Evaluation of Save the Children's "First Steps" or "Intera za Mbere" Program

Last registered on October 11, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Evaluation of Save the Children's "First Steps" or "Intera za Mbere" Program
Initial registration date
September 14, 2021

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
September 14, 2021, 6:22 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
October 11, 2023, 12:17 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
This study is a randomized controlled trial evaluation of the impact of Save the Children's First Steps / Intera za Mbere program on parenting practices and early childhood development. The study takes place in three districts in Rwanda: Gasabo, Kirehe, and Ruhango. Early childhood development outcomes are assessed using the Malawi Developmental Assessment Tool (MDAT).
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Le Saux, Laura and Maggie Vinyard. 2023. "Evaluation of Save the Children's "First Steps" or "Intera za Mbere" Program." AEA RCT Registry. October 11. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7899-2.0
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


Save the Children’s First Steps parenting program aims to improve parenting practices, child development outcomes, and promotion of emergent literacy in the home. The program targets caregivers of children under three years of age. First Steps is delivered through parenting education group sessions using blended radio programming and community-based activities. The blended approach allows the program to reach more families at lower cost without compromising quality. Parenting sessions are delivered weekly in the community by the trained volunteers. All trained volunteers receive a facilitator’s guide, illustrated posters and booklets to support the sessions. Each session lasts between 75 and 90 minutes. The parenting education curriculum includes 18 sessions across four focus areas: responsive caring, playful learning, language & literacy, and healthy beginnings.

The program is implemented in two different versions: full and light-touch. Both versions receive the parenting education sessions as described above. Families receiving the full version also receive at least one home visit during the intervention; vulnerable families receive additional home visits from Inshuti z’umuryango (IZU) as needed. In addition, families in the full version receive additional materials and access to a children’s book bank.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Early childhood development
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Development will be measured using the Malawi Developmental Assessment Tool (MDAT). Raw scores will be converted to an age-standardized z-score. Scores will be reported by domain, and overall.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Caregiver knowledge, attitudes and practices
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Knowledge, attitudes, and practices around parenting including positive discipline, responsive parenting, health and nutrition

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
This evaluation is a randomized controlled trail of the effect of two versions of the First Steps program - light-touch or full intervention, compared to a control group - on parenting practices and child development outcomes.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done using random number generation by a computer in an office.
Randomization Unit
Clusters (cells, a geographic unit) randomized to treatment or control
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
99 cells
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,188 caregiver-child pairs
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
33 cells per treatment arm: light-touch, full, and control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
0.289 standard deviations

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Rwanda National Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
National Institute of Statistics Rwanda
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
National Council for Science and Technology
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
March 31, 2020, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
October 31, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
99 villages
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
1107 households
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Full intervention: 32% of endline sample Light-touch: 34% of endline sample Control: 34% of endline sample
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials