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Caring for mothers so they can care for their children

Plan International's parenting education programme in Uganda has shown significant benefits to mothers' wellbeing and improvements to their children's development.

Mothers holding babies, Uganda
Mothers taking part in the parenting programme reported higher support from their husbands

Plan International knows that when mothers feel depressed and stressed, this will affect their ability to provide loving care to their youngest children – and that rates of maternal depressive symptoms are high in many poor rural communities in which we work.

Recognising this, Plan International in Uganda adapted its parenting education programme in communities already participating in our Community Led Action for Children (CLAC) – Early Childhood Development programme to focus not only on critical practices – such as provision of a diverse diet – but also to include discussion around maternal wellbeing.

The programme was family focused – all mothers AND fathers with young children in the community were encouraged to attend a 12 session programme, delivered by trained and supported community facilitators (both male and female) spread over 6 to 8 months. All sessions emphasised love and respect – for self, spouse and the child.

I stopped beating her and helped her in child care

Through interactive activities, including role play, games, parent-child interactions and group problem-solving, parents learned new skills and then were assigned ‘homework’ to use these practices during the fortnight before the following session.

“I learnt to have a good relationship with my wife through parenting sessions so that our children grow and develop in a peaceful home. For example. I stopped beating her and helped her in child care like bathing children," says Okongo John, a male parenting group member from Awaya.

Parent and child benefits

Our impact evaluation of this adapted parenting programme showed improvement in critical parenting practices; significant effect on maternal wellbeing with mothers reporting reduced depressive symptoms and higher positive support from husbands; and significant beneficial effects on children’s cognitive and language development scores.

In the report on the evaluation in the Lancet* (a leading scientific journal), the evaluators note that this effective, low-cost integrated parenting approach has the potential to be replicated and scaled up in other low resource, village-based settings.

Plan International CLAC – Early Childhood Development programmes in Uganda now reach over 170 communities and approximately 22,100 children aged 0–6 years.

Watch a video to learn more about our CLAC approach

For more information contact: Rosemary Alweny

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