June 20, 2023 – This Parenting Month, the global community is calling for accessible parenting support for every family. The Global Parenting Initiative and the Global Initiative to Support Parents (GISP)* is convening implementers, researchers, policymakers and donors to catalyze and scale parenting support through collective action. To mark World Refugee Day and Parenting Month, we hosted a Special Panel Discussion exploring the current state of parenting support in crisis, ongoing efforts to deliver parenting interventions, and recommendations for the provision of this support.
All parents and primary caregivers can benefit from evidence-based parenting support, but the urgency and needs are considerably elevated for families living through crisis and conflict. Globally, an estimated 268 million children and adolescents across 73 countries are affected by crises (ECW 2023), impacting their development, and putting them at greater risk of violence, exploitation and neglect. With the upwards trend in incidents of natural disasters, health emergencies, and armed conflicts over the past few years, these numbers are only set to rise. In these contexts, parents must strive to provide nurturing care to their children while simultaneously managing their own mental health and well-being, seeking access to essential services, and coping with increased threats and risk factors. Yet despite the enormity of the challenge, the role of parents as essential caregivers and protective buffers for children remains largely overlooked in humanitarian response.
We delved into the ins-and-outs of providing parenting support to families in emergency and humanitarian contexts. Participants learned about:
- Current evidence and research gaps on the provision of parenting support in crisis contexts
- Resources for promoting caregiver mental health and psychosocial well-being
- Existing program models serving parents and caregivers in different settings, challenges and successes in implementation, and recommendations for future work.
Speaking on the evidence behind and importance of this support were experts from Parenting for Lifelong Health, Global Parenting Initiative, UNICEF, WHO, Early Childhood Development Action Network, and Save the Children. Sitting on our panel exploring the technicalities, challenges, successes and recommendations for providing parenting support in emergencies were representatives from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the International Rescue Committee, War Child Holland and Karachi Relief Trust, organizations supporting parents on the ground in some of the most challenging humanitarian settings around the world.