Of China’s 45 million children under 3, nearly 40% live in rural areas and two-thirds of these face the risk of at least one delay in language, socioemotional, or cognitive development. Rural parents with limited education often are not aware of the importance of early development and lack skills that provide responsive nurturing and stimulation that children need for their brains to develop fully and to help fulfil their own potential.
Parenting the Future Action and Research Center (PARC) was established by Hupan Modou Foundation, Center for Experimental Economics in Education (CEEE), Shaanxi Normal University and Executive Leadership Training Center of National Health Commission (ELTC). We are working with local government to explore a replicable center-based and home visiting Early Childhood Development project and to scale it up in poverty-stricken rural areas.
Parenting the Future (PTF) is a parent-engagement program that supports caregivers in developing skills and behaviors to foster children’s attachment and healthy development and strengthens families’ role in children’s care, protection and education. The program hires staff locally and trains them as Infant and Toddler Parenting Coaches (“parenting coaches”). Caregivers and their children come to centers for individual and group sessions led by the coaches, and home visits will be provided for families living in remote villages.
PTF project was piloted and evaluated in four randomized controlled trials (RCTs) beginning in 2013. It has been iteratively replicated as home visiting and center-based early interventions in Yunnan, Hebei, Shandong, and Shaanxi provinces.
In 2017, the first county government-led PTF project was launched in Ningshan. A leadership committee was set up, working closely with PARC in coordination with planning, human resources, and fiscal bureaus and overseeing the project. The committee sets up a management center to oversee recruitment of coaches/supervisors, pre- and in-service training, and implementation, following standard operational procedures and using the Digital Operations Management Platform provided by PARC.
In 2018‒2019, the project was scaled up county-wide in 2 Shaanxi counties with 25 centers in both Ningshan and Qingjian, reaching the total number of beneficiaries to 28,391, including 9,565 children, 18,452 caregivers, and 376 coaches, managers, and supervisors.
The Tiered Institutional and Operational Structure of PTF