ECA wraps up 1st pilot phase of Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting Program

The Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), in partnership with the Family Care Authority (FCA), has wrapped up the first part of the pilot phase of the Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting (PDEP) program, an internationally validated program developed by the Positive Discipline in Everyday Life organization based in Canada in collaboration with Save the Children.

A total of 18 practitioners from eight partner entities have been trained to deliver the program to parents. Participating entities include Zayed Higher Organization, Dar Zayed for Family Care, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, National Medical Center, Emirates Schools Establishment, GEMS American Academy at Khalifa City, GEMS World Academy, and Falcon British Nursery.

In this regard, H.E. Sana Suhail, ECA’s Director General, said The PDEP program is a cornerstone of ECA strategy for early intervention to support children’s holistic development and well-being. It demonstrates our firm commitment to implement integrated and consistent programs that promote the growth and prosperity of all young children. The program focuses on raising parents’ awareness of the importance of positive parenting in early childhood, which is essential for establishing the personality of the child.

The program aims to empower parents with knowledge and skills related to raising children based on love, respect, and attention without resorting to violent methods, taking into consideration each child’s personal needs on an ongoing basis.

In this regard, H.E. Bushra Abdulla Al Mulla, FCA’s Director General, said: “We seek, through our strategic partnership with ECA, to deliver programs to empower and educate parents. The PDEP program highlights the importance of parents’ relationship with their children and the great impact of positive parenting culture on the development of children in various aspects, including mental and educational ones.”

Al Mulla expressed her hope for the PDEP program to help improve parenting skills and achieve a brighter future for all community members in Abu Dhabi.

Improving the quality of life of citizens and residents has been part of our mission since the establishment of FCA, she said. By providing specialized and centralized services in accordance with policies, legislation and regulations applicable in the emirate, FCA seeks to fulfill families’ needs throughout its integrated case management system, thus improving the quality of life for all family members, Al Mulla added.

The program targets identifying and addressing the immediate causes of these challenges, notably parents’ limited knowledge of child development, lack of awareness on positive parenting values, attitudes and practices, absence of trusted references for parenting knowledge and practices. The program also aims to increase parents’ involvement in child’s learning and skills development, and promotes non-violent methods of discipline and conflict resolution.

Furthermore, the PDEP program focuses on promoting positive parenting practices by setting long-term goals for raising children, establishing structure, providing warmth, understanding how children think and feel, and solving problems.

All program and training materials have been reviewed and adapted to fit the socio-cultural and legal frameworks of the UAE. The ECA worked with the PDEL to develop the first UAE edition of the parent book . The book serves as a guideline to parents of children of all ages.

According to the ECA, the PDEP program is the first evidence-based parenting program to be implemented in Abu Dhabi in a systematic way across multiple sectors and which  considers the local context. The current version of the program is the result of 20+ years of research in child rights principles, healthy child development, and effective parenting. The program was implemented in more than 30 low, middle and high-income countries and its evaluation showed effectiveness in decreasing parents’ perceptions and behaviors when it comes to children’s emotional and physical punishment.

The program’s partners are currently working on implementing the 2nd round of the program pilot in Abu Dhabi. Parents interested in joining the program can access more information by following ECA’s official accounts on social media.

Furthermore, the ECA will collaborate with FCA in evaluating the program after the second round of training is completed in partnership with the University of Manitoba in Canada, to measure its impact on parents’ practices and behaviors, ensure the adequacy of training content, and utilize their feedback while implementing future rounds.

In addition to piloting the PDEP program in Abu Dhabi, the ECA has recently partnered with the NYU Abu Dhabi University with Zayed University and Emirates College of Advanced Education also involved, to design a home-grown, culturally-grounded, evidence-based, and Abu Dhabi-specific parenting program. This program will complement the PDEP program, and will go beyond positive discipline. It will be comprehensive in its coverage of the various early childhood development domains. It will use innovative training, engagement, and research methods. The design is expected to be completed in the next 18-24 months, and will be rolled-out across the various relevant sectors in Abu Dhabi. The roll-out will include a pilot and testing phase of the materials and content developed.

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