ICDP Colombia webpage:

Executive report 2023

Update November 2023

2022 update

2021: Report from the ICDP project with teachers in Quindio 2021: Work with young people

2020: Update from Pasto, Narino

2020: Strategies in times of pandemic


2019: Casanare development

2018: Quindio development

2017: Boyaca development

2017: Evaluation of ICDP in the Choco department – random control trial

2017: Envigado project in Antioquia


ICDP exploratory visits started in 1993, followed by training; in 1995 the first ICDP projects were set up. Since then, the work with ICDP has never stopped to grow and so far more than half a million children have been reached; 2000 trainers and 18 000 facilitators implemented ICDP in 300 municipalities. The large scale implementation was made possible through close cooperation between ICDP and UNICEF. ICDP reached families, children and young people in the most vulnerable departments of the country, by training staff from social services, education and health networks, and to a minor extent from local non-governmental organizations.

Summary of key developments

In the period between 1996 and 2001, training was given to NGOs working with poor communities in different parts of the country, such as Cali, Armenia, Bogota, Medellin and Bucaramanga.  

ICDP AT FUNLAM UNIVERSITY: ICDP was established at the Luis Amigo university (FUNLAM) in Medellin in 2006 and it was inserted as part of the curriculum for students. A team of professionals led by Carolina Montoya became ICDP trainers and have been running projects in the local community year after year for fifteen years. 

UNIVERSITY OF ANTIOQUIA: During 2003 – 2004 ICDP established cooperation with the University of Antioquia. A group of students was trained as ICDP facilitators and they spread the ICDP programme to 8 cities in the region of Antioquia, reaching 1200 displaced families. This project was both a psycho-social intervention programme and a research study.

PILOT PROJECT WITH UNICEFIn the autumn of 2001, Nicoletta Armstrong presented the methodology to UNICEF, and afterwards an agreement was signed with the UNICEF representative Manuel Manrique for cooperation on a pilot project. This was the beginning of a fruitful and ongoing cooperation with UNICEF. The pilot covered 5 provinces of Colombia – Quindio, Cauca, Nariño, Santander and Distrito capital. The ICDP courses were held in 6 cities, Pasto, Popayan, Bogota, Calarca, Cucuta and Bucaramanga, and were attended by 150 professionals who were trained as ICDP trainers. These professionals were recruited from 2 organizations: ICBF (Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar, the Colombian network of social services) and Conferencia Episcopal (Catholic church network). The ICDP programme reached 20.011 families and 62.783 children benefited from the program. 

PETITION BY FACILITATORS: At an evaluation meeting sponsored by UNICEF, the facilitators presented the following written statement to UNICEF and ICDP: “We wish to continue working with ICDP as the program produced positive changes for families, children and young people in their communities. Its principles need to be spread to all levels such as preschool, school and university; to government officials, policy makers and local NGOs. ICDP can serve both in the area of prevention and rehabilitation and should be inserted in the government network ICBF but it is important to take care not to lose the essential quality of the program: love and empathy.”
PROMOTION BY UNICEF UNICEF sponsored the making of a professional video about ICDP as a way of promoting the methodology in Colombia; the video was based on interviews with those who received the programme at all levels. At the same time UNICEF also sponsored the printing of ICDP training materials including a didactic video. Nicletta Armstrong adapted the ICDP materials for large scale implementation – and these were professionally designed and published by UNICEF as “the ICDP mochila.”

LEGALIZATION OF ICDP: ICDP Colombia was legally registered in May 2003 and in the same year it became an allied partner of UNICEF Colombia: ICDP Colombia team was: Nicoletta Armstrong, Carmen Lucia Andrade, Claudia Marcela Rojas, Ayda Brigitte Ramirez, Dora Lilia Aristizabal, Blanca Cecilia Garcia and Ricardo Jiménez.

DEPARTMENT OF NARINO: In 2004, UNICEF sponsored ICDP developments in Nariño, one of the poorest areas of Colombia and among the most affected by the armed conflict. The staff of the ICBF (Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar) received ICDP training. ICDP was inserted as a component inside the ICBF’s institutional plan 2003–2006, in the section called Growing and Learning. According to ICBF, due to ICDP there was an increase in child rearing competence in both the staff and the parents. The project provided adequate stimulation enhancing children’s psychosocial development,  and the ICDP programme was seen as a tool for peace building inside families and promoting respect for children as persons. Trained were 384 facilitators, 3710 promoters, reaching 30, 984 families and 111, 544 children. ICDP was implemented in 64 towns.The ICDP program was sustained till 2009, mainly through the work of psychologists from the health network, supported by ICDP Colombia.
EVALUATION: The evaluation by the University of Nariño showed that ICDP had a positive effect on the relationship between the child and its caregiver, by providing alternatives in cases where there were previously difficulties in the interaction or by increasing the levels of interaction. The trained ICBF agents became promoters of emotional expressivity. As result children started to express their feelings and emotions, appeared more affectionate, social and understanding; they appear more active and committed in carrying out their activities.

DEPARTMENT OF BOYACA: ICDP developments started in 2005. Boyaca is the Colombian province with the highest percentage of family violence. ICDP was implemented as part of a wider peace promoting strategy by UNICEF. At a press conference on the 18th February, the Governor of the Boyaca province launched the project, expressing his conviction that ICDP represents an important contribution towards the future development of the Colombian society. Furthermore, he stressed the uniqueness of our work, because for the first time all government institutions will be working together in the 123 towns of Boyaca. Inter-institutional work on such large scale, he said, was unprecedented. The main sponsors of the Boyaca project were UNICEF and FPAA, but there was a significant contribution from the province itself and some funding came from SD Britain. 
The ICDP workshops were attended by representatives from different networks, including preschool teachers, educational psychologists, community mothers, health nurses, doctors, clergy and university students and teachers. Each group came to the training with different expectations in line with their own fields of work. At first this proved to be rather a challenge, but gradually the participants grew to understand what ICDP was about and realized its practical value. ICDP was officially adopted by all as a long term strategy. An ICDP presentation was given at a meeting attended by almost all mayors of the Boyaca province, which helped promote our work on municipal levels and reinforce commitment towards it.ICDP training was given to over 5000 agents from education, health and social services, and they implemented the ICDP programme in 123 towns and reached 50 000 families.  
Follow up included a training programme to complete the handover from ICDP Colombia to a team of local trainers with the task of supervising future ICDP developments. The future vision for sustainability of ICDP in Boyaca was the main topic of a number of ICDP meetings with the First Lady of the province and the rest of the team from the Governor’s office. As a result the Secretariat for Education included ICDP as a component in the PEI programme for schools, the Institute for social services (ICBF) made ICDP training an obligatory component of its own training programme and the secretariat for Human Development reached 20 000 families with ICDP. 

ICDP AS A RADIO PROGRAMME: In 2007 ICDP was coordinated with the active involvement of the wife of the governor. Financial support was received through municipal councils. Follow up was given to 20 remote areas, focusing on indigenous communities and those that suffered from violence due to armed conflicts. The main ICDP messages were also spread through the radio. A radio programme on the topic of the 8 guidelines went on air during a period of 10 months – each guideline was represented with a socio-drama. Trained were 2100 promoters and each promoter implemented ICDP with about 10 families. Technical committees were set up to sustain this work locally.The Education and the Health Ministry, and the Secretariat for Human Development, have continued to apply the ICDP programme as an ongoing activity for 5 years, promoting mental health and good relationships throughout the department of Boyacá, over 100 000 families.   

EVALUATION OF ICDP IN BOYACA: The evaluation was carried out by a research team from 3 local universities. It showed positive impact of the ICDP work both inside the institutional networks, as well as on community levels.

NATIONAL AWARD: The Boyacá department received the Colombian national award for human rights in 2008 for their work with ICDP.

BOGOTA PROJECT WITH EX-GUERRILAS: In Bogotá, during 2006, 104 parents ex- guerrilla fighters received ICDP psychosocial intervention over a period of 8 months. Seven of them were selected and trained as ICDP facilitators. This was a project in cooperation with the Defence Ministry and Bogotá municipality, sponsored by the International Organization for Migrants (OIM). The project showed significant impact by creating motivation, hope and new space for empathic behaviour inside the families.

BUEN COMIENZO PROJECT: In Medellin in 2006, ICDP held courses for professionals from the government programme “Buen Comienzo” and the CINDE foundation; the ICDP projects reached 350 vulnerable families in marginalized areas of the city. In 2011, a project was developed in Comuna 13, in Medellin: in the midst of continuing violence (the 16 year old son of one of the facilitators was murdered); 39 mothers became facilitators and applied ICDP sensitization with 547 families and 40 young people.

DEPARTMENT OF HUILA: During 2006 a new ICDP project developed in cooperation with the local government, 3 ministries, UNICEF and Ecopetrol.  The training was given to professionals from education, health and social services who applied ICDP in the area of prevention reaching 15,000 families. In order to secure sustainability on the community levels ICDP clubs were formed and run by local mothers. Some of the facilitators held positions on local councils and partook in the decision making processes about social policy and program implementation at municipal level. In 2009, 147 trainers and 1417 facilitators (teachers, nurses and social workers) implemented ICDP in all 37 towns of the department, reaching 65,750 children. 

EVALUATION OF ICDP IN HUILA: In 2009 an evaluation study was sponsored by UNICEF under the guidance from the New York office, to establish the impact of the ICDP implementation in this province. The study had the pre and post intervention comparison format. The evaluation of the ICDP project in Huila showed it to cost effective and that ICDP had a positive impact on participants, both on parents and the professional caregivers. Parent-child interactions were observed, filmed and compared in control and experimental groups, pre and post intervention, showing in the post analysis of the experimental group an increase in sensitive behavior towards children (according to the 8 ICDP criteria for good interaction), whereas in the control groups behavior remained similar or decreased in quality.   Pre and post questionnaires and interviews using 222 informants confirmed the positive changes and the high relevance of ICDP for the work of the local networks. There was a pubic presentation of this study in 2010 which was attended by representatives from UNICEF, ICDP, IICRD, the ministries of health and education (SED and SEM) and the regional director of ICBF. ICDP and UNICEF discussed with local partners possible future expansion of ICDP in the Huila province and tried to define ways of incorporating ICDP within the framework of local public policy for early childhood and youth.

ICDP AND CHILDREN’S RIGHTS:IICRD (the International Institute for Children’s Rights and Development) approached ICDP to join forces and work together on developing a model for working in communities at risk with a focus on child protection from violence and realization of children’s rights. CINDE (The International Institute for Human Development) was the third partner. A joint model ICDP/ IICRD / CINDE was developed during the following two years (2011 and 2012) which was positively tested out in pilot projects in Huila, Medellin, La Tebaida and Choco. A book was produced (in Spanish and English) and published describing this new model which was added to the ICDP programme.

DEPARTMENT OF CHOCO: During 2006 ICDP training was given to a core group of 30 professionals mainly from ICBF who in turn trained 200 promoters, reaching 2000 families and children at high risk. The population reached was mainly of Afro Colombian. The UNICEF regional office coordinated the work and provided sponsors. During the following year ICDP was reaching hundreds of families at risk, many living in remote and guerrilla controlled areas. The project continued and it is still ongoing. A new development was the cultural adaptation of the ICDP materials for working with the Embera indigenous community. The ICDP program was adapted to their philosophy, cosmic vision and cultural way of relating inside the family. The “8 ICDP guidelines booklet for parents” was translated in  4 Indian languages: Katios, Embera, Waunaan and Tule.           

EVALUATION OF ICDP IN CHOCO: In 2012, a team of researchers from the University of Oslo and University College, London started to work on the evaluation of ICDP in the department of Choco. Sponsorship is from the Children and Violence Evaluation Challenge Fund. The data collection is carried out by psychology students from the university in Quibdo. The study will explore the effects of the ICDP intervention on caregiver attitudes and behaviour, in particular the use of violence in child rearing, and the child’s strengths and difficulties. The main evaluation question is: is the ICDP programme effective in reducing violent child rearing practices, and how does the violence prevention curriculum add to the effects of the general programme? The study will at effects in a randomized controlled trial.

DEPARTMENT OF QUINDIO: In Alto Naranjal, near Cordoba, in the province of Quindío, the ICDP sensitization meetings took place throughout 2008 with families from the Embera Chami indigenous community. The families started to discuss their own behaviour towards their children and also towards each other, and gradually managed to make positive changes, reducing violence in the community.A pilot project in Armenia, in 2010 adapted ICDP for youth-to-youth delivery and it proved very successful. It was followed up by another project in 2011, which took place in Cordoba with young people with drug addiction problems.In 2012 and 2013, ICDP was implemented in 9 municipalities of Quindio, as a component of the Cero a Siempre government national strategy for the promotion of early childhood development.ICDP training was given to teachers, technical coordinators, psychologists and nutritionists. The project reached 423 vulnerable families with children 0-5 years of age, including families of reintegrated guerrilla fighters, indigenous population, and impoverished families in rural areas. 

DEPARTMENT OF SANTANDER: ICDP Colombia signed an agreement for cooperation with the Heath Ministry in 2010 and pilot projects took place in Velez, de Mares and de Garcia Rovira, where health nurses used ICDP with families that visit their health centres. The results were positive which led the Health Ministry to adopt the ICDP methodology and they funded the training of a core group of health agents to become ICDP trainers. The project is still ongoing and is gradually spreading the programme all over the department.  ICDP was adopted by the University of Bucaramanga as part of the curriculum of their students, who evaluated the impact of ICDP on families and children as part of their thesis. In 2012, the Health Ministry institutionalized ICDP and publicly launched the programme. The 70 trainers and 350 facilitators reached over 2000 families and over 6000 children. The Health Ministry institutionalized ICDP in 2012 and the ICDP activities continued in 2013.

ICDP AND FAN: In Medellín, there was a request for training from the FAN organization and a team of ICDP trainers was established; they applied ICDP in several day centres for children, reaching 400 children, in marginalized areas of Medellin. From 2006 to 2009, one hundred social workers became ICDP facilitators, working in day centres supported by FAN. In 2009, FAN held ICDP courses for students at a government institution called SENA, including practical tasks with children, which complemented the students’ theoretical studies about child development. Training was also given to 30 teachers from the Carala Cristina organization working in a marginalized area of the city. FAN trained two more groups in ICDP:  40 teachers from the Los Alamos institute applied ICDP with families with children who have special needs and 40 community leaders implemented ICDP with 800 families at risk.  During 2011-2013, FAN established the ICDP method as part of a government program for children, adolescents and their families. The ICDP work was carried out by FAN in partnership with Alianza Somos Familia and Gerencia de Infancia, Adolescencia y Juventud. Training was given to  professionals who applied the ICDP program with families in 14 municipalities. In 2012, the FAN organization established cooperation with the government of Antioquia and two municipalities, Santa Fe de Antioquia and Canas Gordas; 1800 families benefited from ICDP.

ICDP FOR TEACHERS: 2012-2013 The ICDP training held at the college for teachers in Envigado, Colombia, received very good reception from the 80 participant students. The ICDP course was led by Carolina Montoya, an experienced ICDP trainer from the FUNLAM university in Medellin. The evaluation of the work with students was conducted and systematized by sociologist Eumelia Galeano. Throughout the period of the ICDP training, short evaluative sessions were conducted at the end of each of the 12 meetings, in order to investigate the different aspects of the ICDP methodology and the content taught. In addition, more in-depth evaluation was conducted in two stages, in the middle of the course during the sixth meeting, and towards the end in meeting 11. “On both occasions we sought to contrast the perception of those attending the training in relation to their initial expectations, learning and tools acquired for their future work as teachers. The ICDP experiential methodology created great motivation. For most students the ICDP meetings became a special space not to be missed out on. They learned new principles and were able to practice them in a pleasant, motivating and effective way. The majority of participants said that the most significant learning for them was about ways to create a climate of trust and to positively redefine children; and that this positive way of seeing others is having an overall impact on how they now relate to all those around them.” – Eumelia Galeano.
“I became very involved in the ICDP program, all classes were very dynamic and I loved coming every Saturday, my work group was spectacular, we always collaborated a lot. I feel confident now that I know how to get close to other people. I was able to confront and stop feeling a sense of fear I used to have before”.
“During the course my interest and motivation never waned, and I felt that I was learning all the time. I learned a lot. The ICDP facilitator played a very important part by encouraging and motivating us as teachers.”
“I thought the course was very good, I learned a great deal. Now I feel committed to replicate what I learned not only through my performance as a future teacher, but also in each and every interactive situation in my daily life because I acquired the necessary elements to do so. “
“Thanks to this program, I have to say, I changed. We had an excellent teacher who lived with us the ICDP principles and provided an example of how to express love and give meaning to our interactions. I want to express how grateful I am for joining this ICDP process and I want to use in the future all that I learned, I want to share it with many more people. “