Applying a Family-Level Economic Strengthening Intervention to Improve Education and Health-Related Outcomes of School-Going AIDS-Orphaned Children: Lessons from a Randomized Experiment in Southern Uganda

May 2016 - Structural Prevention

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Ssewamala, F.M., Karimli, L., Torsten, N., et al. Prevention Science (January 2016), 17(1): 134¬–43, doi:10.1007/s11121-015-0580-9.

This two-arm cluster-randomized controlled trial assessed whether a Suubi-Maka intervention (a family-level economic strengthening intervention) would improve developmental outcomes (education, health, and psychosocial functioning) in children between ages 12 and 16 who had been orphaned by AIDS. Participating children from 10 schools were randomly assigned to Suubi-Maka (5 schools, 179 children) or bolstered usual care (5 schools, 167 children). Bolstered usual care consisted of counseling, school uniforms, school lunches, notebooks, textbooks, and mentorship from a near-peer. Children in the Suubi-Maka arm received bolstered usual care plus a family-level economic strengthening intervention in the form of a matched Child Savings Account. The authors collected data at baseline (pre-intervention) and at 24 months after the intervention. They reported significant differences in health outcomes between the two groups; children in the Suubi-Maka group reported significantly lower levels of hopelessness, and had significantly higher academic scores, than those in the control group. Additionally, children in the intervention group had much higher confidence in their educational plans than did their counterparts in the control group. The authors concluded that family-level economic strengthening programs, over and above bolstered usual care, may have positive developmental impacts on education and health.

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