Integrating Evidence and Context to Develop a Parenting Program for Low-Income Families in South Africa

Lachman, J. M., Sherr, L. T., Cluver, L., Ward, C. L., Hutchings, J., & Gardner, F.


Children living in low- and middle-income countries, such as South Africa, face elevated risks of child maltreatment. Although evidence-based parenting programs have been shown to reduce rates of abuse in high-income countries, few studies have examined their effectiveness in low- and middle-income countries. Moreover, local cultural contexts may require the adaptation of evidence-based approaches in order to assure program acceptability and effectiveness.

This study focused on the systematic development of an evidence-informed, locally relevant parenting program for socioeconomically disadvantaged families with parents of children aged 3–8 years, in Cape Town, South Africa. Intervention development took place over three stages: (a) identification of common core intervention components in evidence-based parenting programs (b) formative evaluation using qualitative in-depth interviews and semi-structured focus groups with local practitioners and low-income parents, and (c) development of intervention structure, format, and protocols. The process resulted in a manualized, group-based, 12-session parenting program that integrated existing evidence of effective components within a local, culturally relevant context.

Recommended next steps are rigorous piloting to test feasibility and preliminary intervention effects followed by experimental trials to examine intervention effectiveness in a real-world setting.