Common Quality Framework for Non-formal Early Childhood Education and Care

ICDI is coordinating the development of a Common Quality Framework for Non-formal Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Europe and Central Asia.  It is a collaborative endeavour involving more than 70 individuals and organisations.


To develop, validate and pilot a Common Quality Framework for Non-formal Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe and Central Asia. 


Non-formal early childhood education and care (ECEC) spaces, such as play hubs, parent and toddler groups or family centres, offer important play and learning experiences for young children (0-8 years), parenting support for their caregivers and access pathways to formal education, health and social services. 

The benefits of good quality and community-based non-formal ECEC are that they: 

  • Create awareness and improve the access of vulnerable young children to quality ECEC play and learning opportunities 
  • Increase school readiness and enhance transition to formal ECEC and school 
  • Enhance parenting skills  
  • Improve access to formal health, education and social services 
  • Promote trust between families and health, education and social services 
  • Improve social cohesion and inclusion 
  • Enhance inter-agency cooperation focussed on children’s and family welfare . 

Non-formal ECEC fulfils an essential role in the broader ECEC ecosystem, which should be recognised and supported by national and local governments. However, many non-formal services are not regulated and are not included in existing national systems for monitoring or evaluating ECEC quality.  

The proposed common framework and accompanying tool will be used to design, implement and evaluate nonformal ECEC services and to inform learning and development of staff and volunteers. It will also increase the recognition of non-formal ECEC by national and local governments, as a valuable addition to the ECEC eco-system.  


ISSA Joint Learning Lab: developing a shared understanding of quality non-formal ECEC 

The development and consultation work are being undertaken in the context of an ISSA Joint Learning Lab. The process involves agreeing on six quality dimensions (informed by European Quality Framework for ECEC) and indicators and the development of user-friendly assessment tools. 

Consultation with expert validation panel: The expert validation panel includes members from the EU Commission, Eurocities, ISSA, German Youth Institute, KINDNow/Norchild, Dublin City University Early Childhood Research Centre, Harvard Centre for the Developing Child, and Human Safety Net. 

Piloting of the framework and assessment tools: Services from various countries in Europe and Central Asia are being selected for the piloting of the Framework and Assessment tools.