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FORUM: Scaling programs for early childhood development

March 13, 2024 9:00
FORUM: Scaling programs for early childhood development
Ifakara Health Institute's Chief Executive Director Dr. Honorati Masanja speaking during the event.

Thrive, a multi-country early childhood development research program implemented in Tanzania by the Ifakara Health Institute, organized a side event during the 2024 Eastern Africa Regional Early Childhood Conference held between March 11-14 2024 at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Under the theme "Investing in Early Childhood: Building Human Capital Along the Life Course," the event was a collaborative effort between the African Early Childhood Network, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the Tanzania’s Ministry of Community Development, Gender, and Children.

Thrive spans five focus countries: Bangladesh, Ghana, Kiribati, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania, aiming to develop an understanding of early childhood development service delivery models. It seeks to provide cost-effective and scalable solutions while fostering innovation to better serve children and communities in low- and middle-income countries.

Thrive's session, attended by various stakeholders dedicated to improving early childhood outcomes was held on March 13, focused on harmonizing insights gained from scaling responsive caregiving through parenting programmes, and featured a lecture by the globally acclaimed economist Professor Orazio Attanasio from Yale University.

Professor Attanasio offered a comprehensive historical overview of parenting programs, addressing the challenges, opportunities, and key considerations associated with their successful scaling. 

Dr. Honorati Masanja, Thrive Tanzania's country principal investigator and the Chief Executive Director of Ifakara, stressed the crucial role of nurturing care provided by parents in fostering positive child development outcomes.

"It is well known that supporting parents to provide nurturing care can have a hugely positive impact on child development, and parenting programs promoting responsive caregiving in children's early years have been highly effective in improving life outcomes. However, we need to understand more about how to successfully scale these interventions in varied settings and contexts. We delivered a side event that explored existing research evidence and considered how the insights can inform future parenting programs."

The program is funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).  It is managed by Oxford Policy Management in collaboration with the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Yale University. 

During the week, several Ifakara scientists participated in the conference alongside various stakeholders dedicated to improving early childhood outcomes. This diverse group included policymakers, grassroots advocacy organizations, women and youth groups, academia, and development partner organizations. Learn about this here.