Mental health

Training parents to transform children’s lives

Parents play a critical role in the optimal development and well-being of their children. While this is true for all parents and all children, it is particularly relevant for the caregivers of children with developmental disorders. These parents often don’t have the tools to face very challenging parenting tasks. A parent from Eritrea explained this when he said: “We, parents of ‘special’ children, are ready to do more for our kids and for other families. But we need the knowledge.”

Adeline Loo


To respond to this need, WHO, in consultation with experts and parents’ associations from all WHO regions and with support from Autism Speaks, developed the WHO Parent Skills Training Package for caregivers of children with developmental disorders.

The package will be used by a range of non-specialist providers such as community health workers, teachers, peer parents and community-based rehabilitation workers. They will engage caregivers in learning activities delivered through group sessions, home visits and meetings with families. The package aims to equip caregivers with skills that can help them better support their children’s development and learning.

“We, parents of ‘special’ children, are ready to do more for our kids and for other families. But we need the knowledge.”

A parent from Eritrea

The initiative was received enthusiastically by child mental health professionals and advocacy organizations in the field. Fifty four experienced health professionals from 18 countries attended a capacity-building workshop on the WHO Parent Skills Training Package hosted by WHO in April 2015 with support from Autism Speaks.

A Facebook group was established to promote the exchange of experiences among participants and other interested individuals and organizations. Regional capacity building workshops and field trials are expected to follow later in the year.

This package will enable parents of children with developmental disorders from all over the world, including Eritrea, to seek support in their challenging role. They will be better equipped to help their children reach optimal developmental potential.