Name: Liezl Schlebusch
Qualifications: B.Sc., B. Compt (Accountancy), Hons (Augmentative & Alternative Communication), Masters and PhD (Early Childhood Intervention)
Positition: Lecturer, Coordinator of the DiamonD Families Research Project
Project: DiamonD Families Research Project (January 2018 - present)
Title: Pilot testing the implementation of the World Health Organisation’s Caregiver Skills Training (CST) Programme for families of children with developmental disabilities in South Africa
Problem: Most children with developmental disabilities and their families live in low- and middle-income countries, however, disability-related service provision for these children and families are lacking, especially at the primary health care and community level. The Caregiver Skills Training (CST) programme was developed by the World Health Organisation and international partners to make available a caregiver education program (for caregivers of children 2-9 years old with developmental disabilities) that can be delivered by non-specialist providers in low- and middle-income countries. While the program is based on the best available evidence in high-income countries, there is a need to demonstrate that the programme is also effective in improving caregivers’ competencies and children’s development when implemented in low-resource settings outside high-income countries.
Project: In collaboration with the World Health Organisation, the South African Department of Social Development, and Autism South Africa, this pilot project will investigate whether the CST Programme is acceptable, feasible, and effective in two South African provinces. Dr Schlebusch and her team will be working together with families of children with developmental disabilities and other key national and local stakeholders. The collaborative research partnerships will ensure that the programme materials and strategies are adapted to be culturally acceptable, responsive to the local socioeconomic and political context, and delivered in a way that meets the needs of families affected by childhood disability issues. The pilot project will provide preliminary evidence of the impact of the intervention and contribute to the global goal of investigating affordable, sustainable, and scalable interventions for families who are raising children with developmental disabilities.