The aims and objectives based on which the Bala Mandir Research Foundation was established, were to open a Research Centre, focusing on problems pertaining to destitute, foundling, deprived, and physically and mentally disabled children, and their families. In the early years post its inception, BMRF conducted extensive research studies aimed at enhancing the learning, psychosocial well-being, mental health, and nutrition levels of children.
Since the year 2000, BMRF’s focus has shifted away from formal scientific research, to the increasingly relevant social sciences. Today, BMRF’s work centres on parenting, and the psychosocial relationship between the adult and child, with emphasis on the Rights for child development.
BMRF’s activities span three broad areas; training, dissemination, and research, based on the above premise.
Starting out with the training of parents, and crèche workers, within its own institutions, BMRF now conducts regular, on-going, parenting training programmes for all those in the child’s environment, as defined by PARENTS; Pappa, Amma, Relatives, Elders, Neighbours, Teachers, and Society. This includes parents, schools, crèches, community workers, NGOs, ECCD training institutions, among many others.
Parenting programmes range from Early Childhood, through to Adolescents (as part of a Life Skills programme).
In partnership with organisations such as UNICEF and ChildFund, BMRF has trained and enabled field-level workers to institute and improve parenting practices, and create awareness on holistic child development, among socio-economically deprived communities across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Since its partnership with the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre in 1997, and the adoption of the Learning Through Play (LTP) programme in India, BMRF’s research work has centred on parenting, and Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD).
Extended research projects have been conducted within the Bala Mandir institutions, and in partnership with NGOs working in socio-economically deprived communities, to enhance children’s psychosocial development, and the parent-child relationship, through positive parenting.
Our intervention methodology in the communities, aims to equip families with the necessary instruments and tools needed to promote child development. We train field-level workers to become data collectors because of their proximity to the community. The context of local cultural, and environmental, influences on persons, families, and communities, is paramount in our research thinking. Each worker is given extensive practical training to ensure she is not only sensitive to the respondent, but also understands the context in which the responses are given.
Our research projects have included studies on the psychosocial development of the child, based on the LTP Calendar in multifarious parenting environments (such as urban and rural slums, tribal communities, and children in difficult circumstances), use of the LTP Calendar for children with high risk birth history / special needs, enhancing school outcomes through positive behaviour and academic support, and capacity building of partner organisations to make their parenting interventions more effective and sustainable.
We have now extended our research programme into Tracer Studies, to track and assess the medium to long-term impact of our early childhood parenting programmes.