Author: Dr. Suha Al Hasan
The BPP involves a network of 13 national partners who aspire to provide comprehensive care for young children and has so far been implemented in more than 200 centers nation-wide. More than 130,000 parents and caregivers acquired knowledge about proper child care through this program. The Program was evaluated in 2000 by an external evaluator. The evaluation commended the achievements of the Program, in particular the level of coordination between the different parties and the low cost of reaching caregivers and their children, which amounted to only 3 US Dollars per child. The Program was found to be a very suitable nucleus for a more comprehensive early childhood development (ECD) approach to childcare. An important recommendation was the need to expand the Program scope to a more holistic Early Childhood approach, including protection of children from abuse and neglect. These lessons learned were taken into consideration in the design of the ECD program, which started in 2003.
A national training team was formed and equipped with needed skills and knowledge to expand the ECD training throughout the Kingdom. UNICEF succeeded in establishing a cadre of ECD professionals (trainers, facilitators, and liaison officers) from the four ministries (Education, Social Development, Health, and Awqaf), UNRWA, and NGOs who gained higher skills and knowledge for supporting field-level implementation and reporting on activities.
The Program makes effective use of the infrastructure of the participating agencies that employ professionals who, through their regular work transfer knowledge and skills of early childhood care and development to the targeted families. Thus, the facilitators of the Program are social workers from MoSD and NGOs; health workers at MoH; rural guides at NGOs; and KG teachers from MoE and NGOs. They conduct parenting courses for interested parents comprising of 16 training hours on various topics of child development.
The main objectives of the valuation are to assess the following:
1-The efficiency of the delivery of the Better Parenting Program and its effectiveness in reaching its objectives
2-The degree to which the sustainability factors of the Better Parenting Program were relevant and appropriate in partners
3-The degree of impact of the program on the family and child
A desk review was conducted that discusses the rationale and objective of parenting programs, the delivery methods, and the component of parenting programs to compare the BPP in Jordan with other international experiences.
-Qualitative and quantitative research methodology approaches were implemented. A steering committee was formed of experts in the early childhood field to approve the steps of the evaluation. The quantitative part consisted of two questionnaires (Pre and Post) which were developed based on the content and objectives of the BPP with suitable reliability and validity, to assess perceptions, attitudes, practices, and knowledge of a sample of 337 males and females of two groups participants (control and experimental groups) before and after attending the program all over the kingdom representing all partners and the three regions (north, middle, and south).
The qualitative part consisted of three focus groups and interviews which were organized with the facilitators, the Liaison Officers, and the Technical Directors to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of program delivery and the appropriateness of the program design in achieving its objectives. In addition to these focus groups, structured interviews were conducted with the decision makers at participating ministries (Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development, and Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs), UNRWA, and NGOs of the different partners to discuss the sustainability factors affecting the program. That was in addition to conducting a desk review of international experiences regarding parenting programs. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics (frequencies and percentages); in addition, t-test for means was used to indicate whether a difference between the means of two groups is significant. The interviews and focus group data was analyzed qualitatively according to research questions, SWOT analysis was incorporated which focuses on identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Findings and Conclusions:
The program is very effective as measured by the attendance, the interest of the community in the program, changes in the behavior of mothers and fathers with their kids through the stories these beneficiaries reported to the facilitators, and raising participants' awareness and knowledge in child rearing. All partners feel comfortable with the flexibility of the program and its ability to meet the needs of the partners and the families. When it comes to the general monitoring of the program, UNICEF is doing well in this regard. In addition, all partners agreed that the fund provided and allocated to the program is insufficient.
All partners are committed to the program, and it is well embedded in local institutional structures and all partners are well- prepared for taking over, technically and managerially. However, some of the partners such as, MoE, MoSD, MoH, MoAIA, UNRWA, and JOHUD are capable of continuing the work after the Program ends with, adequate budget and equipments, according to each partner's capacities and priorities, while on the other hand, most of the NGOs reported that they have to look for other sources of funding in order to continue with the Program.
1.To take serious steps to shift the management of the program from the UNICEF to a council formed from all partners, in addition to a representative from the UNICEF and NCFA in order to ensure the sustainability of the program. UNICEF has to empower the council until it is well established and all partners feel confident to move on independently.
2.BPP partners need to integrate the BPP with other related programs (family, community, and/or early childhood programs) of each partners' implemented programs whenever that is possible.
3.It is essential for the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Health to have more fundamental roles in the BPP due to the nature of services they provide to community. The UNICEF may communicate with the decision makers at these two ministries to insure expansion of their role in this regard especially to allocate more funds to support the BPP.
4.The manual of BPP demonstrated effectiveness, however, it was found that it needs much more than 16 training hours. It is recommended that the partners review the manual, with the supervision of the UNICEF.
5.The partners need to continuously revise and develop the training manual. For example, it is essential to include a chapter on parenting skills targeting children with special needs. This kind of information is missing from the current manual, so there is a need to target this group of children as their parents critically need parenting skills.
6.The monitoring and evaluation system is an essential component in any successful program. In order to be effective, M&E system should be strengthened with clear performance indicators in order to be able to evaluate its effectiveness. In addition to that, it is recommended to simplify the forms currently used and focus more on the impact of the program on the participants.
7.The partners need to design a system for continues communication with the participants after the BPP sessions is over in order to follow up with them when needed. This can be done by creating a data base for the target groups and participants.
8.Although there is networking between partners, a need still exists to promote such networks to be active to insure full cooperation and coordination between partners. That could be done through periodic and frequent meetings between partners at all levels (TD, LO, and facilitators). It is recommended to collaborate as well in training the participants, for example, when there is a need to call some specialized persons to teach some of the topics that the facilitators can not perform or not specialized such as health issues, a specialized persons from the Ministry of Health can help in provide this specialized training and so on. Train the facilitators in specialized topics such as: health , behavior modifications, children with special needs, psychological well-being.
9.The program needs well media coverage. An effective way to do this is by organizing an annual conference under the patronage of her Majesty to give more value and attention to the program. Through this conference several success stories can be presented, shared, and evaluated.
10.To insure the participation of more males, it is recommended that each partner investigates reasons behind the low turn off of male participation.
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