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Strategies of parent support through healthcare services in the Caribbean

Without a doubt, early childhood development should be an inter-sectoral policy: boys and girls between 0-5 years of age need to have access to quality health services, nutrition, stimulation, and education. However, there is not enough evidence of viable, effective at-scale programs. One way of scaling up interventions is to integrate them in existing health and nutrition services. The Strategies of parent through healthcare services in the Caribbean generate and evaluate an intervention that can be made part of the visits to pediatric centers. This approach is innovative because it profits from the healthcare service without any additional resources (such as health-center staff or mothers’ time) and because it creates novel contents for the region (such as lessons on possible scaling up and improvements in child-caregiver interactions).


Integrating successful interventions in existing health and nutrition services is no easy task. Articulating different areas is vital to ensure quality services for all children, but this presents a number of challenges yet to be discovered. Still lacking are articulating initiatives and evidence of their effectiveness. In this sense, it is urgent to generate initiatives and knowledge that serve as guides for designing programs and policies.


Give children love and comfort, talk to them, praise them, turn bathing time into a playing and learning experience, and read them books. Making simple toys at home, as well as drawings, games, and jigsaw puzzles are powerful elements and messages that make a big difference in child-caregiver interactions. In this sense, through videos, demonstrations and other practices, the program empowers mothers and fathers who visit healthcare centers to stimulate their boys and girls. The pediatrics center staff has been trained to discuss the messages and videos and to demonstrate how to perform the activities. In addition, mothers are urged to practice and are given materials to take home, such as puzzles and books.

Evaluation and Impact

In order to gauge the program’s effectiveness, an experimental evaluation (random group study) has been conducted. Twenty-nine pediatrics centers were allocated randomly to a control group (15 centers) and to a treatment group (14 centers). The areas evaluated were childhood development, parental knowledge, maternal practices, and extent of stimulation. The analysis found that the program has positive effects on childhood development and on parental knowledge and attitudes.

Basic data

Target population
Girls and Boys (0-3) years
Caregiver development
Cognitive development
Language development
Physical well-being and motor development
Socio-emotional development
University of the West Indies, BID, Ministerio de Salud
Antigua and Barbuda
St. Lucia
Start date
Fecha de finalización
Type of Intervention
Caregiver or teacher training
Home visits
Sessions in centers
Delivery mode
Group sessions