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Outline of Programme models and their process
(in other words, if they work, why and how do they work?)
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Discussions of concepts like the model and the process underlying a programme can be heavy-going at first sight. The sub-title above suggests that there is and will always be a certain caution about claiming that the Child Development Programmes are a highly successful way of supporting and empowering parents. In the event that they do work, why are they successful and how do the programmes achieve their goals?

This page refers to some of the more interesting aspects of the programme model.

Empowering Parents

The aim of empowering parents, especially those facing disadvantage or other challenges, is at the heart of the programmes. The three articles on the second page of this website (Empowering Parents) headed “Empowerment, the key to parenting success?” deal with empowerment from different points of view. Many other items on this website also reflect the empowerment ethos.

How empowerment and effectiveness are achieved

The process underlying each of the programmes is the key to “how does it work?”. The accompanying article on process has been taken from the conclusions of the major “Thousand family study” described on the previous website page (Research Outcomes). This article (click on Evaluating the Programme model), offers insights into various aspects of the intervention process. Some of the insights may still be challenged, while others reflect a growing consensus among many of those involved in parent support programmes.

Integrated or sharp focus?

One of the core features of the programme model is the emphasis on an integrated rather than a highly focused approach. In other words, the support given to parents needs to be holistic, covering the whole field of child-rearing. While many parents face particular problems, the programme encourages parents to look at all aspects of child-rearing, including the ‘problem’ areas. Most parent support strategies tend to focus on the presenting problem, with the home visitor (or clinical adviser) exploring the issue and offering guidance to the parent, trusting that he or she can put the advice into practice. This narrower focused approach may appear to be a more economical use of the visitor’s time, but even if the parent does resolve the identified problem, she or he is not thereby enabled nor empowered to tackle other problems which might arise in the child-rearing years. (Click on Parent support:   focused or wide-ranging?).

State control of parent support programs?

Government health and social policies have a growing influence on many of today's parent support programmes, partly because the State contributes in various ways towards that support. and partly because that same State is for fiscal and political reasons moving towards influencing if not actually controlling many aspects of parenting. An insight into this complex field can be seen in the accompanying article. (Click on The challenge of State involvement in parenting.)

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Community-based programme option?

Several of the CDP programmes are based, not on professional or para-professional salaried support workers, but on the support work of experienced community parents (usually mothers) who are trained to visit new parents (or other parents facing serious challenges in their child-rearing work). These community parents provide within their own residential areas the same kind of semi-structured visits that are at the heart of the CDP. Their work is modestly paid (though initially most community mothers say they would be happy to do the work for free), in order to compensate for the opportunity costs that the mothers forfeit when they could be in paid work. While the community-based programmes appear to be an ideal form of parent support, they face difficulties of visitor continuity and questions about autonomy and practicality in the high tech service-based world of today. (Click on The pluses and minuses of community-based programmes).

CDP success in reducing child abuse

The success of the Child Development Programmes in reducing levels of child abuse have been described in an article on the previous page of this website (Research Outcomes) entitled “Child protection success”. Some of the factors which may be related to that reduction can be seen by clicking on the article Prevention of child abuse: the empowerment of parents

Breast-feeding: an early move to empowerment

The programme model has always emphasised the value of breast-feeding, not only because of its contribution to the health of the baby but also because, for the high proportion of mothers who find it possible to breast-feed, it is a powerful early move towards their own empowerment. A combination of the ability and desire to feed enables many mothers to avoid the dependence on an expensive manufactured product and rely rather on their own natural and free human product, perfectly tailored to the baby’s needs. There are of course a great many mothers who for many reasons cannot or do not want to breast-feed. For them too there are nutritional routes to early empowerment, such as weaning the infant on to inexpensive family foods rather than on to the costly manufactured baby feeds that can seldom if ever provide the multitude of nutrients, micro-nutrients and enzymes that come from ordinary foods. Further information on this topic appears in a 36-page illustrated and highly-informative booklet, “Breast-feeding for everywoman”, which can be ordered from the address given on the Contacts page of this website.

Other information for interested readers

A reference list of the main articles and studies published by the director of the Early Childhood Development Centre or by programme co-workers and other commentators, over a period of more than 25 years, can be seen by clicking on Early Childhood Development Centre: references and key documents, which can also be accessed from the previous page of this website on Research Outcomes. A wider range of ECDC articles on other topics relevant to parent support and early childhood development are listed in a compendium of documents that can be requested by readers who specify their particular field of interest. (See Contacts Page for address.)