- There are opportunities to help families—particularly those in rural communities —better support children with the nourishment, stimulation, and security necessary for their brains to fully develop.
- Moments That Matter (MTM) is an integrated early childhood development program that seeks to support caregivers and communities to help children reach their full development potential.
- ideas42 is supporting MTM to apply behavioral insights to their learning and decision-making about the program and to build new tools for program staff and frontline.
The period between birth and age five is critical for a child’s healthy growth and development. However, in rural communities in Zambia, Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, and Mozambique, several factors may limit opportunities for early childhood development (ECD).
Many caregivers rely on labor and time-intensive subsistence farming, which strains their ability to meet children’s needs. Families affected by HIV/AIDS are further challenged, as caregivers’ poor health can make parenting difficult.
There are opportunities to help families promote optimal ECD activities so that children receive the nourishment, stimulation, and security necessary for their brains to fully develop.
Investing in children and their primary caregivers during this time can result in lifelong benefits. Moments That Matter (MTM) is an integrated early childhood development program of Episcopal Relief & Development and its partners that targets caregiving environments, primary caregivers, and children themselves to help children reach their full development potential. ideas42 is supporting Episcopal Relief & Development and its partners to apply a behavioral lens to its efforts to monitor, evaluate, and iteratively improve the MTM Program to enhance its impact on children, families, and communities.
Our work with the MTM Program has included:
- Collaboratively building a behavior-centered theory of change that captures how the complex and multi-faceted program aims to achieve its goals for children, families, and communities.
- Leveraging existing qualitative data on the program to strengthen understanding of its behavioral dimensions.
- Guiding MTM Program stakeholders to identify program adjustments and enhancements to improve alignment with early childhood development (ECD) sector best practices and respond to the behavioral realities and challenges of program implementation; and
- Designing new tools and materials to be integrated into the MTM Program, including:
- Strengthening referrals to other health and psychosocial support services for children and caregivers.
- Boosting motivation and commitment of local leaders to support the program and advocate for early childhood development and nurturing care.
- Supporting program volunteers who lead support groups and conduct home visits with materials to help participants translate knowledge and intentions related to ECD and nurturing care into practice within their families.
Crafting a change management strategy for rolling out new materials, tools, and approaches across the MTM Program that turns a behavioral lens back on program implementors and other stakeholders.
MTM is an ambitious, multi-faceted project that aims to simultaneously tackle the broad range of needs that hold back vulnerable families from supporting their children to reach their full potential. Unpacking the details of the many actors (and actions) involved in building skills, connecting families to resources, and generating social change opens up many opportunities to strengthen the value of the program through behavioral optimization.
A behavioral lens has guided Episcopal Relief & Development and its partners to make choices about where to invest resources and build new tools for the frontline volunteers and community leaders who carry out program activities. It has also allowed them to identify and address the behavioral challenges associated with changing a large and complex program. Ultimately, the solutions we crafted together will support caregivers with the skills, confidence, and resources necessary to provide nurturing care and promote optimal ECD.