Strategic Plan for Community and Decision-Maker Engagement and Dissemination of Parenting and Early Childhood Research in Lebanon
Liliana Angelica Ponguta
Few randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have explored the imple me nta t io n and impacts of early child ho o d education and parenting programs in very fragile contexts and humanitar ia n settings. In partnership with the Arab Resource Collective, a Lebanese NGO that leads early childhood and family programming in the country and region, our team from Yale University conducted an RCT and imple me nta t io n evaluat io n of the Mother-Child Education Program (MOCEP). The program, developed by the ACEV Foundation in Turkey, applies practice-based activities in group settings to promote school readiness and holist ic child develop me nt in contexts where access to quality early childhood education programs is low. MOCEP has been translated to several language s, and implemented and taken to scale in several countries. Our RCT, conducted among two refugee and one margina l ized communit y in Beirut, is the first experimental assessment of MOCEP’s impact, and one of the few studies to empirically explore the effects of a high-intensity, structured parenting program in a context affected by displacement, food and human insecurity, and socioeconomic instabilit y. Our study demonstrated that MOCEP reduced harsh disciplinary practices and reduced parenting stress among the target populations (Ponguta et al., under review). These findings are remarkable in that the y substantiate the measurable impact of a social intervention on key markers of parental practices and wellbeing in contexts of high stress and despite mult ip le structural risk factors. Our study also explored the imple me nt at io n of the program to identify enablers and challenges to the delivery process and the feasibility of robustly evaluat ing parenting intervent ions in this study context (Ponguta et al., in press). The data emerging from the study is also being utilized to characterize family processes, the role of father’s involvement, and ways to address parenting practices and child development – all in the backdrop of limited validated instruments to assess these and other constructs in a complex study setting (e.g.., Hein et al., submitted).