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Caring for Caregivers. A Path Towards Playful Parenting

Early childhood is a critical period that lays the foundation for children’s optimal development. To reach their full developmental potential, children need nurturing care, consisting of the five interrelated components of responsive caregiving (including play and stimulation), good health and nutrition, opportunities for early learning and protection from harm and a sense of security  – especially during the first 1,000 days of their lives.

Parents and caregivers are the most important providers of nurturing care in early childhood, and are key to enabling their children’s optimal development.  The 2016 Lancet Early Childhood Development Series highlights that efforts to support children are not likely to bear success unless they concurrently provide support for the caregivers upon whom children depend for care. We know that the wellbeing of the caregivers is an essential prerequisite for the wellbeing of the child, and that in the best interest of the child, we need to  ensure that parents and caregivers are healthy and able to engage in nurturing care. Seen through children’s eyes, children always want their parents to be healthy and have time to play and learn with them! Play is transformative for children – it allows them to creatively develop their imagination, talent, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strengths. As primary caregivers, parents are naturally and uniquely positioned to provide playful learning experiences as a child’s first and lasting playmate.

The Caring for the Caregiver programme aims to build front-line workers’ skills in strengths-based counselling to increase caregivers’ confidence and help them develop stress management, self-care and conflict-resolution skills to support their emotional well-being. The programme integrates well-established evidence on the impact of the programs supporting emotional wellbeing and mental health of the caregivers by translating these in practical tools and a set of activities that encourage self-care, family engagement, relationship building and social support.

The Playful Parenting programme in Serbia recognizes the importance of play, joy, and mental health, as strongly interconnected aspects of building family resilience and quality child care and positive outcomes for children.


Why join this webinar

  • Learn about the how the wellbeing of caregivers and families and the wellbeing and the outcomes of the child are intertwined, and why play and playful parenting are key for caregivers’ mental health and for the prevention of adverse childhood experiences
  • Get acquainted with the Caring for the Caregiver program and its global implementation in different country contexts
  • Gain better understanding how nurturing interpersonal relationships between frontline workers and caregivers could provide a unique experience for some caregivers and enable them to discover their capacities, and connect with their environment
  • Get insights into the efforts that UNICEF Serbia, in a broad partnership with diverse stakeholders, is making to improve the wellbeing of caregivers and families, and how an intersectoral approach can bridge the gap between different community support resources and the families in need
  • Listen to the experience of the frontline workers implementing the program and learn about the benefits for families and children and professionals
  • Get inspired and engaged in providing psychosocial support to caregivers and families and applying the ``3C`` formula: Care and Connect to Cope


Panelists and Moderator


Jill Popp, Senior Research Specialist, LEGO Foundation

Radhika Mitter, Early Childhood Development Officer, UNICEF-HQ, New York

Mila Vukovic Jovanovic, Early Childhood Development Officer, UNICEF Serbia

Kristina Nedeljkovic, Caring for the Caregivers master trainer, home visiting nurse and head of the home visiting nurse service of the Health Center of Novi Sad, Serbia

Kosta Gajic, social worker, CFC master trainer, Shelter for Mothers and Newborns in Belgrade


Zorica Trikic, Senior Program Manager, International Step by Step Association

Download the webinar presentation

Watch the webinar recording



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