Make a difference in families

Families Make the Difference

A supportive community environment for the prosperity of future generations

Project Type

Early Childhood Development


Facts & Figures


Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana


Rural areas in the department of Gagnoa






  • Community volunteers
  • Government officials and educators
  • IRC ECD coaches


  • VSLAs
  • Childcare and community learning centers
  • Government childcare and social centers


  • Communities in rural areas of Côte d’Ivoire actively contribute to ECD initiatives for parents and children.
  • Relevant ministries are committed to scaling up parental education interventions on a national scale.

About the project

Introduced in Côte d’Ivoire within the context of TRECC in 2017, Families Make the Difference (FMD) is a program targeting caregivers with content that have been proven to work in other similar contexts via randomized controlled trials. FMD aims at improving parenting skills and behaviors for a positive impact on the physical, intellectual, and emotional well-being of their children. In ongoing projects in Côte d’Ivoire, the FMD training is coupled with the establishment of community-based early learning centers.



Due to factors associated with rural poverty, malnutrition, lack of quality education, violations of children’s rights, and child labor, children in cocoa-farming communities in Côte d’Ivoire are experiencing developmental delays that have long-term—and sometimes irreversible—impacts on their health, well-being, and future prosperity.




FMD aims to improve young children’s care starting in the 1,000-day period, a crucial period of life that starts at the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy and lasts until a child’s second birthday, within targeted cocoa-farming communities. The project lays the groundwork to improve the physical, intellectual, and social-emotional well-being of young children in Côte d’Ivoire through the creation of scalable, sustainable, and community-led resource centers and parenting skills training for caregivers.

Groups of 20–25 caregivers receive training on FMD in 10 sessions of two hours each. Self-financing community learning or childcare centers are set up in support of FMD and other grassroots education initiatives. In partnership with the government of Côte d’Ivoire, representatives of the Ivorian educational system are trained in FMD curricula and then facilitate parenting skills sessions. Additionally, the government allows for preschool educators to run the childcare centers. Ultimately this will contribute to building a healthy and supportive community environment for the prosperity of future generations.


Results to date


In an initial 2018–2019 pilot in Côte d’Ivoire, 400 parents were successfully trained by the partner International Rescue Committee (IRC) with over 90% participation. Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) conducted an independent evaluation of the project and found positive results across several evaluation criteria. Indeed, improved knowledge of good parenting practices was observed. After the trainings, parents seemed to have increased knowledge of stimulation activities to promote children’s development. They also reported undertaking more activities that promote children’s learning. However, with respect to violence toward children and positive discipline, neither knowledge nor practices improved significantly.


Scientific evidence


To date the IRC has completed 3 randomized impact evaluations on the Families Make the Difference program in Burundi, Liberia, and on the Thai-Burma border. The impact evaluations revealed that parenting programs are feasible and applicable in various contexts and that short-term parenting interventions can be effective in decreasing harsh punishment and improving positive parenting practices.


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