Formación y Atención a la Primera Infancia (Early Childhood Development and Care) – HCB
To ensure a good start for all children who are born in the region, it is not enough to ensure access to care services. It is also necessary to educate and assist the adults responsible for providing that care with pedagogical training that responds to their particular circumstances. This vocational education program for early child care and development has a structured curriculum focused on each of the components of the Community Wellbeing Homes (Hogares Comunitarios de Bienestar - HCB) Program in Colombia. Its innovative implementation has the potential to improve the quality of care for children, ensuring their appropriate development through quality interactions with their caregivers.
Governments in the region have made significant efforts to provide services to the youngest children. In the case of Colombia, HCBs promotes healthcare, nutrition, and early education of children in the most vulnerable families in both urban and rural areas. The households are assisted by a community mother who is in charge of delivering child services that include providing up to 70 percent of the daily nutritional requirement, promoting nutritional and developmental monitoring, facilitating psycho-social development activities, and promoting the prevention of illnesses through healthy lifestyle habits. However, the quality of care continues to be deficient in many cases, which compromises the cognitive, behavioral, and physical development of the children who go to these centers. The community mothers need more and better training in order to carry out their important work in promoting the sufficient development of children.
In order to improve the quality of services that children receive in the HCBs, a program was designed to offer vocational education to the community mothers through a training program. The program provides pedagogical tools that facilitate the care provided by the community mothers to meet the needs of the children, and promotes the participation of and interaction with parents and the community. The community mothers, who must be older than 17 years of age and have a high school degree, participate voluntarily in a program, which has a structured curriculum that covers all of the desired components of the intervention within the framework of the HCB program: promotion of cognitive development of the children and development of their socio-emotional skills, assistance in cases of accidents or sudden illness, nutrition and health from gestation until 6 years of age, and ethics, transformation and leadership in the community.
Evaluation and Impact
A quasi-experimental impact evaluation is being carried out that estimates the effects of the program using as an identification strategy the gradual geographic expansion of the vocational education program to community mothers in the city of Bogota. The treatment group includes the first two cohorts of graduates from the program, while the control group includes community mothers who expressed interest in being trained and who were scheduled to start their training the year after the evaluation. The good news: the program has positive and significant effects on the children in the treatment HCBs in terms of their health and cognitive and non-cognitive results. The community mothers in the treatment group improved the pedagogical process and the interactions the parents.