Early Childhood Intervention: Parenting tools

Early Childhood Intervention

May Thet Thet Oo
UNICEF
Htoo Htoo Aung, the Leprosy Mission Myanmar

05 July 2019

Esther, a medical social worker at the Pathein General Hospital in Ayeyarwady Region, is excited and optimistic after attending a twelve-day Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) refresher course on the Assessment, Evaluation and Programming System (AEPS) from 3 to 15 June, 2019.

“I’ve gained confidence to suggest some routine-based interventions for a child. Sometimes the goals set for a child by his or her parents need to be broken down into smaller steps. It can take considerable effort to help parents understand and agree to these goals. They normally want to aim for more,” explains the devoted professional.

Involved in the ECI programme since it began in Myanmar in 2016, Esther is one of the 15 professionals who completed this training. The professionals include psychologists, physiotherapists and early child development practitioners from various government ministries:  Education, Health and Sports and Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, as well as non-government and faith-based organizations in trans-disciplinary teams.

“Simple interventions such as playing or talking with the child while feeding can improve communication. Encouraging the child to stand up or move with very little help from an adult is another good example,” shares Esther, reflecting on her new training experiences.

Organized by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement in collaboration with UNICEF Myanmar, the Leprosy Mission Myanmar and the New Life Foundation, this Assessment, Evaluation and Programming System refresher course includes a review of current theory,  practical sessions along with home visits, carried out by participants working in pairs.

It is one of several essential in-service courses for professionals who need to be able to conduct detailed assessments and plan appropriate interventions for children and families referred to them by outreach home-visitors.

“Working with parents, family members and caregivers in helping them do routine-based activities with the child and emphasizing areas for improvement help to speed up the child’s developmental progress,” explains Esther.

Khin, who manages a special education school and teaches special needs children, also participated in the training: “I am keen to use these new AEPS tools to plan specific activities based on the needs of the individual child and her or his family,” says the dedicated teacher. 

Khin now realizes the benefits of family-based services integrated into daily routines. The key principles of Early Childhood Intervention Services that underpin this training programme encourage full parental participation and recognize the child’s natural environment as the best place for development, because it is less stressful for the child and the family. In their homes, parents feel confident, hopeful and less dependent on experts. They do not need to face extra costs or take time to travel to an institution.