1. Operational Definitions

 

A ‘Daycare’ is a facility where babies, toddlers and small children are cared for, during the day, while parents are away for a temporary period.

 

Daycare centers run and managed by Mobile Creches operate, typically, from specially designated spaces provided by builders/community/others, at construction sites/urban slums, with basic facilities of water, electricity and sanitation. They normally operate for 8 hours, 6 days a week. Flexible timings are sometimes adopted, depending on the requirement.

 

The Daycare Centre, through its Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) programme, ensures the provision of age appropriate learning, care and health services, in a warm, safe, clean, stimulating and supervised environment, to address the emotional, physical and educational needs of each child.

 

 

2.  Rationale for ECCD

 

The early childhood stage is the most critical period when the foundations for health, learning capacities and social behaviors are laid. Early interventions can enhance the life-long development of the child helping her to realize her full potential. Research shows that approximately 80% of brain development takes place during the first five years of a child’s life. Children’s development consists of several interdependent domains, which include sensory-motor, cognitive and socio-emotional aspects. All of them are likely to be adversely affected in the absence of a conducive environment.

 

The provision of Early Childhood Development opportunities is also a proactive strategy, with the potential to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. It provides a level playing field for disadvantaged children and contributes to the strengthening of the human resource of the country.

 

3.  Mobile Creches’ Core Philosophy

 

60 million children under 6 years fail to reach their potential because of poverty, poor health, malnutrition, and deficient care. Mobile Creches believes that each and every child is a citizen of this country and the State is obliged to ensure all the basic provisions for the safety, protection and development for its youngest constituency. However, Mobile Creches has chosen to run a certain number of daycare centers in the service delivery mode for the following reasons: to fully utilise its core competency of providing childcare services to children of marginalised populations; to use it as an entry point to catalyze change in childcare practices of communities and labour welfare policies of builders; to lend authenticity to its voice on ECCD issues; strengthen institutional learning for advocacy, research and training.

 

Mobile Creches believes in the integrated nature of development and therefore our Daycare Programme includes health, nutrition and early learning and educational interventions, reinforced by a comprehensive communication engagement with the community.

 

Respect for the children and the community is reflected in all interventions with them. The community’s participation is encouraged and facilitated in the implementation of the program. MC believes in the principle of including children of different abilities into the regular programme, helping them develop in a warm and stimulating environment. Value and dignity for fieldwork is a core philosophy at MC and reflected in our HR Policy and day-to-day decorum. MC believes that specialised training is required to provide care and development, in difficult situations, for young children of diverse needs and backgrounds.

 

 

4.  Purpose of the Childcare and Development Policy

 

The Daycare programme currently accounts for almost half of the entire Mobile Creches human and material resource. It is this engagement with the young, migrant child that lends authenticity to MC’s voice in the ECCD arena – with policy makers, practitioners, builder-partners and donors. The guidelines herein will ensure quality, consistency and efficiency of childcare services for all children at Mobile Creches Daycare Centers.

 

5.  Scope and Coverage of the Policy

 

This policy seeks to cover all interventions addressing children, parents and the larger community at daycare centers run by MC, in a service delivery mode. All such interventions will be within the framework of its Memorandum of Association, its stated Mission-Vision and Core Values and its Strategic imperatives.

 

  • The Policy

 

  • The daycare services run at construction sites will be provided in partnership with the builder/contractor, and a daycare center will be opened only if the builder fulfills a minimum set of conditions: provision of required center space, toilet, kitchen, running water, electricity, etc. and at least 30% contribution towards the cost of running the center.

 

  • The center area will be airy, well lit and at all times adequately equipped with amenities/equipment/material to meet the various components of the daycare programme, as per the set minimum norms.

 

  • All facilities/materials will be culturally appropriate with emphasis on low cost, durability and local availability, as far as possible

 

  • Hygiene, sanitation and cleanliness in and around the center will be a prime focus area, for which there will be common, minimum standards.

 

  • The target population of mothers and children within each location will be clearly defined, with a special focus on the 0-3 infants/ toddlers and specially identified vulnerable groups.

 

  • Ensuring the safety of children attending the Daycare center will be of utmost importance, for which there will be a set of guidelines/ safety procedures

 

  • Children will receive age appropriate attention through minimum standards of worker-child ratios

 

  • All interventions with children will be age appropriate and focus on the all-round development of the child, sensitive to the socio-economic-cultural background of the child.

 

  • The teaching-learning methodology will be pedagogically sound and the child care workers will transact the curriculum in a non-formal way and make the teaching-learning experience joyful

 

  • There will be a three-pronged approach to achieve positive health outcomes, including nutrition, for all children and pregnant/ lactating mothers: preventive, curative and promotive.

 

  • There will be common, minimum procedures for worker-child transactions relating to education, health and nutrition.

 

  • All transactions with children will be in keeping with a documented Child Protection Policy.

 

  • Community awareness and participation will be an integral part of the programme, and the aim will be to link the community with government and other local facilities as far as possible.

 

  • There will be periodic evaluation of programme and assessment of impact through a well-designed MIS for programme.

 

  • Guideline Documents will be in place for the following: (a) Safety and Protection of children; (b) Health, Nutrition, Hygiene, Sanitation;

 

  • Teaching-learning methodology/approach; (d) Common minimum worker-child ratios; (e) Common minimum Worker-Child transactions

 

 

 

7.  Operationalising the Policy

 

The Executive Director and her team of senior and middle management will be responsible for the operationalisation of the policy and development of all guidelines, documents and systems to facilitate the above. The field staff will be responsible for the actual implementation of the policy at the ground level

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