Common Good’s Early Life pilot project in 2015 and 2016 identified the incredible impact that a caring and supportive community can have on a mother’s ability to respond to, and meet, her baby’s needs.
It also highlighted how isolated most families typically feel during the First Thousand Days (FTD) of life. Parents and caregivers from all walks of life highlighted the need for safe and hospitable spaces where they could find a sense of belonging and support.
We recognised the immense potential inherent in the local church to serve as much-needed communities of care and support for families in the FTD of life; however, there was little research to support our assumptions.
So, in 2017 we undertook rigorous research, asking what specific contribution the local church can make in support of the FTD of a child’s life.
Over 194 individual practitioners, church leaders, experts, mothers and carers participated in the research, which included surveys, community workshops, interviews and a literature review.
The findings were published in 2018 and shared with a broad range of stakeholders – from pastors and denominational committees, to medical experts, policymakers and NGO forums, among others.
Our research conclusions have informed our strategy to support a growing community of churches, working together to ensure the very best start in life for babies across South Africa. In 2019 we launched Sikunye.
The First Thousand Days offers a unique and invaluable window of opportunity to secure the optimal development of the child, and by extension, the positive developmental trajectory of a country.
The Local Church and the First Thousand Days of a Child’s Life: A Mixed Methods Study from South Africa
Ruth Edith Lundie, Deborah Merle Hancox (2020)
Lundie, R. E., & Hancox, D. M. (2020). The Local Church and the First Thousand Days of a Child’s Life: A Mixed Methods Study from South Africa. Christian Journal for Global Health, 7(3), 6-22.
“We are pleased to publish the first mixed-methods study of its kind by Ruth Lundie and Deborah Hancox from South Africa who describe the Church’s key role in supporting the first 1000 days (F1000D). We hope this will stimulate more research and application at the local faith community level. Building on these collaborations and bolstered by the existing evidence, we call for more study of the role of FBOs and the contextualized application of the teachings of our respective faiths. This will consolidate the guidance on practical approaches to supporting families to provide nurturing care in the earliest years of life, considering policies, enabling health system, and prompting relevant actions in other sectors. We also hope it will provide guidance to countries in their decisions to scale up effective interventions, to mobilize resources, to monitor progress, and to achieve results, demonstrating clear returns on cross-sectoral investments.”
O’Neill, D. W. (2020)
A Focus on the First 1000 Days: Research, Collaboration, and Reflection – Christian Journal for Global Health, 7(3), 1-3. (https://journal.cjgh.org/index.php/cjgh)