The Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA) has announced launching the Abu Dhabi-specific Parenting Program in partnership with the New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), and in collaboration with Zayed University (ZU) and the Emirates College for Advanced Education (ECAE). By involving a group of Emirati and international academics, experts and researchers, the evidence-based and culturally grounded program will cover various topics related to the early childhood development (ECD) using innovative training, engagement and research tools.
To be developed by NYUAD in coordination with ECA, and other entities, under the supervision of co-principal investigators, Dr. Antje von Suchodoletz from NYUAD, Dr. Michelle Kelly from ECAE, and Dr. Christin Camia from ZU, the parenting program will focus on parents with children under the age of eight. It will be comprehensively designed to cover each of the various early childhood development domains such as health, nutrition and early learning.
The program design is expected to be completed in the next 18-24 months. The program, thereafter, will be rolled-out in Abu Dhabi through a pilot phase targeting 300 parents to measure its outcomes. In addition, facilitators will be trained on delivering the program with the aim of upskilling the ECD workforce and measuring their outcomes.
Parents play the most important role in the lives and education of young children. A key mandate for the ECA is to equip parents and primary caregivers with the knowledge, skills and resources needed to build their capabilities to promote the healthy development of their children. This program is an outcome of the Early Childhood Parenting Strategy (ECPS) developed last year by the ECA and aims to augment parenting knowledge as well as improve the wellbeing of parents in Abu Dhabi, and to support them in fulfilling their parenting role.
Furthermore, this program comes in conjunction with the "Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting Program" launched by the ECA in 2021, in partnership with the Positive Discipline in Everyday Life Organization in Canada, and in collaboration with eight entities in Abu Dhabi across the health, education, and social sectors.
H.E. Sana Suhail, ECA's Director General, said: "We have formed a specialized team of experts, researchers and academics in collaboration with NYUAD, ZU and ECAE, to develop and measure outcomes of parenting programs in Abu Dhabi. By training relevant facilitators, the team will also contribute to building capacities of the ECD workforce in Abu Dhabi".
According to Suhail, the team is responsible for coordinating with stakeholders and partners to develop a tailored parenting strategy to local context and culture. Moreover, they will provide a governance framework includes plans, legislation and programs, to promote transparency and competence, as well as evaluating performance indicators for delivered training programs.
Suhail emphasized the program’s objectives reflect ECA's commitment to develop comprehensive child protection programs based on the highest international standards and practices. She hoped the program could position the UAE among top countries adopting innovative solutions to achieve sustainable development goals related to the ECD sector.
From her side, Dean of Science at NYUAD Marta Losada commented: “Providing support to parents and caregivers through the development of a culturally grounded and localized parenting program is imperative for the young children of Abu Dhabi of all nationalities to reach their full potential. As such, we are very excited to partner with Zayed University and the Emirates College for Advanced Education in enhancing support for parents and caregivers through the development of The Abu Dhabi Parenting Program and thank the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA) for their support of this valuable work.”
Dr. Michael Allen, Assistant Provost for Research at Zayed University: “We are excited to collaborate with New York University Abu Dhabi and the Emirates College for Advanced Education in this important initiative on developing a culturally sensitive parenting program for Abu Dhabi. We applaud the efforts of our faculty for continuing to contribute to research initiatives that are impactful to the and in line with the nation’s priorities.”
Dr. May Al Taee, Vice Chancellor of Emirates College for Advanced Education commented: “We are very appreciative of the support offered by the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority in this collaboration with New York University Abu Dhabi and Zayed University to develop a relevant, meaningful, and impactful parenting program. We are very excited to be overseeing the facilitator training at Emirates College for Advanced Education and look forward to providing evidence-based strategies to enhance the capacity of this early childhood development workforce.”