OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Proven Parenting Program Leverages Massive Adult Education Network (Updated January 6, 2015)

Hands to Hearts International (HHI) improves the health and development of vulnerable children by training parents/caregivers on early childhood development (ECD) and nurturing parenting skills. Caregivers are empowered with the skills to better their child’s health, brain development and early learning by engaging in ECD skill-building exercises as well as health, hygiene, and nutrition. "When applied at scale HHI is cheaper than providing only one vit. A supplement to a child." UNICEF The Project has two main goals: 1. Provide meaningful parenting education to nurture children’s development 2. Scale program through existing adult education network to serve community organizations, women’s self-help groups and community health work

Photo of Jessica Burg
28 14

Written by

By partnering with Reach India, Hands to Hearts International will scale up a proven ECD project to equip 100,000 poor mothers, fathers and grandparents, and community health workers to offer 50,000+ children the nurturing attention, health, nutrition, and protection they need to achieve their developmental potential.

This partnership will  (a) integrate health, nutrition, hygiene and ECD curricula; and (b) train a massive network of rural trainers, in a train-the-trainers model, equipping 100,000 caregivers with life changing knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors to support early brain development, promote health and prevent maltreatment and abuse for 50,000+ vulnerable children 0-3 years of age.

This project is unique. It marries the proven strengths of Reach India’s massive community training platform, and HHI’s proven ECD curriculum. This fills a critical need - every parent wants to provide the very best for their baby, but no baby comes with an instruction manual.
Via HHI’s training  caregivers learn how to use their everyday interactions to nurture their children’s language, social, cognitive and physical development, and how to support their health, nutrition and early learning. It also cultivates bonding and attachment, establishing the base for all future relationships and a healthy social fabric.
HHI’s outcomes for children include earlier and improved  language, cognitive, physical and social-emotional development, as well as improved health. While outcomes for caregivers include: increased confidence, more interactions and more meaningful interactions with their child, increased bonding, more nurturing and gentle, more responsive feeding practices,  and decreased corporal punishment and domestic violence. While HHI training has reached 42,000+ caregivers, it has lacked a network to go to scale. Enter Reach India.

Reach India, an expert in experiential adult education, utilizes self-help groups, which in India represent the single largest form of microfinance in the world, encompassing nearly 100 million women. These groups also represent a powerful mother’s platform on which to extend education on ECD. The Project will leverage Reach India’s network of social entrepreneur trainers who are paid a modest fee by community organizations to train those organizations, facilitating life skills education for self-help groups of mothers and mothers-in-laws who come together to save and find solidarity and solutions to their daily problems. This fee-for-service model sustains services and supports children and mothers with a life-changing resource.

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

The potential is huge! 100,000 mothers, fathers and grandparents, and community health workers would be trained in Samastipur District, Bihar, India the first two years. The estimated 50,000+ young children in their care would benefit. The multiple positive outcomes will have effects on communities for generations to come. While this project focuses in rural India to leverage Reach India’s established and far-reaching network, HHI’s model and curriculum has been successfully adapted and applied in the post-conflict zone of northern Uganda, where it was met with great enthusiasm and incredible outcomes, ie. tripling linguistic interactions from mother to infant and doubling cognitive interactions. Thus we feel confident that HHI’s educational model can be successful adapted and transferred to any low-resource setting.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

HHI’s model has been applied around India, as well as in Uganda, Namibia, and Russia. In 2010 the Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC) identified HHI as a promising practice and published their research on HHI titled, “Empowering Caregivers for Holistic Child Development”. While, USAID featured HHI as a Promising Approach and a tremendous resource to serving young children and families infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, published in AIDSTAR’s “Technical Brief: Early Childhood Development for OVC – Key Considerations.”

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

We would love to hear feedback from the community of creating new partnerships to fully spotlight what each brings to the table.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am ready and interested in testing this idea and making it real in my community.
View more

Attachments (4)

Final- User Experience Map.pdf

User Experience Map- PDF

Focus Group Questions 1.5.2015.pdf

DRAFT- we are currently finalizing the questions for the focus groups that will be held the week of January 11. This is a current draft of questions that we will continue to refine


Join the conversation:

Photo of Natalie Lake

Hi Jessica and Team,

It sounds like you guys have a great approach and a great handle on your monitoring/evaluation. I think that training the trainers, is essential to any sustainable community education project. I also like that your model requires a small economic contribution. I think that this ensures a higher attendance (will you be sharing your outputs by the way?) because people will have literally invested in the workshop and only those truly interested would do so.

I'm very curious about your project! Is your team predominantly foreign workers or does it include local nurses and healthcare workers? Do you face many cultural misunderstandings? Because child rearing can sometimes be a touchy subject, does your team ever face misgivings from the audience about any of your techniques? I cannot wait to see how your project progresses. Happy New Year!

Photo of Jessica Burg

Hi Natalie,

Thank you for your comments!

Our trainers are all local facilitators, familiar with the local culture and context that women are parenting in. All our materials are based on basic human development (when babies hit milestones, etc) and then adapted to the appropriate local context with songs, stories, habits, etc.

We are very sensitive to the local conditions are take all precautions to avoid cultural misunderstandings in our work, because you are absolutely correct, child rearing can be a very touchy subject!

Thanks again and Happy New Year!!


View all comments