ICDP courses for couples successful in Zambia

Report by Grace Mwendapole:

Save the Children Zambia has been implementing a parenting program that uses the International Child Development Program (ICDP) approach to promote positive parenting. In 2020 the focus of the program was to increase the uptake of parenting session among identified households through conducting awareness raising activities. Awareness raising activities resulted in the creation of a critical mass of parents and caregivers who received the parenting sessions. A total of 648 (424 females and 224 males) attended the awareness raising. A total of 574 households were mapped for training in the child sensitivity package. From the mapped households, 500 households were enrolled to receive the whole Child Sensitive Package and this includes the parenting package.

Implementation of the Child Sensitivity Package started in September 2019 and was finalized in October 2020, the aim of the parenting sessions was to increase positive parenting through promoting positive interactions between the caregivers and children. The parenting sessions were conducted with parents /caregivers with children between the age of 0 to 12 years using the ICDP approach.

Despite the parenting sessions coming to a halt when Zambia recorded its first case of the Covid 19 in March 2020 and the resultant enforcement of Government’s restriction of public gatherings as a way of mitigating COVID-19, parenting sessions resumed on 26th May 2020, using a modified approach of conducting sessions back-to-back and with adherence to protective and preventive measures put in place to prevent exposure to contracting Covid 19.

The “back-to-back session” is an approach where sessions are conducted 3 or 4 days in a roll without skipping a day as opposed to having a session once per week.  With this modified model of delivering parenting sessions, the Project Team managed to complete the parenting session, including three additional modules, Gender Transformative, Importance of Education and the Risk of Child Labour by 30th November 2020. 

A total of 466 households with a total of 481 participants (336 females and 145 males) out of the targeted 500 households completed the parenting session representing 93 % completion rate. 

After completing the parenting sessions, 25 home visits were conducted by facilitators in Kansanta (Chief Shibuchinga) and Kamabaya and Mibenge (Chief Lumpuma). Some of the findings from the home visit revealed positive parenting skills from the caregivers/ parents and families as follows:

Improved interactions between caregivers and their children

For example, one caregiver in Kansanta said that she never had time to chat or join her children when they were playing; her children feared her because she would shout at them a lot. She now has created time to play with them.

Positive discipline without the use of violence

For example, one parent in Kansanta, said she appreciated the session on setting limits for children and during the home visit. She revealed that, previously “I used to shout at the children to manage unwanted behavior. I personally did not know that it was possible to suggest options to children to elicit for positive behavior change in children”.  The caregiver explained that after attending the sessions, she learnt that, she needs to calmly explain why the behavior in a child is not appropriate and if anything suggests to the child, some alternatives. 

During the award presentation ceremony that was done for all participants  that completed the 12 sessions of the parenting module, most of the parents were able to talk about the 8 ICDP parenting guidelines and 3 ICDP dialogues that were learnt during the sessions, how they had  put them into practice and the skills that they learnt, while the 25 households that were visited also indicated a reduction in violence towards children because parents had improved their interaction with children.

Best Practice: participation of couples during parenting session

One of the best practices noted during the period under review was the participation of couples during parenting session. For example, six couples attended parenting sessions in Kalembula, Filando/Miseshi and Pa Njose, a practice that was being encouraged across the other parenting groups in order to promote male participation as currently there were more female caregivers attending parenting sessions than their male counterparts.  


ICDP with teachers in Quindio, Colombia

This March 2021 update is based on the report by ICDP trainers, Anisah Andrade and Patricia Garcia, who have been working on the ICDP project for teachers since August 2020. Their project represents cooperation between ICDP Colombia and the Tebaida Education Institution, and it is funded by the SDIA organization.

The project’s objective is to transfer the ICDP methodology (at caregiver and facilitator levels) to teachers, in order to strengthen their capacity for establishing good quality interactions inside the classroom; to enable teachers to deliver the ICDP course to parents so as to enhance their parenting skills and sensitivity towards children; to promote in the educational community good coexistence and communication, through the application of the ICDP principles.

The ICDP training was initially aimed at primary school teachers, but there was a request to include secondary school teachers as well. The work was supposed to start in March 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic this was not possible and the first activities began in August.  

Since the planned workshops could not take place in person due to the government restrictions, trainers conducted weekly ICDP Reflection Forums via Zoom, each lasting one hour and a half.  These virtual meetings were attended by two groups of teachers in the period between September and December 2020. One group was comprised of 19 primary school teachers and the other of 23 secondary school teachers.

The ICDP trainers soon realized that the teachers were experiencing high levels of stress.

“Due to the lockdown and the impossibility of face-to-face classes, teachers had to reorganize their work, develop new pedagogies, methodologies and technological tools. They had to prepare entirely new materials designed for children to learn each subject with the support of their parents. We soon realized that the educational system needed to guarantee not only the protection of the teachers’ jobs but that it was crucial it also took care of the teachers’ well-being, to help reduce levels of exhaustion and stress. As trainers we showed our appreciation and recognized the hard work that teachers had assumed during the pandemic, and we adapted our ICDP agenda in order to provide a special space for teachers to express themselves, talk about their situations and to give them emotional support.” – Anisah Andrade.

During the first three months in 2021, the ICDP trainers continued to conduct Zoom meetings with the two groups of teachers. During this period, they focused on the three ICDP dialogues and the eight guidelines for good interaction, which teachers explored, observing their own behaviour and sharing about their experiences in relation to school children and also the way they applied the three dialogues with their own children at home. Due to the pandemic, trainers could not carry out the planned filming of classroom interactions. However, the teachers made short films of interactions with their children at home and these provided material for sharing.

By the end of March 2021, the teachers were ready and keen to embark on their practical self-training projects. The primary school teachers will be delivering an ICDP course to parents and the secondary school teachers will give a course to adolescents. Each teacher was given the ICDP printed set of materials (”ICDP mochila”) and enough copies of the ICDP booklets to give to all the parents they are working with. The teachers will be facilitating parent groups in person and/or online, depending on how the pandemic evolves.

The photo above shows teachers attending the ICDP training via Zoom.

The importance of defining and seeing a child in a positive way was one of the topics that impacted the teachers – below are some of their examples and comments:

“I was told regarding the behaviour of a child who in the previous grade was with another teacher, that this child was distracted, unwilling to do things. I made a special effort to focus with him, and discovered how to motivate him. He became creative and sociable. I saw that he was quite capable and affectionate. All these qualities were before overshadowed by negative concepts.”

“We tend to take the first impression to quickly label children, parents and other people. But then trust is lost, so it is important to reconstruct concepts in a positive way and learn to see with different eyes, and to create more positive experiences.”

“Most teachers complained about a boy in grade 7. He was described as lazy, rude and was given many negative evaluations. This boy came to my class.  I began to take him into account asking him to help me with other classmates. I soon discovered that he had a very evident ability, his creativity was very good at comic drawing, I saw a lot of talent, his grades improved and he became the best in the class.”


Highlights from ICDP USA

ICDP USA operates under the Changing Children’s Worlds Foundation (CCWF) which is based in Chicago. It is led by Kimberly Svevo-Cianci, who shares an update:

With our partners at University of Chicago, Chapin Hall and Northwestern University – we are pleased to report on 2014-2020 “ICDP: Best Start for Families-A Health Equity Approach” evaluation results on over 500 caregivers. They demonstrate “The Best Start’s” high potential to support parents and caregivers while providing positive, non-violent parenting support through its guideline-based relationship-building curriculum. The ICDP-USA Best Start study shows evidence of increases in parental self-efficacy, positive parent-child interaction, and positive discipline and decreases in psychological and physically aggressive/abusive approaches to discipline.

Our programs support families through schools, mental health or substance abuse agency referrals, jail or incarceration, as well as those suffering past or current stresses, including military families, teen and grandparents, those with children with special needs, divorce, immigration or relocation – seeking supportive community.

During the pandemic, our “Best Start for Families” parenting programs barely skipped a beat with several partners. Parents and schools told us they did not want to stop our supportive Parenting Learning Groups or complementary Children’s Programs – so with the support of our U-46 Illinois Park Early Childhood Center (Elgin) partners, we quickly developed policies, procedures, more robust online educational resources, the technology and the expertise needed to adeptly transition to on-line programming.

Number of professionals including students that were trained in 2020 is 118; number of parents and caregivers served is 175 and the number of children supported is 577.


ICDP at the University of Minin, Russia

The ICDP Russia team continues to work at the Mininsky University in Nizhny Novgorod, where the ICDP programme was included in the Master level graduate studies in Crisis Psychology. Two groups of students were trained in ICDP in 2020.

In 2021, a new group of students started to receive training in ICDP.

During the time that the students participated in the ICDP course, they translated the English text for the “ICDP eight guidelines for good interaction” into Russian. The text for each guideline includes a sentence from the perspective of the child, originally written by Nicoletta Armstrong. This material is available on demand.

First page of the new ICDP material prepared by students.

On the 16th of March 2021, this new group of sixteen Master level students from the Crisis Psychology department completed their ICDP training online.

(See some of the students on the photo above that was provided by Oksana Isaeva, their trainer. )


Carers of older people welcome ICDP

In the city of Hameln, Germany, eight caregivers of older people became acquainted with the ICDP approach by attending a two-day workshop which was held in October 2020.

Most of the participants were already aware of the fact that the psychological needs of children and older people were not very different. The three dialogues of the ICDP programme (the emotional, meaning creating and regulative dialogue) are entirely relevant in relation to older people, especially when they suffer from dementia.

Right from the beginning of life, a child immediately needs the experience of being felt by another person, and towards the end of life, it is exactly the same. “But we all do it intuitively!”  one of the participants said. Exactly! Most of the time, we do it unconsciously, because caring is a natural human response.

But in ICDP, we combine intuition with awareness. This is necessary, because older people in nursing homes live in an environment that often functions like a machine. Every caring action is measured in short time sequences and thus, caregiving becomes reduced to being merely a rational service operation – and as a result, the older person feels treated like an object.

In contrast to this, and to provide a balance, the job of caregivers in nursing homes is to respond emotionally to people in their care – something that is often undervalued as “unimportant” and as not being “the real” work.

In our workshop, the ICDP knowledge was able to strengthen participants’ self-confidence. They explored and understood that dealing with the emotions is definitely an important professional task! Through different examples, participants realized that it could only take 20 seconds of empathic interaction to prevent a person with dementia from becoming agitated, screaming, crying and trying to run away. We had lively discussions analyzing examples from daily experiences in nursing homes.

And in addition, the participants had a lot of fun during the exercise that involved reading emotions; this exercise fired their imagination and lead them to invent complete life stories based only on their observation of images of older persons’ faces. They became aware of the value of compassionate understanding. Time flew by as we playfully explored the power of positive interaction.

At the end of the workshop, all participants gained deep insights and felt empowered. Their final comments concerning the ICDP workshop were that it was knowledge-expanding, exciting, helpful, very close to everyday life and that it makes you think.

Let’s do more of this next time – and thank you for welcoming ICDP in the work with older people in Germany!

  • Rita Crecelius

ICDP advances in Dungarpur, India

ICDP trainers, Neema Pant and Manish Prasad are in charge of ICDP developments in the Palanhar Plus programme run by Save the Children India in Dungarpur, Rajasthan. The update below is based on their report received in March 2021:

Implementation of ICDP

During the 2020 lockdown, the team made use of the available time to strengthen the ICDP sessions through conferences and skype calls and this exercise proved to be very useful for the participants. The original plan for ICDP developments in 2020 was to reach 200 caregivers and 100 children aged between 7-13 years. It was envisaged to train frontline workers (SATHIN) as ICDP facilitators, in 10 Panchayats of the Jothri Block in the Dungarpur district and 10 Panchayats of the Kherwara block in the Udaipur district. This was agreed by the local government and a letter of approval was received from the DWCD department in Dungarpur to involve 10 of their SATHINs in the ICDP training and implementation. However, due to the pandemic the planned activity had to be put on hold and as an interim arrangement, it was decided that the ICDP facilitators from Save the Children will conduct the training of 128 caregivers, whereas the capacity building in ICDP of the SATHIN front line workers would be resumed once the situation caused by COVID-19 was normalized.

Identification and formation of caregivers and children groups in the Palanhar plus programme was accomplished as soon as the government restrictions on moving had stopped. Groups were formed in line with the government guideline on COVID, such as keeping the size of the groups small (4-5 persons in a group) so that proper social distancing could be maintained during the sessions. Proximity of Palanhar family to each other was also kept as an important indicator for group formations, to enable families to attend the ICDP sessions without having to move very far. A total of 32 groups of caregivers and 32 groups of children were formed in 16 panchayats. In every panchayat, there are 2 groups of caregivers and 2 groups of children.

The roll out of the ICDP programme to 128 caregivers (divided into 32 groups) started in January 2021 and it is continuing. The sessions are delivered on weekly basis and there are 3 home visits to each family (one after each of the 3 ICDP dialogues has been discussed with participant families).

Monitoring: Three tools were developed to support facilitators and trainers in monitoring of the ICDP programme and of the quality of facilitation during ICDP sessions: facilitator’s diary, ICDP home visit guide and monitoring format for trainers to observe facilitators during their work with parents.

Evaluation: Quantitative pre-assessment with a sample of 128 caregivers and 177 children in the intervention area and with the same sample in control area was carried out in year 2020 with the help of external consultant from Save the Children, US. The assessment was carried out with the help of a globally validated tool viz, caregiver survey with the caregivers and International social and emotional learning assessment (ISELA) tool with children. Apart from quantitative pre-assessment, qualitative pre-assessment was done with the sample of 20 caregivers and 20 children. The tools used for the qualitative assessment were: 1) Three minutes’ speech sample(TMSS) analyzed on 5-point Likert scale and 2) Observation of a parent-child activity analyzed using the PICCOLO scale (Parenting Interaction with Children: Checklist of Observations Linked to Outcomes).


First facilitators in Uzbekistan

On the 9th of March 2021, two professionals became ICDP certified facilitators in Tashkent: congratulations to Magdalena Bronnstrom and Valentina Ten, as the first ICDP facilitators in Uzbekistan. They received training online from Nicoletta Armstrong, who described them as extremely receptive, sensitive and enthusiastic professionals who both developed a deep understanding of the programme’s principles.

As part of their training, they implemented the ICDP programme with seven teachers working at Happy Start. Happy Start is a learning center for children aged from 2 to 7 years old. The ICDP training project started on the 14th of October 2020 and ended on the 2nd of March 2021.  From the ICDP facilitators’ own report:

All the participant teachers became very involved and interested during the ICDP course. Home-tasks were very effective and reinforced what we taught during the meetings. Role-plays and group discussions made the meetings alive and vivid. Having the ICDP Guide to Facilitators was very useful, because it helped to plan the meetings but at the same time it also gave space for creativity and adaptation; and the research described in it, helped us to explain and confirm the importance of the ICDP guidelines, which was a good theoretical foundation for this target group.

For us as facilitators, it was interesting to work with this target group because they were all working as teachers and this meant that they could go back to their classrooms and apply the guidelines – and afterwards give us feedback on that direct experience. We focused the home tasks on the teachers’ classroom life and thought about the possibilities and challenges they face there to make the home tasks as useful for the teachers as possible. We made  our own videos of the participant teachers in interaction with children.  The ICDP booklet for caregivers was translated into Russian and while translating we changed the word parent to caregiver; and instead of your child we would put child in your classroom.

With regards to our future plans: Happy Start is on its way to start a new learning center that will be ready in September. We will run the ICDP training for the new staff there, but we are also planning to run ICDP programmes for other preschools, learning centers and schools. And we want to conduct an ICDP programme for parents as well. In order to spread the word about ICDP we have put information about the ICDP programme on the Happy Start’s Instagram page. We are planning to make a booklet about ICDP so that we can give it to people we are in contact with.

Here are comments from some of the participants of the ICDP training:

I realized there are no «difficult» children in our center. It is about how I see the child, My thinking of the child. When something happens first I need to think of something good in the child and make an effort to work on my attitude, because it affects my next steps as a teacher.

I have already been using some of these principles, but I did it unconsciously and not the whole time. Now I have developed a new awareness and I try to apply the guidelines consistently.

I realize the importance of empathy in communication with children. We are not robots, we get tired, sick, in a bad mood.  But I still need to remember to be empathic towards a child ,even though I sometimes need empathy myself.

Valentina Ten
Magdalena Bronnstrom

Highlights from the Philippines

The new roll out of the ICDP Parenting programme started in October 2020, after the completion of the baseline studies: the quantitative study using ISELA (International Social and Emotional Learning Assessment) and the qualitative study using TMSS and Activity with the child.

The ICDP parenting programme is part of the Save the Children Philippines Child Sensitive Social Protection (CSSP). The CSSP strategic intervention is in turn a part of the biggest social protection programme of the Philippine government, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Programme.  During the period between October 2020 and February 2021, a total of 1,511 parents participated in the parenting sessions conducted weekly by the community facilitators.

The 1,511 parents came from 1,511 households comprised in total of 6,665 adults (3217 females; 3,448 males) and 2,876 children (1,423 girls;1,453 boys). There are already some positive results, which are based on parents’ testimonies and on reporting by facilitators after home visits to parents. Parents have started to manifest improved care giving practices such as: more affectionate and responsive, giving quality time to children, not yelling and scolding their children anymore. Children reported that they have seen and experienced more affection from their parents and that parents do not scold and shout at them anymore. 

The four ICDP trainers at Save the Children Philippines monitor the parenting sessions using the locally adapted ICDP monitoring tools. They hold monthly meetings with facilitators to keep track of the progress of parents, facilitators and the overall delivery of the ICDP programme. At the monthly meetings trainers help facilitators to prepare their sessions with parents through role play and mock sessions. A care for carers session is conducted with facilitators every other month, as a space for debriefing and psychosocial support.

Attendance of fathers was a challenge and to mitigate this challenge a special course was developed for fathers. It includes a gender session to address gender stereotypes, power relations within the family and especially how fathers relate with their girl and boy children. This proved to be effective.  Fathers opted to attend all the ICDP sessions after attending the first two-day sessions on Qualities of my Child and Caregiver, Gender and Empathy. Testimonies of mothers and children revealed that fathers became more loving and supportive to their children – which in turn served as a model followed by their boy children who too became loving and supportive.

Photo report linked to 2021 update


Multiple developments in Yunnan province

Jean Qin, is the legal representative of ICDP China and the information below was taken from her report about their activities during year 2020.

As a result of lockdown when Covid-19 hit China in the first half of 2020, ICDP China thought of new ways  of reaching people. This resulted in creating a podcast to promote ICDP in China: 200 episodes were uploaded and on average there were 200 listeners per episode. By the end of 2020 there were 985 registered followers.

An online promotion and interaction system was established, which will continue after COIVD-19. A digital system for collecting and analyzing statistics was established and uploaded to the website of ICDP China.

Scope of training in 2020: 1415 caregivers (35% males, 65% females) received ICDP training, 116 facilitators were formed and 22,199 children benefitted from the project. All project staff from 5 local partners received ICDP training at caregiver level, and 90% of them continued their training to facilitator level, in order to increase the capacity to implement ICDP. The total number of local project staff is 50 (37 women, 13 men).

Monitoring and evaluation tools for facilitators were based on the international standard. 116 qualified facilitators completed the pre-post evaluation questionnaires and logbooks. In addition, each local partner developed monitoring tools.

Due to COVID-19, senior trainer training was not able to start in 2020 and no new training for trainers took place.

In August 2020, the Annual Conference focused on providing training on two topics: gender equality and advocacy initiatives. All local partners agreed to set rules on including male participants when recruiting caregivers and facilitators. As a result of this, 47 of the 116 qualified facilitators were men (69 women).

The focus on advocacy initiatives discussed at the annual conference encouraged local partners to afterwards present ICDP to their local authorities and apply for support. ICDP China was introduced to the local governments by the local partner as a legal entity in China. Two local education departments adopted ICDP for training parents in 70 primary and middle schools in the Yunnan Province.

At the ICDP China Annual Conference a workshop was conducted about ICDP network building and resource sharing. It offered an opportunity to local partners to share their experiences and lessons learned from ICDP implementation. As the outcome of the workshop, each local partner set a detailed plan of building their network in 2020. At the same conference, ICDP China gave a presentation on the PSEA policy established by the ICDP Foundation. 

Research: A study about ICDP influence on child-raising was conducted in October of 2020. After several meetings with local partners, schools, and the research team, ICDP China agreed that baseline and research studies could be combined. The methods used in the baseline study included questionnaire, interviews, and small focus groups. The collected information included one questionnaire about children’s thoughts on how their parents see them and one questionnaire on caregiver’s conception of child. 137 children aged 9-12, and their main caregivers were randomly selected from two primary schools in Zhaotong. As part of the research process, during 2021 there will be two follow-ups of the children and caregivers to observe and record impact/changes.

Capacity building: Ten ICDP supervision and capacity building sessions for local partners and project personnel took place on the project sites, with the aim of strengthening their understanding of the theoretical foundation of ICDP, and enriching their knowledge about how to run ICDP courses for caregivers.

A game book named ICDP participatory teaching guidelines was developed in 2020, which includes video clips explaining the games. The work on publishing the book will continue in 2021.


ICDP Ghana update

ICDP Ghana was formed in 2012 by Joyce Larnyoh, when it adopted the ICDP empathy based approach integrating it into its programming, including capacity building initiatives. Over the years, ICDP Ghana has engaged with various caregivers such as parents, community leaders and teachers, by establishing cooperation with child centered institutions such as the Department of Social Welfare, Police, Ghana Education Service (GES), Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and aiming to devise the best and sustainable means of protecting and safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. The stakeholder consultations and engagements have all been geared towards achieving the mission of ICDP Ghana which aims to “provide human care that enhances the total development of the child”.

The year 2020 saw ICDP Ghana implementing two projects in the Eastern Region of Ghana: the Strategic Approaches to Girls Education (STAGE) and the Girls Advocacy Alliance Project. These projects were implemented in the Akuapem North and New Juabeng South Municipalities, as well as the Okere District.

The Girls Advocacy Alliance Project was undertaken in cooperation with PLAN International Ghana, with funding from the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and it ended in December 2020. The Strategic Approaches to Girls Education was carried out in partnership with World Education Incorporated, with support from UKAID – and it will continue in 2021.

The ICDP principles and guidelines were used to create awareness and promote sensitive caregiving skills in teenage mothers and women who were part of the two above mentioned projects.

The STAGE intervention focuses on highly marginalized out of school girls between 10-19 years. STAGE has the overall goal of reducing the barriers that marginalized or vulnerable girls face in achieving education. This is propelled through three thematic areas: Learning, Transition and Sustainability. Target beneficiary girls, including those with disabilities, are expected to acquire considerable level of skills in Numeracy, Literacy, Life and Vocational Skills in order to integrate back into the formal track school system and ensure retention till completion (Formal Track) or transit into Income Generating Activities/higher vocational skills training institutions (Non-Formal Track); all aimed at achieving improved livelihoods for the targeted girls. ICDP successfully graduated 335 girls from 13 beneficiary communities in 2020. The graduation ceremony was conducted in all 13 communities.

The Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA) was a four year project (2016-2020) focused on combating violence against girls and young women and increasing their economic participation. Violence and economic exclusion are closely linked. Girls massively drop out of secondary and vocational education, especially due to child marriage, sexual violence, trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. Their chances of obtaining a decent job are minimal; and without income and financial independence, they are more vulnerable to violence. The project tackles economic exclusion and violence against girls and young women through stakeholder and media engagement, mobilization and networking, sensitization and capacity building as well as lobbying and advocacy. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic ICDP Ghana was able to achieve the expected outcomes of GAA for 2020. The project achieved increased promotion of values and practices against Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Economic Exclusion (EE) by key leaders (paramount chiefs, chiefs, religious leaders, queen mothers) and Child Protection Committee members, in four regions (Upper West, Northern, and Ashanti and Eastern region). Tracer studies conducted by partners indicated that enrolment and over-all attendance at Vocational Schools have increased. Initial works were accomplished on the development of the various policies, however, there are little or no budgetary allocation for the implementation of the policies.