Early child development is an important period that is marked with emotional, physical, cognitive and social development. Research shows that children’s holistic development is enhanced through good health, nutrition, stimulation, play, communication, protection and safety. To enhance the delivery of quality Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) services, multi-sectoral coordination and collaboration of all relevant line ministries is important to ensure that all children receive holistic nurturing care through provision of quality ECD services.
Lifeskills Promoters (LISP) through support from UNICEF is implementing ‘Boresha Toto’ project that focuses on nurturing children for holistic development through integrated early childhood development programme in Isiolo County. The project is part of the bigger UNICEF IECD intervention known as Let’s Play, Spaces for kids to be kids.
- Building capacity of Isiolo County leadership to coordinate integrated ECD across all sectors.
- Improving caregiving among frontline workers by improving their nurturing skills.
- Promoting access to improved safe play and learning spaces at home, ECD centre and health facility by providing indoor play and learning materials as well as outdoor equipment in addition to training parents, teachers and health workers on how to develop play materials using locally available resources.
- Strengthening community engagement forums to strengthen caregivers’ skills.
- Advocating for quality child protection programmes in Isiolo County.
The project has established a coordination mechanism at the county level which include ECD Technical Working Group and ECD County Steering Committee. The two organs work closely to ensure integration of ECD services across line ministries.
ECD frontline officers, other Government Line Ministries officers including agriculture, health, education, children’s office, registrar’s office and interior coordination have all been sensitized on the importance of integrated early childhood development and the role they play in ensuring successful integration.
To improve caregiving among frontline workers, various capacity building workshops have been held for the different players including teachers, community health volunteers, health officers, area advisory council members, ECD officers and parents. LISP provide training on minimum standards of ECD, CCD and nurturing care, material development, child centred methodology of teaching and parenting skills training. LISP has held community mobilization forums to educate the community on child care practices such as proper feeding, good hygiene, importance of play and communication on brain stimulation and the role of parents in providing safe spaces for children.
To promote access to improved safe play and learning spaces, LISP has provided indoor play and learning materials and outdoor equipment such as swings, slides and sea saw to 30 ECD centres and 9 Health facilities including isiolo referral hospital. In addition to indoor and outdoor play and learning materials, LISP has provided child friendly furniture in all the 30 ECD centres and also assisted teachers in creating talking walls in their classrooms, a move that teachers say has significantly improved school attendance as children do not want to miss school due to the colorful classrooms.