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Parenting in a pandemic: 64 million families helped so far

Parenting in a pandemic: 64 million families helped so far

With families under extreme stress, UNICEF reports have shown a global escalation of child abuse. The UKRI-GCRF Accelerate Hub has led an urgent response, with a coalition of WHO, UNICEF, the Global Partnership to End Violence, USAID and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Led by Professor Lucie Cluver and Dr Jamie Lachman from University of Oxford, the team have co-developed a set of open-source COVID-19 parenting resources which, in just a few months, have helped over 64 million families in 180 countries worldwide.

Professor Cluver said “Parents and caregivers of children are heroes of the COVID-19 epidemic. These past few months have pushed every family to its limits, and parents deserve the best evidence-based support.

"We have reached 64.7 million families through the incredible commitment of global agencies, NGOs and volunteers. But this is the tip of the iceberg. Whilst the social and economic fallouts of COVID-19 continue, we need to get effective resources to every family in every corner of the world.”

The project has condensed evidence from multiple randomised trials of child abuse prevention programmes in low-income countries. In March 2020, worksheets were endorsed by all collaborating agencies, and released onto the WHO and UNICEF COVID-19 websites.

Read more about the initial launch in The Lancet.

Resources with global impact

UNICEF share parenting packs in Lao

Almost every family in the world has struggled in some way during COVID-19.

These new resource packs have been translated into over 100 languages and shared by governments in Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lao, Malaysia, Mexico, Montenegro, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, South Africa, Somalia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uganda, Vanuatu, and Vietnam.

All over the world, people have developed innovative ways to reach families with these resources.

  • In Kyrgyzstan - World Without Orphans made cartoon videos, shown on national television to two million viewers.
  • In Malawi - a pastor at Forgotten Voices read the parenting tips aloud on national radio to 8 million listeners.
  • In Sri Lanka, Montenegro and South Africa - the resources are being delivered in food parcels.
  • In Paraguay - their First Lady has distributed the resources online with over a million views.
  • In Romania - printouts have been left in grocery stores, and thousands of social workers and 11,000 foster families have been trained to use them.
  • In Lao – UNICEF and the Lao government are sharing them on TV, radio and using community loudspeakers to more than half the villages in the country.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa - the Internet of Good Things has delivered the resources at no data cost.

Find out more about the project's application.

People’s stories from around the world

Mercy, mother of three in Cameroon.

Mercy is a single mother with three children, all boys.

They have returned to Bamenda as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19. She said

“They now talk back at me, eat a lot and stay all day doing nothing but watch TV and play games or are on their phones. They also spoil things in the house. They say the house is boring. I think I will soon go mad.”


After finding out from her if she had had any psychosocial support during this crisis period and she said she had had none, so a local NGO proposed to help give her some of the COVID-19 parenting tips which could help out and she was very excited and promised to give it a try.

A few days later she called back and said she had tried the tips and they were working. She said she is beginning to give them chance to do what they like and to ask for explanations on what they do politely.

“The fights have reduced. We now play card games during our leisure time together. They are calm and nicer. This is greatly uplifting the burden I had in my heart..." said Mercy
 

Chikwawa Brethren, caregiver of five in Malawi.

“As a caregiver, it has been so difficult to balance life at home with most of my [five] children under my care. I felt drained or forced to shout at them for the most part. These tips have been so timely, these are things we take for granted yet [are] so helpful. I feel enlightened and I hope my parenting will change for the better.”
 

Lutchenza, mother of four in Malawi

“What this initiate has done to my family is so profound. I am able to appreciate the world of children, and I think I am learning good parenting. It has also challenged me to look at this crazy time I have found myself in through the positive lens of hope.”