Beyond Siloed Interventions: BEC's Early Childhood Group at the InterAction Forum

BEC's Early Childhood Education working group was proud to lead the breakout session, "Beyond Siloed Interventions: The Case for Integrated Early Childhood Development," at InterAction's 2017 Forum. Katherine Merseth (RTI), Katy Anis (Save the Children), Kate Thomas (Cambridge Education), Carrie Lewis (EDC), and Selam Tadesse (CRS) drew clear linkages between investment in the early childhood and later outcomes across a number of human development sectors. The forum set the stage by presenting data from the fields of education, neuroscience, health, psychology, and economics to demonstrate the exponential impact that early experience exerts across the life time of individuals. Katy Anis (Save the Children) drew data from academic research, scientific studies, economic analyses and program impact evaluations to illustrate this case. The panel then dove into examples of implementation of early child development programming, discussing the approach to integrating early child development into a number of sectors, the results of these efforts and the implications of their findings.
Firstly, Kate Thomas of Cambridge Education presented: Integration of Early Childhood Education in Food Fortification in Pakistan
Since 2009, Mott Mac (Cambridge Education) has provided technical assistance to the provincial governments of Pakistan with the aim of strengthening systems for the planning and delivery of maternal, newborn, and child health services throughout the country. They also support the development of "roadmaps" required to enhance Pakistan’s health sector’s capacity to implement effective and well managed programs, to develop innovative and evidence-based effective policies related to reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health and nutrition. Kate described the fundamentals of how to integrate early childhood education within efforts of other relevant sectors, specifically nutrition. She explained what is meant by Early Childhood Development and how it can and should be incorporated across international development sectors. 
Secondly, Carrie Lewis of Education Development Center presented: Rwanda’s Junior Caregiver Program: Livelihoods and Early Childhood Development
Carrie described early childhood education as a lifecycle intervention rather than a single educational event. In one example of the multigenerational benefit of ECD, Education Development Center has partnered with Rwanda’s Ministry of Education since 2008 to improve teaching and learning and prepare youth for the workforce. With funding from DFID, EDC developed the JCP or Junior Caregiver Program, which was at the nexus of early learning and livelihoods.  The Junior Caregiver Program (JCP) trained and certified unemployed young women and promoted better school readiness among children attending local ECD centers. The Government of Rwanda has integrated the project’s work readiness curriculum into its technical and vocational education and training (TVET) schools and also into its secondary school system nationally, ensuring long-term imprint on early care and education.
Thirdly, Selam Tadesse of Catholic Relief Services presented on the Capacity Strengthening Program with Women Religious in Kenya, Malawi and Zambia (KMZ): Integrated Early Childhood Development
Catholic Sisters in KMZ are among many caregivers who provide meaningful services to poor and vulnerable children but lack both the individual and organizational capacity in ECD to fully optimize their potential to ensure children not only survive, but also get the best start in life and thrive. To address this gap, with a 3-year funding from Conrad Hilton Foundation and in partnership with and capacity strengthening support from CRS, three Sister Associations and their 48 congregations have implemented the Strengthening the Capacity of Women Religious in Early Childhood Development (SCORE ECD) Project in KMZ with a goal to improve and expand provision of quality ECD services for under-5 children. Through SCORE ECD, Sisters focused their services on the ‘whole child’ and their family, as opposed to traditional reading, writing activities for children. They integrated health, nutrition and positive parenting, encouraged fathers to play active role in child care and development, even accompanying their wives to pre-and postnatal checkups and ensure the enrollment of their children in preschool. Sisters have also become active early childhood team of trainers and advocates in their communities. 

Following the panel, participants reflected upon how early child development could be integrated in their various types of programming modalities.  Panelists were on hand to answer questions and help participants think through how this goal can be achieved. Contact Beth Johnson for more info on the presentations.