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Building an Evidence-based Support System for Parents in South Africa

Several policy documents from both national and provincial government in South Africa have recently identified parenting programmes as important interventions to prevent violence (including child maltreatment and youth violence).  This paper describes the process of using a theory of change approach (a participatory approach to programme planning and evaluation) with the Provincial Government of the Western Cape to help realize this goal.  Key stakeholders were identified, including government decision-makers and non-governmental organisations which implement parenting programmes.  A workshop and a series of interviews were conducted with these stakeholders, in order to reach agreement, first, on critical assumptions (e.g., that all parenting programmes taken to scale will be evidence-based, and that the goal of the initiative is primary prevention), as well as a series of vital practical questions that needed resolution, e.g.: which programmes should be selected for scale-up; targeting, recruitment and retention of programme participants; distribution and location of services; timing and resource allocation; and monitoring and evaluation of services. This paper describes this process, reflects on it as a strategic policy intervention, and on the possibility that it could be adapted for use in other contexts where parenting (or other violence prevention programmes) are to be taken to scale.