Strengthen Families as Centres of Nurturing Care for Children Affected by HIV

Parenting and care is a top priority, together with nutrition and education to ensure children’s development and wellbeing, and help them avoid HIV risks and threats throughout their life course.

Children and adolescents infected and affected by HIV and AIDS are vulnerable. In addition to the usual stress and pressures of growing up, they may be living with a chronic condition that requires lifelong commitment to medications and medical care; they may experience the trauma of living with an ill parent; or the grief of losing one or both of their parents to AIDS. Without close supervision, they may be subject to deprivation, stigma, violence and other abuses. They, more than ever require a stable family environment, and, if necessary, access including psychosocial support services. Most importantly, they need love and support for them to fulfil their dreams and ambitions.    

In keeping with the theme for this year’s International Day of Families - “Families, Education and Well-being” RIATT-ESA has collated resources, programmes and contacts that address this theme.

In February 2017, RIATT-ESA hosted a Learning and Linking Forum that shared good/promising practices, working models and lessons in delivering comprehensive services for vulnerable children and youth. Early Childhood Development and family support was a prominent theme at the forum attended by over 50 civil society organisations and government representatives.

Drawing from research and programming experience presented by Hope Worldwide at the Forum, this understanding should inform ECD interventions in this region. Babies and young children need love, care, protection and stimulation by stable parents and caregivers. A young child’s brain activates and develops in response to the nurturing care of trusted adults. Nurturing care ‒ a stable environment that is sensitive to a child’s health and nutritional needs, with protection from threats, opportunities for early learning, and provides interactions that are responsive, emotionally supportive and developmentally stimulating is usually found in the immediate home and care setting. However, this cannot be taken for granted, as increasingly fractured families need various supports to be able to provide optimum care.

RIATT-ESA partners are working in this area contributing to the development of policies and programmes that strengthen families and care for children.  The Regional Psychosocial Initiative (REPSSI) is developing training resources and materials; Hope Worldwide is piloting cutting-edge programmes for vulnerable children in the South African context. Parenting Africa Network (PAN) investigated positive practices that are ingrained in African culture and traditions. In addition, the RIATT-ESA network worked with researchers and analysed evidence to map the path from parental illness to HIV risks for children. The REPSSI PSS Forum scheduled for September 4-6, 2017 in Tanzania will look at the types of psychosocial support for children in various situations. All these efforts add up to increase our pool of age and context specific knowledge. We feature these and other resources in the RIATT-ESA May 2017 Newsletter.

Other useful resources include:

Lancet ECD Series:

WHO Parenting for Lifelong Health:

Sinovuyo Programmes: