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Evaluation of early childhood development interventions

NEF Consulting evaluated ChildFund’s Responsive Parenting Program in Ecuador using a Social Return on Investment approach.

The research indicates that if a long-term approach is combined with broader social valuation, the returns on investment in early childhood development interventions could be substantially higher than the existing evidence suggests. It also provides a deeper understanding of the social and economic changes that children, families and communities are experiencing in the shorter term, which contribute to, and in some cases enhance, the longer-term outcomes.

The Responsive Parenting Program aims to increase health, nutrition and development outcomes of children up to 5 years of age by increasing the skills, knowledge and awareness of primary caregivers. It also links families to public health, protection and education services. The research shows that the Responsive Parenting Program creates positive social change for various stakeholders. For children, there is considerable positive impact on social and emotional development, and some on physical development. For their parents or caregivers, the biggest changes reported are improved agency and participation, and in self-esteem. Trainers also benefit from these changes plus increased employability and the wider community gains from improved knowledge and skills related to early childhood development.

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