Stress and financial uncertainty can have an important effect on parental investments and the quality of parent-child interactions at home. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments around the world have enacted preventive quarantine measures to flatten the transmission curve. The pandemic has generated an increase in stress and financial uncertainty for people (Almond, et al 2018; Bhat, et al., 2020). Quarantine measures make household members stay together for longer periods of time at home, which exacerbates the likelihood of children exhibiting behaviors that trigger violent reactions in adults at home.
Results from a rapid response survey implemented in Jamaica in July 2020 showed that one of the most important demands from caregivers in the sample is greater availability of services for socioemotional support and stress reduction. Additionally, the data show that 90% of caregivers have access to the internet by phone and 44% internet by tablet. Moreover, while the majority of parents/caregivers reported increasing positive interactions with their children, they also reported increased negative interactions.
Considering the economic and social costs of caregiver’s and children’s stress and the results from the rapid response survey in Jamaica, this research project aims to measure the impact of a virtual intervention (IRIE Homes) that provides caregivers access to support and guidance by specialists to cope with stress and positive parenting skills. By conducting a randomized control trial with approximately 1,200 caregivers in Jamaica, we will measure the causal impacts of this intervention on parenting skills, child maltreatment or abuse, and caregivers’ mental health.