×

Search form

Report

Building happy families: IRC research brief

Last updated 

The IRC and research partners from the Harvard School of Public Health and Duke University conducted a randomized impact evaluation of the Happy Families Program, a parenting and family skills intervention implemented with Burmese migrant families on the Thai–Burmese border. An estimated 2 million refugees, displaced persons, and migrants live in Thailand, the majority from Burma/Myanmar. Many Burmese children and families continue to face protection threats in Thailand, including lack of access to legal status, education, and healthcare, and risk of abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Results

  1. The intervention was feasible and acceptable to program participants.
  2. The intervention increased positive caregiver–child interaction and parenting practices.
  3. The intervention decreased harsh parenting practices, including some forms of harsh punishment.
  4. The intervention improved family functioning.
  5. The intervention decreased children’s behavioral problems, and improved children’s attention and resilience according to either caregiver and child report.
  6. Qualitative findings suggest potential unanticipated improvements in caregiver mental health and relationships with other family and community members.

Lessons

  1. Parenting and family interventions are feasible and acceptable to a displaced population with contextual and cultural adaptations.
  2. Brief parenting and family interventions can improve parenting practices, care giver–child relationships, and family functioning in contexts of displacement and chronic adversity.
  3. Brief parenting and family interventions can reduce child behavioral problems, and may have the potential to promote child resilience in conditions of adversity.
  4. Brief parenting and family interventions may have the potential to promote caregiver mental health and reduce family violence.
  5. Further research is necessary to uncover potential pathways of change in order to maximize impact.

Available documents & links