Taking Positive Parenting Messages to the People:
Much of the Network’s early work, post its inception, focused on formulating, finalising, and disseminating its core messages to the people. The messages that form the critical minimum components of the Network are defined in the Life Cycle Approach to Parenting.
NIP members working in ECCD, health, nutrition, and special needs, initially spread the messages through their own organisations’ work, to parents with children below 3 years. Members used the ‘Parent Education Flip Chart’, an indigenised version of the Learning Through Play Calendars (LTPC), to successfully convey messages to lettered and unlettered parents alike, and establish dedicated ECCD parenting programmes.
NIP, supported by UNICEF, also compiled a dedicated booklet titled 'Challenges of Parenting', to help take forward its messages to the people.
In 2002-03, NIP conducted a pilot project on Nutrition and Parenting Practices, focusing on communication of best practices for change in nutrition and documentation of childcare practices in conditions and contexts of deprivation. This action study was held in four project sites, focusing on different populations, in partnership with:
- Tamil Nadu Voluntary Health Association (TNVHA) and its network of NGOs in five (rural) districts of Tamil Nadu.
- Rural Unit for Health and Social Affairs (RUHSA) – North Arcot district.
- Madhuram Narayanan Centre for Exceptional Children (MNC) – Ramnad district.
- Sahishnatha Vijaya Institute of Child Health – Dharmapuri district.
From 2004 to 2008, the Network extended its branches through new partnerships around Early Childhood Care and Development. A concentrated effort was placed on the training of caregivers, teachers and parents in adoption agencies, and Kindergarten schools, through schools’ PTA programmes.
The Network also expanded from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to Maharashtra and Gujarat, initiating training of NGOs in Pune, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad, along with translations, and printing of materials into their respective State languages.
The ‘Accepting Diversity’ – Adapted Learning Through Play Calendar (ADLTPC) was introduced to partners and NGOs working with special needs, across the country, with enhancements made to the training programme to cover early identification, and intervention.
The third phase, from 2008 onwards, focused on the empowerment of NIP partner organisations to take the ECCD programme forward in their own States by enabling partners to train other NGOs in the field.
Partner organisations have also gone beyond training, to implementing small-scale EECD projects, and parenting interventions in the communities they serve and in the local languages, all of which have received a strong, and positive local response.
From its beginnings, in 1999, as a Tamil Nadu initiative, the Network has expanded its presence into three other States; Gujarat, Karnataka, and Maharashtra. Membership has grown organically through various activities and campaigns.
In its first year, NIP was requested by UNICEF to take part in the sub-regional seminar on ‘Innovation in Early Childhood Care and Development’, and present a paper on the new Tamil Nadu initiative, wherein it laid out its commitment to promote expansion and networking in other States across India.
In 2002, NIP conducted a series of workshops, to extend membership and networking activities to NGOs across Tamil Nadu, on a zone-wise basis. The aim was to spread awareness on parenting for the child below three years, amongst institutions working with women and children, as an intervention into their on-going, service/training programmes. The zonal networking project generated valuable awareness, and feedback on the Network’s parenting activities and programmes, and opened doors to new members.
In the following years, target group workshops, based on the critical minimum components of the Network, were held for various groups, including paediatricians, obstetricians and gynaecologists, Kindergarten teachers and crèche workers, NGO personnel, parents, and youth. A special workshop for Media Advocacy and Consultation, widely spread NIP’s agenda across print and visual media.
Active participation at several State and National level workshops and conferences, between 1999 and 2002, helped to enhance the Network’s exposure and credibility. These included consultation on innovative practices, 25 years of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Southern Zone ECCD meet, State level workshop of ICDS Kerala, convergence of inter-sectorial services under ‘UDISHA’ and technical consultation of UNICEF’s programme for 2003-2007.
The Network has also gained international exposure through presentations to teams from East Africa, Myanmar and East Timor.
Working with the Government:
From 2001 – 2004, NIP worked extensively with the Government of Tamil Nadu to take forward its agenda.
The UNICEF sponsored Parent Education Flip Chart (0 – 3 Years) was developed in extensive consultation with Anganwadi workers and ICDS trainers, to make it an effective, and accessible psychosocial tool. The tool was then given to all ICDS Centres (approximately 30,000) across Tamil Nadu.
A five-day State-level training programme on the Flip Chart was held in May 2001 for select trainers and personnel of ICDS and WB ICDS-III, followed by orientation/training programmes for zonal-and district-level functionaries between Oct 2001 – Mar 2002. A State-level review of the programme was also held in Nov 2002. The project helped to train ICDS functionaries to take the parenting programme, and tool forward into the community, and Anganwadi Centres (AWCs).
A total of 10 parenting workshops were held for the Border Districts (Vellore, Poonamalle, Thiruvellore, and Thirupathur) between January-May 2002. The one-day workshops provided orientation and training on parenting, and the Parent Education Flip Chart, for medical and health personnel of Primary Health Centres (PHCs), as well as resource persons identified from ICDS, Village Task Forces (VTFs), and NGOs working in the community on Maternal and Child Health issues. These functionaries were in turn able to take the messages of holistic parenting practices into the community, through appropriate on-going programmes. The role of NIP was mainly to promote a ‘systems approach’ to childcare services.
NIP worked with WDC, Tamil Nadu, to serialise the Flip Chart visuals and messages in their news magazine ‘Mutram’, which has a reach of about 30,000 to 40,000 women’s self-help groups.
NIP coordinated a workshop involving personnel from various Government departments, officers of the State Planning Commission, Tamil Nadu, NGOs and ECCD professionals, through which it was able to include the NIP parenting agenda into the State’s 18 Point Plan of Action for Children.
Taking NIP Forward:
NIP aims to consolidate, and expand its membership across all States in India by 2020.
NIP members and organisations represent diverse fields of social work, ranging from community development, public health, migrant labour, and women’s empowerment to child welfare and rights, education and special needs.
Going forward, NIP aims to work THROUGH and WITH its diverse body of members to focus on the parenting angle of their work, helping members to integrate parenting, and psychosocial aspects of child development into their current work in the community.
The activities of the Network have thus far largely focused on Early Child Care and Development, which going forward will expand to include Primary School and Adolescents.
NIP is commited to the empowerment of its members through training and capacity building, as well as the development and sharing of parenting tools and resource materials.