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Ribbon PARENTAL ENGAGEMENT
Community based parent support using ECD principals as facilitators

Sakha Esthu - Parent Support Programme

location_on South Africa
A collaborative project between UNICEF, Nelson Mandela University, The Department of Health & Early Inspiration, gave rise to parent support group across the city under the name, Sakha Esethu. This community based initiative can be best described as a gathering which provides mutual support for caregivers and parents on burning health issues and parent support through dialogue and conversation.
“The name Sakha Esethu means that together we can build each other. Everyone is welcome and no one is excluded.”
Overview

HundrED has selected this innovation to

Parental Engagement

Key figures

Innovation Overview

ALL
Target Group
268
Children/Users
1
Country
2016
Established
Not-for-profit
Organisation
231
Views
Updated on October 2nd, 2021
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about the innovation

Breastfeeding support groups for parents in local communities with ECD Principals as facilitators

What we do?

Sakha Esethu can be best described as a gathering which provides mutual support for caregivers of children on burning health issues through dialogue and conversation. This is a 6 – 8 month programme which encourages training and mentorship by a trained faciliator. Sakha Esethu means "It starts with us, we’re building our own". This active phrase emphasises the active role that community members, mothers, fathers, teachers or grandparents - anyone interacting with children can assist in the development of a child. We have developed resources to host small discussions with parents and community members. Sakha Esethu includes all genders and seeks to promote community participation by utilising the energy of trained community mentors and competent caregivers.

Free online resources have been developed to host short discussions with parents and community members. The interactive website www.sakhaesethu.com has been created as a platform to access resources and training materials to host your own conversations and gatherings. As a result of the skills development initiative, mentoring and support there are mentors in Nelson Mandela Bay who have shown outstanding commitment to developing their communities.

Why we do it?

Community conversations encourage dialogue and active engagement for new or old parents to gain valuable knowledge. Conversations using these pamphlets should promote sharing and an opportunity to support parents at an early age.

Benefits include:

- Support through knowledge regarding children’s health & parenting

- Safe spaces for sharing and encouragement

- Decreased stigma and anti-bias towards

- HIV/AIDS and illness

- Promotion of exclusive breastfeeding

- Increased belonging and social relationships

- Improved community unity

- Improved confidence as a parent

- New Leadership and role models in communities

- Creation of a supportive community culture

- Active participation in building community


Background to Parent Support Groups in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa

There were no known breastfeeding support groups operating in NMB- and Amathole health districts when this project was initiated. Accordingly pregnant or breastfeeding women could only receive accurate information and breastfeeding peer support at primary health care facilities. However, financial constraints among the predominantly unemployed population makes travelling, even a few kilometres, challenging and thus breastfeeding mothers are often in a situation where their only support includes uninformed family members and the equally inexpert surrounding community. Furthermore, community members have little confidence in the confidentiality of HIV related services at health facilities, resulting in a reluctance to use testing and counselling services in their area of residence. Community care workers that are supposed to visit new mothers at home by day 6 after discharge, often do not get to them in time to prevent introduction of other foods in the first few weeks post-delivery. Furthermore, they are mostly unable to provide continued support in the form of repeated visits and counselling to ensure the sustainability of breastfeeding. With this in mind and based on previous qualitative research where communities requested more opportunities to discuss HIV and breastfeeding, the research team decided to explore the viability of establishing peer support groups in various communities. These would be co-ordinated by a trained mentor, who would assist attendees to not only change community perceptions about HIV, breastfeeding and child health through dialogue and storytelling, but also utilise the mentor’s skills and confidence to encourage clinic referrals for those whose condition warrants the input of a health professional.

Tools and Resources

Tools used for the project monitoring and evaluation, included amongst other: Baseline demographic questionnaire; Attendance registers; Support group meeting records; Focus group discussions; Activity and feedback records. The Sakha Esethu toolkit include all tools used during all phases of the programme. These are free available on the Sakha Esethu website.

The concepts of this successful programme, namely dialogues within support group environments intended to change health risk behaviour, should be embedded in the training programmes of ECD practitioners and health promotors trained by NGOs and Department of Health, to allow them to “start building their own communities” as reflected by the name – Sakha Esethu.

Research

HundrED Academy Review

This is a scalable model, usually supplementing a structured centre or school. The focus on building local community anchors, and discussing child development issues in small groups can work well and be supported by Government teachers and principals.

- HundrED Academy Member

Building parental confidence in the ability to educate their children is the best starting point for assertive communication with formal education later on, a strong enabler of parental engagement.

- HundrED Academy Member
IMPACT & SCALABILITY
This innovation’s strong focus on community, helps parents to create a network of peers that encourages confidence and open communication about the barriers many parents face in raising a child and educating them.
Academy review results
Scalability
Impact
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process
Media

See this innovation in action

Improving Parent Engagement with HIV and Child Health Messages
Improving Parent Engagement with HIV and Child Health Messages
Publish Article in Social Work with Groups Journal (2020)
ABSTRACTShared learning and supportive conversations between parents encourages disclosure and cultivates an environment of support. This paper presents the process evaluation through the qualitative outcomes of community parent support groups facilitated by local mentor mothers. Qualitative data collected via two (2) Focus Group Discussions (FGD) with group facilitators was followed by four (4) FGD with a total of forty of the parents from the support groups. During the two (2) FGDs with the facilitators, group values were established and adopted. The facilitators agreed amongst themselves to implement the group values to champion and promote the stability of each parent support group. Three key themes emerged from the four FGDs involving support group mothers included: (1) Awareness of mutual connection gained by attending parent groups; (2) Health and social support gained through collectively sharing knowledge and (3) Improved confidence in parenting ability through dialogue. Findings are a showcase the relevance of the group values and mutual benefits of attending parent support groups. The unique parent support initiative revealed that positive health seeking behaviour could be promoted amongst parents in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) phase using a participatory action research approach. Recommendations and implications for group work practice are provided which encourage the use of group values to enable conducive environments for participation and trust building in community based parent support groups.Article link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01609513.2020.1828227 
Conference Presentations 2017 - 2020 o the Sakha Esethu Parent Support Group
2015 ASASWEI Conference: The experiences of Practitioners Facilitation Parent Education Programmes for Early Childhood Development [Oral Presentation]. East London, South Africa 2016 REPPSSI Psychosocial Support Conference. Practitioners Facilitation Parent Education Programmes for Early Childhood Development [Poster Presentation]. Victoria Falls , Zimbabwe. 2019 ASASWEI Conference. IMPROVING PARENT ENGAGEMENT WITH HIV AND CHILD HEALTH MESSAGES THROUGH PARTICIPATIVE STRATEGIES FROM A MULTIDISCIPLINARY NETWORK IN EASTERN CAPE COMMUNITIES. Cape Town, South Africa [poster presentation] 2019. International ECD Conference. College of Cape Town. ECD Principal Management. Cape Town 2020 SWESD Conference. The role of social work in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector: Helping 2020 SWESD Conference. The use of indigenous leadership and group values for parent support groups to encourage positive health competencies in underprivileged communities. Rimini, Italy [Oral Presentation Accepted but conference cancelled due to COVID-19]
Conference Presentations 2017 - 2020 o the Sakha Esethu Parent Support Group
2015 ASASWEI Conference: The experiences of Practitioners Facilitation Parent Education Programmes for Early Childhood Development [Oral Presentation]. East London, South Africa 2016 REPPSSI Psychosocial Support Conference. Practitioners Facilitation Parent Education Programmes for Early Childhood Development [Poster Presentation]. Victoria Falls , Zimbabwe. 2019 ASASWEI Conference. IMPROVING PARENT ENGAGEMENT WITH HIV AND CHILD HEALTH MESSAGES THROUGH PARTICIPATIVE STRATEGIES FROM A MULTIDISCIPLINARY NETWORK IN EASTERN CAPE COMMUNITIES. Cape Town, South Africa [poster presentation] 2019. International ECD Conference. College of Cape Town. ECD Principal Management. Cape Town 2020 SWESD Conference. The role of social work in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector: Helping 2020 SWESD Conference. The use of indigenous leadership and group values for parent support groups to encourage positive health competencies in underprivileged communities. Rimini, Italy [Oral Presentation Accepted but conference cancelled due to COVID-19]
Conference Presentations 2017 - 2020 o the Sakha Esethu Parent Support Group
2015 ASASWEI Conference: The experiences of Practitioners Facilitation Parent Education Programmes for Early Childhood Development [Oral Presentation]. East London, South Africa 2016 REPPSSI Psychosocial Support Conference. Practitioners Facilitation Parent Education Programmes for Early Childhood Development [Poster Presentation]. Victoria Falls , Zimbabwe. 2019 ASASWEI Conference. IMPROVING PARENT ENGAGEMENT WITH HIV AND CHILD HEALTH MESSAGES THROUGH PARTICIPATIVE STRATEGIES FROM A MULTIDISCIPLINARY NETWORK IN EASTERN CAPE COMMUNITIES. Cape Town, South Africa [poster presentation] 2019. International ECD Conference. College of Cape Town. ECD Principal Management. Cape Town 2020 SWESD Conference. The role of social work in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector: Helping 2020 SWESD Conference. The use of indigenous leadership and group values for parent support groups to encourage positive health competencies in underprivileged communities. Rimini, Italy [Oral Presentation Accepted but conference cancelled due to COVID-19]
Department of Health and UNICEF visit Sakha Esethu Mentor Mother Groups in Nelson Mandela Bay (2019)
Department of Health and UNICEF visit Sakha Esethu Mentor Mother Groups in Nelson Mandela Bay (2019)
Mentor Mothers gathering for Breastfeeding Support Training - local leaders showing their ability to be role models and start valuable conversations in their communities.

Milestones

Achievements & Awards

September 2021
Parental Engagement
March 2020
Innovation page created on HundrED.org
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