A picture of the quality of services and development of childen under 3 years of age in Mexico
Latin America and the Caribbean’s achievements in terms of boosting early childhood development programs coverage are outstanding. Yet, the region’s biggest challenge is that this growth does not divert attention from quality and in particularly to what is known as process quality (child-caregiver interactions). In order to advance along this path, it is necessary to have reliable information to guide the decision-making process and to improve services. This pioneering project in Mexico uses reference measurement techniques, questionnaires, and household surveys that will collect data on the quality of childcare of toddlers under 3 years provided by the country’s main public suppliers, as well as on the children’s vocabulary level and on the quality of their household environment. This diagnosis will guide the design of strategies to optimize the services, with special care to promote the quality of caregivers-children interactions.
Although Mexico has in place all the legal and institutional frameworks needed to promote integral early infancy care policies, there are still not enough childcare services putting the accent on quality or enough interventions fostering childhood development and its evaluation. In order to contribute to improve the supply of services, it is necessary to gain a better understanding of and to generate information on the quality of childcare services, particularly those focusing on 0-3-year-old boys and girls, an age range that is hard to measure.
To get a thorough overview of the services, the analysis focuses on gauging the quality of the routine care and interactions between caregivers and children. It also evaluates infrastructure and equipment quality, among other parameters. In addition, it appraises girls and boys attending these centers and keeps track of the relationship between quality of service and child development. In order to get this information, children under 3 years of age were videotaped in class. Sections of this footage will be analyzed using the CLASS (Classroom Assessment Scoring System) protocol, which is the tool of reference for assessing the quality of adult-child interactions in a group care environment. Questionnaires were also used to monitor other aspects of service such as infrastructure, basic services, and risks. Finally, a household survey was employed to look into areas such as vocabulary level, environment quality, and other home socio-demographics features.
Evaluation and Impact
The diagnosis showed high levels of security and quality of the physical infrastructure. Opportunities were also detected to strengthen the quality of the processes.