This report presents findings from a parenting intervention that was implemented in post-conflict Liberia, where young children face many of the risk factors identified as detrimental to their development. In 2012–2013, the IRC implemented a parenting intervention, called Parents Make the Difference, in Lofa County, Liberia. The IRC collaborated with Duke University to undertake an impact evaluation of the program using a randomized controlled trial design. The evaluation assessed the impact of the program on the following outcomes: 1) caregivers’ parenting practices; 2) children’s cognitive, social, and emotional outcomes; and 3) malaria prevention behaviors. A total of 270 families participated in the impact evaluation. In addition, qualitative interviews were conducted with a subset of 30 caregivers in order to explore their experiences in the program.
- The intervention was feasible and acceptable in this low-resource, post-conflict setting.
- The intervention significantly reduced the use of harsh physical and psychological punishment.
- The intervention significantly increased caregivers’ use of positive behavior management practices and improved the quality of caregiver-child interactions.
- The intervention did not have a significant impact on children’s cognitive, emotional, or behavioral outcomes.
- The intervention did not have a significant impact on malaria prevention outcomes.
- Qualitative findings suggest that participants experienced unexpected positive changes in their families and communities.
Conclusions and Recommendations for Research, Policy, and Programming
- Parenting interventions are feasible and can be delivered in resource-constrained, culturally diverse and post-conflict settings.
- Brief parenting skills–building interventions can decrease care givers’ use of violence as a form of punishment.
- Further development and longer-term testing of the program is necessary to achieve and measure multiple caregiver and child outcomes beyond parenting behaviors.
- More rigorous and longitudinal research along with cost analysis is necessary to strengthen the evidence base in low-resource, post-conflict settings.