Pilot Project By Save The Children On ‘Care For Child Development Plus’ Touted A Success In Bhutan
Save the Children International and the Health Ministry of Bhutan pilot-tested the C4CD Plus programme in Punakha and Paro.
By Rinchen Zangmo | Kuensel
A pilot programme, Care for Child Development (C4CD Plus) was found to be successful in improving the home environment of children and their interaction with parents.
This was presented at an impact evaluation of the C4CD Plus, a programme that was designed for caregivers of children below three years of age in Thimphu on December 14.
Save the Children International and the Health Ministry pilot-tested the C4CD Plus in Punakha and Paro in September last year.
Dedicated ECCD Instructors interacting with children.
Source: Save the Children/Bhutan
A total of 322 parents and caregivers completed 12 group sessions that the health assistants provided in about 11 BHUs.
How the survey was conducted
Data collectors surveyed 307 children and caregivers of which 145 were in a control group (did not receive group sessions) while 162 received group sessions in the treatment group.
About 15 health assistants were trained to deliver sessions to parents and caregivers. In each session, four games or activities were taught. The sessions were conducted once or twice a month for a year.
Learning Research Specialist with Save the Children, Jonathan Seiden said that caregivers and health assistants saw a change in the way the children behaved and communicated.
“Caregivers recognised that these changes were important for the children’s later pre-primary or primary schooling.”
Observations from the survey
He said that caregivers in the treatment group had significantly increased learning and play activities with children.
Young children in the Early Childhood Care and Development class.
Source: Save the Children/Bhutan
“Caregivers in the treatment group reported having significantly more storybooks and homemade toys. Moreover, caregivers in the treatment group were less likely to report spanking their children.”
While the programme was reported to be successful in reducing incidences of spanking, there was still room for improvement, he added.
“It was also meant to instill positive disciplinary techniques. Although the caregivers understood why children cried or misbehaved, it wasn’t easy to change their ways, according to them.”
He said that the C4CD Plus programme emphasises the potential for parental programmes to improve the children’s learning outcomes.
“Community-based and caregiver-based programs can be a cost-effective alternative (or complement) to center-based programming.”
The advantages of using reading materials
He said that caregivers and health assistants had changed attitudes regarding the use of reading materials.
“Previously, books were not given to children with the thought that they would spoil or damage it. However, now the attitude has changed. They feel that with books, children can develop reading habits.”
Source: Facebook/Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Public Library
Caregivers recognised that children could develop a love for reading and how using books could also introduce them to new concepts.
Challenges faced by caregivers
Overburdened staff and a lack of awareness on the importance of the programme were some of the challenges faced by the caregivers, according to some health assistants.
Senior programme officer with the Department of Public Health, Tshedar said that in the programme, the focus was on early stimulation, health and nutrition as well as safety protection.
“It covers the four domains of child development. It was built on the existing programme called C4CD for children between the age of 3 and 5.”
He said that the pilot project was conducted to improve holistic child development outcomes for children below three years of age in the project area.
It also strives to increase caregiver knowledge, attitudes and skills in order to stimulate the development of children.
The programme was also conducted to understand whether developmental delays could be mitigated and whether a support system could be established.
Lessons on the health, safety and well-being of children as well as positive discipline techniques were conducted. Tshedar said that the sessions which included activities to help stimulate children’s thinking was a success overall.
This article first appeared in kuensel and has been edited for the Daily Bhutan.