Survive and Thrive – An evidence-based curriculum that can be adapted to support caregivers through group meetings in Boa Vista
It is a well-known fact that numerous efforts are under way to stimulate early childhood development in the region and that their quality is a critical factor that can have a major impact on children’s lives. But amid all these certainties, many questions arise: how can current services be improved? How can we integrate new ideas that have proved effective into existing programs? Survive and Thrive is seeking answers, adapting a successful parent support curriculum to implement it at current parent meetings in Boa Vista. This innovative way of articulating initiatives seeks to make the most out of curricula for this context, adding activities for pregnant women and for children under 6 months old. It also empowers group trainers and mothers with new tools that require no additional time to adopt. This project will also generate novel evidence: it will evaluate the intervention to try to determine if the use of this curriculum in group meetings can be a cost-effective strategy better suited than individual home visits.
Brazil has high neonatal mortality rates – more than 25,000 newborns die each year within 28 days of birth, with the majority of deceases taking place during the first week. Previous studies suggest that home visits and sustained support to caregivers have been increasingly recognized as crucial to reduce mortality rates. While there exist in Brazil a number of strategies to support vulnerable families and promote good parenting practices, there are few guidelines and information on visits content and their implementation process. Additionally, there is an urgent need to scale up small, successful programs, so interventions’ cost-effectiveness is a debate that deserves to be broadened and one that governments are ready to listen to.
Boa Vista’s Survive and Thrive posits an ideal for early childhood development: boosting the impact of what works and increasing the quality of that which already exists. The implementation of this project seeks to employ an adapted curriculum at fortnightly meetings of small groups (of between 8-10 caregivers and children) of the existing Familia que Acolhe (FQA, Family that Welcomes). The curriculum is an adaptation of the Reach Up – Sao Paulo curriculum to meet Boa Vista needs, with the addition of two extra components for highly sensitive sectors: pregnant women, newborns, and babies under 6 months old. The group sessions, in addition to fostering efficiency in the use of existing services and possible cost savings, also helps promote peer support – a crucial element for the more vulnerable families. The project includes a thorough evaluation aimed at learning about the program’s impact and cost-effectiveness.
Evaluation and Impact
An experimental evaluation will be conducted to shed light on the impact of group meetings on children’s development as well as on maternal depression levels. This will also help carry out a rigorous evaluation of two parental support services platforms: i) individual home visits, and ii) group meetings. The two platforms provide the same content and follow the same methodology. We shall soon learn whether group sessions can be a cost-effective solution to scale up early infancy development services.