FAQ and Definitions

We believe that all caregivers are parents – and similarly, all parents are caregivers. A caregiver provides regular care and support to a child, with no need for a biological relationship to the child, and can be of any gender. 

We use the terms parents and caregivers interchangeably to refer to the individuals who provide regular care and support to a child. This includes biological parents, legal parents, grandparents, other relatives, or any other person who is the main caregiver of the child. This is a broad definition that acknowledges that significant numbers of children are raised and cared for by people other than their biological parents.   

A more comprehensive list of our definitions is shown below.

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the pivotal role parents and caregivers play at the frontlines of protecting their children from stress and promoting their development, health, and well-being. Disrupted child and family services and social isolation from lockdown measures led to a vacuum of support around overburdened and stressed parents and caregivers and created a global parenting crisis. 


The effects of COVID-19 continue to ripple through society and children’s wellbeing, growth, and development are impacted in many ways.


GISP was founded in 2021 to urgently increase awareness and action in support of parents.

While parenting interventions are frequently siloed across sectors, GISP brings together partners working across different sectors and outcomes and throughout the life course to promote parenting support.

GISP is coordinated by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN), Parenting for Lifelong Health (PLH) at the University of Oxford, and the International Rescue Committee (IRC). 

The inter-agency collaboration was formed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in recognition that more could be achieved through deliberate collaboration to promote universal parenting support.

GISP seeks to actively collaborate with other partners and stakeholders from around the globe who wish to promote universal parenting support. If you would like to support GISP, please view Get Involved.

GISP has been generously funded by organizations that support parenting interventions. This includes the Lego Foundation and USAID

All coordinating partners volunteer time, resources, and input into GISP.

If you are a funder who is interested in supporting GISP or you are interested in joining our GISP Donor Advisory Group, please contact info@support-parents.org.

GISP is a lean platform serving the global parenting community. It emerged from the vision of the founding partners and continues to evolve to reflect the needs of its growing, global network of partners, funders, and stakeholders.

Global Initiative to Support Parents (GISP) | FAQ and Definitions

The coordinating partners are responsible for the daily operations and administration of GISP. For more information, please view Leadership and Operations.

GISP collaborates and coordinates with all organizations, institutions, and parties who are involved in offering support to parents. This includes governments, academia, and regional and in-country parenting organizations from around the globe. 

Parenting is the greatest entry point for promoting children’s well-being, leading to better education, economic, health, and social outcomes, yet there is a global parenting crisis with parents facing increased pressures in providing for their children

Research has shown that when parents are supported, they are better able to support their children’s health, well-being, and development. For more information, please view Why Support Parent.

Parenting interventions are positive interventions and recognize that parents need support to navigate parenting challenges. Parenting interventions aim to strengthen and support positive parenting skills, practices, and approaches. When parenting behaviors are strengthened and supported, parents are better able to provide their children with warm, sensitive, and responsive care. This facilitates children’s holistic development, learning, and growth. 

Parenting support can take on many different forms depending on the needs of the parent as well as other factors. It is often guided by the Parenting Programmatic Pyramid.   Global Initiative to Support Parents (GISP) | FAQ and Definitions

GISP seeks to achieve universal parenting support. In other words, GISP wants every family to be supported in their caregiving practices and to receive the support they need. Part of GISP’s work is to understand how parenting interventions are currently offered around the globe and where there are gaps in delivery. Through a better understanding of the parenting support environment, collaboration and coordination can be improved. In this way, parents will benefit from greater support, and ultimately, children’s growth and development outcomes will be boosted.

GISP provides a global platform for parenting interventions to collaborate and learn from each other on how best to support parents. GISP recognizes the local wisdom of different cultures and does not prescribe any one-size-fits-all parenting approach. Furthermore, GISP recognizes the uniqueness of each family and their contextual needs. 

GISP supports the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Supporting parents can help to protect children. When parents are strengthened in their skills and efforts to parent children, they provide children with love, care, and security. These characteristics form an important part of children’s well-being, sense of safety, and identity. When children feel safe, they feel included, express themselves, and share more freely. Children are also less likely to participate in risky behaviors. In this way, parenting interventions can strengthen and support children and protect them from harm.


GISP serves the broader parenting community to promote and support universal parenting interventions, including for prioritized populations. 

We use the terms parents and caregivers interchangeably and to refer to the individuals who provide regular care and support to a child. This includes biological parents, legal parents, grandparents, other relatives, or any other person who is the main caregiver of the child. This is a broad definition that acknowledges that significant numbers of children are raised and cared for by people other than their biological parents.   




This is a broad term to encompass any person who parents a child. This person may be a biological parent or relative, but it may also refer to anyone who provides regular care and support to a child. Parenting interventions also include caregivers in their support. 


Diversity is practiced when individuals who come from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and different gender identities, sexual orientations, etc. are included and involved in parenting interventions. When diversity is practiced respectfully, thoughtfully, and sensitively, interventions are enriched. Diversity should therefore be supported for its own sake.


A family has certain qualities, such as love and care of other members, that provide a sense of security, belonging, mutual respect, and value. Whilst the traditional view of a family as a group of two or more persons related by birth, marriage, partnership, or adoption who live together may still be held within certain cultures and contexts, non-traditional families exist and may function well. Non-traditional families may include minor-(child) headed households, same-sex couples with children, multi-generational households, and many other configurations. 

Acknowledging and incorporating both traditional and non-traditional families in parenting and caregiver interventions promotes inclusivity and supports positive child outcomes. 

Father or father figure

A father is the male parent of a child, biologically or through adoption, that carries certain parental, legal, and social obligations. Males who may not have a formal relationship with a child may still be considered a “father” or a “father figure” due to the paternal qualities they offer the child. 


Gender refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls, and boys that are socially constructed. This includes norms, behaviors, and roles associated with being a woman, man, girl, or boy, as well as relationships with each other. As a social construct, gender varies from society to society and can change over time.

Inclusion or inclusivity

This is practiced when equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, is provided. Often people who have physical or intellectual disabilities or developmental challenges or members of other minority groups are excluded. Parenting interventions should acknowledge the uniqueness of each child, parent or caregiver, and family and ensure equal inclusion in the design and implementation of interventions so that all children and caregivers can benefit. 

Mother or mother figure

A mother is the female parent of a child, by virtue of having given birth, by raising and taking care of a child who may or may not be her biological offspring, or by supplying her ovum for fertilization in the case of gestational surrogacy. A “mother figure” is a female who offers the child nurturing care and support.


This is the main caregiver(s) of the child and may or may not be the biological or legal parent(s) of the child. This is a broad definition that acknowledges that significant numbers of children are raised and cared for by people other than their parents.  A parent is someone who provides consistent and significant care to a child and may include mothers, fathers, grandparents, other relatives, or any other person in a significant caregiver role within a child’.


This is the interactions, behaviours, emotions, knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and practices associated with the provision of nurturing care.  It is the process of promoting and supporting the development and socialization of the child to prepare them for the physical, psychosocial, and economic conditions in which they live, work, play, learn, and thrive. 

Parenting interventions

This is a broad term that encompasses parenting programs, parenting support, and other forms of assistance offered to parents to guide parents in specific skills and strategies that support them as parents and facilitate their children’s development. 

Interventions may include classes, workshops, and/or the provisions of programs, support groups, individual sessions, and other activities/resources.  

Priority populations

Priority populations are those groups of people who require particular support and assistance in parenting. They may include people living with disabilities, refugees and families in migration, male caregivers, and adolescent parents. Priority populations will vary from area to area depending on culture, context, and regulations amongst others. They may also include marginalized and under-serviced populations. 

Responsive caregiving

Responsive caregiving refers to the ability of the caregiver to notice, understand, and respond to the child’s signals in a timely and appropriate manner. Responsive caregiving is essential for ensuring children’s health, nutrition, safety, and security.

Some studies, especially older academic articles, term positive and responsive caregiving as ‘maternal responsiveness’ or ‘maternal sensitivity’; however, responsive caregiving can be practiced by caregivers of any gender.