensuring the comprehensive development of children, but there is still a lack of services to train parents and caregivers in these practices.
This intervention offers training for parents conducted in nursery schools. The training aims to help parents build positive relationships with their children (the importance of playing, involving children in daily activities, understanding emotions) and prevent bad behavior (promoting the independence and autonomy of children, giving clear instructions, imposing rules and expectations, understanding the reasons why the child is not behaving well). The program also includes a component on the management of bad behavior (reorienting children, defining limits and appropriate consequences) and a component on games and interactive activities. The intervention is delivered by nursery school staff in one-hour sessions during eight weeks. Each session addresses a new concept and introduces a new game. In addition, the parents receive materials to interact with their children in the home.
Evaluation and Impact
An evaluation of the program was carried out using a random assignment experiment (in progress). A group of 108 parents was randomly assigned to receive the intervention, and a control group of 108 parents did not receive the training on care practices. The results of interest regard the use of severe punishment by parents and the use of positive child-rearing practices. Secondary results are child development, the presence of difficulties in school, and the socio-emotional behavior of the children.