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Mobile Creches COVID 19

Mobile Creches COVID 19 Response (MC – CoRe) framework to meet emergency needs of migrant workers and their children

The COVID 19 pandemic has caused extremely difficult and uncertain times for people around the world. Since the national lockdown on 25th March 2020, it has been hardest for the poorest, most marginal, historically oppressed. Among the poor in India, the women and children are the worst hit due to their invisibility and high incidence of under-nutrition.

Mobile Creches (MC), since its inception in 1969, has worked with the unorganised workforce, through its crèche and daycare centres for young children of women working as construction workers, domestic workers, waste pickers, street vendors, and other types of vulnerable daily wage work. The organisation has always stepped up as a first responder in the times of crisis, like the Delhi riots 1984, displacement during Asiad games in 1980s, or more recently during the Commonwealth Games 2010, and Delhi riots February 2020, supporting the most vulnerable families and their young children.

The nature of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that MC’s CoRe framework addressed the needs of entire communities, including children under six years. MC responded swiftly to meet the urgent need for safety, food, health, protection, and most importantly justice.

Highlights of MC – CoRe Actions (18 April 2020)

9 states, 13 cities, 60 communities including construction sites and urban slums

32 Builder Partners, 14 NGO partners, numerous local and state government agencies

20,000+ vulnerable households of migrant/unorganised sector workers tracked weekly; increasing outreach on a daily basis

8500+ households linked with government PDS facilities/community kitchens

3500+ households supported for food rations by builders at their respective construction sites

1700+ food and survival kits distributed by MC

1400+ food and survival kits distributed by other NGO partners

840+ households supplied food rations by CSR partner

4 funding agencies and many individual donors

MC – CoRe Approach

MC adopted three key pathways to build its CoRe approach:

1. Direct contact with families

As soon as crèches were closed in mid March, MC started to stay in contact with families of children attending the crèches and daycare centres across locations, to ensure children remain safe, healthy and engaged. This led to a constantly evolving outreach with the families. Currently MC is doing the following:

  • Crèche teams call families daily to ensure children are safe, healthy and fed. Families are safe, staying at their locations and have enough food to survive on a day-to-day basis.

  • Team leaders are passing on correct information about precautions, prevention against coronavirus infections that are communicated daily through frontline teams, and checking on practices.

  • Team leaders are communicating government announcements about lockdown, food, cash and other provisions as a part of government’s relief package, helplines, community kitchen and similar messages that are relevant for each city to the frontline teams for onwards awareness creation

  • MC is coordinating with local organisations, government teams to expedite linking PDS ration / community kitchens / payments to registered workers/Jan Dhan account holders, for most excluded communities on the ground.

  • Supporting community leaders/ construction site in-charges to map households in the area, track supplies, inform, and distribute food requirements, to those left out from government provisions. Further, tracking payments made by contractors to construction workers

  • Especially tracking families with young children to provide special nutrition such as soya granules, sattu, murmura (puffed rice), Glucon D, and daily fresh milk, where possible

  • Frontline teams are talking to parents weekly to support in parenting, offering suggestions to play with young children, simple activities to keep them engaged, and other information for children’s care, nutrition, health and psychosocial needs. This is a ‘no-tech’ approach relying only on simple phones as a means of voice communication, acknowledging the sensitivity of the context in which we work

  • With help of community members, tracking the immunization status of young children, pregnant and lactating mothers and their linkages with appropriate health services

2. Collaborating with many partners

Within the first few days of the lockdown, MC reached out to its immediate partners to understand how they were responding to the unprecedented times faced by people of India. Very quickly, we widened our circle to share and learn from many other partners. Currently

  • Collaborating with partners who run crèches at construction and urban poor sites across India, tracking families as a part of the 20,900 households outreach, ensuring food supply requirements are met locally, stepping in with financial resources where there are urgent requirements

  • Seeking support of local partner teams in distribution of food supplies, coordination with local administration for ensuring safety protocols. Community leaders, local staff, security guards, kirana shop owners, construction site managers have been heroes on ground!

  • Requesting local administration – police, municipal corporation, school administration, ICDS teams, elected representatives, for support in reaching out to most excluded families

  • Engaged with other CSOs, CSO coalitions, CSR coalitions to understand action on the ground, complement and not duplicate, learn and respond swiftly to new challenges

  • Builder partners have shown extraordinary support to their workers, guaranteeing basic food, regular sanitization of camps, health checkups, cash payment to workers to tide through this period. One developer has paid full wages for March 2020 to its workers!

3. Communication and Advocacy to demand action

In the midst of action on the ground, MC has continued to communicate with other civil society networks, donor agencies, government bodies, international forums, media, and others to allow focused attention on the immediate effect of the pandemic and ensuing lockdown on vulnerable young children and women. To keep raising the issue, we are pursing the following actions:

  • Delhi Neenv FORCES (network focused on rights of children under 6 years) is constantly tracking services to under six children and pregnant and lactating mothers by working alongside ICDS

  • A formal partnership with Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) in its Delhi Against Malnutrition (DAM) initiative to ensure nutrition kits are reaching young children

  • A joint statement to policy makers focusing on the urgent needs of most vulnerable migrant workers, especially women and young children, as a part of the Alliance for Right to ECD

  • Presented a webinar for ARNEC (Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood) members on Young Children Amidst COVID 19 to highlight the ground situation of children of migrant workers in India

  • Reached out to friends in the media with a Press Release about the stories from the ground

  • Regularly updating MC social media handles with information and stories from the ground.

Support from many partners

Amidst the grim news about spread of the corona virus in India, fatalities, and desperation of millions of migrant workers, there are also stories of exemplary compassion and solidarity by individuals, companies, government and civil society. Through this period, MC has been able to strengthen its response through such kindness.

  • Within a week of the lockdown, MC received its first financial support for relief work from a new funding partner, Axis Bank Foundation.

  • Long term supporters HCL Foundation and PNB Housing Finance Ltd. came forward with their sensitivity and support for the relief work with generous funding

  • MC’s relief response received additional institutional support, and shot in the arm to reach wider, through the COVID 19 grant from Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives (APPI)

  • WEIGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalising and Organising), a network partner, extended relief support to Delhi Neenv FORCES for responding to poor urban women workers and their children

  • Zomato incubated Feeding India came forward to support food supply to communities

  • Many individual donors have come forward to support MC’s COVID-19 relief work

  • Outstanding support from local residents comprising of community leaders (Sathi Samuh), crèche helpers, site in-charges and security guards at construction sites, community based crèche workers, NGO partner teams, and many others have extended their cooperation for on-ground mapping, distribution, tracking and monitoring

Mobile Creches’ team

‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’ is exemplified by the MC team! Each employee has thrown themselves with amazing adaptability to ensure justice and dignity to young children and their families, in the face of great threats to their survival. Every member plays a unique role in the CoRe framework - daily contact calls with families, delivering ‘over a phone’ parenting programmes, identifying local grocery stores, mapping households, safety protocols, coordinating with developers to digitizing distribution records received over WhatsApp messages. A single purpose unites the organisation at this moment – stand with families, do the best we can!

You can help too

Food kits include – 30kg rice/atta, 2 kg dal, 1ltr oil, 2kg sugar, 1kg salt, 250gm tea, 100 gm haldi, 1kg soya granules/ sattu, glucose powder, sanitary napkins, toothpaste, 2 soaps. Rs.3000 per kit

Please donate here:

Here is MC’s CoRe Appeal, if you would like to request your friends for their support

You can help in many other ways too. Please get in touch with us at with ‘MC COVID-19 Response Volunteer’ in the subject line.

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