Caregiver’s perception of their role in early childhood development and stimulation programmes in the early childhood development phase within a Sub-Saharan African context: An Integrative Review

Zainab Ayob, Chantal Christopher, Deshini Naidoo


Introduction: Caregivers play an integral role in their child's development. Many caregivers from low resource communities within sub-Saharan countries face challenges in providing early childhood development (ECD) and stimulation. In South Africa, there are policies in place that aim to provide caregivers with child-care support and services; however, systemic factors often negatively impact the service delivery of early childhood development at a community level. This integrative review aimed to analyse, appraise, and synthesise the literature concerning the published evidence of caregivers’ perception on their role in early childhood development and stimulation programmes for children within the ECD phase.

Method: The integrative review followed the five steps highlighted by Whittemore & Knafl. The literature search was conducted by electronic searching through ScienceDirect, Taylor & Francis, PubMed, JSTOR, Lancet, Google Scholar and Research Gate. Literature was included from 01 January 2010 to 31 December 2020, that were published in sub-Saharan Africa, regarding early childhood development and stimulation. A total of 22 records were included in the review. The data was qualitatively analysed through thematic analysis. The findings are presented according to the Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory.

Findings: Findings highlight that caregivers’ facilitation of early childhood development in their children is influenced by daily practices of child-care and rearing. Caregivers perceived their role as nurturing and disciplining their children. The educational aspect of child development was the role of the school/ECD facility. Among these influences are contextual factors, culture, and poverty, which impact the practices that caregivers implement during early childhood development. There are policies and stimulation programmes in place to support and assist caregivers/parents in facilitating early childhood development.  

Conclusion: Caregivers’ form an integral component in a child’s early childhood development and stimulation. The caregiver role is impacted by several factors which include context, culture, awareness of services, knowledge on child development, stimulation and resources. There is poor implementation and knowledge of support structures, policies, and stimulation programmes at a community level. This, therefore, suggests that government departments need to advocate and promote for easier access to facilities to assist caregivers/parents further.


Keywords: early childhood development, family support, policies, stimulation programmes, low resource contexts, stimulation.

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