Parental support in the first years of life is pivotal for the healthy and happy development of young children. A nurturing environment for very young children is also very important to develop solid foundations for their psychosocial well-being.
A child’s brain undergoes an amazing period of rapid development from birth to three. The development of the brain is influenced by many factors, including a child’s relationships, experiences and environment.
With this programme ICDI, along with our partner organization, Education for Sustainable Development, is focusing on the first 1000 days of children’s lives in Ethiopia We will put into practice an innovative, holistic approach to community-based Early Childhood Development (ECD) environment for children 0-3 years, which involves integrating parenting support with community based health and social care support in 10 communities in Ethiopia.
We aim to promote the healthy social and emotional development of babies, toddlers and children in general in Ethiopia.
This project is funded by Stichting Dioraphte
ICDI has formulated an innovative approach for community based Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes for children 0-3. The main pillars of this model are:
- Enhancing a sense of ownership in the whole community with respect to the health and psychosocial wellbeing of children aged 0-3;
- Improving health and social integration of children aged 0-3 through the increased availability of and access to multi-sectoral services for parents and children (including prenatal care);
- Enhancing and improve early learning and parent-child interaction for children aged 0-3 through strategies that enrich parental skills and practices;
ICDI together with Ethiopian partner Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) aims to implement this approach, which represents a natural follow up of the UPSI-5 project. In the UPSI-5 project, ICDI and ESD already measured the psychosocial well-being of Ethiopian 5 year-old children. This is heavily influenced by the environment and relationships those children have experienced during the first years of their life.
1. PARTICIPATORY COMMUNITY PLANS FOR CHILDREN THROUGH THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ‘ECD 0-3 COMMITTEES’
At the core of community-based ECEC is the sense of responsibility and ownership of the whole community towards the health and well-being of their young children. To foster this attitude, ICDI and ESD are:
- Researching community’s norms, values and practices on maternal and infant health, the role of family members in child rearing and parents’ perception and satisfaction of services.
- Creating local ‘ECD 0-3 Committees’ in 10 communities and train their members on ECD for children 0-3. The committees will be composed of parents, grandparents, community leaders, religious leaders, health/social care service representatives, ECEC practitioners and local authorities’ representatives.
- The ECD O-3 Committees will develop a ‘Community plan for children 0-3’ and to set and monitor annual targets. Their focus: prenatal care, postnatal care, nurturing, play and development.
2.FACILITATION OF ACCESS TO MULTI-LAYERED AND INTEGRATED COMMUNITY HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE SUPPORT SYSTEM
A cross-sector, multi-disciplinary team comprising health extension workers in liaison with pediatricians, obstetricians, therapists, nurses and social workers, working closely with the mothers, fathers and family, can positively enhance the healthy development, early stimulation and development of learning skills of the child, and also the well-being of the mother.
In the context of this project, community mediators will liaison between families and services in order to:
- Offer financial support to families for transportation and checkups/services;
- Support access to prenatal and postnatal care incl. birth registration and vaccines;
- Organize and facilitate home visits by health and social care professionals to improve pre- and postnatal health of mother and child, reduce subsequent pregnancies, improve mental health of children and school readiness, give ongoing support on parental skills
- Facilitate enrollment of children aged 3 and more in ECD services and initiatives
3. SUPPORTING PARENTS TO PROVIDE RICH, SAFE AND NURTURING ENVIRONMENTS FOR CHILDREN AGED 0-3
Parental support for mothers and fathers (and members of the extended family) improves the quality of home environments and therefore the quality of the relationship between caregivers and children, as well as the quality of attachment, which in the first three years of life is a key ingredient for healthy brain development and psychosocial functioning.
The project foresees to provide parental support in each of the 6 targeted communities through the following actions:
- Set up of parents support groups for mothers, fathers and extended family
- Opening of 6 local ECEC Play Hubs. These Hubs offer toy-lending facilities, and a community space where children and their families of all ages are welcomed to play and meet with other families and take part in creative and social activities together.
- Information about childrearing, health, early learning and development can be passed informally to parents and grandparents in the Play Hub, which is staffed by a trained community facilitator and hosts regular workshops organized by health and ECEC workers.
- Home visits providing counseling on child development, the importance of play, responsive parenting and early learning activities
Development of appropriate information materials for families, teachers, health workers
The project is active in 10 communities (Siyadebirna Wayu districts of Amhara regional State, 6 communities; Debre Birhan urban area, 4 communities) and targets 750 age 0-3 children (50% girls) and their families as direct beneficiaries. The indirect beneficiaries will include 50 professionals (health workers, ECEC practitioners, teachers, etc.) and at least 2000 households in the targeted communities.