Improving parenting practices for early child development
Experimental evidence from Rwanda
This study investigates the short- and medium-term impact of a randomized group-based early child development program targeting parents of children aged 6–24 months in a poor, rural district of Rwanda. This low-intensity, short-duration, and low-cost program engaged parents through sessions that included a novel radio show and facilitated discussions during 17 weekly village-level meetings.
The intervention included two treatment arms, with different components. Twelve months after baseline, children’s communication, problem-solving, and personal social skills improved in treated groups and persisted almost 3 years later in the full treatment arm. Positive effects on maternal time investments, attitudes, and beliefs, as well as investments in play resources, also persisted over time.
A mediation analysis shows that the positive impact observed in child development can be attributed to positive changes in parental and home environment inputs, particularly in the longer term. This study offers important insights for the design and delivery at scale of early child development interventions among some of the most disadvantaged communities in the world.